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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

Govt officials cannot be suspended for indefinite period, rules court

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Srinagar, July 27, 2013
First Published: 18:54 IST(27/7/2013) | Last Updated: 18:58 IST(27/7/2013)

The Jammu and Kashmir high court has come out strongly in favour of dismissed government employees in state. The court on Friday ruled that the suspension of government employees cannot be open-ended or for an indefinite period.

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The court ruled that the suspension has to be reviewed after periodic intervals and accordingly be revoked or extended.  "Suspension of a government servant will lose validity in case it is not reviewed objectively after periodic intervals and on such review extended or revoked," the judgement read.

A single bench of justice Hasnain Massodi, while quashing the suspension orders, directed respondents to compute retrial benefits due to petitioners and release their pension benefits.
The court was hearing a case of an employee dismissed from service for his alleged role in large-scale embezzlement of government funds in rural development department, Islamabad (Anantnag).

After their challenge to dismissal succeeded, the dismissed employees were reinstated, but simultaneously placed under suspension retrospectively from the date of their dismissal.

"The government employee on his suspension does not cease to be a member of service. He continues to be in service, though temporarily asked not to discharge his usual duties. The employer, where an employee is placed under suspension, is duty-bound to ensure that inquiry into the alleged misconduct of such an employee is concluded with proper dispatch, so that the employee is not exposed to prolonged pain and agony that he suffers because of his suspension," the judge observed.

The judge further observed: "Suspension of a government employee having regard to its object, which is to exclude chances of a government employee facing an allegation of misconduct or criminal charge, influencing inquiry or trial or tampering with the record likely to come against him in support of alleged misconduct or criminal charge, is prospective in character. It can be used only prospectively unless the rules expressly give power to order retrospective suspension, to the competent authority."

Petitioners in another writ petition were placed under suspension on the same charges and attached with the office of divisional commissioner, Kashmir.

The trial in both cases remains to be concluded and the trial court is yet to return a finding on their alleged involvement in what was notoriously known as "Anantnag scam".  The petitioners during pendency of the trial retired on superannuating.


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