Punjab and Haryana HC quashes govt’s order to remove Jalalabad municipal council chief
The Punjab and Haryana HC has quashed the February 17 order of the Punjab government removing Vikas Deep, president of the Jalalabad municipal council.
The Punjab and Haryana high court has quashed the February 17 order of the Punjab government removing Vikas Deep, president of the Jalalabad municipal council.
“In view of serious allegations raised against the petitioner, conscientious exercise in accordance with law should have been undertaken and an order having serious consequences should not have been passed in a lackadaisical manner. An order of such nature should reflect reasoning with seriousness the matter deserves,” the bench of justice Lisa Gill and justice Ritu Tagore observed remanding back the matter to the state government to decide the same afresh after considering the facts and circumstances.
The court said a copy of vigilance report and any other material relied on be supplied to the petitioner within a week who shall be at the liberty to respond within a week thereafter. The matter be decided within two weeks thereafter, the bench said.
Congress’ Vikas Deep was removed as the Jalalabad municipal council chief on February 17 this year and on February 27, Natalia Mukhija, a Congress turncoat, was elected as the president.
In the high court, Deep had blamed Jalalabad AAP legislator Jagdeep Goldy Kamboj for his removal. It was alleged in the plea that a complaint alleging bungling in the development works by nagar council, Jalalabad, and nagar panchayat, was filed by Kamboj before the chief minister.
A vigilance inquiry was marked on the basis of the complaint. The petitioner was never associated with the inquiry by the vigilance and after this one-sided exercise, the chief vigilance officer submitted a report on the basis of which show-cause notice was issued in October 2022. He was not issued copy of the vigilance report and subsequently in February, he was removed with the orders of principal secretary, local government department.
The court observed that perusal of the removal order would reveal that there is copious narration of facts by the authority. Reference has been made to the report of chief vigilance officer. Reference was also made to comments of the CVO, which were called for by the authority, besides reply to the show-cause notice issued to the petitioner.
“Thereafter, while referring to comments of the chief vigilance officer, it is observed that allegations of misuse of power and misuse of funds of MC Jalalabad are proved. Non-application of mind by the authority in question is reflected clearly as there is not a shred of reasoning available,” the bench observed, adding that there was nothing on record to indicate that the relevant record was looked into, examined and considered by the competent authority before passing the removal order.
It also recorded that the petitioner was a democratically elected candidate and serious allegations of misuse of his position were levelled against him. “It is a settled position of law that it is necessary to supply to the affected person, the entire material on which reliance is placed as admittedly serious consequences flow from such orders, therefore a casual approach cannot be countenanced in any manner,” the bench observed on the argument that he was not even provided with the vigilance report.