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DC Cannot Suspend Tehsildar Sans Govt Approval: HC  

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday quashed an order by the Administrative Tribunal by virtue of which it had rejected a plea by Tehsildar Bari Brahmana, a KAS officer, who was placed under suspension by the Deputy Commissioner Samba in 2019.

“We are of the view that the learned Tribunal has clearly erred in holding that the (Deputy Commissioner, Samba), had the requisite jurisdiction to place the petitioner (Qaiser Mehmood), a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Service, under suspension, that too without the approval of the competent authority in the Government,” a bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Puneet Gupta said as per news agency GNS, adding, “ That being so, the order dated 3rd of February, 2021, as passed by the learned Tribunal, is set aside.”

The held that it is the appointing authority or any authority to which it is subordinate or any other authority empowered by the Government that has got the powers to place an employee under suspension where an inquiry into his conduct is contemplated or is pending or a complaint against him/ her of any criminal offence is under investigation or trial.

“In the instant case, risking repetition, it must be noted that the Deputy Commissioner, admittedly, is not the appointing authority of the petitioner. He is not a higher authority nor has any authorization been placed on record to show that the Government has authorized him to place the petitioner under suspension,” the court said, adding, “The judgment relied upon by the learned Tribunal, while passing the impugned order dated February 3, 2021, being distinguishable in facts, is not applicable to the facts and circumstances of the case on hand.”

In his plea, Qaiser Mehmood had submitted that during his posting as Tehsildar, Bari Brahmana since February 18, 2019, a civil dispute was going on with respect to land comprised in Khasra No.1786/579 of Village Birpur, Samba, in the Court of Munsiff (JMIC), Samba between Bhanu Pratap Singh and Ravinder Kumar.  In terms of order dated 6th of February, 2020, Qaiser says that he was appointed as Local Commissioner for demarcation of the land of the parties as per revenue record and submit a report before the Court concerned. He claimed to have conducted the demarcation as per revenue record on 5th of August, 2020 and submitted the report on August 20, 2020 in the Court of learned Munsiff, Samba, reporting therein that Ravinder Kumar was in possession of land measuring 13 Kanals and 01 Marla and that Bhanu Pratap Singh was not in possession of any land at all.

“Immediately thereafter (the deputy commissioner) issued an order dated 16th of January, 2021, thereby placing (me) under suspension pending enquiry.”

Qaiser had pleaded before the court in the petition that since order dated January 16, 2021 was issued by the deputy commissioner without any jurisdiction, the same was, accordingly, challenged by him before the Tribunal. However the Tribunal on February 3, 2021, rejected his prayer for grant of interim relief qua staying the order of the suspension against him.

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