Staff Reporter

For prolonging departmental enquiry against an employee for 15 years

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here has censured the Dindigul district administration for not completing the departmental enquiry against a Kannivadi Town panchayat employee despite the expiry of 15 long years since the issuance of a charge memo on March 2, 1994.

Justice K.N. Basha quashed the charge memo while allowing a writ petition filed by the employee who attained the age of superannuation as early as on June 30, 2000.

He directed the Collector to disburse all retirement benefits, due to the petitioner in accordance with law, within three months.

The Judge pointed out that the charge memorandum was issued to the employee in 1994 for having abstained from attending the office for more than five years in violation of the leave Rules. However, he was not placed under suspension and a departmental enquiry was ordered to probe into the issue.

The employee appeared before the enquiry officer on June 13, 1994 and claimed that he had forwarded necessary leave letters explaining the reasons for his abstention.

Thereafter, the enquiry officer retired from service without submitting any report, regarding the charges levelled against the petitioner, to the Collector.

After six years, another enquiry officer was appointed with a direction to submit a report before May 30, 2000. Yet, there was no progress in the enquiry and the petitioner did not receive any communication whatsoever.

Hence, he made a representation in this regard to the Collector on October 13, 2004.

Subsequently, the Collector on November 12, 2004 informed the petitioner for the first time that the latter was placed under suspension. Charges were also framed against him under the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Disciplinary and Appeal) Rules and a third enquiry officer was appointed to deal with the issue.

The petitioner appeared before the enquiry officer on January 17, 2005 and submitted his explanation.

A month later, he sought for a copy of the enquiry report. But there was no response. Repeated representations made between 2005 and 2008 to the Collector and other officials also went unheard.

At last, the Collector on November 28, 2008 instructed the Assistant Director of Town Panchayat to furnish the copies of the suspension order as well as the order not permitting the petitioner to retire.

But the copies were not furnished.

Reply to an application under the Right to Information Act, the ADTP said that they were untraceable.

“The above said sequence of events makes it crystal clear that the petitioner is in no way responsible for the inordinate delay in conducting the disciplinary proceedings and on the other hand, it demonstrated the lethargic and indifferent attitude of the respondents in dealing with the service career of the petitioner,” the judge observed.