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Delhi High Court stays NCSC summons to Centre, RML Hospital authorities

In the present case, the aggrieved employee of the said hospital has alleged that he has been harassed and discriminated against on the ground that he was a member of the Scheduled Caste community.

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed the summons issued by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), directing the Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, and the Medical Superintendent and Director, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital to appear personally today at 2 PM, in relation to an alleged case of harassment and discrimination against a person of Scheduled Caste community.

The vacation bench comprising Justice Hari Shankar has stayed orders dated 25th May 2021 and 16th June 2021 and summons dated 17th June 2021 issued by the learned NCSC against Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare and the Medical Superintendent and Director, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital to appear personally before the Chairman of the learned NCSC on 29th June 2021.

In the present case, the aggrieved employee of the said hospital has alleged that he has been harassed and discriminated against on the ground that he was a member of the Scheduled Caste community.

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Mr. Chetan Sharma, learned Additional Solicitor General assisted by Mr. Gaurang Kanth, learned CGSC appearing for the petitioners submitted that the respondent had stopped attending to his duties from 16th April 2020. It was pleaded that this resulted in serious prejudice to the functioning of the hospital at the time, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was further submitted that the hospital issued memos dated 9th June and 30th June 2020 which met with no response. It was submitted that a charge-sheet was then issued which also did not elicit any reply.

It is alleged that Respondent No.1 (Shri Ashok Mahamna) refused to participate in the disciplinary proceedings which followed, resulting in passing of an order dated 29th June, 2020, penalising him by withholding of increments for three years without cumulative effect which, however, was later reduced by the Appellate Authority to a warning vide order dated 28th January, 2021.

The proceedings which were pending before the learned NCSC at the time were next taken up by the learned NCSC on 24th May, 2021. It was submitted that the petitioners were not permitted to participate in the proceedings by virtual hearing/video conferencing. As a result the proceedings on 24th May, 2021 took place in the absence of the petitioners. It was submitted on behalf of the petitioners that this is in clear violation of the principles of Natural Justice.

In the said proceedings, The learned NCSC was of the opinion that the salary of Respondent No. 1 was unfairly withheld for a period of 13 months. On 25th May, 2021 the learned NCSC passed an order directing immediate release of salary to the petitioner, permitting the petitioner to sit where he was seated earlier, and producing before it some CCTV footage.

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The matter was then taken up by the NCSC on 15th June, 2021 on which date the directions contained in the order dated 25th May, 2021 were reiterated and adverse notice was taken by the learned NCSC of a charge-sheet having been issued to Respondent No.1, by the petitioner in the interregnum. The issuance of such a charge-sheet, in the opinion of learned NCSC, made it appear, prima facie, that the authorities concerned were bent upon harassing the petitioner who is from the Scheduled Caste community. In view thereof, the petitioners were directed to show cause as to why they may not be proceeded under the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Learned ASG further submitted that serious questions of jurisdiction arise in this case as to whether or not the Learned NCSC has exceeded the jurisdiction vested in it.

While issuing notice, the court granted ad interim stay of operation of the orders dated 25th May, 2021 and 16th June, 2021.

The matter is to be renotified on 24th July, 2021 before the appropriate Bench as per Roster.

Source: ILNS

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