28 March 2023 10:48 AM GMT
Setting aside an order of Central Administrative Tribunal Srinagar, in terms of which it had quashed the suspension of an employee on the ground of his prolonged suspension, the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has recently ruled that failure to produce a challan/charge sheet within a period of three months does not automatically vitiate the suspension.A bench comprising Justices...
Setting aside an order of Central Administrative Tribunal Srinagar, in terms of which it had quashed the suspension of an employee on the ground of his prolonged suspension, the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has recently ruled that failure to produce a challan/charge sheet within a period of three months does not automatically vitiate the suspension.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjeev Kumar and Puneet Gupta observed,
"It is true ordinarily whenever a Government servant is placed under suspension on a criminal charge, endeavour should be made to produce the charge sheet before the competent court of law within a period of three months. The failure to produce a challan/charge sheet within a period of three months does not automatically vitiate the suspension".
The CAT Srinagar bench in its order had held that prolong suspension i.e., suspension beyond the period of three years is not sustainable in law, if within the said period the memorandum of charges/ charge sheet is not served on the delinquent officer.
While hearing the challenge to the impugned CAT order the bench observed that Rule 31 of Civil Services (CC&A) Rules, 1956 is abundantly clear that a Government servant can be placed under suspension where an enquiry is contemplated or is pending or the complaint against him of any criminal offence is under investigation or trial. The Government servant can also be placed under suspension if he is detained in the custody whether on a criminal charge or otherwise for a period longer than forty eight hours, in such situation the Government servant would be deemed to be under suspension, the bench underscored.
Taking note of the Government instructions issued vide SRO 616 dated September 20th 1978, the bench observed that the said order prescribes that wherever a Government servant is placed under suspension, it shall be the endeavour of the competent authority to have the charge sheet filed in the court in case of prosecution and the charges served on the Government servant, in case of departmental proceedings within three months from date of suspension.
However, the cases in which this is not possible, such authority shall report to the next higher authority explaining the reasons for delay and the cases of such Government officer under suspension would be reviewed by the competent authority periodically to see that the steps could be taken to expedite the progress of trial/departmental proceedings so as to reduce period of suspension to barest minimum.
Observing that the said govt instructions have not been taken note of by the CAT, the bench added that had that been so the only direction that could have been issued by the Central Administrative Tribunal, in the given facts and circumstances, was to direct the competent authority to review the suspension of the petitioners in the light of the fact that despite the lapse of almost one year, neither charge sheet in a court has been filed nor the departmental proceedings have been initiated.
In view of the said legal position the bench allowed the appeal and the impugned order was set aside. The bench further directed the Chief Engineer KPDCL who had passed the order of suspension of the petitioner to review the same having regard to the fact that more than a year has passed since the petitioner was placed under suspension and the investigating agency has not been able to present the challan/charge sheet in the court.
"He shall consider the entire issue in the light of the government instructions appended with the Rule 31 vide SRO 616 dated 20th September, 1978, and pass a speaking order within a period of six weeks from the date of copy of the judgment is served upon him", the bench concluded.
Case Title: UT of J&K Vs Munshi Masood
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (JKL) 68
Counsel For Petitioner: Mr. Ab. Rashid Malik, Sr. AAG.
Counsel For Respondent: Mr Irfan Andleeb.
Click Here To Read/Download Order