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HC revokes suspension of senior IPS officer

Chennai: Assailing the CAT and the Tamil Nadu government for adopting “a strange procedure”, the Madras High Court today revoked suspension and departmental proceedings against senior IPS officer M S Jaffar Sait and directed the state to reinstate him in a post before January 18.

“The charge against the petitioner is essentially not one of corruption. It is a case of misuse of discretionary quota, fabrication of records, causing loss to the Housing Board and illegal gain on account of joint venture,” said a division bench of justices K K Sasidharan and V Parthiban, allowing the plea of the officer.

Sait, a 1986 batch IPS officer, has been serving suspension for more than five years, on allegation of helping his subordinates to acquire housing plots under discretionary quota by creating records and thereby causing loss to the Tamil Nadu Housing Board, besides taking allotment under the discretionary quota in the name of his wife and entering into a joint venture with a builder.

On November 29, 2013, the Centre had rejected the state government’s request for sanction to prosecute Sait, and thereafter the principal secretary to government (home), issued a charge memo to him on August 6, 2014. When the officer sought copies of documents referred to in the charge memo, it was rejected, forcing him to approach courts.

Meanwhile, Chennai bench of CAT on April 19 last year directed the state government to furnish copies of documents to him and also directed it to reinstate him in service, revoking the suspension. Instead of challenging the order, the state filed a clarification plea, using which the CAT had stayed its own final order of reinstatement.

“The Tribunal adopted a novel device to put its order in cold storage by entertaining clarification petitions and stay petitions. The state, by making use of the interim stay, extended the suspension. The effect is that in spite of the order directing revocation of suspension and reinstatement, the state managed to extend the suspension and keep Sait out of service,” the bench today said.

Holding that CAT was not correct, the bench said the tribunal had exceeded its jurisdiction by granting an order of stay of its own final order April 19 last, the bench directed government to reinstate him and post him on or before January 18.

“It is seen from the original file that before deciding the question of sanction for prosecution, the central government called for particulars from the state government and after perusal of the imputations observed in its order that the petitioner is accused of violating the procedure and provisions in granting prior permission to his subordinates.

“However, no pecuniary gains or quid pro quo has been established against him. Therefore, no case is made out for sanction of his prosecution,” the bench said.