HC notice to chief secy seeks response on non-compliance of order

The Allahabad High Court on Monday issued notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for failing to comply with its order passed over four months ago.

Justice Sudhir Agarwal had directed Usmani to get an inquiry conducted by the Vigilance Department into the role played by disciplinary authorities in the initiation of departmental proceedings against a PWD engineer, Bhagwat Saran, who was accused of large-scale irregularities in road construction during his tenure at Bansi (Siddharth Nagar) in 1991.

Saran had completed his tenure (retiring in 2007) but the departmental inquiry that was first initiated against him in 1991, followed by the indictment of his superiors for their alleged non-cooperation with the inquiry in 1997, the matter lingered on until 2012, when he finally received a notice to appear for the oral hearing before the Chief Engineer (Gorakhpur).

Challenging the notice, Saran approached the High Court, terming the departmental proceedings as "sheer harassment on account of delay in the inquiry" - an observation noted, partly, by Justice Agarwal, who said that "the entire episode made it clear that the officials from top to bottom were involved in brushing the wrong deeds of their colleagues under the carpet and were resorting to mere formalities in the name of conducting an inquiry."

On Monday, Justice Agarwal said: "Pursuant to this court's judgement dated 26.08.2013, neither any progress report has been submitted by Chief Secretary, nor any application, affidavit or request has been made to seek time in this regard. Let notices be issued to Chief Secretary to explain as to why appropriate proceedings for committing contempt of court may not be initiated against him. He may reply within 10 days from today." The court has fixed January 20 as the next date for the hearing.

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