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Employee Cannot Be Terminated Without Full Departmental Inquiry: Gujarat High Court

PRIYANKA PREET
14 Feb 2022 4:34 AM GMT
Employee Cannot Be Terminated Without Full Departmental Inquiry: Gujarat High Court
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Gujarat High Court Bench comprising Justice Biren Vaishnav while allowing the Petition challenging the order terminating the Petitioner's services has observed as follows; "The employer is not allowed to hire and fire even if the employee, maybe ad hoc or probationer, and the services cannot be given a go-bye by one stroke of pen on the ground of misconduct by casting stigma,...

Gujarat High Court Bench comprising Justice Biren Vaishnav while allowing the Petition challenging the order terminating the Petitioner's services has observed as follows;

"The employer is not allowed to hire and fire even if the employee, maybe ad hoc or probationer, and the services cannot be given a go-bye by one stroke of pen on the ground of misconduct by casting stigma, without holding a regular inquiry in accordance with the principles of natural justice."

Background

The Petitioner, a Junior Clerk (administration), was engaged in services at the Taluka Panchayat on a five-year contract basis. The Petitioner's services were terminated on account of corruption when he was caught red-handed while accepting an amount of INR 3,000. The Petitioner filed an appeal against the order of termination at the District Development Officer who set aside the order, directed the reinstatement of the Petitioner and extended his probation. Due to certain correspondence between the District Development Officer and the Development Commissioner, a fresh letter terminated the Petitioner's services owing to the corruption allegations.

The Respondent contended that an FIR was filed against the Petitioner and the Disciplinary Authority terminated his services, accordingly. Further, he was caught red-handed while accepting the amount. The Petitioner's appointment order stipulated that the Petitioner can be removed if there is misconduct.

Judgement

The Bench relied overwhelmingly on a Special Civil Application of 2019 before the Gujarat HC which had heard a similar matter. The High Court had considered the question whether the termination of the employee who was engaged on contractual terms can be done in a manner merely by issuance of show-cause notice or was a full-fledged inquiry necessary preceding the action of termination.

The Bench affirmed the High Court's opinion that the impugned order of termination, stigmatised the employee basis the allegations of misconduct. The Court had remarked:

"Such an action could not have been taken even though the petitioner was a fixed period employee without giving the petitioner a fullfledged opportunity to defend and after holding regular departmental inquiry."

Justice Vaishnav noted that the Court had directed reinstatement of the contractual employee for the remainder of his term. Justice Vaishnav noted:

"What is evident from reading the contents of the decision is that if initiation of action is based on an unsatisfactory work, gross negligence or indiscipline, it tantamounts to being stigmatic and unless and until a full-scale departmental inquiry is held, irrespective of whether the employee is a regular employee or a contractual employee, the result has to be the same."

Keeping in view this order, Justice Vaishnav directed the Petitioner's reinstatement on his original post. He was directed to be on probation for a period of one year. Notional pay was also fixed as if the Petitioner had continued in service and as if the impugned order had not been passed. The Court permitted the Petitioner's termination only in accordance with the law and after holding the inquiry.

Case Title:  DINESHBHAI DHUDABHAI PATEL Versus STATE OF GUJARAT and ORS
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 38

Case No.: C/SCA/11518/2020

Click Here To Read/Download Order 


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