Tag Archives: termination

Subsequent Development – Cannot Validate An Action

In Ritesh Tiwari v. State of U.P. (2010) 10 SCC 677, it was held as under:— “It is settled legal proposition that if an order is bad in its inception, it does not get sanctified at a later stage. A subsequent action/development cannot validate an action which was not lawful at its inception, for the reason that the illegality strikes at the root of the order. It would be beyond the competence of any authority to validate such an order. It would be ironical to permit a person to rely upon a law, in violation of which he has obtained the benefits. Saraswati Vidya Mandir Inter College V. State of U.P., Writ  C. No. 16120 of 2009 Connected with Writ – C. No. 26354 of 2009, decided on 18.05.2020.

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Departmental Enquiries – Cannot be Treated As A Casual Exercise

When a departmental enquiry is conducted against the Government servant, it cannot be treated as a casual exercise. The enquiry proceedings also cannot be conducted with a closed mind. The Inquiry Officer has to be totally unbiased. The rules of natural justice are required to be observed to ensure not only that justice is done but is manifestly seen to be done. The object of rules of natural justice is to ensure that a Government servant is treated fairly in proceedings which may culminate in imposition of punishment including dismissal/removal from service.

        In Roop Singh Negi v. Punjab National Bank, (2009) 2 SCC 570, it was held as under:

        “Indisputably, a departmental proceeding is a quasi judicial proceeding. The enquiry officer performs a quasi-judicial function. The charges leveled against the delinquent officer must be found to have been proved. The enquiry officer has a duty to arrive at a finding upon taking into consideration the materials brought on record by the parties. The purported evidence collected during investigation by the investigating officer against all the accused by itself could not be treated to be evidence in the disciplinary proceeding. No witness was examined to prove the said documents. The management witnesses merely tendered the documents and did not prove the contents thereof. Reliance, inter alia, was placed by the enquiry officer on the FIR which could not have been treated as evidence.” Ram Prakash Pal v. Chairman, 2018 (4) AWC 3952.

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Termination of – Part Time Employee

In B.T. Krishnamurthy v. Sri Basaveswara Education Society, 2013 (137) FLR 689 it was held as under:

    “The Tribunal completely misdirected itself in passing such an order of regularization and reinstatement in a case where the Respondent allegedly worked in the College as a part-time Lecturer without any appointment letter and without any selection process. Since the society never issued any letter of appointment, a letter of termination was also not served upon the Respondent.

    In the absence of any appointment letter issued in favour of the Respondent as he was temporary/part time lecturer in the college, there cannot be any legitimate expectation for his continuing in the service.” Zila Basic Shiksha Adhikari v. Seeta Ram, 2018 (159) FLR 952.

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Retrenchment Compensation – Condition Precedent

As per Section 25-F(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, a workman is required to be paid retrenchment compensation equivalent to 15 days of average pay of every completed year of continuous service or in part thereof in excess of six months at the time of retrenchment. It is clear from the plain reading of aforesaid provision that requirement prescribed under sub-sections (a) and (b) is condition precedent to retrenchment and failure, if any, to comply with the same, would render the retrenchment invalid and inoperative.         Hon’ble Apex Court in National Iron and Steel Company Ltd. v. State of West Bengal, 1967 (14) FLR has dealt with a situation wherein, employer while issuing notice dated 15.11.1958 under Section 25 of the Industrial Disputes Act directed the workman to collect retrenchment compensation on November 20 or thereafter. The Hon’ble Apex Court held that manifestly the provisions of Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act had not been complied and as such, termination in violation of the same deserves to be quashed and set aside. Executive Officer v. Anil Kumar, 2019 (163) FLR 299.

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Abandonment and Termination – Are Both Positive Acts

Abandonment and Termination are both positive acts, with the former requiring positive intent, on the part of the workman, not to work, and the latter requiring positive intent, on the part of the management, not to allow the workman to work. Requisite animus is the sine qua non in either case. There is, however, the subtle jurisprudential distinction between termination (at the instance of the employer) and abandonment, in that, in the former case, it would always be possible for the employer to unequivocally indicate, to the employee, that his services were no longer required and, therefore, that they stood “terminated”, whereas, in the latter case, often, the intention not to continue working for the employer has to be presumed from the conduct of the employee. It is only for this reason that a jural concept of “deemed abandonment” has evolved over a period of time. In Engineers India Ltd. v. Labour Court, (2018) 2 LLJ 442, examined the concept of “abandonment”, and the law that has evolved, by various pronouncements of the Supreme Court in that regard. Certain guiding principles on the issue of abandonment as culled out in Engineers India Ltd. v. Labour Court, (2018) 2 LLJ 442 are as under:

  • Intention, or animus, to abandon, is the necessary sine qua non, for any case of abandonment to be said to exist. In the absence of intention, there is no abandonment.
  • Whether the intention to abandon exists, or not, is a question of fact, to be determined in each case.
  • Termination, or removal from service, is a positive act of the employer, per contra, abandonment is a positive act of the employee.
  • Any evidence, to indicate that the employee or workman, desired to join duty, but was prevented from doing so, would, by itself, militate against any presumption of “abandonment”.

In each case, the onus, to prove the termination, or abandonment, had taken place, would be on the party so contending. Dev Narayan v. Management, 2018 (158) FLR 255.

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Appointment Made For a Fixed Term – Comes to an End on Expiry of Period

When an appointment, even if legal and valid, but contractual one, is governed by certain terms and conditions thereof, parties are bound to adhere to those conditions and cannot travel beyond that. Once appointment is made for fixed tenure, it would come to an end automatically on expiry of period for which appointment was made. The termination is automatic by efflux of time on expiry of said period. The continuance of person thereafter would not be on the basis of said agreement pursuant whereto incumbent was was appointed for a fixed tenure, it has already come to an end by efflux of time. Raj Kumar Singh v. State of U.P., 2018 (5) AWC 4967.

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Conditions of Service – Governed by Statute

In the cases where the appointment and conditions of service are governed by statute, the relationship is that of status and not merely a contract. However, in other cases, it is purely a contract of service resulting in a relationship of ordinary master and servant. In such cases, where the contract of service is not governed by statutory provisions, it is well settled that contract of service cannot be enforced by seeking reinstatement or continuance in employment since such a relief is barred under the Specific Relief Act. In Executive Committee of U.P. State Warehousing Corporation v. C.K. Tyagi, AIR 1970 SC 1244 it was held as under:

        “Under the common law the court will not ordinarily force an employer to retain the services of an employee whom he no longer wishes to employ. But this rule is subject to certain well recognized exceptions. It is open to the courts in an appropriate case to declare that a public servant who is dismissed from service in contravention of Article 311 continues to remain in service, even though by doing so the State is in effect forced to continue to employ the servant whom it does not desire to employ. Similarly under the Industrial Law, jurisdiction of the Labour and Industrial Tribunals to compel the employer to employ a worker whom he does not desire to employ, is recognized. The courts are also invested with the power to declare invalid the act of a statutory body, if by doing the act, the body has acted in breach of a mandatory obligation imposed by statute.

        The position in law is that no declaration to enforce a contract of personal service will be normally granted. But there are certain well recognized exceptions to this rule and they are: to grant such a declaration in appropriate cases regarding (1) a public servant, who has been dismissed from service in contravention of Article 311 (2) Reinstatement of a dismissed worker under Industrial Law by Labour or Industrial Tribunals. (3) A staturoy body when it has acted in breach of a mandatory obligation, imposed by statute.” Ram Prasad v. State of U.P., 2019 (135) ALR 1.

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Back Wages – Conduct of Concerned Workman

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Novartis India Ltd. v. State of West Bengal, reported in (2009) 3 SCC 124, has held that merely because the dismissal from service has been held to be illegal would not result in automatic payment of back wages and the conduct of the concerned workman would also have to be examined. It was held as under:

            “There can, however, be no doubt whatsoever that there has been a shift in the approach of the Court in regard to payment of back wages. Back wages cannot be granted almost automatically upon setting aside an order of termination inter alia on the premises that the burden to show that the workman was gainfully employed during interregnum period was on the employer. The burden of proof that he remained unemployed would be on the workman keeping in view the provisions contained in Section 106 of the Evidence Act, 1872. The Hon’ble Court in the matter of grant of back wages has laid down certain guidelines stating that therefor several factors are required to be considered including the nature of appointment; the mode of recruitment; the length of service; and whether the appointment was in consonance with Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India in cases of public employment etc.

            It is also trite that for the purpose of grant of back wages, conduct of the concerned workman also plays a vital role. Each decision, as regards grant of back wages or the quantum thereof, would, therefore, depend on the fact of each case. Back wages are ordinarily to be granted, keeping in view the principles of grant of damages in mind. It cannot be claimed as a matter of right. M/s Rathi Udyog Ltd. v. Presiding Officer, (2019) 2 UPLBEC 1093.

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Major Punishment – Examination of Witnesses

In Subhash Chandra Sharma v. Managing Director, 2000 (1) UPLBEC 541, it was held as under:

          “The Court also held that in the enquiry witnesses have to be examined in support of the allegations and opportunity has to be given to the delinquent to cross – examine these witnesses and to lead evidence in his defense. In Punjab National Bank v. A.I.P.N.B.E. Federation, AIR 1960 SC 160, the Supreme Court held that in such enquiries evidence must be recorded in the presence of the charge-sheeted employee and he must be given an opportunity to rebut the said evidence. The same view was taken in ACC Ltd. v. Their Workmen, 1963 (7) FLR 269, and in Tata Oil Mills Co. Ltd. v. Their Workmen, 1963 (6) FLR 257.

          Even if the employee refuses to participate in the enquiry, the employer cannot straightaway dismiss him, but he must hold an ex-parte enquiry where evidence must be led vide Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd. v. Its Workmen, 1961 (3) FLR 524 and Uma Shanker v. Registrar, 1992 (65) FLR 674.

          Hon’ble Supreme Court in Roop Singh Negi v. Punjab National Bank, 2009 (120) FLR 610, held as under:

          “Indisputably, a departmental proceeding is a quasi judicial proceeding. The enquiry officer performs a quasi-judicial function. The charges leveled against the delinquent officer must be found to have been proved. The enquiry officer has a duty to arrive at a finding  upon taking into consideration the materials brought on record by the parties. The purported evidence collected during investigation by the investigating officer against all the accused by itself could not be treated to be evidence in the disciplinary proceedings. Not witness was examined to prove the said documents. The management witnesses merely tendered, the documents and did not prove the contents thereof. Reliance, inter alia, was placed by the enquiry officer on the FIR which could not have been treated as evidence.”

          Similar view has been taken in Sohan Lal v. U.P. Co-operative Federation Ltd., 2013 (139) FLR 723:

          “The principle of law emanates from the above judgments are that initial burden is on the department to prove the charges. In case of procedure adopted for inflicting major penalty, the department must prove the charges by oral evidence also.

          From the perusal of the enquiry report it is demonstrably proved that no oral evidence has been led by the department. When a major punishment is proposed to be passed, the department has to prove the charges against the delinquent/employee by examining the witnesses and by documentary evidence. In the present case, no witness was examined to prove the documents in the proceedings.

          It is trite law that the departmental proceedings are quasi-judicial proceedings. The Inquiry Officer functions as quasi-judicial officer. He is not merely a representative of the department. He has to act as an independent and impartial officer to find out the truth. The major punishment awarded to an employee visits serious consequences and as such the departmental proceedings ought to be in conformity with the principles of natural justice. Even if, an employee prefers not to participate in the enquiry, the department has to establish the charges against the employee by adducing oral as well as documentary evidence. In case the charges warrant major punishment, then the oral evidence by producing the witnesses is necessary.” Lalta Prasad v. State of U.P., 2019 (161) FLR 183.        

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Termination Order – Superseded by a less severe punishment

When the termination order is superseded by a less severe punishment, the said punishment should come into effect from the date of original order of termination. As held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Deepali Gundu Surwase v. Kranti Junior Adhyapak Mahavidyalaya (D. Ed.) and others, (2013) 10 SCC 324, ‘reinstatement’ would mean putting the workman back to the stage when he was terminated. On such reinstatement, the punishment of removal gets substituted by the punishment of withholding of three annual increments for three years with cumulative effect.
As per shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2, 3rd Edition, the word reinstate means to reinstall or re-establish (a person or thing in a place, station, condition, etc.); to restore to its proper or original state; to reinstate afresh and the word “reinstatement” means the action of reinstating; re-establishment. As per Law Lexicon, 2nd Edition, the word “reinstate” means to reinstall; to re-establish; to place again in a former state, condition or office; to restore to a state or position from which the object or person had been removed and the word “reinstatement” means establishing in a former condition, position or authority (as) reinstatement of a deposed prince. As per Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “reinstate” means to place again (as in possession or in a former position), to restore to a previous effective state.
As per Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, “reinstatement” means: “The very idea of restoring an employee to the position which he held before dismissal or removal or termination of service implies that the employee will be put in the same position in which he would have been but for the illegal action taken by the employer”. B.S. Raju v. A.P.S.R.T.C., 2017 (152) FLR 832.

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