SC upholds order cancelling ABV suspension

Sets aside AP’s Special Leave Petition, says order will not come in way of State taking any action under law
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)

VIJAYAWADA: The Supreme Court on Friday set aside a Special Leave Petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging the AP High Court’s verdict cancelling the suspension of senior IPS officer AB Venkateswara Rao. The Supreme Court noted that the maximum period of two years, for which the State is empowered to keep an officer under suspension under Rule 3(1) of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeals) Rules, 1969, had elapsed on February 7, 2022, and therefore, as on date, there was no order of suspension in place.

The court noted that the respondent would be notionally deemed to have been reinstated with effect from February 7, 2022. Earlier, the State government submitted that criminal proceedings had been initiated against the officer on March 3, 2021. The State government informed the court that it was contemplating the exercise of its power under Rule 3(3) of the Rules to place the respondent under suspension.

The apex court noted that the present order passed by it will not come in the way of the State exercising any option or taking any action as may be available to it under law. The State also referred to the judgement dated January 6, 2012, passed by Justice Khanwilkar and Justice RY Ganoo of the Bombay High Court in the case of State of Maharashtra vs AK Jain (W.P. No. 7071 of 2010), where the High Court held that any suspension in terms of Rule 3(3) of the Rules would continue to be applicable till the conclusion of criminal proceedings unless the State government decides to revoke it earlier. The court took note of the same. It is learnt that the State government is now contemplating on how to proceed further and looking for options it can exercise.

The former intelligence chief was placed under suspension on February 8, 2020, for his alleged involvement in irregularities in the purchase of security surveillance equipment from an Israeli firm.In fact, soon after the formation of the YSRC government in May 2019, he was removed as Intelligence Chief and was not given any post since then. Following his suspension, he approached the High Court, which set aside his suspension and the State moved the Supreme Court challenging the order.

Meanwhile, speaking to mediapersons in New Delhi after the Supreme Court verdict, Venkateswara Rao said the Supreme Court had set aside the SLP filed by the State government and upheld the verdict of the High Court.

“In its orders, the High Court had noted that my suspension was illegal and arbitrary,” he said. The senior IPS officer said that soon after his suspension, a malicious propaganda was taken up against him and he had pursued every legal option available to him. “Who is responsible for the State suffering defeat in the apex court? Who is accountable for the loss of taxpayers’ money in fighting a false case. How can a responsible IAS and IPS officer act without thinking, based on a forged memo issued by a DGP and a falsified report scripted by an ADG -CID. Right from DSP CID to Chief Secretary, everyone wrote the same note, without even changing coma and full-stop,” he said.

The 1989 IPS officer said that the government spent Rs 20 lakh to avail services of senior advocate Prakash Reddy in CAT and Advocate General in High Court and crores of rupees on battery of lawyers in the Supreme Court. “I too have spent money and I am going to ask the government to pay me the legal expenses,” he said.

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