Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Full Bench of Pankaj Mithal, Suneet Kumar and Rohit Ranjan Agarwal, JJ. dismissed a batch of writ petitions seeking entitlement to receive death-cum-retirement gratuity while judicial proceedings were pending.

The petitioners were government employees (Lekhpal/Police Officials), who had retired on attaining the age of superannuation, and by the impugned orders, their full pension and gratuity had been withheld due to pending judicial proceedings against them. The petitioners had sought quashing of the impugned orders declining full pension and gratuity during pendency of the judicial proceedings and further sought an additional direction to the respondent authority to release/pay full pension and gratuity.

Suneet Kumar, J. after hearing the submissions of the learned counsels for the petitioners and respondents, stated his judgment. He held that pendency of disciplinary/judicial proceedings on the date of retirement or instituted after retirement, provisional pension equal to maximum pension as mandated under Article 919A of the Civil Service Regulations, may be sanctioned to the government servant for the period unto conclusion of the proceedings. (Article 351AA/ Article 919A (1)/(2)) but no gratuity was payable to the government servant during the pendency of disciplinary/judicial proceedings by Administrative Tribunal, until the conclusion of the proceedings and orders being passed thereon by the competent authority under Article 919 A(3).

Reliance was placed on State of U.P. v. Jai Prakash, 2014 (1) ADJ 207 which held that government servant was not entitled to gratuity but to a provisional pension during the pendency of proceedings/enquiry.

Pankaj Mithal, J. also came to the same conclusion and opined that pension of a government servant could be withheld or withdrawn, if he was convicted in a crime or was found guilty of misconduct, but if he was neither convicted nor found guilty of misconduct but a departmental or judicial proceedings or any enquiry by the Administrative Tribunal was pending against him at the time of his retirement or is likely to be instituted, he would be entitled to provisional pension in accordance with Regulation 919A. He emphasized on the sub-clause 3 of Regulation 919-A which laid down that no death cum retirement gratuity shall be paid to the government servant until the conclusion of the departmental or judicial proceedings or the enquiry by the Administrative tribunal and issue of the final order thereon.

Thus, in view of aforesaid facts and authorities, the Court unanimously held that a government employee was not entitled to death cum retirement gratuity unless the conclusion of the departmental proceedings or the enquiry by the Administrative Tribunal or judicial proceedings which included both civil and criminal and the reference to the Full Bench accordingly was answered.[Shivagopal v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 2239, decided on 08-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A.M. Babu and V. Chitambaresh, JJ. allowed a petition preferred by the State against the order of Administrative Tribunal granting disbursal of full retirement benefits to an employee who had a criminal case pending against him.

Respondent herein, an Additional Tahsildar, was suspended on 26-11-2014 in connection with a vigilance trap case following his arrest and detention. He was reinstated on 28-09-2015, and he retired from service as Senior Superintendent on 30-11-2015 while the final report in vigilance case was filed on 27-12-2016. He pleaded for disbursement of full retiral benefits on the ground that cognizance of the criminal case was taken after the date of his retirement. The same was allowed by the Administrative Tribunal. Aggrieved thereby, the State preferred this petition.

Senior Government Pleader Mr T. Rajasekharan Nair contended that departmental proceedings commenced after the order of suspension. Therefore, the rigour of Rule 3A of Part III of the Kerala Service Rules was applicable which enabled the government to pay only provisional pension to the respondent and withhold his gratuity until the conclusion of the proceedings.

The Court agreed with the aforesaid contention and noted that the criminal case filed by Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau was still pending on the file of Vigilance Court, and the respondent had not yet been given a clean chit. Whether there was any part of the pension still to be recovered was a matter to be considered after the verdict.

Petitioner had already disbursed death-cum-retirement gratuity to respondent, even though it was not obliged to do so under the Kerala Service Rules. Thus, it was held that payment of provisional pension to the respondent at this stage could not be faulted with and the Tribunal was not justified in directing disbursement of entire benefits.[State of Kerala v. Sugunan V., 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1024, Order dated 15-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: The Bench of Ananda Sen, J. set aside a punishment order issued against a police constable in departmental proceedings, for being in violation of principles of natural justice.

Petitioner, a constable in the police department, was served with a departmental charge sheet alleging misconduct. In the departmental inquiry was held. In the inquiry, charges against him were held not to be proved. The disciplinary authority, disagreeing with the findings given of inquiry report, punished him with two black marks and withheld his salary on the basis of no work no pay.  The said order was challenged by the petitioner in departmental appeal, which was also dismissed by the appellate authority. Aggrieved thereby, the instant writ application was filed praying for quashing of the said order.

Petitioner’s only submission was that it is well within the jurisdiction and domain of disciplinary authority to differ with the findings of Inquiry Officer, but if the disciplinary authority wants to punish the delinquent, a second show cause notice has to be served and reasons for his differing from findings of the inquiry report must be mentioned in the show cause notice. This process had not been followed before passing the impugned order, and only on this ground, the impugned order could be set aside.

The Court noted that the respondent had not issued second show cause notice to the petitioner, but punished him after differing with the findings of the inquiry report. It was opined that this procedure was in utter violation of the principles of natural justice, as the petitioner ought to have been issued a second show cause notice indicating the ground of disagreement, before punishing him. Thus, the punishment order was set aside for being unsustainable in the eyes of law.[Lalit Oraon v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 279, Order dated 13-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sambuddha Chakrabarti, J. allowed a writ petition which sought directions to the respondents to release post retiral benefits of the petitioner.

The petitioner was employed at the post of Director (Finance) in National Jute Manufacturers’ Corpn. Ltd. He sought for issuance of a writ in nature of mandamus commanding the respondents to release post retiral benefits including gratuity, leave encashment, maximum allowance and perks as provided for in the conditions of employment. The question for consideration before the High Court was whether NJMC could withhold post retiral benefits of the petitioner on the ground that after his retirement, certain alleged irregularities have been detected.

The High Court was of the opinion that a departmental enquiry is initiated by issuing a formal chargesheet against a delinquent employee. NJMC may have had a preliminary enquiry which was in nature of an informal enquiry but that was no legal basis to proceed against an employee. Moreover, now the petitioner had retired and it was observed as a settled principle of law that no departmental proceeding can be initiated against a former employee unless the relevant service rules provide for the same. The present was a case where neither NJMC Service Regulations, 1982 nor NJMC (Conduct, Discipline, and Appeal) Rules, 1982 contain any provision for initiation of any departmental proceeding against an employee after his retirement. Thus, no departmental proceeding could be initiated against the petitioner now that he had retired. In such case, the High Court held that respondents had no right to sit over retiral dues not released to the petitioner. They were accordingly directed to release the dues within six weeks with interest. The petition was allowed with costs of Rs 10,000 imposed on NJMC. [Sukanta Kumar Mondal v. National Jute Manufacturers’ Corp. Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 6987, dated 27-09-2018]