CAT suspends promotion of forestry officer allegedly linked to illegal logging case


The Central Administrative Court (CAT), Ernakulam Bench, on Monday suspended the transfer and promotion of Deputy Conservator of Forests NTSajan, who had previously made headlines for allegedly being associated with the main defendant in the logging scam. Muttil Trees.

Century-old rosewood trees worth Rs. 8 crores have been cut and removed without the consent or knowledge of the Department of Revenue, thus causing a huge loss to the government in the said matter.

The state government recently issued a series of controversial transfer orders for Indian forest officers that sparked widespread outrage within the state Forest Department. Pursuant to the said orders, many IFS officers were randomly transferred in violation of the Indian Forest Service (Framework) Amendment Rules, 2014.

While suspending the promotion, the CAT also requested the State’s response in the matter. The Tribunal will consider the matter on Thursday for further consideration.

The decision came in a plea submitted by IFS officer Sanjayan Kumar, in which he challenged the order transferring him from the position of Chief Conservator of Forests, Southern Circle, Kollam to Chief Conservator of Forests (plan of work and research) in absolute contempt and violation. rules.

The petitioner, represented by lawyers Girija K.Gopal and Vigy KN, argued that according to the regulations, the Civil Service Council must make recommendations for the appointment and transfer of senior officers, and that an officer executive appointed to a position will hold office for at least two years, unless he has in the meantime been promoted, retired or sent to deputies outside the State for a training period of more than two months.

It was also pointed out that the transfer of a senior officer before this specified minimum period will only be on the recommendation of the Public Service Council in certain specified circumstances.

The Applicant argued that issuing the contested transfer order without any recommendation from the Civil Service Board and without complying with any of the conditions that must be complied with is legally untenable. The plaintiff has an unblemished service record and there is no indication that a situation existed that warranted a premature transfer proposal, the claim reads.

In fact, it was claimed that the premature transfer was not motivated by any justifiable public interest or administrative requirement, but solely due to political pressure and influence to post Sajan (4th defendant here).

In the motion, it is pointed out that although Sajan was only an assistant conservator of forests and a person of questionable integrity recommended that he be suspended pending disciplinary action for his involvement with the main defendant in the Muttil rosewood logging case, he was given the position of Chief Conservator of Forests as of right, which is two posts above the normal reporting line of his position effective.

It was noted that when the transfer of a person can only be done to an equivalent position, the order by which the 4th defendant is transferred outside his normal field of assignment and fully responsible for a hierarchically superior position of two positions and which involves higher duties and responsibilities smacks of bad faith, both legal and factual.

The claimant also submitted a report dated 15.12.2021 which attests to the fact that Sajan practically derailed the investigation in the case of the felling of trees, an act highly unbecoming of a public official. He added that the Addl. The PCCF also recommended the initiation of disciplinary proceedings for major sanction in this regard against Sajan and further to remove him from office.

It has been claimed that although Sajan was proposed to be suspended pending the investigation and the finalization of major sanction procedures, he was kept in cold storage due to his political influence.

It is despite the 4th Respondent’s questionable integrity detailed above, which is why his continued service is itself undesirable, that he is now blessed with a “mutation” to Schedule A3, virtually granting him the benefit of an unearned double promotion to the position of Chief Conservator of Forests, that too, in a field position in which he can assume greater responsibilities and perpetrate new illegalities by coming into contact with the public”, reads the request.

For these reasons, the Applicant submitted that the impugned transfer order is manifestly unlawful and arbitrary for the main reason that it is issued without any meeting of the Civil Service Council being convened and following the prescribed due process. by the Regulations.

Case title: Sanjayan Kumar v. State of Kerala & Ors.


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