CAT chief recuses himself from hearing whistleblower IFS officer's case

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New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) The chairman 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' empanelment process.

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 above and the recruitment of private sector specialists to government posts through lateral entry.

'Post the matter before court number 2 on February 1,' a bench comprising CAT Chairman L Narasimha Reddy and Member (Administration) Mohd Jamshed said in its order dated January 22.

The CAT chief had last month allowed a petition by the Centre seeking transfer of Chaturvedi's case from the tribunal's Nainital bench to Delhi, saying 'the matters of this nature have their own impact on the very functioning of the central government'.

Commenting on the order, Chaturvedi's counsel and senior advocate Sudershan Goel said the CAT chief ought not to have passed the order of transfer when he is in one-to-one litigation with the applicant.

'Now, CAT Chairman L Narasimha Reddy has recused himself from hearing this matter and transferred this case to another court -- court number 2,' he added.

In March 2019, the CAT chief had recused himself from hearing Chaturvedi's three other petitions citing some 'unfortunate developments' and other reasons.

The Uttarakhand High Court had last month issued notices to the Centre, the CAT chairman and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), among others, seeking their responses on Chaturvedi's plea.

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'.

A total of nine private sector specialists were appointed in August last year as joint secretaries in different central government departments through the 'lateral entry' mode, following their selection by the UPSC.

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 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. PTI AKV RC