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Supreme Court directs Orissa High Court to fill its response in plea by retired District Judge

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The Supreme Court on Friday has directed the High Court of Orissa to file its response in a plea by retired district judge challenging the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against her just three-days before her retirement resulting in rejection of her name as a high court judge. 

On Friday, Senior Advocate, R Balasubramaniun for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner has put in 37 years of unblemished service and just 3 days before she was about to retire, for an incident which is more than 8 years old when she was the registrar of the Orissa State Judicial Tribunal alleging that irregularity in appointment of care taker was shown by her. 

The bench has asked the high court to file its response but took objection to the language used in petition in one of the grounds, to refer to the High Court as not appropriate. Hence, the ld counsel for petitioner was given liberty to amendment the writ petition within two weeks. Further, Sibo sankar Mishra appearing for the High Court of Odisha was directed to file their reply to the Petition with 3 weeks from date of service of amended petition. 

The bench has asked counsel for the petitioner to remove the averments wherein she had mentioned in ground that, “because reopening any issue which has been finally decided and declared by the high court to be regular and valid is contemptuous. Such conduct on part of the Disciplinary Authority offends even the common sense of any normal person with average intelligence. Thus, malice and malafide are tell-tale on a mere reading of the frivolous allegations of irregularity in the process of recruitment and the action of the disciplinary authority to act thereupon by initiating a departmental proceeding entangling one of the senior most district judges of the State who had reasonable and legitimate expectation of being considered for elevation to high court.”

The matter would now be heard on May 9, 2022. 

Mrs Suchismita Mishra has approached the Supreme Court challenging the initiation of Disciplinary Proceedings against her just before 3 days of her retirement based on an incident that allegedly took place 8 years ago. 

The allegation against the Mrs Suchismita Mishra is of irregularity regarding recruitment of Caretaker in the Odisha Administrativce Tribunal (OAT). Mr. Shri Sarat Kumar Dakua, a junior grade typist in the OAT was allowed to perform duties of higher post of Caretaker. Furthermore, it was alleged that the insertion of age relaxation clause based on Rule 52 of the Odisha Service Code as proposed by her for issuing advertisement for direct recruitment to the post of “caretaker” was misinterpreted. Therefore his appointment, Promotion and pay fixation was not in consonance with the Recruitment Rules 1999. 

She submitted that this matter was finally and conclusively decided by the Hon’ble High Court of Orissa in her favour and that Disciplinary Authority in their administrative capacity has tried to override the Judicial dictum.

She is aggrieved by the initiation of the Disciplinary Proceedings against her in the fag end of her career and are therefore violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14,16 and 21 of the Constitution of India,1950 and her hard earned ‘reputation’ as an exceptionally good ‘Lady Judicial Officer’ has been put on stake.

Furthermore, after this this writ was filed and notice was issued to all the respondents, the High Court instead of filing a counter, framed charges and served it on the petitioners on 18.10.2021 

The State of Odisha and General administration and public grievance department in their reply stated, “reading of the order of the Learned Tribunal and the confirming order of the Hon’ble High Court would indicate that neither the Learned Tribunal nor the Hon’ble High Court have tested the recruitment procedure adopted by the Tribunal in selecting one Sarat Kumar Dakua as ‘Caretaker’ of the Tribunal. Therefore, the contention of the Petitioner in the present Writ Petition that the Tribunal as well as the Hon’ble High Court has conclusively decided that there was no irregularity in the process of the appointment in Odisha Administrative Tribunal is patently wrong and without any basis.”

The petitioner alleged in her reply that initiation of Disciplinary Proceeding in respect of an event which took place in the year 2013 is barred under Odisha Civil Services (Pension Rules 1992 namely Rule 7 (2) (b) (II) which prohibits initiation of Disciplinary Proceeding in respect of any event which takes place more than four years before such instruction.

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