Gauhati High Court: Manojit Bhuyan, J., while allowing the present petition, directed to reinstate the petitioner on and from the date when he was under suspension.
The petitioner while working as Assistant Conservator of Forest, in the Office of the Divisional Forest Officer was placed under suspension under Rule 6 (2) of the Assam Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1964, pending drawal of departmental proceedings. The said order dated 09-02-2016 was issued under the hand of the Secretary to the Government of Assam, Environment and Forest Department. As per records, the memorandum of charges was served upon the petitioner after about 4 years by means of a show-cause notice dated 08-09-2020, together with the statement of allegations. It is also submitted that neither any exercise of review for continuance of the suspension order was undertaken nor subsistence allowance was paid following the order of suspension. Reliance was placed on Division Bench judgment of this Court in Rakibuddin Ahmed vs. State of Assam, 2019 (5) GLT 600, as well as in the case of Ajay Kumar Choudhary v. Union of India, (2015) 7 SCC 291.
What did the Supreme Court held in Ajay Kumar Choudhary v. Union of India?
The Court while discussing about the imposition of limits on suspension order, said,
“…the currency of a suspension order should not extend beyond three months if within this period the memorandum of charges/charge-sheet is not served on the delinquent officer/employee and if the memorandum of charges/charge-sheet is served, a reasoned order must be passed for the extension of the suspension.”
Relying on the aforementioned observation, the Court allowed the present petition observing, “The inescapable fact, as emerging in the present case, is that memorandum of charges/charge-sheet was not served upon the petitioner within 3 months from the date of suspension. Although the same came to be done on 08-09-2020, which is after more than 4 years from the date of the order of suspension, this Court is of the view that the same would serve no purpose and cannot operate as a saving grace in so far as the impugned order is concerned.” [Mrigen Barua v. State of Assam, 2020 SCC OnLine Gau 4587, decided on 11-12-2020]
Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together