The Uttarakhand High Court has issued a contempt notice to Justice Narasimha Reddy, the chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), New Delhi on the basis of a contempt petition moved by Uttarakhand-cadre Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi.
The notice has been issued on February 20. Next hearing of the case has been fixed on March 20.
The development comes following a legal and administrative battle between the central government and Mr Chaturvedi over adverse entries made in his appraisal report of 2015-16 by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, where Mr Chaturvedi worked as Chief Vigilance Officer between 2012 and 2016.
Mr Chaturvedi had in June 2017 moved the high court seeking quashing of the appraisal report in which adverse entries were made.
On June 19, 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court relegated the case of downgrading of Mr Chaturvedi's appraisal report for 2015-16, to Nainital bench of CAT, which began hearing in the matter in July that year.
However, in December 2017, the central government moved a transfer petition before the chairman, CAT, for transfer of case from Nainital bench to Delhi's bench for "reasons best known to them", according to Mr Chaturvedi's petition.
In July, 2018, the CAT chairman in an interim order stayed the proceedings of division bench of CAT Nainital. The case was further scheduled to be heard in September.
This order of CAT was challenged by Mr Chaturvedi in the Uttarakhand High Court.
Mr Chaturvedi, who contested the case on his own before the high court, moved the same court again seeking quashing of order of the CAT chairman seeking transfer of the case and directions to Nainital bench of the tribunal to allow its proceedings.
The court had in its August 2018 order slammed the chairman of CAT for passing a "strange order" and directed that matter will be decided by Nainital bench of the tribunal within six months.
It had also called the central government/AIIMS "vindictive" and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on them, according to the petition.
"He (CAT chairman) exercises the same judicial powers, which are being exercised by the other members. We are of the considered view that the chairman of the tribunal while sitting singly could not stay the proceedings of the matter pending...," the court had said.
Continuing the hearing, the CAT chairman in its September 7, 2018 order made certain adverse observations against the Uttarakhand High Court and fixed the matter for further hearing October 5, 2018, according to the tribunal's order.
"It appears that Section 25 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 was not brought into the notice of their lordships. Section 25 confers exclusive powers on the chairman of the tribunal to transfer any pending case from one bench to another, and the power to stay the further proceedings in such matters is incidental," the CAT chairman said in its order.
The comments made in the order passed by the Uttarakhand High Court, in a way, are "in the teeth of" Section 25 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, it said.
Meanwhile, the AIIMS, with the support of central government, challenged the high court's order before the Supreme Court.
On February 1, 2019, the top court upheld the order of the Uttarakhand High Court and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on AIIMS.
When this order of the Supreme Court was produced before the CAT chairman for compliance, he issued contempt notices to Mehmood Pracha, counsel of Mr Chaturvedi, after which contempt petitions were moved by Sanjiv Chaturvedi before the Uttarakhand High Court.
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