The Delhi High Court has recently directed the Registry of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) to furnish an explanation to its Chairman as to why a matter was listed prior to the date for which it was adjourned.
The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justices GS Sistani and Anup J Bhambhani in plea directed against two orders passed by the CAT.
The petitioner had filed a plea before the Tribunal which was allowed by an order passed in April 2017. The concerned respondent then preferred a review of the order and the same was allowed by an order dated passed in March 2019. Consequently, the matter was adjourned for a date in April 2019 for a fresh hearing.
In April 2019, when the matter came up for hearing, the applicant was not represented and the Registry was directed to issue notice to the applicant returnable on July 23, 2019.
It was the petitioner’s grievance that without awaiting the date fixed in the case, the matter was taken-up and heard in the absence of the petitioner in May 2019 and the plea was dismissed.
The petitioner further informed that even after the fact was brought to the notice of the Tribunal by filing a review application, the review was dismissed without taking the submission into account.
The counsel for the respondent argued that there was no infirmity in the order passed on merits. He was, however, unable to justify as to how the matter was listed prior to the date fixed.
After hearing the parties, the Court opined that while it may not be unusual for a matter to inadvertently get listed on a date prior to the date for which the notice was issued, what surprised it was when the matter came up before the Tribunal on a prior date, the petitioner’s plea was dismissed without paying heed to this fact.
Even when this error was pointed out by way of a review application, the same was also dismissed, the Court added.
The Court thus remarked,
“We fail to understand as to why, when the matter was adjourned to 23.07.2019, was the matter listed on a prior date by the Registry of the Tribunal. The Registry must furnish an explanation to the Chairman of the Tribunal for this lapse.
We are also rather alarmed that when this lapse was brought to the notice of the Tribunal by way of the review application, the Tribunal did not deem it appropriate to review the order and give a hearing to the petitioner which he is entitled to in law.”
In view of the above, the Court directed the Registry of the Tribunal to ensure that an explanation is placed before the Chairman of the Tribunal in regard to the lapse that occurred in the case.
The Court thus concluded that it was “left with no option” but to set-aside impugned order passed in May 2019 which had dismissed the petitioner’s plea.
Accordingly, the Court directed the Tribunal to hear the parties and decide the petitioner’s plea on merits.
The petitioner was represented by Advocates Sumit Bansal, Prateek Kohli.
The respondents were represented by Senior Standing Counsel Jagjit Singh with Advocates Preet Singh, Vipin Chaudhary.
Read the Order: