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Madras High Court Quashes Suspension Of Former ABVP President Dr. Subbiah Shanmugham

Upasana Sajeev
31 March 2022 4:19 PM GMT
Madras High Court Quashes Suspension Of Former ABVP President Dr. Subbiah Shanmugham
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The Madras High Court on Thursday quashed the order of suspension of former ABVP President Dr. Subbiah Shanmugham, Government Surgical Oncologist for alleged association with a political organisation. The bench of Justice D. Krishnakumar further directed the Tamil Nadu Government to complete the departmental enquiry against Dr. Subbiah within a period of 12 weeks. The Court also directed...

The Madras High Court on Thursday quashed the order of suspension of former ABVP President Dr. Subbiah Shanmugham, Government Surgical Oncologist for alleged association with a political organisation.

The bench of Justice D. Krishnakumar further directed the Tamil Nadu Government to complete the departmental enquiry against Dr. Subbiah within a period of 12 weeks. The Court also directed Dr. Subbiah to extend cooperation to the enquiry proceedings.

Background

Dr. Subbiah was posted as Professor of Surgical Oncology in Kilpauk Medical College and Surgical Oncologist in Government Royapettah Hospital, Chennai vide Government Order in G.O(D) No. 1519, Health and Family Welfare Department dated 31.10.2016.

To his shock and surprise, the Director of Medical Education, Kilpauk passed an order of suspension on the alleged ground that the complaints and reports against him is contemplated for his association with political organisation, political statement, activities and propaganda expressing disloyal sentiments. It was held that he violated Rule 14 of the Tamil Nadu Government Servants Conduct Rules. He was thus placed on suspension under Rule 17 (e) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, until further orders pending enquiry.

According to Dr. Subbiah, the suspension order has been passed on untenable grounds. He was never visited with a single memo all these years and wasn't issued any charge memo. He further stated that according to the rules a member can be placed on suspension when an enquiry into grave charges is pending and not merely when grave complaints and reports are pending.

He relied on the judgement of the court in D.R.P Sundharam v Canara Bank, rep by its executive Director (2008), where it was held that initiation of disciplinary proceedings means that a chare memo should be pending.

Further, as per Rule 13 of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, the Director could only suspend officers in the cadre of Assistant Surgeon only whereas the petitioner was a Professor. Thus, the Director of Medical Education was incompetent to pass an order as contemplated by the Apex Court in Marathwada Univeristy v Seshrao Bawant Rao Chavan (1989)

The respondents stated that the order of suspension is perfectly valid in law. The director does not have powers under the rules. However, he sent a proposal to the State which has ratified the action of the Director by passing the G.O. The respondents also submitted that based on complaints as well as available materials, disciplinary proceedings will ne initiated and the petitioner may raise his concerns at that time.

The court considered Rule 13 of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules and stated that when the Act prescribes the particular body to exercise a power, it must be exercised only by that body. It cannot be exercised by others unless it is delegated. The court further held that the respondents could not prove that the state had delegated the power to the Director to issue the suspension order.

The court concluded that the order was passed by an incompetent authority and its subsequent ratification by the first respondent are unsustainable in law and liable to be quashed. The respondents were therefore directed to reinstate the petitioner in service with all monetary benefits as per rules.

Case Title: Dr. S. Subbiah v. The State of Tamil Nadu rep by Secretary and anr

Case No: W.P Nos. 4594 and 6737 of 2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 133

Click here to read/download judgment


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