Order of suspension: A tool to facilitate unhindered and fair inquiry into the alleged misconduct of the employee

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Sanjeev Kumar, J., allowed a writ petition filed against the order of respondent authorities, whereby petitioner was placed under suspension without there being any misconduct on petitioner’s part.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the actions of respondents were justified with regard to the suspension of the petitioner.

The Court observed that the respondents communicated the order of suspension to the petitioner after a year of issuance of that order. The respondents had not initiated enquiry into the matter of petitioner, nor the petitioner had been charge-sheeted even after 2 years of his order of suspension was passed. The prolongation of suspension period beyond two years can only be viewed as punitive which is not sustainable in law. The Court referred to the judgment passed in the case of Ghulam Mohammad Mir v. State, 2017 (II) SLJ, 1996, wherein it was held that the suspension of an employee is resorted to only to facilitate unhindered and fair inquiry into alleged misconduct committed by such employee but if such suspension is unnecessarily prolonged and object for which it was resorted to, is not achieved and no inquiry into conduct of such employee is initiated with reasonable dispatch, the order of suspension would become punitive and susceptible to challenge, being violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.

The Court held that the as per the principles laid down in Ghulam Mohammad’s case, the actions of the respondent authorities cannot be held justified. The respondents ought to have initiated a proper inquiry into the matter within a reasonable time. Resultantly, the Court allowed the writ petition and quashed the order of respondents. [Babu Ram Sharma v. State,2018 SCC OnLine J&K 777, order dated 24-10-2018]

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