Courts Update AP HC directs state govt to consider Forest Beat...

AP HC directs state govt to consider Forest Beat Officer for promotion since pending charges are not grave

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Andhra Pradesh Jul 28(ILNS): The Andhra Pradesh High Court directed the state Forest department to consider a Forest Beat Officer for ad hoc promotion since the charges pending against him were not grave and did not involve any moral turpitude embezzlement or dereliction of duty.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice D.V.S.S. Somayajulu allowed the Petition of a Forest Beat Officer whose promotion was denied only on the ground that charges are pending against him.

The Court on July 24, while considering the Petition observed that, the only allegation made against the Petitioner is that he was not diligent in guarding the red sandal logs, but as noticed by the inquiry Officer himself, that the petitioner was not on duty on the day on which the alleged offense took place.

Petitioner was given a charge memo on January 14, 2019, and informed that an inquiry will be held against him. The inquiry was in fact conducted and the findings of the Inquiry Officer are to the effect that the Petitioner was not even on duty on the date of the alleged offense that took place. As per the inquiry report, the incident of theft occurred on 17.09.2018 on the night of 18.09.2018. The Petitioner was on night duty on the previous day i.e. on 16.09.2018. Therefore, the Inquiry Officer held that the charges framed against him are not proved and he was exonerated. Thereafter, on August 16, 2019, a copy of the inquiry report was communicated to the Petitioner and he also submitted an explanation to the same.

Counsel for the Petitioner argued that till now no action took place and the juniors of the Petitioner are being promoted denying him the same only on the ground that charges are pending against him.

The Government Pleader did not dispute the events and the dates mentioned by the Counsel. The inquiry officer gave a report exonerating the petitioner is also accepted. It is also admitted that an explanation was also submitted after the inquiry was over, the court observed.

The instructions of the Government Pleader are that on November 20, 2020, final proceedings have been commenced and they are being submitted to the Government based on the inquiry report. He also admitted that since November 20, 2020, the inquiry is still “under process”. The counter field is also to the same effect. The fact that in November 2020 further proceedings have taken place is a subsequent event brought to the notice of the Court.

Both the Counsel drew the attention of this Court to Government Order(GO) dated June 20, 1999. The G.O. also permits the State to give ad hoc promotions, if the offense involved does not have any moral turpitude etc.

The Court opined that Petitioner should have been already considered for ad hoc promotion since the offense is not a grave one, and does not involve any moral turpitude embezzlement, and grave dereliction of duty. The findings of the inquiry Officer cannot be ignored, particularly when it held that the Petitioner was not even on duty on the day on which the alleged theft took place.

The  Bench further opined that the case of the Petitioner should be considered for promotion. The denial of the promotion in this case itself is a punishment that has been imposed despite the exoneration by the inquiry Officer, the Judge said.

“The delay is writ large and is very clear. Therefore, there shall be a direction to the respondents to immediately consider the case of the petitioner for promotion despite the long-standing and pending proceedings. It is needless to say that such promotion that is granted shall be subject to the result of the departmental proceedings,” the order reads./ILNS/SS/SV/SNG

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