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State of Punjab vs Amar Singh Harika

Umamageswari Maruthappan ,
  22 July 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :

Brief :
An order of dismissal passed by the appropriate authority is not effective without proper enquiry and communication to the officer concerned.
Citation :
1966 AIR (SC) 1313


Bench:
P.B. Gajendragadkar (CJ) & K.N.Wanchoo & M. Hidayatullah & V. Ramasami & P. Satyanarayanaraju

Petitioner:
State of Punjab

Respondent:
Amar Singh Harika

Issue

Can a dismissal become legal and effective without publication or communication to the officer concerned?

Whether the Punjab High Court was correct in allowing the suit and invalidating the dismissal under Sections 13 and 14(2) respectively of the Ordinance?

Facts

  • The Respondent, Mr. Amar Singh, was an Assistant Director, Civil Supplies in Patiala and East Punjab States Union.
  • He was dismissed from his position by the Chief Secretary by an order which was alleged to have been passed on 3 June 1949. However, the same was communicated to him in January 1953. For this, the Respondent filed a suit by stating that the order was illegal, invalid and inoperative.
  • The suit gave rise to three issues: 1) Whether the dismissal of Amar Singh is illegal?, 2) Whether the suit is within the time limit?, and 3) Whether the suit is maintainable?
  • The Trial Judge went in favor of the Respondent in the first two issues but the Judge held that the suit was not maintainable and therefore rejected the Respondent's claim.
  • The Respondent appealed before the Punjab High Court, which upheld the Judgements of the Trial Court with respect to the first two issues. However, it took a contrary view for the third issue and ruled that the suit was maintainable.
  • The Appellants approached the Supreme Court challenging the order of the High Court of Punjab.

Appellant’s Contentions

  • Sri Bishan Narain, who was from the Appellant’s side contended that the order may not be known to the Respondent, but stated that an order is effective from the day it is passed which will result in the dismissal of the Respondent from that date itself.
  • It was stated that the decision made by the High Court is erroneous in Law.

Respondent’s Contentions

  • Amar Singh stated that his termination was invalid as the order passed for his disqualification was based on an inquiry which was totally irrelevant, which was later stated by the Court itself.
  • Then the order which was passed on his dismissal on 3 June, 1949 was never brought to his attention by the authorities and he only came to know about this only on 28 May, 1951, informed by Mr. Bishan Chand, who was Assistant Comptroller.

Relevant Paragraphs (Paragraph Numbers 9, 10, 11, and 12 of the Original Judgement)

  1. The mere passing of an order of dismissal would not be effective unless it is published and communicated to the officer concerned. If it is held otherwise, then serious complications would arise as to the concerned officer's acts and decisions and salary.
  2. With regards to the maintainability of the suit, the High Court was correct in accepting it under Sections 13 and 14(2) of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union General Provisions (Administrative) Ordinance. Section 13 of the Ordinance states, Government may sue or be sued by the name of the Government of the State or in such other manner as may, by notification, be directed by the Government. Whereas Section 14(2) reads: "No person who is a member of a civil service of the State or holds any civil post in the State shall be dismissed from service or reduced in rank until he has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the action proposed to be taken against him."
  3. The enquiry held against the respondent seems to be illegal and invalid right from the start. Even the charge-sheet framed against the respondent is merely a questionnaire and some of these questions clearly show that the approach of authorities, that drafted the questionnaire, was completely unreasonable.

Judgment

By referring to the Section 13 & 14 of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union General Provisions (Administrative) Ordinance, the judgment was given in favor of the respondent. The Supreme Court upheld the High Court's observation that stated: "the protection afforded by the said Section would be not only meaningless but wholly elusive, if a suit like the present one is held to be incompetent". It was also mentioned that the dismissal order would come into effect only after the respective person for whom the order is passed, comes to know about passing of order and not when the order is passed.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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