New Delhi The Central Administrative Tribunal has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for forcing one of its officials into litigation by harassing him on flimsy grounds and then taking a frivolous defence against his harassment plea.
“It appears the time has come to curb evil propensities of unscrupulous litigants. When courts find a claim or defence is sought to be propped up on false, frivolous and vexatious grounds, it must result into compensatory costs as that alone might serve a warning to all concerned and may also provide some sort of solace to the one, who has been harassed and tormented,” the CAT said, imposing the fine.
The CAT’s bench of Justice V K Bali gave the order on a plea by former Director Prem Matiyani of the ministry’s Song and Drama Division, challenging his salary cut for allegedly appointing a dancer in Scheduled Tribe category in Shimla despite there being no vacancy for it.
The salary cut was imposed with retrospective effect on the day he was to retire, said Matiyani in his plea adding his problems began after the CBI recommended in November 2005 a disciplinary action against him for the alleged irregular appointment and he was suspended in August 2006 for it.
He said as his suspension was extended time and again, he moved the high court and CAT after which it was revoked but even after revoking it, the ministry did not assign any work to him and even denied him a place to sit in the office.
The salary cut was imposed upon him on the day of his retirement despite the departmental probe having found nothing against him, he added.
Responding to Matiyani’s plea in CAT, the Ministry said as the chairman and appointing authority, he “cannot be absolved of the responsibility of an ineligible candidate’s selection.”
Matiyani countered this saying he had merely made a recommendation and was not the appointing authority.
The CAT eventually imposed the fine on the ministry saying, “They appear to have devised a way to somehow or the other punish the applicant (Matiyani).”