Pinnacle court said that Harsh to fireplace govt staffer over unauthorised offs

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In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court on Thursday held that terminating a government employee for occurring unauthorised leave is simply too harsh and disproportionate punishment and suggested that some "lesser but major penalty" should be imposed rather than removing him from service.

A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala put aside the termination order issued by the ministry of mines in 2000 to 1 of its employees who had gone on unauthorised leave for over 100 days. The court converted the termination into "compulsory retirement with pension benefits". 

The SC bench passed the order on an appeal filed by the Centre challenging a Delhi HC order that had directed reinstatement of the worker. Additional law officer Jayant K Sud and senior advocate R Balasubramanian, appearing for the govt., argued that the worker was a perpetual offender, who repeatedly went on unauthorised leaves. 

They also contended that the HC committed a slip en passant the order within the favour of the worker.

However, the bench said that happening unauthorised leave is definitely a misconduct and will be a legitimate ground for termination of job in defence services and paramilitary forces, but the identical rule can't be enforced in civil jobs. The bench also remarked that it might not have thought twice in upholding the dismissal order if the worker was within the defence forces.

The SC bench upheld the HC order quashing the govt order to terminate the employee's job but dodged reinstating him as over twenty years have passed since he was sacked. The court converted the sacking order into compulsory retirement and allowed the worker and his family to avail pension benefits.