Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Rajesh Singh Chauhan, J. while issuing the writ of mandamus commanded the opposite parties to reinstate the petitioner and post him at any place where the Competent Authority deems fit and proper within two weeks from the date of production of a certified copy of this order.

In the instant petition, the petitioner had assailed the impugned suspension order of 14.08.2019 passed by the Additional Director of Education (Basic), U.P., Prayagraj.

Counsel for the petitioner, Manish Kumar submitted that petitioner was working as a Steno-cum-Clerk when the suspension order was passed by Additional Director of Education (Basic) other than Joint Director of Education (Basic) who has the authority to suspend.

The Counsel objected to the contents of the instructions letter of 21.11.2019 produced by Counsel of the respondent, J.B.S. Rathour, wherein it was indicated that the petitioner was serving on the post of Personal Assistant Grade-II (as promoted) at the time of suspension. As proof, salary certificates and preliminary inquiry reports were provided.

Counsel drew the attention of this Court towards the Division Bench judgment of this Court in re Ashok Kumar Singh v. State of U.P, (2006) 3 UPLBEC 2247, in which it was categorically held that the order of suspension can be passed only by the Disciplinary Authority. However, the order to initiate the disciplinary proceedings may be passed by the Superior Authority. In ESI v. T. Abdul Razak, (1996) 4 SCC 708, the Supreme Court had laid down the same law as Ashok Kumar.

After considering the submissions of the parties and law laid down in various judgments put before the Court, the Court observed that suspension order of 14.08.2019 was not passed by the Competent Authority; therefore, it is liable to be quashed.[Jai Prakash Tiwari v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 4950, decided on 22-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: The Bench Arindam Lodh, J. set aside petitioner’s suspension order in view of Rule 10(6) and (7) of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965.

Petitioner, a State Veterinary Officer (TVS, Grade V) was placed under suspension by order dated 12-04-2018. The seminal issue to be determined in the present petition was whether the suspension order could be continued even if not reviewed before the expiry of 90 days from the effective date of suspension in view of the rules mentioned above?

A. Bhowmik, Advocate appearing for the petitioner prayed for setting aside of the suspension order passed by the Joint Secretary, Animal Resource and Development Department, Government of Tripura.

The High Court noted that Rule 10(6) and (7) obligates the appointing authority to constitute a committee review whether the extension of suspension order is necessary. in the present case, no review committee was formed even after expiry of 6 months after the expiry of 90 days. Relying on Union of India v. Dipak Mali, (2010) 2 SCC 222 the Court held that in such cases the suspension order lapses after the period of 90 days. Further, it was clarified that the matter has to be reviewed before the expiry of 90 days from the date of suspension. In such view of the matter, petitioner’s suspension order was set aside.[Ankur Debnath v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 19, decided on 08-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Single judge bench comprising of A.Muhamed Mustaque, J. while hearing a civil writ petition against a University’s order of suspension against its employee, ruled that suspension must only be continued if there is a threat of tampering of evidence/ materials gathered.

Petitioner, an Assistant in the respondent University, was removed as a member of the respondent’s employee association, subsequent to which he made certain sarcastic posts on social media depicting activities of powerful persons. In his posts, he did not name any institution or person and there was nothing on the face to conclude that his posts were directed against the respondent University or its officials. Respondent thought that it was an attack on the University and/ or its administration, and suspended the petitioner from its service. This writ petition was filed challenging the said suspension.

The court noted that petitioner had been suspended for nearly 60 days. Relying on its decision in K.K. Ramankutty v. State of Kerala, 1972 SCC OnLine Ker 96 the High Court held that suspension cannot be used as a weapon to penalize and continuation of suspension must be in larger public interest. If the service of an employee poses threat to an ongoing inquiry, then such delinquent employee need not be reinstated pending such enquiry.

Adverting to the facts of the case, it was observed that in the present case there was no need to keep the petitioner under suspension for long because what could amount to alleged misconduct was already there in the form of his social media posts. There was no scope for him to interfere with any material(s) gathered. Therefore, larger public interest demanded that his services should not be kept in suspension.

Lastly, the court clarified that it had not ruled on the legality of the suspension order and the merits of the matter in relation to what would amount to ‘misconduct’. [Anil Kumar A.P. v Mahatma Gandhi University,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 4004, decided on 28-09-2018]