karnataka high court

Karnataka High Court: In an appeal filed under Section 4 of Karnataka High Court Act, 1961 praying to set aside the order of reinstatement by a Single Judge Bench of the High Court; the Division Bench of Prasanna B. Varale, C.J.* and Krishna S. Dixit, J., opined that an employee cannot be dismissed on the basis that a criminal case was registered against him. Dismissal from service cannot be ordered without holding an enquiry. The Court opined that snatching away a job offends the pith and substance of fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In an instant case, the order decided on 06-04-2023 was passed by the single Judge of the Karnataka High Court, whereby the Court had set aside the dismissal of respondent from his services and directed the petitioner to reinstate him to his position.

The Court relied on Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, (1985) 3 SCC 545 and opined that no employee could be punished by way of dismissal from service without giving an opportunity of hearing as per the principles of natural justice as being a part of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The Court further opined that where an employee was convicted & sentenced for an offence involving moral turpitude, he could be removed from the employment. However, that question did not arise in the instant case. “Ours being a Welfare State, Article 12 Entities have to conduct themselves as model employers and their decisions should be pregnant with human values”.

In a society like ours, job more often than not, happens to be predominant source of livelihood and therefore snatching away a job (in public employment), like the one that has happened in the case at hand, virtually amounts to taking away the means of livelihood of the employee”.

Thus, the Court dismissed the appeal and left the appellants to decide in their discretion on the request for payment of back wages during the period the respondent had been out of employment.

[Attikaribettu Grama Panchayath v. Ganesha, 2024 SCC OnLine Kar 2, Decided on 11-01-2024]

*Judgment by Justice Prasanna B. Varale, Chief Justice, Karnataka High Court

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Petitioner: S. Arumugham Advocate

For the Respondents: Niloufer Akbar, AGA for R2 and Sharanjit Shetty K, Advocate for R3

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