NEW DELHI: A judge of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which adjudicates service-related matters of government employees, has recused himself from hearing a plea filed by IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi challenging the civil servants' 360 degree appraisal system and lateral recruitment.
The move comes after the counsel of the officer submitted that one of the judges of a two-member bench formed by CAT chief L Narasimha Reddy has appeared against the applicant on different occasions.
The counsel also cited orders of the tribunal in support of his claim.
“One of us (R N Singh, member (J)) remembers that he has not been a counsel for any of the parties in the matter(s), referred to above, however, from the orders under reference, it transpires that his relative counsels, practising from their chamber have been the counsel for some respondents in these matters and he might have appeared for them and/or with them,” the bench said in its order.
This fact even may not have come to the notice of the (CAT) chairman while constituting the present bench to hear the instant matter, said the order issued by Singh and A K Bishnoi, member (A).
“Moreover, this bench has no vested interest in hearing a particular matter including the one in hand,” it said in the order put on CAT’s website recently.
This order was reserved on February 17 and judgment was pronounced on March 11.
“Be that as it may, without going into the merit of the request on behalf of the applicant for recusal of one of us (R N Singh, member (J)) from the present matter, one of us (R N Singh, member (J), recuses himself to hear the instant matter,” said the order of the principal bench of the tribunal here.
The present matter may be placed before “the chairman at his Lordship’s administrative side for necessary order for posting of the matter before an appropriate bench”, it said.
Chaturvedi's counsel and senior advocate Sudershan Goel said the excuse taken by judge R N Singh that his name was recorded in judicial orders, for appearing in cases against Chaturvedi just because he went in court with his relative counsels, is not appropriate.
“His appearance is recorded on at least four occasions-29.5.2015, 3.5.2016, 2.6.2016 and 3.6.2016 and even in final orders. Now this spree of bench hunting must stop and Nainital bench must be allowed to resume hearing without any further delay,” he said.
Earlier in January this year, CAT chairman L Narasimha Reddy had recused himself from hearing the case.
Chaturvedi, who is working as the Chief Conservator of Forest at Haldwani, Uttarakhand, had in February last year filed a case before the tribunal's Nainital bench, challenging the Centre's 360-degree appraisal system for officers of the level of joint secretary and the recruitment of private sector specialists to government posts through lateral entry.
In March 2019, the CAT chief had recused himself from hearing Chaturvedi's three other petitions citing some "unfortunate developments" and other reasons.
Chaturvedi, a 2002-batch Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer of the Uttarakhand cadre, in his plea, mentioned excerpts of an August 2017 report by a parliamentary committee that found flaws in the 360-degree appraisal system, also known as the multi-source feedback system, for civil servants.
On the issue of lateral entry, Chaturvedi cited documents accessed through a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by him to get a response from the Centre and said the "contract system is completely arbitrary and irrational".
The Centre had decided to make lateral recruitment to 10 posts of joint secretaries during 2018-19. Eight joint secretaries were appointed, and out of these, seven are in the position at present.
Usually, the posts of joint secretaries are manned by officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS), the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and the IFS among others, who are selected into services through a three-phased selection process undertaken by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
During his tenure at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here between 2012 and 2016, Chaturvedi had investigated around 200 corruption cases.