The Supreme Court upheld a Madhya Pradesh High Court order which relaxed the penalty imposed on several judicial employees in District Court establishments for having more than 2 children.
As per Clause (4) of Rule 22 of the Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1965, a Government servant having more than two children shall be deemed to be misconduct, if one of them is born on or after 26.1.2001. The Madhya Pradesh District Court Establishment (Recruitment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2016 provided that the above Rules which were applicable to M.P. State Government employees shall apply subject to such modification, variation and exceptions by the High Court.
Several employees were proceeded against for this misconduct of having 3 or 4 children and were imposed with a penalty of withholding two increments with cumulative effect. The High Court heard the challenge raised by the employees and modified the punishment of into one of censure. The High Court observed that the penalty as imposed of withholding two or three increments with cumulative effect or otherwise is disproportionate and against the principal of proportionality to the alleged misconduct.The High Court administration challenged this judgment before the Apex Court.
While refusing to interfere with the High Court order granting relief to employees, the bench comprising the Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian observed:
We find no reason to interfere with this order of the High Court which is humane and appropriate for dealing with the alleged misconduct and we do not wish to interfere with the judgment of the High Court, insofar as it granted relief to judicial employees. Therefore that portion of the order of the High court granting relief to the respondents, is hereby confirmed.
However, the bench set aside the High Court direction that all the cases [of misconduct] pending prior to 28.06.2019 before any of the District Judge, and the appeal pending on administrative side before the Registry of the High Court shall also be dealt with imposing the penalty of Censure. The court observed that the High Court committed a serious error in issuing general and overarching directions which were beyond the scope of the lis before it.
THE REGISTRAR GENERAL M.P. HIGH COURT JABALPUR vs. BASANT KUMAR GUPTA & ORS.
Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 2021-2029/2020
Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian
Sr. Adv Ravindra Shrivastava, AAG Swarupma Chaturvedi