Judges disagree on hearing PPSC scam case

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Old 07-Oct-2011
Judges disagree on hearing PPSC scam case

Chandigarh October 7:

A senior judge hearing a case concerning the reinstatement of the PCS executive officers selected during the tenure of the then Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) chairman Ravi Inder Sidhu expressed a view divergent from the other two judges on the Bench in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Justice M Jeyapaul gave a judgment different from the opinion expressed by Justice Alok Singh and Justice Ritu Bahri. While Justice Singh expressed the view that the matter be decided by a larger bench (of more than three judges), and Justice Bahri seconded him, Justice Jeyapaul ruled that the issue can be decided by a the Full Bench of three judges. Now, the matter will be placed before the acting Chief Justice who shall decide whether a larger bench needs to be constituted or if the case can be decided by the three-judge bench.

This happened in the court when a bunch of petitions, filed by PCS executive officers selected during Sidhu’s tenure came up for hearing after the HC had listed the cases for “clarification”. Justice Jeyapaul apprised the lawyers, appearing for petitioners and respondents, that a brother judge had reservations over hearing the cases. Justice Singh then told the lawyers that since the issue, on the administrative side, was decided by a Full Bench of three judges, it will be in the interest of justice that the case be sent to a larger bench (comprising of five or seven judges) for adjudication.

The counsels, including Akshay Bhan, Gurminder Singh and Sanjeev Bansal, contended that the three-judge bench was fully competent to adjudicate the matter since the decision by the bench was taken on the administrative side. The lawyers averred that since a three-judge bench has already decided the issue of reinstatement of tainted or non-tainted PCS judicial officers last year, the matter was covered. However, Justice Singh opined otherwise. Justice Bahri agreed with him.

Meanwhile, the fate of the PCS executive officers continues to hang in balance. Earlier, five judges of had recused from hearing the case after Sanjeev Bansal, the counsel appearing for one of the PCS (executive) officers, had raised an “apprehension of bias”. The five judges who had recused from hearing the cases are: Justices A K Goel, A K Mittal, K Kannan, Justice Rajesh Bindal and Rajan Gupta. Bansal had cited a Supreme Court judgment stating that a judge who has dealt with an issue on the administrative side shall not preside over the same on the judicial side.

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