Retirement is the end of employee-employer relationship, so a retired employee can’t be dismissed, the Punjab and Haryana high court has held. The bench of justice Kuldip Singh stated that the employer reserves the right to withhold pension, permanently or for a specified period, and use this money for recovering a loss, if the pensioner is guilty of grave misconduct or negligence during service. But the employee can’t be fired after superannuation.
The order came on the petition of a retired doctor, Sohan Lal Arora. He superannuated in May 2007 but the Punjab principal secretary for health passed his dismissal orders in October 2007. The doctor moved the high court seeking directions for the payment of his retirement benefits, including the general provident fund.
The government submitted that he had embezzled Rs 95 lakh by submitting fake documents and misusing a letter from the Patiala civil surgeon to claim four increments based on house job and postgraduate degree. He committed the alleged fraud between 1995 and 1999 during his postings in Mansa, Muktsar, and some other places. The department found him guilty of the charges and dismissed him in 2004. He challenged the order, which the high court quashed in 2006. In October 2007, the department passed the second dismissal order on the inquiry report after he moved court to seek retirement benefits.
The high court bench observed that instead of dismissing the doctor months after retirement, the government could have deducted the money from his pension. The government now must release all his pension with 9% interest, starting three months from his retirement. It is free to release provisional pension in case it plans to invoke the Punjab Civil Services Rules to cut retirement benefits.