The Contempt of Court Episode Needs be Kept in IAS Officers’ Service Books

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

School and Mass Education Secretary Ms. Aparajita Sarangi’s unconditional apology has invoked judicial magnanimity of Orissa High Court that has remitted the cash-or-jail-in-default punishment awarded to her for “willful disobedience” to its order in a school teacher salary case.

A school teacher, Ms. Swarnalata Dei, appointed on January 2,1992 in a rural high school, was regularized on Government recognition on March 6, 1999. She harped on regularization since the day of her joining, which the government sloughed over. This had led to the litigation before the High Court, which, ultimately on July 20 last year, had ordered that her services must be counted since the day of her joining and her back wages, calculated accordingly, must be paid to her as per official scale of pay. This order was taken nonchalantly, which had given birth to the contempt of court case.

By personally appearing before the concerned bench and having admitted her fault while begging apology, she has of course been saved from the contempt proceeding and resultant punishment.

But, this has not yielded a court order that she as the secretary had done no wrong to a school teacher.

Administration needs to take note of it.

The contempt proceeding against the Secretary, the cause thereof, the award of punishment therein, her confession of guilt with the timing and sequence of confession, her prayer for apology and the pardon granted because of judicial magnanimity – all these matters – need be noted in her personal character sheet as these taken together offer an index of her effectiveness as an officer and her aptitude to her subordinates vis-a-vis her responsibility.

Many incorrigibly errant officers have bagged promotions in Orissa; because, their misconducts – despite being located by enquiring authorities and determined by courts – are not properly kept in their service records. There are some instances in discussion in these pages.

To stop repetition thereof, the instant Contempt of Court episode needs be kept in Ms. Sarangi’s Service Book. This should also apply to director of school education Srikant Prusti IAS as well as to Cuttack circle inspector of schools Brundavan Satpathy, Ms. Sarangi’s co-contemners.

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