Himachal High Court divests senior bureaucrat Sanjay Gupta of judicial powers

Shimla: Passing severe strictures against a senior bureaucrat, the Himachal High court on Tuesday not only named Sanjay Gupta, Kangra divisional commissioner, but also divested him of judicial powers and directed the state to post another ‘competent official’ in his place.

Hearing a petition in a revenue case, Justice Deepak Gupta observed “normally, this court would not like to pass any comments on the action of judicial authorities, but here is a case of a senior IAS officer exercising judicial powers against whom earlier also strictures were passed.”

The case pertains to one Sanjay Kumar who approached the High Court that Divisional Commissioner (DC), Kangra at Dharamshala acting on a application moved by Kamal Kumar had not only pre-poned the matter but also granted stay on 6.5.2011 without hearing him or issuing a notice thereof.

Sanjay Kumar appointment as a Lamberdar held valid by a subordinate court on 28.5.2008 was challenged by Kamal Kumar.

After pursing the case records, the High Court found that an earlier divisional commissioner court had heard the matter on 9.7.2008 and found no merit to stay the order passed by the subordinate court.

The appeal ‘got unnecessarily delayed’ for 3 years and an application for early hearing was moved on 6.5.2011 that at first sought disposal of the matter on merit basis but hand written changes were inserted seeking “and also consider stay application for today.”

Without hearing Sanjay Kumar or serving notice before passing the order, Sanjay Gupta as DC Kangra stayed the subordinate courts order passed on 28.5.2008 on basis of the application moved on 6.5.2011.

Terming it a ‘total non-application of mind’ Justice Deepak Gupta observed, “it is apparent that the DC Sanjay Gupta had not cared to go through the file as an order rejecting an stay application passed in 9.7.2008 only came to his notice after 15.6.2011,” when the matter came up before the High Court.

As the officer, when asked to explain under oath, failed to justify his order of granting stay in the absence of the other side despite the fact that it was represented by counsel, the High Court in an interim order divested Sanjay Gupta of all judicial powers.

Making a reference of an earlier case where the High Court had passed strictures against the same bureaucrat, the court opined, “instead of acting in a manner befitting a senior bureaucrat exercising judicial powers, his actions in this case clearly shows that the earlier judgment had no impact on him and he continues to act like a feudal Maharaja not caring about rule of law.”

The judge directed the state to ensure that some other competent official was posted as DC Kangra within four weeks and asked for deciding the case before the year ends.

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  1. Court revokes strictures against Himachal IAS officer Sanjay Gupta

    Shimla: Pleading from removing stern strictures passed against him, Sanjay Gupta, a senior IAS officer was let off by the Himachal Pradesh High Court with a warning to mend his ways.

    After hearing Sanjay Gupta’s review petition Justice Deepak Gupta observed, ‘I am of the view that he may be given one more chance to improve himself.’

    Earlier, the court had passed strictures against the officer for callously having granted stay in a revenue case without serving notice or hearing the affected party.

    The high court order observed that the officer, “has little knowledge of law and who, despite an earlier warning given by the High Court, has not cared to improve.”

    The court had ordered the state government to divest the officer of all judicial powers and post a competent officer in his place by Sep 15.

    In the review petition, Sanjay Gupta had pleaded that in case he is removed from the post, he would suffer throughout his career, and sought the deletion of the adverse comments.

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