Drops proceedings against her

Describes her action as ‘insolent’

Says failure to advise Minister is abdication of duty

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday strongly reprimanded Revenue Principal Secretary Nivedita P. Haran for her “insolent action” in ignoring the instructions of the Advocate-General to keep in abeyance the proceedings initiated to take over the Thiruvananthapuram Golf Club.

Justice S. Siri Jagan, while dropping the proceedings against the Principal Secretary, came down heavily on her for justifying her action.

The court observed that although she “deserves to be dealt with very severely for her misdemeanours,” the fact that she was acting at the behest of Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran prompted it to take a lenient view in the case. The judge reminded her that another indiscretion on her part might not “qualify for the same benevolence.”

In her petition, she had said that when she contacted the Minister, he told her that if there was no written court order, she could pass the takeover order. The court said that she had passed the order at the bidding of the Revenue Minister.

The loyalty of the petitioner to the Minster was certainly to be appreciated. But that could not be at the expense of her bounden duty towards the Advocate-General and this court. She, with decades of experience in the administrative service, should have known that what she was doing was improper and amounted to “disrespect” to this court, the Advocate-General, Law Secretary and the Chief Secretary who had advised her against passing the order. In fact, her duty was “to advise the Minister who appeared to have little experience in such matters. She wanted to be more loyal than the king,” the court added.

The court observed that officers like the petitioner who did not have the courage of conviction to stand up to the Minister and higher ups were the bane of the Indian Administrative Service. The failure to advise a Minister properly amounted to “abdication of her duty.”

The judge said that it was abundantly clear that the petitioner tried to justify her action by her false averments. “She has not, in any event, approached this court with clean hands. She tried to mislead the court with half truths.” The court observed that the petitioner tried to find fault with the court on totally misconceived grounds, which would show the unrepentant attitude of the petitioner and the hollowness of her purported apology. “Her attitude to the court leaves much to be desired.” The court said that the Revenue Secretary had passed the takeover order deliberately before the petition against her action came up before the court.