The Madras High Court held that there is no embargo on initiating disciplinary proceedings in cases of grave misconduct even if it is not in connection with the discharge of duty.

A Division Bench of Justice G. Jayachandran and Justice C. Kumarappan observed, “The Charge memo contains the substance of charge which attracts the major punishment under Section 17(1)(b) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services(Discipline and Appeal) Rules,1955. The appellant cannot rely upon the guidelines of the Human Resources Department which even otherwise does not prohibit the department to initiate disciplinary proceedings where there is a grave misconduct noticed.

The appellant, who was a teacher in a Government school had contested the charge memo issued against him under Section 17(1)(b) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1955, stemming from his involvement in a corruption case. His brother was the accused in the said case too, where he had transferred Rs. 12 lakhs of crime proceeds to the teacher’s account, leading to the teacher's arrest and subsequent suspension from duty.

The teacher argued that since the alleged incident occurred outside the scope of his employment, disciplinary action against him could not have been initiated. It was further argued that the memo could not be sustained because his arrest had nothing to do with the discharge of his duty.

The Court took note of the offences for which the teacher was accused. The teacher was accused under Sections 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act together with Section 120-B and Section 420 of IPC. After investigation, when the final report was filed, the teacher was further accused under Section 120-B, 467, 468 and 471 of IPC by the Central Bureau of Investigation which investigated the crime.

If the arguments of the Petitioner are accepted, the Government servant who has murdered and arrayed as an accused and arrested, can also take such a plea and say that no disciplinary proceedings can be initiated against him since the offence of murder is committed outside the discharge of his duty,” the Court remarked.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title: K. Ramachandran v. The District Educational Officer (Elementary Education) & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024:MHC:1334)

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