Friday, December 9, 2022

Supreme Court stays dismissal order against Gujarat cadre IPS officer SC Verma, allows him to challenge the same before Delhi HC

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The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the dismissal from service order passed by the Government of India, against Gujarat cadre IPS officer Satish Chandra Verma, who assisted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) during probe in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.

The Bench of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy permitted Verma to take appropriate steps for amending the writ petition pending before the Delhi High Court, to lodge a challenge to order of dismissal within a week.

The Apex Court asked the High Court to consider whether the order of stay of implementation of order passed by the disciplinary authority was to be continued beyond a period of one week.

Verma was dismissed by the Ministry of Home Affairs on August 30, 2016, a month before he was to retire on September 30. One of the grounds for his dismissal was talking to the media, which, according to the Centre, “dented the country’s international relations”.

The disciplinary proceedings followed Verma’s statement in the media, in which he denied the allegations of torture in the Ishrat Jahan case probe.

The Centre took the decision, even when the Delhi High Court was hearing Verma’s challenge to the disciplinary proceedings. The High Court allowed the disciplinary proceedings against Verma in 2021, but asked the Union of India not to take any precipitative action.

The Central government later sought modification of the interim protection, stating that the enquiry was over and the competent authority was to pass a final order.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Verma, contended that the IPS officer was due to retire on September 30. While the High Court had been passing orders on his plea from time to time, it has now posted the case for January, 2023.

Sibal said his plea was getting infructuous. He urged the Apex Court to either transfer the High Court petition and hear it or direct the High Court to prepone the hearing. He added that in case it doe not happen, he will be left with no option than to argue on merits.

The Senior Advocate submitted that there was no hurry to pass the order of dismissal since under the Service Rules, disciplinary proceedings having been instituted during Verma’s service, could have been culminated even after his retirement.

Representing the Union government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that there was no challenge to the order of dismissal before the High Court.

However, Sibal contended that even in the writ petition, laying a challenge to article of charges and without amending the writ petition or seeking to lay a challenge to the order of dismissal, Verma was entitled to relief.

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