Court fines State legal adviser
NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 27
The Nagaland government’s Legal Adviser, R Kothandaraman, has been fined an amount of Rs 50,000 by the Delhi High Court for concealing facts to the court. This report has been highlighted prominently in the national media.
Kothandaraman, who has been employed with the government of Nagaland as a legal adviser, is also a retired official of the Lok Sabha Secretariat. He had attempted to get back his job after seeking voluntary retirement. The court has pulled him up and fined him a hefty amount as cost for concealing facts.
A bench of justices Gita Mittal and Deepa Sharma upheld the decision of a single judge bench that had said R Kothandaraman had “waived his right to withdraw the voluntary retirement”.
The court also took serious objection of the concealment of material fact by Kothandaraman while attempting to take back his previous consent to voluntary retirement by alleging that his wife was refusing “to consent for a joint photograph for the pension papers”.
However, later it came to the light that the joint photograph of Kothandaraman and his wife was already filed with the department in the pension papers.
“Given this conduct of the appellant in concealing material facts and generating this unwarranted and dishonest litigation as part a well thought plan, two years after the events, the appellant is burdened with heavy costs.
“For all these reasons, the present appeal is completely devoid of any merits and is hereby dismissed with costs throughout,” the court said, asked him to pay Rs 50,000 within four weeks to his previous employer.
“We are deeply distressed that a person in such senior position in the legislative department, one who is engaged in law making, should display such scant regard towards established legal principles and create such litigation for already over burdened courts,” it said.
On June 6, 2008, Kothandaraman had sought to voluntarily retire from the Lok Sabha Secretariat and after it was accepted, he sought to withdraw the voluntary retirement request, which was not accepted by the authorities.
Later, a plea was filed before a single judge bench which also dismissed the plea of Kothandaraman, who, besides working in the Lok Sabha Secretariat, had earlier served in Nagaland and Goa Legislative assemblies in various capacities.
Kothandaraman was earlier serving in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly on deputation and was later appointed as a Legal Adviser to Nagaland government. He was also appointed in a senior position in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, but was later removed under controversial circumstances.
The BJP has expressed disappointment in a statement that the State’s Legal Adviser, Kothandaraman has argued against the BJP in an MLA disqualification case despite the BJP being part of the ruling alliance in Nagaland. Kothandaraman had argued against the BJP in court proceedings in Kohima but his argument was overruled and the BJP MLAs had obtained a stay on their disqualification.
Senior BJP leaders also expressed resentment on the fact that a person of such record is serving as a legal adviser to a state government in which the BJP is also a ruling partner. They expressed apprehension and stated that they are checking his background and looking into any aspect where he may also have served or is serving Congress leaders in different States.
The court ruling also said, “We may observe that the appellant, as a senior officer with the respondent, was fully aware of the requirements of law.”
It added that his conduct tantamount to deliberate concealment of material facts and renders the appellant liable for appropriate proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act as well as dismissal of the writ petition and the present appeal on this short ground alone. The court has decided that if he is unable to pay the fine, it would be deducted from his pension benefits.
Apparently he had also assisted the State Government of Nagaland for framing the rules and guidelines in the State government’s attempts to exploit the oil and natural gas resources in the State. These guidelines and regulations have run into serious controversy in Nagaland with various groups and civil societies either supporting or opposing it.