Minor penalties, without cumulative effect, are still a proof of tainted service record; Benefit of Selection Grade can’t be claimed as a right: SC

Supreme Court: In a case where a former employee of Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation sought benefit of Selection Grade, 7 years after his compulsory retirement, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant, JJ has held that the grant of the Selection Grade is not a matter of right and is subject to the stipulated terms and conditions which, in the present case, included a clean and untainted service record. Considering that the respondent was served with as many as 19 charge-sheets in pursuance of which he was subject to departmental penalties, it could not be said that his record was clean.

On 4 January 2003, the respondent, who was appointed on the post of Conductor, was compulsorily retired from service. He then instituted a suit in 2010, nearly seven years after his compulsory retirement seeking the benefit of Selection Grade on the completion of 9, 18 and 27 years of service. The Trial Court and the Rajasthan High Court, both, were of the opinion that the respondent shall be entitled to the grant of Selection Grade from 25 January 1992 on the completion of 9 years of service and the second Selection Grade pay scale from 7 January 2002 on the completion of 18 years of service.

It was, however, argued before the Supreme Court, that firstly, the suit which was instituted in 2010, nearly 7 years after the respondent had retired was barred by limitation and secondly, in order to avail of the benefit of the Selection Grade, the employee was required to have a clean record of service. In the present case, the respondent was served with as many as 19 charge-sheets and penalties.

The respondent, on the other hand, argued that some of the penalties which were imposed on the respondent were without cumulative effect. Hence, the consequence of the withholding of increments without cumulative effect is that after the period prescribed, the respondent would be entitled to restoration of the original pay scale or the original pay.

The Court, however, disagreed with the respondent’s stand and observed that this would not obviate the position that the imposition of the penalty itself indicates that the service record of the employee was not satisfactory.

It was evident in the present case that the respondent had been subjected to several disciplinary proceedings and as many as 19 charge-sheets were issued against him which resulted in penalties of a varying nature. Hence, the service record of the respondent cannot be regarded as untainted or clean.

On the argument that the penalties were of a minor nature, the Court observed,

“Assuming that to be so, it is evident that for the grant of Selection Grade, the respondent did not fulfil the requirements of a clean record of service. The grant of the Selection Grade is not a matter of right and was subject to the terms and conditions which were stipulated. The respondent failed to fulfill these terms and conditions.”

The Court, hence, set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court.

[Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation v. Sadhu Singh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 181, order dated 04.02.2022]


Counsels

For appellant: Dr Charu Mathur, AOR

For Respondent: Advocate Nidhi

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