Frowning upon the uncharitable remarks and caustic observations made by the CAT against the IB in March this year, a division bench of the Karnataka high court has set aside the observations.
Passing orders on an appeal filed by the Union home secretary and the joint director of IB on October 25, a division bench comprising Justice Mohan M Santanagoudar and Justice KN Phaneendra concurred with the submissions of additional solicitor-general of India P Wilson and said: "We find that CAT, apart from passing the order on merits, made certain observations which should not have been made ... All other observations/directions made by the CAT during the course of the impugned order stand set aside."
On March 13, a CAT bench comprising judicial member KB Suresh and administrative member Naresh Gupta likened IB to an Augean Stables requiring a systematic clean-up. It said that IB was like a chicken. "A bird? — yes. Can it fly? — No" The remarks grabbed headlines because it came at a time when the Supreme Court called the CBI a 'caged bird'.
The matter relates to an application filed by a 1998 batch IPS officer of Odisha cadre, NB Bharathi, who was with the IB on deputation. After she was sought to be repatriated to her parent cadre due to her apparent "maladjustment or lack of adjustment" to the IB's work culture, she approached CAT.
While allowing the woman officer's plea, CAT said that the IB, which is in the middle of its centenary celebrations, had been following a pattern for 100 years which is "ludicrous to the extreme and is opposed democratic polity". "Suffice it to say that the Aagean Stables have to be thoroughly and systematically cleaned," the order written by Suresh on behalf of the bench, said.
Stung by the remarks, the Centre filed an appeal in the Karnataka high court.
Additional solicitor-general of India P Wilson submitted that the comments were unwarranted and that CAT had strayed far beyond its jurisdiction as well as the scope of the application before it.
In its present order, however, the division bench did not go into the merits of the case, as the woman officer's deputation with the IB is set to end in January 2014. "Since the period of deputation provided to her expires on January 14, 2014 and as the said date is fast approaching, we do not propose to decide the matter on merit ... We dispose of the writ petition with an observation that Bharathi shall continue in Bangalore up to January 14, 2014 till the expiry of her period of deputation. Her posting subsequently depends upon further orders to be passed by the Union home ministry on her application for induction into 'hard core' of the IB," the order read.