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Posted at: Aug 14, 2019, 7:05 AM; last updated: Aug 14, 2019, 7:05 AM (IST)

Tribunal stays transfer of Forest Department chief

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 13

The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) today stayed the transfer order of Indian Forest Officer (IFS) Jitendra Sharma.

Sharma had challenged the “impugned” transfer order by appearing before the tribunal in person.

The IFS officer posted as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (head of forest force) at Department of Forest & Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, was transferred as Managing Director, Punjab State Forest Development Corporation, on August 9 and Kuldip Kumar working as PCCF (Wildlife) was given his post.

Sharma contended that during Kuldip Kumar’s earlier tenure as PCCF, he was indicted by the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, for rampant violation of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, for which the tribunal directed that entire case to be investigated thoroughly by an officer not below the rank of Additional Chief Secretary to fix the responsibility upon officers responsible for the violation.

“By posting respondent (Kuldip Kumar) as PCCF, being head of the Forest Department, he would become the custodian of the record, which will hamper fair the investigation as directed by the NGT,” read the petition by Sharma.

Kumar had allegedly triggered large-scale felling of 24,777 trees under a project to widen the 800-km-long Bist-Doab-Canal (BDC) in 2016, when he was PCCF without the approval of the competent authority. The Conservator of Forest, Shivalik Circle, Hoshiarpur, had warned prior approval from the MoEF was required.

CAT held that the transfer order was in violation of rule 7 of the IFS (Cadre) Rules, 1966, as its case of transfer was not put up before the Civil Services Board as it was not even formulated and therefore stayed the order till August 26.

The tribunal, while granting the stay, also took cognisance of apex court orders in the case of TSR Subramanian (supra), wherein it was observed that repeated shuffling/transfer of officers was deleterious to good governance.

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