Delay in Government Inquiry No Bar on Promotion
The Central Administrative Tribunal asked Tamil Nadu government to consider promoting an Indian Forest Officer to rank of Chief Conservator of Forests, observing that an officer could not be penalised for inordinate delay on the part of government in completing disciplinary inquiries against him.
IFS officer Ramachandra Pati joined as Assistant Conservator of Forests in 1985. He was promoted to Conservator of Forests in 2004. He became eligible for promotion to Chief Conservator of Forests in 2010. However, disciplinary proceedings for his alleged shortfall in performance under Tamil Nadu Afforestation Programme were initiated in 2005 and 2006, said Pati in his petition. These proceedings were not completed after a lapse of around five years. In his current petition Pati pleaded that inquiry report be opened and government act on the recommendations.
Countering his arguments, the government said the delay was because of Pati’s refusal to cooperate with the inquiry authorities. But the inquiry had been completed
Further, “if an officer with pendency charges of a grave nature is promoted to the next level without reference to the disciplinary proceedings, there will be no meaning in initiating such proceedings”, it said adding the “punishment of censure” was imposed on Pati.
The bench of judicial member K Elango and administrative member P Prabhakaran disposing of the petition asked the government to consider Pati for promotion as an officer cannot be held liable for delay of an inquiry.