The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has given relief to a suspended superintending archaeologist who was accused of taking bribe by setting aside extension of his suspension order beyond 90 days. The Tribunal said the Ministry of Culture extending suspension order of Phanikant Mishra, superintending archaeologist of Patna, was illegal as it was done beyond the mandatory period of 90 days.
The CAT, however, said the government can again keep the officer under suspension if required after assessing the facts of the case. "The facts of this case are such that if the government may, on assessment of the facts, come to the conclusion that the applicant needs to remain under suspension, in our considered view, it would be at liberty to do so," the Tribunal, headed by Chairman V K Bali, said.
The Tribunal also directed that the officer would be entitled to his pay and other emoluments after his suspension period is over. "The order dated April 27, 2010 reviewing suspension of the applicant shall have to be set aside.
Resultantly, he would be entitled to his pay and other emoluments from expiry of 90 days from the date of his suspension, that is, December 12, 2008," the CAT, also comprising Member Shailendra Pandey, said. The Tribunal passed the order on a petition of Mishra seeking to set aside his suspension order on the ground that it was illegal as its review could not be done within a period of 90 days.
The Ministry of Culture had defended its decision to keep the officer under suspension by contending that it would not be desirable for a person, who is facing criminal charges, to be in active service. Mishra, meanwhile, said that the order of suspension would not be valid after a period of 90 days unless it was extended after review for a further period of 90 days.
The CBI had allegedly caught Mishra accepting a bribe of Rs 90,000.