HC sets aside transfer of IPS Amit Lodha’s case from Patna CAT to Delhi

The Delhi High Court on Monday set aside the transfer of the case concerning disciplinary proceedings against 1998-batch IPS officer of Bihar cadre Amit Lodha from the Patna bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal to New Delhi.

A bench headed by Justice V Kameswar Rao, dealing with a challenge in this regard mounted by the government of Bihar, said while allowing the transfer, it was incumbent upon the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) chairman to pass a reasoned order in the interest of justice and asked the authority to decide the issue afresh by way of a speaking order.

“We set aside the orders dated March 2, 2023 and March 27, 2023 passed by the Chairman in PT Nos. 06/2023 and 27/2023, respectively. The same are revived on the Board of the Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal, who shall consider the Transfer Petitions afresh by hearing the counsel for the parties and pass a reasoned and speaking order in accordance with law,” the bench, also comprising Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, said.

On July 12 last year, a decision was taken by the authorities to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the senior police officer in Bihar on allegations on corruption, gross irregularities and arbitrariness among others.

Lodha, who rose to prominence following the release of the web series ‘Khakee’ based on his book ‘Bihar Diaries’, challenged the proceedings before the Patna bench of the CAT and then filed a transfer petition to transfer the matter to the principal bench in New Delhi.

He also filed another case before the principal bench against separate disciplinary proceedings against him, which was retained by the chairman.

Lodha said that the entire action of Bihar authorities in initiating the disciplinary proceedings against him was ill-motivated and to deprive him of his promotion to the next post of additional director general of police. It would thus be in the interest of justice for the case to be heard outside the state, he added.

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In its order, the court said that one of the three pillars of the principles of natural justice was the requirement of passing a reasoned or speaking order and the chairman has to record and specify the reasons for his decision to transfer a matter, especially when the parties before him have taken contesting stands.

“The exercise of power is on an application filed by the respondent No.1 (Lodha), pursuant to which notice was issued and arguments were heard from both sides. In such a circumstance, the petition seeking transfer of the proceedings from one Bench to another becomes an adversarial litigation, and therefore it was incumbent upon the Chairman to pass a reasoned order evidencing the reasons for his decision, in the interest of justice,” it added.

The court directed that until the chairman decides the issue afresh, no proceedings shall be held in the matter pending before the principal bench.

“Accordingly, we fix the date of hearing in the above Transfer Petitions before the Chairman of the Tribunal on 3rd November, 2023,” it ordered.

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