Departmental enquiries initiated against government servants under Section 17 (b) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules can be continued even after their retirement by converting them into enquiries under Rule 9(2) (a) of the Tamil Nadu Pension Rules, 1978, the Madras High Court Bench here has ruled.
The court also held that there was no necessity for the disciplinary authority concerned to invoke Rule 56 (c) of the Fundamental Rules and pass a separate order retaining the government servants after the date on which he/she attained superannuation, in order to continue the enquiry, unless they had been under suspension on the date of superannuation.
The ruling was passed by a Division Bench of the High Court while passing a common judgement on two writ appeals one filed by the Madurai Collector in a case related to disciplinary action initiated against a former Deputy Tahsildar and another by a retired sub-registrar of the Cooperation Department. The appellants had challenged two contrary orders passed by single judges of the High Court.
Disposing of their appeals, the Division Bench held that the former Deputy Tahsildar and the sub-registrar would be entitled to provisional pension and all other retirement benefits pending the departmental enquiries. The words – that their “retirement shall be subject to pending disciplinary proceedings” — in the orders passed by the Collector and Joint Registrar of Cooperative Societies should be construed to mean that the delinquents would be dealt with as required under Rule 9 (2) (a) of the Pension Rules.
The Bench also said that a close reading of Rule 9 (2) (a) showed that departmental proceedings initiated against government servants while they were in service shall be deemed to be proceedings under this rule after their retirement. The enquiries should be continued and concluded by the authorities, who had initiated them, in the same manner as if the government servant had been in service.
However, the disciplinary authority shall not have power to impose any kind of punishment if the delinquent government servant was ultimately found guilty. Instead, the enquiry report should be submitted to the Government which shall either withhold or withdraw the pension to a government servant found guilty of grave misconduct or negligence during the period of his service.