The Karnataka High Court has emphasized that once a Single Judge decides a matter on merits, the Division Bench cannot remit the matter back to the Single Judge in an intra-Court appeal under the Karnataka High Court Act.

In that context, Justice M Nagaprasanna stressed that, "once the learned single Judge decides the matter on its merits, the Division Bench has no jurisdiction to remit the matter back to the learned single Judge in an intra-court appeal under Section 4 of the Karnataka High Court Act, 1961."

Counsel Vinay S Koujalagi appeared for the petitioner, while HCGP VS Kalasurmath and Counsel Prakash Hosamane appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the petitioner, who served as an Accountant in the District Town Municipal Cell, Bagalkot, was terminated from service due to unauthorized absence, which was alleged to have obstructed various projects initiated by the Municipal Council. The initial order for her reinstatement with 50% back wages was issued by a Single Judge bench. However, the State challenged this order in a Writ Appeal, leading to a Division Bench allowing the appeal and remitting the matter back for reconsideration.

The petitioner argued that being a temporary employee, the termination without holding any inquiry was not legally justified. The State contended that, in the appeal, it sought the liberty to conduct an inquiry and make appropriate orders.

The High Court observed that, "the State could have urged the same before the Division Bench and not sought a remand to the single Judge bench which is not a Court subordinate to the Division Bench, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.", while stressing that remand, in the normal circumstances, except those considered by the Full Bench, even when the issue is decided on merit, is to a Court subordinate which the Single Judge was not.

The Court further stressed that if a termination is on allegations, even to a temporary employee, an inquiry in the least will have to be conducted, failure of which, would become violative of the principles of natural justice, as the employer is terminating an employee on account of allegations without affording a reasonable opportunity of hearing.

Subsequently, the petition was allowed, and it was ordered that, "The petitioner shall be reinstated into service, if not already reinstated with 50% backwages, if not already paid on reinstatement."

Cause Title: Sharadha L Dodmani vs State of Karnataka & Ors.

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