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Gauhati High Court closes PIL against illegal appointments made in AFDC

The Gauhati High Court closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on illegal appointments made by the Assam Fisheries Development Corporation Ltd.

The PIL has been filed by one Joydeb Das.
The petitioner has alleged the services of all the 173 candidates illegally appointed by the AFDC have already been terminated but till today, no action has been taken against the erring officials, who are guilty of criminal misconduct. Therefore, a prayer has been made by the petitioner to direct the respondents to initiate high level inquiry by the CBI or any other independent agency to inquire into the matter and take appropriate action. 

While considering the PIL, the Division Bench of Justice Suman Shyam and Justice Susmita Phukan Khaund noted that the petitioner had lodged a formal complaint on 21/07/2022 before the Chief Minister’s Special Vigilance Cell, Assam and thereafter, again on 16/08/2022 another complaint was lodged by him before the Officer-in-Charge of the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Police Station, Sreemantapur, Guwahati. 

The Court found that the AFDC Managing Director had himself lodged a complaint on 23/09/2022 before the Officer-in-Charge-cum Deputy Superintendent of Police, CID, Ulubari, Guwahati, Assam.

P. Sarmah, Standing Counsel, AFDC,  submitted that based on the complaint lodged by the MD of AFDC, a case has been registered on 23/09/2022 itself  under sections 120(B)/420/467/ 468/471/409 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the matter is being investigated by the CID, Assam. 

Sarmah has produced a copy of the communication dated 19/12/2022 issued by the managing director of the AFDC Ltd. in support of his above contention.

The Court noted that the case was registered on the basis of the complaint made by the managing director of AFDC and the matter is under investigation. If that be so, the primary grievance expressed in this PIL appears to have been addressed. Therefore, nothing survives for adjudication in this PIL at this stage, observed the High Court.

However, the Court noted that it may so happen that even during the course of investigation, it might be found that the investigation is not being conducted in the right earnest and in accordance with law. In such an eventuality, there may be a fresh ground for the High Court to look into the matter and if necessary, monitor the investigation, if a proper case is made out on facts. Therefore, giving liberty to the petitioner to approach the High Court once again as and when a fresh cause of action arises, the High Court  closed the PIL by providing that the authorities shall ensure that the investigation in the case is conducted in accordance with law and brought to its logical conclusion without undue delay.

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