Suspension Period Up to Reinstatement Could Not be Counted Towards Qualifying Service: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court ruled that the suspension period up to reinstatement of the appellant could not be counted towards the qualifying service of the appellant.  

Background 

The appellant was appointed as a Stenographer, Gr. III, in the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and while working in that capacity, he was charge-sheeted for assaulting Dr K.K. Sidh, Deputy Director, ICSSR, in the office premises. 

The appellant submitted his written statement explaining his actions but at the same time he admitted to having slapped Dr K.K. Sidh. 

The Disciplinary Authority finding the explanation of the appellant to be unsatisfactory decided to hold an inquiry and constituted an Inquiry Committee. The appellant participated in the inquiry proceedings which culminated in a report which found the appellant guilty of the charges framed against him. 

Arguments 

Senior Advocate K. K. Rai, appearing for the appellant, submitted that the order of Disciplinary Authority compulsorily retiring the appellant had only mentioned that the period from the date of his original suspension till the date of issue of the said order will not count towards pensionary benefits and there is no specific order passed by the Competent Authority forfeiting the pension of the appellant.

Advocate Amitesh Kumar, appearing for the Respondents, submitted that the charges were fully proved against the appellant and accordingly, the Disciplinary Authority, in exercise of its power under Rule 14 of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, imposed the punishment of compulsory retirement from service, and further taking into account all facts and circumstances, ordered that the period of suspension from 06.11.1989 till the date of issuance of the order imposing penalty shall not be counted towards pensionary benefits.

Decision 

The division bench of Justice Vikas Mahajan and Justice Najmi Waziri observed that it is not in dispute that the case of the appellant is governed by the Rules which were in vogue at the relevant time. The Rules contain elaborate provisions in Chapter III (Rules 13 to 32), which provide for counting of different periods of service towards qualifying service for deciding the eligibility of an employee for pension. 

It was further observed that in terms of the initial part thereof, the counting of the period of suspension towards qualifying service is automatic in the event of twin conditions being satisfied; the government servant should have been fully exonerated and the suspension has been held to be wholly unjustified. 

The court noted that in the case, none of these conditions are met, since, neither it is a case of exoneration, nor has the suspension been held to be wholly unjustified.

The court held that the entire period during which the appellant remained under suspension cannot be counted towards qualifying service. 

It was said by the court that the appellant cannot take advantage of the lenient view taken by the disciplinary authority in awarding full back wages for the entire period of suspension.

Case title: Ram Narain v/s Union of India & Ors

Citation: LPA 280/2019 

Date: 21.11.2022

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