Bombay High Court refused to grant relief to a MSEDCL (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd) employee who was charged with accepting a bribe of Rs.5000 in 2007.
The concerned employee was a Junior Engineer with MSEDCL, he sought directions from the court to his employers to pay a sum of Rs.20 lakhs (approx.) towards his salary and other allowances from December 2008 to February 2012.
Although he was acquitted by the trial court as the prosecution failed to prove charges of bribery beyond “reasonable doubt”. The bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and BP Colabawalla upheld the principle of “No Work No Pay” and dismissed his petition in an order dated March 3, 2017.
The petitioner was arrested on September 12, 2007 on charges of accepting a bribe from Sunil Atmaram Bothare. He was then suspended by MSEDCL on September 20, 2007. Following this a dismissal notice was sent to him in January 2008 asking why he should not be removed from service.
The petitioner then sought interim relief from the Labour Court which was rejected. Then he filed a revision application against the Labour Court order before the Industrial Court. This application was allowed and Labour Court’s order was set aside.
Aggrieved by the order, MSEDCL filed a writ petition before the High Court, which then set aside the Industrial Court’s order and finally MSEDCL terminated the petitioner employee in December 2008.
However, in May 2011 the Special Court in Khed disposed of the criminal prosecution initiated against the petitioner and acquitted him as the prosecution “had failed to prove the commission of the alleged offences beyond a reasonable doubt.”
As the Anti-Corruption Bureau decided not to appeal against the acquittal, MSEDCL decided to revoke its own termination order and allowed the petitioner to resume service in February 2016. However, the said period from December 2008 to February 2012 was treated as “leave without pay” on the principle of “No Work No Pay”.
Petitioner then filed a petition before HC seeking payment of dues. His lawyer, Seema Sarnaik argued that her client was wrongly deprived of wages and other allowances as he was “acquitted honourably”.
ARS Baxi appeared for MSEDCL, she submitted that according to MSEDCL Employees' Service Regulations, 2005, in particular Service Regulation 10 A, the petitioner cannot be granted any relief.
The bench observed- “We find considerable force in the argument of Ms Baxi. It is now well settled that the charge of bribery and corruption though punishable as a criminal offence, does not mean that it is not a misconduct under the Service Regulations. It is equally a misconduct in as much as a public servant is expected to work honestly and diligently. Any conduct which is unbecoming of a public servant and brings his image and reputation, together with that of the organization in disrepute, if committed, then, all the more, the avenue of disciplinary proceedings/Departmental Enquiry is open, irrespective of the outcome of the criminal proceedings.
In fact, such proceedings can also be initiated during the pendency of the criminal case. Therefore, on conclusion of the criminal case and the same resulting in the employee's acquittal, he may be reinstated in service, but that does not mean that he would be entitled to payment of wages and salary for the time he did not work. A public servant cannot as of right, therefore, demand these dues as he has rendered no service nor has he performed any work. Even otherwise, back wages do not follow reinstatement and as a matter of course. Everything depends on facts and circumstances of each case.”
Read the Judgment here.