2 Jun 2023 2:15 PM GMT
The Supreme Court recently quashed a charge sheet filed against a retired judicial officer in Odisha who was facing departmental proceedings for alleged irregularities committed in the process of selection of caretakers. The bench comprising Justice Bela Trivedi and Justice Ajay Rastogi further held that the judicial officer was entitled to all retirement benefits.The issue arose when a...
The Supreme Court recently quashed a charge sheet filed against a retired judicial officer in Odisha who was facing departmental proceedings for alleged irregularities committed in the process of selection of caretakers. The bench comprising Justice Bela Trivedi and Justice Ajay Rastogi further held that the judicial officer was entitled to all retirement benefits.
The issue arose when a retired Judicial Officer of Odisha approached the Supreme Court through a writ petition for quashing of the departmental proceedings initiated against her pursuant to a chargesheet. The said Judicial Officer served as a Registrar of the Odisha Administrative Tribunal for the period from 28.06.2012 to 01.10.2015. During her service as Registrar, an advertisement came to be published for the post of ‘Caretaker’, pursuant to which the selection was held and later the suitable candidates came to be appointed. The selection process was challenged before the Odisha administrative Tribunal and was dismissed. The said challenge was also later dismissed by the High Court. Post this, a fact finding enquiry was initiated by the High Court on the Administrative Side to examine the process of selection held seeking appointment to the post of Caretaker.
Just two days before the retirement of the judicial officer, a letter was issued to her for the alleged irregularity committed in the process of selection and later a chargesheet was filed against her. The petitioner argued that as she stood retired from service, under Rule 7 of the Odisha Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1992, the departmental inquiry initiated against her (a retired officer) with the sanction of the Government, shall not be in respect of any event which took place more than four years before such institution. She submitted that the allegations indicated in the chargesheet were beyond the period of four years.
Per contra, the respondents argued that the notice was issued to the petitioner before her retirement and the chargesheet was in continuation of the said notice. Thus, the restriction under Rule 7 would not be applicable.
The court found that the chargesheet was in clear breach of the mandate of Rule 7 of Rules 1992. Accordingly, the chargesheet and other consequential departmental proceedings initiated against the officer were quashed. The court added–
"The petitioner is entitled to all terminal/retiral benefits, if the same have been withheld because of pendency of the departmental inquiry, along with interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date it was withheld, until actually paid."
Case Title: Suchismita Mishra v. High Court of Orissa & Ors | WP (C) No. 1042 of 2021
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 477
Click Here To Read/Download Order