The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has ordered AIIMS to reinstate the sacked administrative officer (AO) of its trauma centre, saying his dismissal for alleged sexual harassment of female employees, was illegal as no charge sheet had been issued against him.
"We are of considered opinion that the July 2011 order suffers from the basic illegality of non-issuance of the charge sheet against the applicant," said the CAT's principal bench.
"We quash and set aside the impugned penalty order and the report of the complaints committee and direct the respondents to reinstate the applicant forthwith to the post he was occupying before his dismissal," it added.
The CAT's order came on a plea by Rajavelu Simon, the sacked official of AIINS' Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center (JPNA), challenging his dismissal as illegal, arbitrary and discriminatory.
Simon in his plea had said he was not served with any charge sheet on the said complaints nor his response was sought before ordering an inquiry into the allegations.
AIIMS contended that Simon was provided with a copy of the report of the complaints committee and he was also given the opportunity to project his defence before the committee and later before the disciplinary authority.
It also said the charges against him were mentioned in the report of the committee and there was no need for framing charges against him.
The bench presided over by Justice V K Bali observed that as Simon was not issued a charge memo nor given an opportunity to deny the allegations, he was "deprived of the reasonable opportunity (to defend himself)".
AIIMS, had also contended that the applicant being an officer-in-charge of administration, he was expected to set examples to others, particularly, regarding his conduct and behaviour towards women employees.
Simon, on the other hand, had argued that the said allegations, of using sexually coloured remarks and making advances on three women employees, were made against him as the three women were transferred from the trauma centre.
The CAT bench also observed that, "It (inquiry) was meant to be simply an investigation, and no indication at that stage had been given that the same could be the basis for imposition of a major penalty."
"The law laid down by the high court regarding the requirement of a due observance of the procedure as prescribed under the Central Civil Services Rules, before imposing a major penalty such as dismissal from service, is found to have been grossly violated in the present case," the bench said.
The complaints were received against Simon in May 2009, after which the complaints committee held three meetings during which it heard the complainants and Simon and found five charges of sexual harassment as proved against him.
The committee then recommended to remove the applicant from all duties with immediate effect and to impose the penalty of compulsory retirement on him.1