A Subramani,TNN | Sep 25, 2014, 02.00 PM IST
CHENNAI: While the science community behind Mangalyaan’s success is still basking in glory, the Madras high court on Thursday awarded a three-week jail term to the nation’s two top scientists for contempt of court. The court also imposed a fine on them and directed the Centre to initiate stringent action against the duo.
V K Saraswat, scientific adviser to the minister of defence and director general of research & development, DRDO, and G Malakondaiah, director of Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) in Hyderabad, have to surrender to police in a week and start their three-week jail stint. If they fail to do so, an arrest warrant shall be issued to get them under custody, ruled an irate division bench of the high court.
“The government is directed to take appropriate departmental action against them for the reckless negligence and wilful disobedience of the orders of this court,” said the bench of Justice S Rajeswaran and Justice P N Prakash on Thursday.
The two DRDO officers were found guilty of civil contempt under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. They were sentenced to a simple imprisonment for three weeks and directed to pay a fine of Rs 2,000 each.
“We are aware that they are occupying very high positions 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. Even during the course of the contempt proceedings, there was no tinge of remorse or an attempt to correct the mistake,” the court said.
On August 13, 1985, Joseph Raj was appointed clerk-cum-store keeper initially on an ad hoc basis in the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) under the ministry of defence. He acquired his B.Com and master of library and information science degrees later, and when a librarian post fell vacant in the school, he was selected on merits. CVRDE School, started at Avadi here in 1978, was sought to be closed in 2001 and staff members were issued termination notices.
Since then, Joseph Raj won several rounds of litigations in the administrative tribunal, the high court and then in the Supreme Court as well. As he was not reinstated or given job in another unit, he then filed the present contempt of court proceedings, pointing out that the authorities had misled even the apex court.
Narrating the travails of Joseph Raj in detail and convinced that the two officers had done everything to deny him employment for more than a decade, the judges directed the Centre to give a job to Joseph Raj according to the 2004 judgment that favoured him.
It also rapped the two top DRDO officers quoting the Supreme Court’s words: “Non-acceptance of a mistake is not a heroic deed. On the contrary, it reflects flawed devotion to obstinacy. The pink of perfection really blossoms in acceptance.”