Government entitled to withhold leave encashment of an employee pending criminal or departmental proceedings

Patna High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Rajendra Menon, CJ, and Ravi Ranjan J., held in a challenge made by the petitioner that withholding his gratuity and encashment of earned leaves was valid if, at the time of superannuation, departmental or criminal proceedings were pending.

In a nutshell, the brief facts of the case are that the petitioner was working with the Public Works Department and a case was registered against him in the year 2013 when a raid was conducted in which the property and money found on his premises was found to be disproportionate in reference to the known source of income of the employee. Therefore, petitioner was booked under Sections 13(2) with Section 13(1) (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in the continuance of these proceedings, he superannuated in the year 2015.

The submissions of the petitioner stated that he was sanctioned 90% of the provisional pension. Provident fund dues, 10% pension, full gratuity and admissible leave encashment were withheld. He placed reliance on a Supreme Court case of State of Bihar v. Md. Adris Ansari; 1995 Supp (3) SCC 56 in which it was stated that “until and unless the employee concerned is held guilty of the misconduct levelled against him or punished in the judicial proceedings pending, in view of the provisions of Rule 43(b) pension, gratuity and leave encashment cannot be withheld.” Similarly in the case of Bajrang Deo Narain Sinha v. State of Bihar; 1999 SCC OnLine Pat 673, the Court again placed reliance on Rule 43(b) of the Pension Rules, stating that “the dues of the petitioner including gratuity, pension and leave encashment cannot be withheld.

However, on recordance of the stated statutory provisions and various circulars, it was clear that 10% pension could be withheld during the pendency of the departmental proceedings or a criminal case, whereas 90% provisional pension is to be granted. The High Court stated that if an employee is facing a criminal case or a departmental proceeding at the time of his retirement, the government has the power to withhold leave encashment.

Therefore, by stating the case of Vijay Kumar Mishra v. State of Bihar; 2017 (1) PLJR 575, it was held that leave encashment of a Government employee can be withheld and its withholding by executive instructions is permissible. [Arvind Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar; 2018 SCC OnLine Pat 749; dated 02-05-2018]

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