THE Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) recently imposed a cost of Rs. 5,000 on Joint Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) Deven Bharti, while hearing an application filed by a retired senior inspector, who was suspended for over a year and sought compensation for causing loss to his career.

Dhanajay Bhaskar Bagayatkar was placed under suspension from April 11, 2013, to June 17, 2014. Although he was not caught committing a crime, his subordinates were caught on camera indulging in corrupt practices. However, Dhananjay was suspended for being unable to control his subordinates.

This was challenged before the tribunal in an original application before vice-chairman RB Malik, following which the Commissioner of Police reinstated the applicant on June 17, 2014. But a departmental enquiry was instituted against the applicant and a certain amount of penalty was imposed.

This was again challenged before the tribunal by Dhanajay and on March 31, 2016, the order of departmental enquiry was quashed and set aside, and the division bench noted that no further action was required to be taken against the applicant. Apart from seeking release of retirement benefits, including gratuity, the applicant sought compensation from Deven Bharti personally “for causing harm to his professional career”.

In his affidavit, Deven Bharti stated: “I say and submit that the Hon’ble Tribunal vide its order dated 31.3.2016 has interfered my choice of punishment and that does not mean the applicant is innocent and fully exonerated from all the charges levelled against him.” Vice-chairman RB Malik noted that Deven Bharti had left no stone unturned to challenge the tribunal’s order, but he was advised against it.

He observed: “Regardless of the ultimate outcome of the OA, I must record my disapproval of the tone and tenor of the affidavit of Respondent No. 4 [Deven Bharti]. The only way a judicial order can be challenged is too very well known to merit emphasis and it was not proper at all for him to go on harping on the truism of the earlier stand which was struck down by the Tribunal.”

The vice-chairman Malik further said although Bharti stated in his affidavit that he had no personal grudge against Dhananjay, he still tried to justify his stand in his affidavit even though tribunal had already ruled in favour of the applicant and the said order was not challenged.

Finally, the vice-chairman noted that a heavy cost on Bharti would be “counterproductive”, a cost that amounts to a slap on the wrist would be sufficient. Hence, Rs. 5,000 was imposed as cost to be deposited within four weeks.

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