Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, J., dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the Jharkhand State Aarogya Society issued an advertisement for appointment in different posts by way of walk-in-interview. The said appointment shall be a contractual appointment for a period of three years with the rider that on completion of three years, the review would be done of the work of the appointed persons and upon their being found to be satisfactory, their services shall be extended for the next year and if found to be unsatisfactory then after giving one month’s notice his service shall be terminated. The petitioner applied for the post of Senior Consultant (Finance) got a total of 45 marks which was found to be highest and was selected for the post. The petitioner received the appointment letter dated 15.10.2019 and was terminated vide letter dated 23-06-2020 even without completing one year. Aggrieved by the same, instant petition was filed for quashing the said termination order.

Counsel for the petitioner Rahul Kumar submitted that the impugned order is non-speaking and illegal. He further submitted that the order was issued without following clause-6 of the appointment letter which provides for one month’s notice before terminating the service of the employee, and has been issued without any show cause and hence is in violation of principles of natural justice and liable to be quashed.

Counsel for the respondents Salona Mittal submitted that the appointment letter categorically mentions that the appointments are being made for a period of three years subject to review of the performance every year and if the same is not found satisfactory, their services can be terminated.  It was further submitted that due to the negligence of the petitioner, the office of the respondents was levied with a penalty by the Income-tax Department for not filing TDS within time.  It was further submitted that the order was issued after following the due process of law as show cause dated 22-01-2020 was served.

The Court observed that there was no statutory rule requiring one month’s notice for termination by the respondents of the service of the petitioner but only the term of appointment order which stipulated for one month’s notice. The term contained in clause-6 of the appointment letter reads as under

 “On unsatisfactory contract of service termination can be made after providing a month’s notice.”

This nowhere suggests or indicates that non-service of one month’s notice as a condition precedent for termination of petitioner’s service would result in vitiation or invalidation of termination of service if effected.

The Court further relied on judgment Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. T. Mohammed Raisuli Hassan, (1993) 1 SCC 553 and observed

“4. Admittedly, there was no statutory rule requiring one month’s notice for termination by the appellant of the service of the respondent. It is only the term of appointment order, which stipulated for one month’s notice or one month’s salary in lieu thereof by either side to bring an end to the service of the respondent, which is made the basis for claiming invalidation of termination. That term contained in clause 10 of the appointment order reads:

“10. This appointment is liable to b eterminated at any time by giving one month’s notice, in writing, on either side, or a month’s salary in lieu of notice, without assigning any reason.

Breach of this condition, will entitle the company to recover from you one month’s salary in lieu of notice.”

5. When the above term in the clause relating to the condition of service of the respondent with the appellant is seen as a whole, there is nothing to indicate or suggest, even remotely, that non-service of one month’s notice as a condition precedent for termination of the respondent’s service would result in vitiation or invalidation of termination, if effected. On the contrary, the second part of the term contained in the clause, “breach of this condition, will entitle the company to recover from you one month’s salary in lieu of notice” makes it obvious that the same would be the consequence if there was a breach of condition on the part of the company in the matter of service of one month’s notice before termination of the respondent’s service. Hence, we are constrained to hold that the non-service of one month’s notice in writing by the appellant to the respondent before terminating the latter’s service did not invalidate or vitiate such termination. From this, it follows that courts below had misread the said clause, by which either party was required to serve notice for putting an end to service of the respondent and consequently committed an apparent error in taking the view that non-service of one month’s prior notice to the respondent had vitiated the termination of his service.”

In light of the well-settled law in this aspect and the above authoritative pronouncement, Court held that the service of the petitioner was not being governed by any statutory but by the appointment letter wherein it was nowhere explicitly mention that non-service of one month’s notice in writing by the respondents to the petitioner before terminating the service of the petitioner will invalidate or vitiate such termination.

In view of the above, petition stands dismissed.[Chandrashekhar v. State of Jharkhand,  2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 838, decided on 06-10-2020]


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