State administration cannot dispense with ore reduce rank of a government servant if he or she acquires disability including mental illness or retardation during service, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Quoting the provisions of The Persons with disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 a bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice SJ Mukopadhyaya held that if a person is found unsuitable for the post he or she holds on account of acquired disability during service, he or she should be moved to another post suitable to his or her state.
The bench further held that under section 47 of the Act if it wasn't possible to adjust such a person against any post, the government authority ought to keep him or her on a supernumerary post until a suitable one is available until the employee attains the age of superannuation.
With these observations the court recently directed the Union Ministry of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to pay consequential benefits to a 1977 batch IAS officer, Anil Kumar Mahajan, who was compulsorily retired from service on October 15 2007 after a disciplinary inquiry declared him insane. The inquiry report came 11 years after it was instituted in 1993 when he worked with the Bihar government.
At the time of inquiry the officer was placed under suspension twice. His representation for a voluntary retirement was turned down by the DoPT on the ground he hadn't completed the minimum service of 20 years. Later, however, the ministry compulsorily retired him.
Mahajan later challenged the findings of the disciplinary proceedings before the Central Administrative Tribunal, which turned down his plea.
However, on his appeal the SC set aside the order of compulsory retirement and said: "The appellant was appointed in the service of respondents as an IAS officer and joined in the year 1977. He served for 30 years till the order of his compulsory retirement was issued on October 15, 2007. It is not the case of the respondents (DoPT) that the appellant was insane and in spite of that he was appointed as an IAS Officer in 1977."
Observing "some problem was going on between the appellant and authorities of the state (Bihar)," the court said: "In view of the aforesaid finding, we are of the view that it was not open to the authorities to dispense with the service of appellant or to compulsory retire him from service."
The court further said: "The High Court also failed to notice the relevant fact and without going into the merit allowed the counsel to withdraw the writ petition merely on the basis of the finding of Inquiry Officer."
Since in normal course Mahajan would have retired from service on July 31, 2012, the SC directed DoPT to pay him the full salary, except the subsistence allowance already received, for the period from the date of initiation of departmental proceeding till his date of superannuation.