Government Employees can not be suspended more than three months if not charge-sheeted – Hon’ble Supreme Court’s observation
It would be a happy news for many Government Employees who have been made to wait unendingly under suspension without issue of charges against them. Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed in a case that involves long term of suspension to the effect that Government Emplyees have to be issued with charge sheets within three months from the date of suspension, failing which suspension has to be revoked.Source: Hindustan Times
“A government employee can’t be kept suspended for more than three months if not formally informed about the charges”, the Supreme Court said in this case.
This decision of Apex court will be a boon to many government employees who have been suspended on various grounds without issue of charges formally.
Justice Vikramjit Sen has said in this case – “Suspension, specially preceding the formulation of charges, is essentially transitory or temporary in nature, and must perforce be of short duration,”.
However, it was also ruled by the apex court that if proper charges issued to government employees, suspension may be extended by the govt.
Hon’ble Supreme also said in this case that if suspension is for an indeterminate period or if its renewal is not based on sound reasoning this would render it punitive in nature.
It agreed with petitioner’s senior counsel Nidhesh Gupta that a suspension order can’t continue for an unreasonably long period.
Hon’ble Court has opined that this issue is similar to criminal investigation in which a person alleged to have committed a criminal offence will have to be released on bail if the investigation did not file charge sheet after 90 days are over.
In case, no charges are framed against the suspended employee, it is equal to punishing him / her even before charges are proved. “Much too often this has now become an accompaniment to retirement,” the court said, This decision has set aside a direction of the central vigilance commission to keepy departmental proceedings to in abeyance pending a criminal investigation.
At the same time, there is no bar for transfer of the government employee to ensure fair trial.
This judgement of Hon’ble Supreme Court was based on a petition filed by a defence estate officer who was suspended in September 2011 for the alleged offence that he issued wrong no objection certificate for utlising a land.
Hon’ble Delhi High Court has however decided in this case otherwise, which has been dismissed by Apex Court now.
Ironically, it was held by Hon’ble Supreme Court that as a charge sheet had already been served on the petitioner in this case, the directions of Supreme Court on suspension may not apply to him.