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Power Conferred Under Article 142 Of The Constitution And Substitution Of The Penalty Of Dismissal Of Service By A Lesser Penalty While Upholding Principle Of Proportionality

Saurabh Uttam Kamble ,
  25 March 2023       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Hon’ble Supreme Court Of India
Brief :

Citation :
C.A. NO. 10604/2010

Case title:

The Eastern Coalfields Limited And Others v. Ajit mondal and others

Date of Order:

15-03-2023

Bench:

HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN and HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE PANKAJ MITHAL.

Parties:

Petitioners: The Eastern Coalfields Limited And Others

Respondent: Ajit mondal and others

SUBJECT: 

The Honorable Supreme Court under Article 142, has overturned the Division Bench of the High Court of Calcutta's order of remand, which ordered the dismissal from service punishment as well as the order of the learned Single Judge to be overturned and replaced with a lesser penalty.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

  • Principle Of Proportionality: According to the principle of proportionality, an administrative action shouldn't be taken that is more severe than is necessary to achieve the desired outcome.  .
  • Article 142 of the Indian Constitution: The Supreme Court may, as part of its authority, issue any decree or order that is required to provide full justice in any case or subject that is currently before it.

OVERVIEW:

  • Beginning in 1975, respondent no. 1 worked in the appellant Coalfield as a line mazdoor. There is no claim that his service record, which spans from 1975 to 1999, contains any flaws.
  • He missed quite a few days of work in the years 1999, 2000, and 2001. He took 106 days off by himself in 2002, which led to the employer taking action against him for illegal absence.
  • A subsequent internal investigation led to the passing on 17.10.2002 of an order of penalty of dismissal from service.
  • He petitioned the Calcutta High Court in a writ. The writ petition was dismissed by the learned single judge, but the Division Bench overturned that decision in an intra-Court appeal on the grounds of proportionality of punishment and remanded the case to the disciplinary authority so that the dismissal penalty could be replaced with a lesser punishment.
  • The employer filed the above appeal in order to contest the aforementioned Division Bench order, and on July 9, 2010, this Court gave notice in the appeal while also granting an interim stay of the impugned order's implementation.

ISSUES RAISED: 

Whether the conduct of the employer in dismissing the respondent for his act of unaccounted leave in 2002 is correct while the same had happened in 1999, 2000, and 2001.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT: 

  • The employer is allowed to consider the employee's history when determining the penalty. Yet, the antecedents cannot be related to the exact same wrongdoing because no action was taken as a result. 
  • The employer cannot thereafter consider the absence during the previous years as antecedents after issuing a charge sheet for 106 days of unlawful leave in 2002.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT: 

  • Relying on Union of India and Others vs. Giriraj Sharma [1994 Supp (3) SCC 755], and Syed Zaheer Hussain vs. Union of India and Others [(1999) 9 SCC 86], The proportionality test must be viewed in a wider context. The respondent’s reportedly decent service record dating back to 1975 provides the case's greater context.
  • As a result, the respondent's counsel believes that the Division Bench of the High Court followed the right procedure while applying the proportionality test. As a result, under normal circumstances, we must reject the appeal and uphold the challenged decree.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS: 

  • The respondent, a subpar line mazdoor, retired more than ten years ago.
  • The Honorable Supreme Court of India used the powers granted to it by Article 142 of the Constitution to order the substitution of a lower punishment for the dismissal of service.
  • The Honorable Court ordered a mandatory retirement from service as a replacement for dismissal. Because of this, the respondent must receive any benefit to a compulsory retired employee within eight weeks after their calculation.
  • This Principle of proportionality, therefore, seeks to balance means and aims. In the case of Om Kumar v. Union of India (2001) (2) SCC 386, the Supreme Court of India accepted the proportionality principle.

CONCLUSION: 

  • The Supreme Court of India has a rare and extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution to issue an order or judgment that will bring full justice to litigants who have endured numerous proceedings that have been tainted with obvious illegality or unfairness. This provision, as intended by the Constitution's founders, is of the utmost importance to those who are alarmed about the delay in receiving their necessary reliefs as a result of the law's unclean state and the weak position of the legal system.
  • Thus, beginning in 1975, respondent worked in the appellant Coalfield as a line mazdoor and there is no claim that his service record, which spans from 1975 to 1999, contains any flaws. Therefore, looking at the superannuated condition of the respondent, the Supreme Court of India held a decision in the favor of the respondent
 
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