By Ram Kumar Kaushik
The Supreme Court, on Friday, stayed the Calcutta High Court's order of suspending IAS Keshav Chandra, chief secretary of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Administration, and also stayed on fine of Rs 5 lakh imposed against Admiral D K Joshi, the Lt Governor, to be paid from his own funds for not implementing Calcutta HC's directions.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the chief secretary and the LG, and stayed the order of the Port Blair bench of the high court. The next hearing is scheduled August 11, 2023.
Earlier the Calcutta High Court had directed the suspension of Andaman and Nicobar, Chief Secretary, Keshav Chandra, and also asked Lt Governor, Admiral D K Joshi, to deposit a fine of Rs 5 lakh in a case of contempt of court within seven days. Keshav Chandra is a 1995 AGMUT IAS officer.
According to officials, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) affiliated Andaman Sarvajanik Nirman Vibhag Mazdoor Sangh had demanded a grant of 1/30th of pay along with DA benefits to 4,000 daily-rated mazdoor (DRMs) as ordered by the Calcutta High Court on December 19, last year. However, the order was not complied with.
Counsel of the labourers union Binnoo Kumar told Buckstopper the Andaman & Nicobar Administration had given an affidavit in 2017 that DRMs will be granted 1/30th of pay along with DA in compliance with the 1986 Supreme Court ruling, which had stated that DRMs are discharging their duties in line with other regular employees. So they are rightfully entitled for the increased salary and DA what regular employees are getting.
“Though the administration issued an order for releasing the benefits to all from 2017. But they released the benefit to a chosen few only and declared that the remaining DRMs will get from May 9, 2023. We challenged the decision of the administration as court had directed it to release from 2017. This is sheer contempt of court,” Kumar said.
A two-judge Bench, Rajasekhar Mantha and Bibhas Ranjan De, of the circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court in Port Blair, heard the case and found flagrant and reprehensible contempt on the part of Admiral D K Joshi, Lieutenant Governor, and CS, Keshav Chandra. The order said the court had no other option but to direct that Chandra be suspended.
The next senior most officer in the administration would discharge the functions of the Chief Secretary. The court also directed Admiral Joshi to deposit a sum of Rs 5 lakh within seven days.
Former Chief Secretary Jitendra Narain also suspended
Earlier former chief secretary of Andaman and Nicobar Jitendra Narain was also suspended on charges of rape last year in October. He was arrested by the Port Blair police following which the High Court had given him bail in February 2023.
The Andaman & Nicobar government moved Supreme Court challenging the bail granted to former chief secretary of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Jitendra Narain in a rape case filed by a 21-year-old woman.
The Supreme Court, on August 1, 2023, reserved the order after hearing .
”Order reserved,” said a division bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah after hearing the lawyers for the parties on appeals by the State and the victim against the bail granted by the Port Blair circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court earlier this year.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) had probed the allegation that the woman was lured to the chief secretary's residence on the promise of a government job and raped by multiple people, including Narain.
Narain, 1990 batch AGMUT IAS was arrested on November 10 last year after an FIR was registered on October 1 when he was posted as the chairman and managing director of the Delhi Financial Corporation. The government suspended him on October 17, 2022.
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