Row over KSPCB chairperson post: HC says govt. ‘misinterpreted’ its order, asks it to withdraw letter

The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday asked the State government to withdraw a letter, written to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) chairperson M. Sudhindra Rao asking him not to officiate as chairperson by quoting an order of the court.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi issued the direction on noticing that the State government wrote the letter by “misreading and misinterpreting” its order related to PIL petitions challenging appointment of Mr. Rao as chairperson of the board.

The Additional Chief Secretary (Forest, Ecology and Environment) on March 10 wrote to Mr. Rao asking him not to discharge functions as chairman till the court decided on the PIL petition while claiming that the court had “accepted” the government’s contention that his appointment was “wrongly” done without framing the rules as per the 2017 verdict of the apex court.

While orally observing that the letter amounts to criminal contempt of court, the Bench made it clear that it had only recorded the government’s statement admitting that appointment of Mr. Rao was done “wrongly” and it did not accept the contention that appointment was not lawfully done.

The statement made on behalf of the government was accepted to mean that the government cannot change that stand again during the course of hearing, correctness of appointment is yet to be adjudicated,” the Bench clarified.

Meanwhile, the Bench said that the government is free to take any lawful decision in this case during the pendency of the petitions. The government, which appointed Mr. Rao on December 30, 2019, made a U-turn before the court on March 6, 2020, contending that the appointment was done without framing the rules.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2020 4:40:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/row-over-kspcb-chairperson-post-hc-says-govt-misinterpreted-its-order-asks-it-to-withdraw-letter/article31103242.ece

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