A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday adjourned to May 17 the hearing on a writ petition filed by the State government challenging an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Ernakulum Bench, staying the suspension of Inspector-General of Police Tomin J. Thachankary from service and directing the government to reinstate him in service forthwith.
When the petition came up for hearing before the Bench of Justice Thomas P. Joseph and Justice C.K. Abdul Rehim, senior counsel for Mr. Thachankary gave an undertaking that the police officer would not insist on his reinstatement as directed in the impugned CAT order nor would he file a contempt of court petition for not complying with the directions in the order. In view of the undertaking, the court did not consider passing any order on the government's plea to stay the CAT order for the time being.
Counsel for Mr. Thachankary raised a preliminary objection to entertaining the petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution. He contended that the writ petition was not maintainable as the order of the CAT was an interim one.
Additional Advocate-General Ranjith Thampan argued that the writ petition was perfectly maintainable as the tribunal had passed the order as if it was a final one. The court said that since serious contentions were made by both sides, the matter required detailed consideration. The Bench posted the matter to May 17 for a detailed hearing after recording the undertaking given by Mr. Thachankary's counsel.
The government, in its petition, said the officer was suspended from service in accordance with “the guiding principles for suspension” and on charges of violating the government rules regarding employees leaving abroad for private purposes and rule 3(1) of the All Indian Services (Conduct) Rules. The government alleged that Mr. Thachankary had made a ‘false representation' to the leave sanctioning authority stating that he was availing himself of leave travel concession (LTC) for going to Gangtok, Sikkim. Instead, he visited Gulf countries. The police officer, who was in charge of law and order in the sensitive range of Kannur and was part of an anti-terrorism team, was expected to get permission from the government and his superior officers if he had changed his travel plan, the government said.
The government submitted that Mr. Thachankary had a ‘controversial career record.' He had faced a Vigilance inquiry, criminal cases and disciplinary actions in his career. The Vigilance case was launched on charges of “amassing wealth of Rs.1 crore disproportionate to his known sources of income and other allegations.'' The Vigilance inquiry was still pending. It was also revealed that the IPS officer had “illegally imported electronic goods from Singapore. There were other allegations against the 1st respondent like misuse of official vehicle, publishing photograph in uniform unauthorisedly, frequent foreign visits, possession of multiple passports as also registering of false cases against certain persons and lock-up torture”. He was currently facing a criminal case before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Alappuzha, in connection with an incident of lock-up torture. Mr. Thachankary had been warned earlier against dereliction of duty. In spite of that, he had “wilfully committed the same offence,” the petition said.
Keywords: Government actions