The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently rapped the Haryana Government for its "casual approach" while pursuing an Appeal filed before the Court.
The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice A.K. Mittal and Justice Tejinder Singh Dhindsa noted that the State had filed an application for condonation of 17 days delay in re-filing of the appeal. While the State had submitted that it was rectifying certain objections raised by the Registry, the Court opined that the excuse wasn't valid enough.
It observed, "It has been averred in the application that after filing of the appeal, Registry had raised certain objections and as such, the only justification being put forth is that due to lengthy process of dealing with the case file by the concerned Government Department, delay in re-filing has occurred."
The Court, therefore, rejected the justification put forth by the State and declined the prayer for condonation of delay, noting, "The instant application only reflects the casual approach adopted by the State Government in pursuing the appeal that had been filed. The justification put forth cannot be accepted. Prayer is declined."
The Appeal before the Court concerned an award passed in April, 2014 by the Labour Court, wherein one Ms. Shashi Bala, who was an anganwari worker, had been granted the relief of reinstatement with continuity of service, along with 50% back wages. Her services had been terminated in August, 2007 on the charge of embezzling funds.
The Haryana State Women & Child Development Department, on the other hand, challenged this order, asserting that Ms. Bala had confessed her guilt. It had further contended that there was no requirement in law to hold a full-fledged inquiry in view of the confession.
Besides, the State had also contended that since the post of an anganwari worker does not fall within the definition of the expression "civil post", the procedure prescribed under the Haryana Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1987 would not apply.
The Court, however, refused to agree with these contentions, observing, "We find that the stand taken on behalf of the appellant/State that a full-fledged inquiry was not to be undertaken in the light of admission of guilt on the part of respondent No.1, is wholly misconceived and contrary to record...
... Even though, respondent No.1 was not holding a 'civil post' under the State Government and the 1987 Rules did not hold the field, yet in law, it was obligatory upon the appellant/employer to have conducted an inquiry by adhering to the Rules of natural justice and to record a conclusive finding as regards embezzlement prior to imposing the major penalty of termination from service. The same admittedly has not been done."
It therefore dismissed the appeal on the ground of delay, as well as lack of merits.