Sending representations directly to superior officers without availing proper channel cannot amount to termination from service: SC

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While hearing the Chatrapal vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr. case on February 16, 2024, the Supreme Court (SC) of India observed that “Class-IV employee, when in financial hardship, may represent directly to the superior but that by itself cannot amount to major misconduct for which punishment of termination from service should be imposed.” It added that sending the representation to the High Court and Hon’ble Chief Minister/Minister (superior officers) without routing the same through proper channel cannot amount to appellant’s (Class-IV employee) termination from service. Furthermore, a two-judge SC bench comprising Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra stated that “the appellant is reinstated in service with all consequential benefits.”

The SC was hearing an appeal against the judgment of the Allahabad High Court dismissing the petition of the appellant being devoid of merit. Herein, the appellant was appointed on permanent basis on the post of Ardly in the Bareilly Judgeship. Further, he was transferred and posted as Process Server in the Nazarat of outlying court of Baheri, District Bareilly on August 24, 2001. In compliance of the transfer order, the appellant joined the Nazarat Branch but he was being paid the remuneration of Ardly. Being aggrieved of the same, the appellant made a representation to the District Judge to pay the salary due to the post of Process Server. The said representation was duly considered by the competent authority and a report from the Munsarim in the office of Civil Judge, was called for. 

As per the report of Munsarim, the appellant joined the post of Process Server in the Court of Civil Judge, Baheri, and since then ihe was working on the said post. After submission of the said report, the Central Nazir started harassing the appellant and demanded illegal amount of gratification for settling his dues. Concerning this, the appellant made a representation to the Janapad Nyaayaadeesh inter alia stating that he was deprived of the allowance that was admissible to the incumbents who were posted at an outlying court as Process Server. The District Judge, Bareilly sought an explanation from the Central Nazir, Judgeship who in turn admitted that by mistake the salary of the appellant has been shown as against the post of Ardly, however, he denied having demanded illegal gratification from the appellant. 

The District Judge placed the appellant under suspension and initiated a departmental inquiry. The Inquiry Officer vide memorandum served the charge sheet on the appellant on the charges “firstly, the appellant vide communication had used inappropriate, derogatory and objectionable language and made false allegations against the officers including the District Judge as well as against the Presiding Officer and secondly, the appellant communicated letters and representations to the Registrar General of High Court and other officials of the State Government including the then Chief Minister without routing the same through proper channel.” The Inquiry Officer, upon completion of enquiry, recorded in his report that the charges leveled against the appellant were duly established. The District Judge, accepted the inquiry report and dismissed the appellant which was challenged in appeal before the HC and the same was dismissed. 

Further, the appellant filed the Writ Petition before the HC which attained the same fate as that of the appeal; therefore, the matter was mentioned before the Supreme Court. After hearing the contentions, the SC opined that “the disciplinary authority had erroneously failed to admit the admissible and material evidence”. It added, “the authorities have disabled themselves from reaching a fair conclusion by some considerations extraneous to the evidence and merits of the case.” The bench set aside the impugned order of the HC and the appellant was reinstated in service with all consequential benefits.