The Supreme Court has held that government authorities cannot keep disciplinary proceedings pending against a delinquent officer for an indefinite period.

The Court directed that disciplinary proceedings will be concluded within a period of 06 months against the appellant officer, who approached the Supreme Court against the decision of the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) putting his candidature for promotion on hold on account of a pending departmental inquiry against him.

"Since the disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against the petitioner, the adoption of sealed cover procedure, cannot be faulted with. However, the authorities cannot keep the disciplinary proceedings pending for an indefinite period, thereby causing adverse impact on the service career of the petitioner", said a Bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice J.K. Maheshwari.

Earlier, a division bench of the Chhattisgarh High Court denied interfering with the decision rendered by the single judge which had held that placement of the petitioner's prospects in a sealed cover was not bad in law. "The petitioner would have a right to raise his claim for the said promotional post subject to the outcome of the said departmental enquiry", observed the single judge.

The appellant, in the case, held the post of Assistant Superintendent of Prison and sought his promotion to the post of Deputy Superintendent of Prison. However, the Departmental Promotion Committee had recommended that his name be kept in sealed cover because of the pendency of departmental proceedings.

"Hon'ble Supreme Court has laid down that sealed cover procedure is to be resorted to while considering promotion only when the departmental proceedings are initiated by issuance of charge-memo/charge-sheet. In that view of the matter, we find no good ground to take a view other than the view taken by the learned Single Judge, and therefore, finding no merit, writ appeal is dismissed", said the Division Bench of the High Court.

Senior Advocate Dr. Rajesh Pandey assisted by Advocate Abhishek Pandey appeared for the appellant officer in the Supreme Court.

"The Special Leave Petition is, accordingly, disposed of, with a direction to the respondent – State and the competent authority to decide the disciplinary proceedings expeditiously, but not later than 6 months from the date of receipt of a copy of this Order", the Court directed.

Cause Title- Shatruhan Prasad Kurrey v. State of Chhattisgarh & Ors.

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