Non-compliance of directions not falling within the contemplated activities not to be considered as insubordination

Kerala High Court: In a proceeding dealing with a matter relating to non-compliance of orders of the superior by an employee of an apex co-operative body, A. Muhamed Mustaque, J., explained that in a departmental enquiry, the Enquiry Officer performs a quasi judicial function and in the disciplinary proceedings relating to insubordination, such Officer is expected to enquire reasons for non-compliance of the directions of a superior by the employee. The Court, clarifying that the right to dissent is a natural right and it can only be regulated, consistent with the scheme of the contemplated activities, said that if an employee expresses his dissatisfaction on an additional work being allotted to him, especially when there are no preordained system of distribution of work, such expression need not be construed as insubordination, i.e., something part of right of free expression. Also, considering the lack of platform to resolve the dispute through a consensus-based process, such as mediation, in the organisation, the Court advised that in the interest of the Public Sector Undertakings in the State of Kerala, the Government should initiate steps to formulate a mechanism for dispute resolution through mediation at enterprises level. K.T. Mathew v. State of Kerala, OP No. 5391 of 2002(P), decided on 30 May, 2014

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