J&K Civil Service Rules| Contractual Employee Is Not Entitled To Full-Fledged Regular Enquiry Before Termination- High Court
A Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar has observed that under the Jammu & Kashmir Civil Service Rules, a contractual employee is not entitled to a full-fledged enquiry before termination, even if the termination is stigmatic.
In light of the same, the Bench dismissed the petition, while observing that, "The contention of learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioner that the petitioner was entitled to a full-fledged regular enquiry with a right to participate in the said enquiry, is misconceived having regard to the nature of engagement of the petitioner. The petition, therefore, lacks merit".
Senior Advocate Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, among others, appeared for the petitioner, while AAG Mohsin S. Qadiri, along with Counsel Maha Majeed appeared for the respondents.
In this case, a Gram Rozgar Sahayak (GRS) who was terminated from his job by the Rural Development Department filed a petition challenging the termination. The termination occurred after allegations of irregularities and fraudulent MGNREGA job card schemes surfaced in the district. In response, a committee of officers was formed to investigate these allegations. After examining the records, the committee found that most of the allegations against the petitioner were proven to be true. As a result, the termination was carried out.
The petitioner argued that no departmental inquiry was conducted before his dismissal.
The respondents, on the other hand, contended that since the petitioner's engagement was contractual and not for a permanent position, he could not demand adherence to the procedure specified in Article 311 of the Indian Constitution prior to termination of his services.
On hearing the parties and perusing the record, including the record of inquiry, the Court observed that the question for consideration was whether the petitioner was entitled to be subjected to a regular departmental enquiry before terminating his services as, admittedly, the order of his termination was stigmatic in nature.
Subsequently, the Court held that the safeguards available to an employee appointed to a civil post as contained in Article 311 of the Constitution of India and the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Service (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956, were not available to the petitioner.
In that context, it was said that "it is to be noted that the petitioner was not working as a regular employee against a civil post but he was engaged on temporary basis on consolidated wages for one year and his engagement was continued after the expiry of initial period of one year and, therefore, the safeguards available to an employee appointed on a civil post as contained in Article 311 of the Constitution of India and the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Service (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956, are not available to the petitioner."
The Court noted that the petitioner had been given the opportunity to respond to a show cause notice issued against him. Further, perusing the petitioner's engagement letter, the Court observed that the respondents were well within their rights to presume that the petitioner had indulged in misbehaviour and indiscipline while performing his functions. This entailed the termination of his services in terms of the conditions of the engagement letter. In that context, it had been said that "Even in the reply to show cause notice, the petitioner may have denied most of the allegations, but he has given unsatisfactory reply to the allegation regarding adding sons of Bashir Ahmad in the job card of Adil Ahmad and similarly, he has virtually admitted that the job cards have been issued in favour of minors. In the face of this reply to the show cause notice coupled with the findings of the Committee given in its final report after scrutiny of the records, the respondents were well within their rights".
In light of the same, the Court observed that it was clear that the termination of the petitioner was effected in accordance with the conditions of his engagement after following the principles of natural justice and after considering his reply to the show cause notice in the light of the final report of enquiry.
Subsequently, the petition was dismissed by the Court.
Cause Title: Abid Ahmad Ganai v. UT of J&K & Ors.