Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has set aside an order of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which had reinstated Customs Inspector S M Padwal after giving a finding that his removal from service was not proper.
        
Padwal was removed after a departmental probe, which held that he was guilty of accepting a bribe of Rs 4.5 lakh from 1993 bomb blast accused Mohammed Dossa and Uttam Potdar for giving safe passage to arms which landed in Dighy coast in nearby Raigad district prior to serial explosions in Mumbai.
        
The CAT had ruled that Padwal's removal from service was not proper. Being aggrieved, the Union Government filed an appeal in the High Court, which last week quashed the CAT's order. Justice D G Deshmukh and Justice Anoop Mohata found the officer's removal from service "fit and proper".
        
After the 1993 serial blasts in which several persons were killed, the role of the officer was unearthed following confessions given by Dossa and Potdar during the trial.
        
Padwal contended that the confessions of the two accused, recorded under TADA (P) Act, were used against him in the departmental inquiry and this was not proper. He said the confessions could only be used in that case under TADA (P) Act and not against him in the departmental inquiry.
        
Padwal contended that Dossa and Potdar, both 1993 accused, were not called by inquiry officer for examination and hence he did not get an opportunity to cross-examine them.
        
The Union government, however, contended that Dossa and Potdar were in police custody and hence they could not be produced before the inquiry officer.
        
Moreover, it argued, the existing laws do not provide that the Indian Evidence Act should be strictly enforced in a departmental inquiry. Hence they could use the confessions recorded under TADA (P) Act against Padwal for the purpose of departmental inquiry, the Centre argued.
        
After hearing the arguments, the High Court stayed CAT's order and admitted Centre's appeal.

(Agencies)