PTI Chennai, September 26, 2014 Hindustan Times
Former DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat and another senior scientist were on Thursday sentenced to three weeks simple imprisonment by Madras High Court for committing contempt of court by disobeying its April 2009 order related to re-employment of a clerk in a school run by a wing of the organisation.
Taking a serious view of the non-implementation of its order, a division bench comprising Justice S Rajeswaran and Justice P N Prakash awarded three weeks simple imprisonment to Saraswat and Director of Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Dr G Malakondaiah and directed them to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000 each personally.
The court was allowing a contempt of court petition by S Joseph Raj, who was an employee of the school run by Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE) at suburban Avadi here. The bench directed the Government to take appropriate departmental action against them for the “reckless, negligence and willful disobedience of the order of the Court”.
The court held Saraswat, a Padmabhushan awardee and former Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister and Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), guilty of Civil Contempt under the contempt of courts Act, 1971. When CVRDE closed the school, he and other employees approached the Central Administrative Tribunal challenging it.
Even after several rounds of litigations before CAT and the High Court and Supreme Court, he was made to suffer, it noted. On April 30, 2009, the High Court directed the two officials to appoint Joseph Jaj as Senior Technical Assistant (Library Science) within a period of two months.
However, the officials on April 13, 2012, passed an order stating that Joseph Raj was not eligible to be considered as Senior Technical Assitant (Library Science) and that he was not a government servant, prompting him to file the present contempt petition.
“We find the above officers were doing everything within their powers to deny a just benefit to Joseph Raj. We are aware that the officers are occupying very high position in the government, but ensconced in a pedestal, their vision became blurred when it came to the travails of an ordinary employee who was suddenly thrown out of employment, for no fault of his,” the judges said.
It said that even during the contempt proceedings, there was no tinge of remorse or an attempt to correct the mistake by the two officials. “Therefore, we propose to impose punishment of sentence of imprisonment on the above officials for their willful disobedience of this court order,” it held.
The court also warned the above officials that it was not an end of the matter and directed them to comply with the order forthwith in the matter of appointment.