Chandigarh, August 11, 2021: Dismissing the appeal of a terminated employee serving in the district court in Punjab’s Sangrur, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the District and Sessions Judge is fully competent to discharge the employee during probation period, if his work and conduct is found to be deficient.
The case pertains to the appellant who was appointed as peon in the office of the District and Sessions Judge, Sangrur by appointment letter dated 5.8.2019. As per the appointment letter, he was on probation for a period of two years and if his work and conduct is not found satisfactory then his services shall be terminated without any notice.
The appellant was found absent from the duties repeatedly, for which his explanation was called but the same was found unsatisfactory. Thereafter, a discreet inquiry was ordered to be conducted on which it was found that the peon was facing three criminal cases regarding which he never disclosed to his employer.
He was asked to furnish his explanation regarding the same. He did not deny the fact regarding registration of the criminal cases. This being the position, as the peon was under probation, the District and Sessions Judge did not deem it fit to initiate disciplinary inquiry against him and rather terminated the peon’s services by impugned order dated 3.6.2020.
The terminated peon filed a writ petition in the High court to challenge the said order of termination of his services. The Single Judge heard him at length and finally dismissed his petition.
Thereafter, he filed an appeal before the division bench and that too stands dismissed in the present petition by the bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh.
The main thrust of the contentions raised by the counsel for the terminated employee was that since the termination order passed by the District and
Sessions Judge is stigmatic, therefore the same stands vitiated due to non-holding of the departmental inquiry.
The bench, however, observed that undisputedly, the appellant was found absent from duty on several occasions. He was granted an opportunity to explain his position. However, the explanation given by the appellant was found to be not satisfactory by the competent authority.
The record shows that three criminal cases were registered against him and in one such case he was arrested on 6.11.2019 by the police of Police Station Joga and was released on bail on 15.11.2019. The appellant gave no intimation or information regarding the same to his department.
According to the bench, the competent authority while passing the impugned order simply gave the brief detail of the aforesaid facts, which were concealed by the appellant from the department.
“This being the position, the learned Single Judge rightly observed that whatever the stigma was attached to the character of the appellant (petitioner therein) on account of these criminal cases, already stood attached somewhere else because of the fact that the petitioner is facing these cases and he also remained in jail on account of the same,” the Division Bench said.
“The learned Single Judge further observed that the impugned order passed by the competent authority does not attach any additional quantum of stigma to the antecedents of the appellant (petitioner therein). Needless to say that had the competent authority not mentioned these facts in the impugned order then it would have been termed as a non-speaking order and would have vitiated for this reason alone, observed the bench.
Concluding the matter, the bench stated, “The impugned order does not disqualify the appellant from future employment as per his eligibility and suitability. It is simpliciter an order of termination of the services of the petitioner. In a sense, it is order of the discharge of the appellant from the service. The District and Sessions Judge was fully competent to discharge the employee during probation period, if his work and conduct was found deficient. Even as per the appointment letter (Annexure P-2), the appointment of the appellant was purely on temporary basis and liable to be terminated at any time without assigning any reasons.”