SC contempt notice to DoPT Secy for breaching order on promotion

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday issued comtempt notice to Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, seeking explanation on a plea claiming breach of status quo order of the top court on promotion of Central government employees.

A plea has been filed by Debananda Sahoo, through advocate Kumar Parimal, against top officers of the Union government for violation of the top court’s order of April 15, 2019. In Nagraj (2006) and Jarnail Singh (2018), the apex court laid down conditionalities like collection of data on inadequacy of representation, overall effect on efficiency on administration and removing creamy layers, before considering reservation in promotion, it said.

After a brief hearing in the matter, a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran issued notice on the contempt petition filed by Sahoo.

The plea contended that the top court had directed maintaining status quo on promotion of officers. The DoPT made an application for permission to grant ad-hoc promotion, which was declined on July 22, 2020, but it went on to issue promotion orders on December 11, 2020, in favour of 149 officers. These officers were from selection grade (Deputy Secretary) of the Central Secretariat Service to senior selection grade (Director) on ad-hoc basis.

The plea said the alleged contemnors have not obeyed the direction to maintain status quo as to promotion and in utter disregard issued order on December 11, 2020 and January 8, 2021, granting promotions without complying with the Nagraj and Jarnail Singh judgments.

Out of these 149 officers, 55 Deputy Secretaries were from reserved category and had taken benefit of reservation in promotion and consequential seniority earlier.

“The promotion order was issued without reviewing select list of Under Secretary for the year 2003 and onwards and consequential review of Deputy Secretary select list of 2003 and onwards in terms of Constitution bench judgements in M. Nagaraj and Jarnail Singh,” said the plea.

The plea submitted that there is wilful, deliberate and intentional disobedience of the top court’s April 2019 order, and the lapse is deliberate and in disregard of duty and in defiance of authority.

“It is crystal clear that the contemnors have deliberately, wilfully and dishonestly disobeyed the order of this court hence it amounts to civil contempt as defined under Section 2 (b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971,” the plea argued.