Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: The Bench comprising of S. Sunil Dutt Yadav, J. hearing a petition challenging motion of no-confidence moved against President of Hallare Gram Panchayat, held the same to be invalid for not being in accordance with law.

Petitioner, the President of Hallare Gram Panchayat, was issued a notice issued by respondent whereby motion of no-confidence was sought to be initiated against him for his alleged misconduct. He challenged the said notice in the instant petition contending that as per Section 49(1) Proviso 2 of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act, 1993 a resolution expressing want of confidence cannot be moved within first thirty months from the date of the election. Since he was elected on 22-03-2018 and the motion was moved on 25-09-2018, therefore the respondent ought not to have entertained the no-confidence motion in view of prohibition given under proviso to Section 49(1).

The Court held that proceedings initiated by respondent infracted the prohibition contained in proviso to Section 49(1) of the Act and hence was liable to be set aside. It was observed that the only exception for moving a motion of no-confidence against a President of Gram Panchayat was if it is initiated with allegations under Section 49(2) of the Act. However, in view of the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in Lakshmamma v. State of Karnataka, 2018 SCC OnLine Kar 1750 the said option also could not be exercised until fresh rules in that regard were framed. 

Accordingly, the petition was allowed and respondents were granted liberty to pursue an action for removal of petitioner for alleged acts of misconduct under Sections 43-A and 48(4) of the Act. [Preethi v. Assistant Commissioner, Mysore Sub-Division, 2018 SCC OnLine Kar 2788, Order dated 13-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Sanjeev Kumar, J., allowed a writ petition filed against the order of respondent authorities, whereby petitioner was placed under suspension without there being any misconduct on petitioner’s part.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the actions of respondents were justified with regard to the suspension of the petitioner.

The Court observed that the respondents communicated the order of suspension to the petitioner after a year of issuance of that order. The respondents had not initiated enquiry into the matter of petitioner, nor the petitioner had been charge-sheeted even after 2 years of his order of suspension was passed. The prolongation of suspension period beyond two years can only be viewed as punitive which is not sustainable in law. The Court referred to the judgment passed in the case of Ghulam Mohammad Mir v. State, 2017 (II) SLJ, 1996, wherein it was held that the suspension of an employee is resorted to only to facilitate unhindered and fair inquiry into alleged misconduct committed by such employee but if such suspension is unnecessarily prolonged and object for which it was resorted to, is not achieved and no inquiry into conduct of such employee is initiated with reasonable dispatch, the order of suspension would become punitive and susceptible to challenge, being violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.

The Court held that the as per the principles laid down in Ghulam Mohammad’s case, the actions of the respondent authorities cannot be held justified. The respondents ought to have initiated a proper inquiry into the matter within a reasonable time. Resultantly, the Court allowed the writ petition and quashed the order of respondents. [Babu Ram Sharma v. State,2018 SCC OnLine J&K 777, order dated 24-10-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ., passed an order wherein they restored the honour of an Army veteran who was one of the officers who led the Operation Blue Star in the year 1984. The Supreme Court in its order upheld the decision of Armed Forces Tribunal to exonerate Major Kunwar Ambreshwar Singh of the charges of alleged misconduct and awarding him the rank of Lt. Colonel post-retirement.

The Chief of the Army staff had refused to grant substantive rank of Lt. Colonel, by time scale, to Major Kunwar Ambreshwar Singh and all other directions which deprived him of promotional avenues. The alleged charge against him was of retaining certain electronic items recovered during “Operation Blue Star” conducted to flush out Sikh extremists from the Golden Temple complex.

The above-stated order of the Chief of Army staff was set aside by the Armed Forces Tribunal (Lucknow Bench), which order was upheld by the Supreme Court bench.

The Bench dismissed the appeal of the Centre against the order of AFT while reducing the costs imposed from Rs 10 lakhs to Rs 1 lakh.

[Source: PTI]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Explaining the scope misconduct by employees, the bench of RK Agrawal and AM Sapre, JJ said that there is no defense available to a delinquent to say that there was no loss or profit resulting in a case when officer/employee is found to have acted without authority.

The Court was hearing the case where the appellant, an assistant with LIC, was suspended for his alleged misconduct as he had, in discharge of his duties, issued as many as seven receipts including special premium receipts to the policyholders without receiving any premium amount from them. The appellant, in substance, admitted the issuance of receipts by him and also admitted non-receipt of the amount against any of these receipts from any of the policyholders. He, however, contended that such mistake occurred on his part due to heavy pressure of workload on him and some family circumstances/worries that were troubling him during those days.

Rejecting the contention of the appellant, the Court said that an employee, in discharge of his duties, is required to exercise higher standard of honesty and integrity. In a case where he deals with the money of the depositors and customers, it is all the more necessary for him to be more cautious in his duties because he deals with the money transactions for and on behalf of his employer.

It was further held that every such employee/officer is, therefore, required to take all possible steps to protect the interest of his employer. He must, therefore, discharge his duties with utmost sense of integrity, honesty, devotion and diligence and must ensure that he does nothing, which is unbecoming of an employee/officer. Any dereliction in discharge of duties whether by way of negligence or with deliberate intention or with casualness constitutes misconduct on the part of such employee/officer. [Mihir Kumar Hazara v. Life Insurance Corporation, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1068, decided on 11.09.2017]

 

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): While declaring an RTI applicant as misuser of social media and RTI, CIC warned him to stop misusing the law to harass his colleagues in a Delhi college. The Commission was hearing an appeal filed by an employee of Ambedkar Polytechnic, who filed RTI application seeking wide range of information about his colleagues and Principal and even of the officers who were supposed to inquire into complaints filed against him. He sought copies of integrity certificate of committee members those were involved in the inquiry. Appellant had already filed number of complaints, grievance representations, RTI applications, almost chocking entire administration. He also videographed the lecture of one of his lady colleagues in the class room without permission and put it on social media with reckless allegations. She complained against him before Delhi Commission for Women, which was dismissed on the ground that the Principal should have given a memo. She was upset with invasion of her privacy and reputation by wide circulation of abusive comments with video giving an impression there was some scandal. After perusal of documents and hearing the parties, CIC observed that the appellant is, “a misuser of every mechanism” and “every misuse of system like, PGMS, RTI and Social media shall be considered as an item of misconduct that invite disciplinary action.” “The head of the institute need to examine if it (actions of appellant) amounts to any offence under IPC or IT Act, and shall report to appropriate authorities including police,” CIC noted. The Commission also observed that the women colleagues were also entitled to get compensation for invasion of their privacy. The Commission further recommended the Delhi Commission for Women, to take necessary action on complaints of the lady colleague and report the compliance to the Commission. [Mohd. Shakeel Saifi v. Bhai Parmanand Institute of Business Studies, 2016 SCC OnLine CIC 3673, decided on March 3, 2016]