The Delhi High Court has quashed the Centre’s decision to disempanel a retired army officer from being involved in transportation of coal for Coal India Ltd and its subsidiaries. The Ministry of Defence had floated schemes to provide post-retirement employment opportunities to ex-army men, including one allowing them to take up up the work of transporting coal for the PSU and its subsidiaries. Lieutenant Colonel Hawa Singh Jattayan (retired) was dis-empanelled from Ex-Serviceman (ESM) Coal Loading and Transportation Scheme on several grounds including that at the time of granting the job, he was involved in some other vocation. Justice Vibhu Bakhru held that the guidelines for getting into the scheme clearly indicated that there was no prohibition for any sponsored director to take up employment after the ESM company was formed. “There is also no term in the MoU dated April 16, 1999, which proscribes a director of an ESM company from taking up other employment. “The MoU dated April 16, 1999 was superseded by another MoU executed on December 14, 2013. However, clause 22 of the said MoU expressly provided that existing ESM Companies will continue to be governed by the previous MoU dated April 16, 1999,” it noted.
The court also set aside a September 2017 order passed by the Director General Resettlement (DGR), by which Hawa Singh was dis-empanelled from the scheme. The DGR had passed the order against the retired army officer on the ground of irregularities committed by him in formation of companies and violating MoU and guidelines. Advocate T L Garg, appearing for Hawa Singh, said his client did not furnish incorrect details in his affidavit. “The ex-serviceman was not employed at the material time when he had affirmed the affidavit,” he said, adding that the officer was also not prohibited from taking up the employment under the guidelines that were prevalent then.
The court agreed with his contention and observed that “It is also clear from the affidavit that the petitioner had not affirmed that he would not be employed in a government/private job after sponsorship of the ESM Coal Company as observed in the order. “As noticed above, one of the two reasons for dis-empanelling the petitioner was his alleged violation of the terms of the affidavit submitted by him. This is, plainly, erroneous and the order is liable to be set aside on this ground alone,” the court observed.
The scheme to promote coal transportation companies by ex-servicemen was formulated between the Ministry of Energy (now Ministry of Coal) and Ministry of Defence in 1979 with the dual objective of providing assured transportation for coal to CIL and providing re-employment to rehabilitate ex-servicemen in civilian life.