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Can Centre punish AGMUT cadre officers? : Plea in HC over CAT order

Can Centre punish AGMUT cadre officers? : Plea in HC over CAT order
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The Centre has told Delhi High Court that it is unable to take disciplinary action against IAS officers of the AGMUT cadre due to an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal that neither the Home Ministry, nor the Joint Cadre Authority were competent authorities to act against this section of bureaucrats.

New Delhi: The Centre has told Delhi High Court that it is unable to take disciplinary action against IAS officers of the AGMUT cadre due to an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal that neither the Home Ministry, nor the Joint Cadre Authority were competent authorities to act against this section of bureaucrats.

The CAT, in its March 22 order, had said that it was the government of the state where such an officer was serving, would be the competent authority to take disciplinary action and impose penalty. However, the JCA (Joint Cadre Authority) has to be consulted if penalty is to be imposed, the tribunal had said. The cadre comprises those IAS officers who serve in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and other Union Territories (AGMUT).

A vacation bench of Justices Vinod Goel and Rekha Palli observed that there was no urgency in the matter and listed the petition for hearing on July 4. The Centre's petition, filed by its standing counsel Arun Bhardwaj, has claimed that due to the CAT order, it would not be possible to take disciplinary action against IAS officers of the AGMUT cadre.

The CAT order had come on a plea by an AGMUT cadre IAS officer, Padma Jaiswal, challenging the disciplinary proceedings initiated against her by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and its subsequent order of removing her from service.

The order, however, was not given effect to and the CAT had on March 22 quashed the proceedings and the subsequent actions against Jaiswal.

The tribunal had said that the JCA "did not have the legal sanction to act as the disciplinary authority or impose penalty" and the MHA, which is not the authorised delegatee of the President, also does not have the legal authority to initiate such proceedings.

"Imposition of penalty is a serious matter and should not be exercised by any person or authority without sanction of law. Penalty has serious repercussions and affects statutory rights of a Government servant with civil consequences.

We are of the considered opinion that the Ministry of Home Affairs is not authorized delegatee of the President and has no authority of law to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

The disciplinary proceedings have not been initiated by the competent authority and thus, all subsequent proceedings are rendered vitiated," the tribunal had said.

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