Pecuniary loss to Government not necessary to initiate departmental proceeding against an employee after his retirement from the service

Supreme Court: Dealing with the question as to whether departmental proceeding can be initiated against an employee after his retirement from service on attainment of the age of superannuation for a charge sheet issued to him at the time of his employment, the bench of J.S. Khehar and Arun Mishra, JJ. held that correct interpretation of Rule 10(1); of the West Bengal Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules, 1971 reveals that the departmental proceeding can be initiated against an employee on account of “grave misconduct or negligence”, even if there is no pecuniary loss to the Government.

The Counsel for the respondent contended that the departmental proceedings for the charge sheet issued to him during his term of employment with regard to disproportionate assets cannot be initiated after his retirement from the Service. The West Bengal Administrative Tribunal directed the enquiry authority to dispose of the pending department proceeding. Aggrieved with the order of the Tribunal, the respondent approached the High Court of Calcutta, which interpreted Rule 10(1); of the 1971 Rules and concluded that departmental proceeding could be initiated after the employee’s retirement only when there is pecuniary loss to the State Government.

Holding that the High Court erred in the interpretation of Rule 10 (1); of the 1971 Rules, the Court set aside the impugned order passed by the High Court and affirmed the order passed by the Administrative Tribunal. The Court concluded that “grave misconduct or negligence” on the part of employee is sufficient to further proceed departmental enquiry against him and that pecuniary loss to the Government is not necessary. State of West Bengal v. Pronab Chakraborty, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 835, decided on October 15, 2014.

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