HC asks IAS officer Smita Sabharwal to refund Rs 15L

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Abhinand Kumar, delivering verdict in two PIL pleas and a writ petition on the matter, said the IAS officer should return the money to the government within 90 days from April 26, otherwise, the government should recover the amount from her within 30 days thereafter, under intimation to the Registrar General of the High Court

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  3 May 2022 3:51 AM GMT
HC asks IAS officer Smita Sabharwal to refund Rs 15L

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court directed IAS officer and Chief Minister's Secretary Smita Sabharwal to refund Rs 15 lakh she was granted by the State government for filing a defamation suit against a magazine for publishing a satirical report on her for attending a fashion show, saying it was not for any public purpose.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Abhinand Kumar, delivering verdict in two PIL pleas and a writ petition on the matter, said the IAS officer should return the money to the government within 90 days from April 26, otherwise, the government should recover the amount from her within 30 days thereafter, under intimation to the Registrar General of the High Court.

Nearly seven years ago, the IAS officer (then additional secretary to CM) appeared on the ramp along with her husband Akun Sabharwal (an IPS officer) during a fashion show. A weekly English magazine published an article with the heading No boring Babu. The comments were made in the article on the IAS officer and the CM. Ms. Smita requested the State to sanction Rs 15 lakh to file a civil suit of defamation against the magazine seeking Rs 10 crore, which was granted through a GO on August 20, 2015. The suit was eventually dismissed five years later.

Writer and social activist Vatsala Vidya Sagar and another petitioner filed separate public interest litigations against the GO sanctioning Rs 15 lakh. They said the report was regarding a private event, and not an official function.

The Chief Justice noted that filing of a case by an individual in a private capacity against another private entity can never be said to be for a public purpose. He pointed out that it is not the case where the state had taken action against the magazine, nor any comment was made by the magazine against the officer in respect to discharge of official duties.

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