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Uttarakhand High Court issues contempt notice to CAT chief

Nainital: In an unprecedented development, the Uttarakhand High Court has issued contempt notice to Justice Narasimha Reddy, the chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), New Delhi.

The notice has been issued on February 20, on the basis of a contempt petition moved by Uttarakhand-cadre Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

The notice has given four weeks' time to Justice Reddy to show why contempt proceedings be not drawn against him, according to the court's order.

Next hearing of the case has been fixed on March 20, it said.

The development comes following a legal and administrative battle between the central government and Chaturvedi over adverse entries made in his appraisal report of 2015-16 by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, where Chaturvedi worked as Chief Vigilance Officer between 2012 and 2016.

Chaturvedi had in June 2017 moved the high court seeking quashing of the appraisal report in which adverse entries were made.

On June 19, 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court relegated the case of downgrading of Chaturvedi's appraisal report for 2015-16, to Nainital bench of CAT, which began hearing in the matter in July that year.

However, in December 2017, the central government moved a transfer petition before the chairman, CAT, for transfer of case from Nainital bench to Delhi's bench for "reasons best known to them", according to Chaturvedi's petition. In July, 2018, the CAT chairman in an interim order stayed the proceedings of division bench of CAT Nainital. The case was further scheduled to be heard in September.

This order of CAT was challenged by Chaturvedi in the Uttarakhand High Court.

Chaturvedi, who contested the case on his own before the high court, moved the same court again seeking quashing of order of the CAT chairman seeking transfer of the case and directions to Nainital bench of the tribunal to allow its proceedings.

The court had in its August 2018 order slammed the chairman of CAT for passing a "strange order" and directed that matter will be decided by Nainital bench of the tribunal within six months.

It had also called the central government/AIIMS "vindictive" and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on them, according to the petition.

"He (CAT chairman) exercises the same judicial powers, which are being exercised by the other members. We are of the considered view that the chairman of the tribunal while sitting singly could not stay the proceedings of the matter pending...," the court had said.

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