Two AAP government lawyers today fought over who would represent it in the Delhi High Court on a plea of the Delhi Assembly Secretary, for whom the Centre and state government are already contesting each other. Secretary Prasanna Kumar Suryadevara’s plea challenges the disciplinary proceedings initiated against him by the Prasar Bharati for not returning to his parent cadre – the All India Radio (AIR).
Heated arguments between the two lawyers erupted after one of them claimed to represent the Services Department of the Delhi government and opposed the maintainability of the plea filed by Suryadevara.
Senior Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra said it was his prerogative to allocate or mark matters and he had marked it to Additional Standing Counsel Peeyoosh Kalra.
On the other hand, Additional Standing Counsel Naushad Ahmed Khan said the Law and Justice department had issued him the “brief transmission form” to represent the department in the matter. Justice V K Rao, however, did not make any observation regarding the conflict between the two lawyers of the Delhi government.
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The court, though, questioned the maintainability of Suryadevara’s plea challenging the disciplinary proceedings initiated against him by Prasar Bharati for not returning to his parent cadre.
“Going by the prayers, jurisdiction appears to be the Central Administrative Tribunal,” it observed. But the lawyers for Suryadevara requested that the matter be transferred to the judge hearing Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel’s plea against the Secretary’s repatriation to AIR as ordered by the Lieutenant Governor.
They said the other judge can then decide the jurisdiction and maintainability issues raised by Khan and the lawyer for AIR. Khan and the lawyer for AIR had contended that it was a service matter and the appropriate forum to hear it was the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
Suryadevara’s lawyers, on the other hand, argued that the Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution to retain him as the Secretary which has not been challenged.
It was also argued on his behalf that to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Suryadevara, without challenging the resolution, was a breach of privilege of the legislature.
In view of the submissions made by Suryadevara’s lawyers, Justice Rao forwarded the matter to the Acting Chief Justice to decide which bench of the high court would hear the instant petition.
In his plea, Suryadevara has also challenged his relieving orders issued by AIR and the Delhi government last year and reiterated by the Lieutenant Governor in March this year.
He has also sought quashing of the office memoranda issued by AIR to him for unauthorised absence from duty and for writing a news article — ‘Neither Office, Nor Profit’.
Apart from that he has also sought the setting aside of the order by AIR appointing an inquiry authority to carry out the disciplinary proceedings.
In his plea, he has also challenged the charge sheet issued by the inquiry authority and its other communications to him.
The petition was filed by Suryadevara after a separate bench of the high court, hearing the Speaker’s plea against his repatriation, had said that Ram Niwas Goel cannot dispute the disciplinary proceedings.
The court of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva had said that Suryadevara would have to in his own capacity challenge the disciplinary proceedings.
The judge had also asked whether the Delhi Legislative Assembly will collapse without Suryadevara.
The court had not approved of the application filed by Goel seeking stay of the ex-parte disciplinary proceedings going on against Suryadevara at AIR for not joining back there and for writing the article.
Suryadevara, an officer belonging to Newsreader-cum- Translator (Telugu) cadre, was deputed to Delhi Assembly for a year after which the then LG Najeeb Jung had ordered relieving him.
Goel, however, had refused to relieve the official, insisting since the Speaker also holds a constitutional office, the LG cannot repatriate the Assembly secretary without his concurrence.
Suryadevara had earlier served in the office of the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for five years and that of Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari for over six years.