Date of Judgement:
23 March 2021
Justice G.S. Ahluwalia
Petitioner – Sinnam Singh
Respondent – The State of MP and Ors.
The following judgement involved a question of wrongful termination of a government employee on probation, who has been absent without official leave.
- On 1 January 2014, the petitioner (Sinnam Singh) was appointed to the post of a constable in SAF, Madhya Pradesh (State Armed Police Force). He was kept on probation for 2 years. One of the conditions of his appointment was that his services can be terminated at any point, by giving a month’s notice or a month’s advance salary under Rule 12 of the Madhya Pradesh Government Servants (Temporary and Quasi-permanent Service) Rules, 1960.
- In the year 2017, from 15 April onwards, the petitioner remained absent from his duties on account of his father's health issues and did not submit his joining thereafter. As a result on 02.01.2018, his services were discontinued under Regulation 59 of the Madhya Pradesh Police Regulations.
- An appeal was made by the petitioner against this order, to the Inspector General of Police, SAF, Gwalior Range, followed by a mercy appeal, but both were dismissed with regard to the similar conduct of the petitioner in the past also. Hence, the petitioner, using Article 226 of the Constitution, approached the High Court of MP and challenged the order passed on 02.01.2018.
- Whether the petitioner was entitled to a departmental enquiry before his termination from service?
- Whether a government employee can remain on unauthorized leave without informing the Department and without their prior permission?
- If no notice is issued for extension of the probation period, can the employee be entitled to claim automatic confirmation as a right?
- Under Rule 12 of the Madhya Pradesh Government Servants (Temporary and Quasi-permanent Service) Rules, 1960 – Termination of a government employee on probation.
- Regulation 59 of the Madhya Pradesh Police Regulation – Period of probation and the extension thereto.
- Article 226 of the Indian Constitution – Power to issue writs by the High Court of States.
- The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the reasons cited by the authority for the termination in the order dated 02.01.2018, were stigmatic in nature and, therefore, a Departmental Enquiry should have been conducted before terminating the services of the petitioner.
- He further contended that Regulation 59 says, the probation period is for 2 years and it can be extended up to 1 more year i.e. a total of 3 years. So he claimed that since the petitioner was appointed in 2014 and the probation period was not extended after the completion of 3 years, therefore, it shall be presumed that the petitioner was confirmed into the service and hence, could not have been removed without a Departmental Enquiry.
- The counsel for the State submitted that the authority had considered the previous conduct of the petitioner, which cannot be said to be stigmatic in nature. It said that the petitioner had previously, in an unauthorized way, remained absent for 102 days from the training institute and later was absent for 54 days when he was sent back to his Unit.
- He further said that, there is no such law that provides that an employee shall be assumed to be in service, if the order of extension of probation is not passed, after the probation period has been completed.
- After careful consideration, the High Court pointed out that the petitioner has failed to furnish any medical prescriptions. Hence, the petitioner has failed to establish a prima facie case to prove that his father had fallen seriously ill. Also, no legal provision was submitted by the petitioner's counsel which authorizes an employee to remain absent without informing and seeking leave from the Department.
- Keeping in mind the judgement of Tarsem Lal Verma V. Union of India and Ors., the Court also observed that there is no such provision in the law which provides that in case if the probation period is not extended, then the employee shall be entitled to claim automatic confirmation as a matter of right.
- A detailed perusal of Rule 12 of Regulation 1960, very clearly indicates that a temporary government employee can be terminated from his service at any point by giving him a month's notice or a month's salary in advance. In this case, the petitioner was not provided with any of those aforementioned things. Hence, a modification ought to be made in the order dated 02.01.2018.
- Finally, the High Court held that the termination of the services of the petitioner was justified. However, the petitioner shall be paid a month's salary in lieu of one month's notice within a period of three months, as given under Rule 12 (b) of the Rules, 1960. Subsequently, the case was disposed of.
To summarize, the court, in clear words, asserted that a Government employee, which in this case was a constable in SAF, could not be permitted to remain on unauthorized absence without informing the Department and obtaining their leave since he is a part of a uniform disciplined force. It also established that automatic confirmation to service cannot be assumed or claimed as a matter of right if no notice is issued for the extension of the probation period, after the said probation period has expired.
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