New Delhi, April 16, 2022: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has opined that charge memo is not liable to be quashed, as it does not adversely affect the rights of an employee and does not give rise to any cause of action.
The Bench of Justice S.M. Subramanian disposed of a writ petition assailing the charge memo by observing that a writ petition is instituted in cases wherein there is infringement of fundamental rights, a charge memo does not breach the rights of an employee and therefore, a writ petition with respect to the same can only be entertained in special circumstances.
Brief facts of the case were that the petitioner was appointed as Secondary Grade Teacher on the basis of compassionate grounds February 16, 1996. The petitioner was issued with a charge memo under Rule 17(b) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules. The charges against the petitioner reveal that based on certain false information, the petitioner submitted an application for compassionate appointment. At the time of appointment on compassionate ground, the other family members were in Government service and therefore, the petitioner’s family was not in indigent circumstances. The source of income of the father of the writ petitioner was not placed before the authorities and those facts were suppressed by the writ petitioner for the purpose of securing appointment on compassionate ground. This apart, another charge was framed that by submitting false facts before the Court, he instituted a case.
The Counsel for the petitioner contended that the case of the writ petitioner was considered based on the orders passed by this Court.The Court however, observed that it is pertinent to note that this Court passed an order on December 16, 2014 directing the respondents to regularise the services of the petitioner with all consequential services and monetary benefits. However, perusal of the order of this Court reveals that the illegalities and suppression of facts for securing compassionate appointment were not elaborately considered and therefore, the charges were to be independently faced by the writ petitioner. The above stated order itself was passed in view of issuing directions to the respondents to regularise the services of the petitioner with all consequential benefits. The writ petition was considered based on the fact that the petitioner was appointed on compassionate grounds. The suppression of facts on the other hand, made by the petitioner in the application and the false information provided for securing employment had not been adjudicated in the writ petition, therefore, the order passed in the writ petition cannot be an impediment for the competent authorities to proceed with the departmental disciplinary proceedings initiated for the alleged misconduct committed by the writ petitioner for securing the employment on compassionate grounds, the Court stated.
It was further observed that charges were independent in nature and the allegations against the writ petitioner were solemn in nature, therefore the directions issued to the respondents pertaining to regularisation have no connection whatsoever with the allegations of misrepresentation of facts by the petitioner in order to secure appointment on compassionate grounds. In pursuant to the same observations, it was stated that the impugned charged memo will not be quashed as it does not vitiate the rights of the employee. It was also submitted that the writ petition is not maintainable as the same instituted when there is infringement of fundamental rights, however the same was found missing in the present case, the Court noted.
Notably, the Court stated that the writ petition assailing the charge memo can never be entertained is also not the case, there are certain circumstances wherein the same is taken into consideration. In cases where charge memo has been issued by incompetent Authority lacking jurisdiction or allegation of mala fide is raised. Except these circumstances, no writ petition assailing the charge memo shall be entertained as doing so shall cause prejudice to the Department and likelihood of causing prejudice is also to be considered by the Court at the time of entertaining a writ petition.
In view of the above observations, the Court observed that the respondents shall continue with the departmental disciplinary proceedings and the petitioner shall be given the opportunity to be heard, however the non- cooperation of the petitioner in the proceedings shall be recorded in the proceedings itself. Thus, the petitioner was not entitled to claim any relief on the ground that the disciplinary proceedings against her were not disposed of. Accordingly, the writ petition was dismissed.