Himachal court questions agriculture Director in fraud case


Taking exception to the order passed by the state agriculture Director regarding imposing a minor penalty upon the petitioner in a case of proven misconduct of misappropriation or embezzlement of Rs 26,69,447, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday directed the former to explain his position.

A division bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia passed the order on a writ petition challenging the imposition of penalty on June 4, 2019 upon him with direction to deposit Rs 26,69,447 along with interest.

Also the Director directed to treat his suspension period as leave of kind due.

The petitioner had alleged that he has been malafide involved in a fictitious case and even in the departmental inquiry initiated against him no proper opportunity was afforded to him and no rules or principles of natural justice were followed.

He alleged that since he had attained the age of superannuation of June 30, 2019 the department was in haste to conclude the inquiry and impose penalty without considering his stand.

The court observed record reveals that even the Director had come to a firm conclusion that the petitioner had misappropriated or embezzled Rs 26,69,447 of the sale proceeds and had not deposited this amount in the government treasury despite repeated directions from his superiors, the Director instead of imposing major penalty on the petitioner has only imposed a minor penalty of ‘censure’.

The court said it has failed to understand and appreciate as to what was the source of power or authority of the Director to pass an order of censure, especially in a case of proven misconduct or misappropriation or embezzlement that too of such a huge sum.

However, the court made it clear that it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of this case and has only proceeded to pass this order on the basis of the record as it stands today.

The court directed the respondent i.e. the state to file reply within four weeks and posted the matter for next hearing on May 18.