STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: Justice Sanjeev Kumar of State High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by Sarwan Singh, the then Superintending Engineer (SE) PHE Leh, challenging his attachment order. The petitioner was aggrieved of the communication by one of the respondents issued vide his No.ACB-FIR-02/2019-J-990-91 dated January 16, 2019 whereby the Administrative Secretary of the petitioner was asked to initiate action against him under Government Employees (Conduct) Rules, 1971 and the Jammu & Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956. The petitioner was also aggrieved of the Government Order No.176-PW(Hyd) of 2019 dated April 1, 2019 whereby, pending enquiry into his conduct, the petitioner was attached with the Chief Engineer, PHE Department, Kashmir till further orders and in his place S.K Pandita, I/C Superintending Engineer, District Leh has been asked to look after the work of Superintending Engineer, Hydraulic Circle Kargil and SE, PDC, Kargil till further orders. The court observed that there should be no dispute with regard to the fact that power to be exercised by the competent authority under Rule 31 of the Rules of 1956 is independent and can be exercised even when there is no communication by the aforesaid respondent. The aforesaid communication impugned in this petition is nothing more than information with regard to the registration of the FIR and commencement of investigation into criminal offence against the petitioner. It was observed that argument of the senior counsel appearing for the petitioner that mere filing of FIR against the delinquent officer is not enough to place him under suspension is without any substance in the face of explicit provisions of Rule 31 of the Rules of 1956, which unequivocally provide that Government servant facing investigation can also be placed under suspension. “Equally untenable is the contention of the senior counsel appearing for the petitioner that without taking steps for holding disciplinary enquiry, the petitioner could not have been attached. Answer to this contention also lies in Rule 31 of the Rules of 1956. A delinquent officer/employee can be placed under suspension or attached in lieu thereof even when an enquiry into his conduct is only contemplated. It is because of this reason as also the explicit rule position that the contention of the senior counsel for the petitioner is not acceptable and the order impugned whereby the petitioner has been attached is vitiated in law”, the court held adding that allegations of mala-fide made by the petitioner are too vague and general to be accepted. “The petitioner does not deny that on the basis of a complaint, the respondent conducted a secret enquiry to verify the allegations. It is in this secret enquiry, the allegations levelled in the complaint filed against the petitioner were found to be prima facie established. This led to the registration of FIR and commencing of investigation against the petitioner. Rule 31 of the Rules of 1956 mandates that a person who is facing investigation of a criminal charge may be suspended by the competent authority. No illegality is committed by respondent by bringing the factum of registration of FIR and investigation into criminal offence against the petitioner to the notice of his administrative secretary so as to facilitate latter to initiate appropriate action in the matter”, the court observed.
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