Slamming a State Transport Corporation for discharging a driver from service on medical grounds in violation of law, the Madras High Court on Thursday imposed costs of Rs.50,000 on it.

Disposing of an appeal preferred by the Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, Villupuram Division-III, Kancheepuram, challenging a single Judge’s order, a Division Bench of Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and N. Kirubakaran, said that the appellant failed to act as per the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act. Therefore, heavy costs should be imposed on the corporation for not respecting Parliament’s mandate by enacting the legislation.

“Slapping of costs would deter the authorities/officials from committing/repeating the same mistake or illegality in future. Otherwise, there is no use in passing (the) usual order of setting aside the illegal orders passed by the authorities or giving direction, without slapping costs on the erring authorities.

“Passing orders will not make them realise their mistakes or the illegalities committed. Once the order is declared as illegal and void, appropriate costs should be awarded against the authority. Moreover, departmental action is required to be taken against the erring officials,” Justice N. Kirubakaran, writing the judgment for the Bench, said.

E. Humayun Sheriff of Kancheepuram stated that he was appointed as a driver in the corporation in January 1982. On May 5, 1995, when he was driving a bus from Kancheepuram to Chennai, the vehicle was hit by another transport corporation bus that was being driven rashly.

He and some passengers suffered injuries. After referring him to a medical board, the management issued a show cause notice. In spite of his explanation, he was discharged from service on July 31, 1997.

Fresh appointment

Following his representation for an alternative job, the corporation appointed him as a fresh entrant, in the position of junior clerk. He prayed for pay protection and continuity of service in the alternative employment. This was not considered.

He approached the High Court seeking a direction to the transport corporation to comply with Section 47 (Non-discrimination in government employment) of the Act. A single Judge allowed his plea. Hence, the transport corporation’s appeal.

Declaring the discharge order as null and void, the Bench said the driver’s rights, which were preserved and protected by the Act, had been violated by the corporation, which made him work with lesser service benefits and also drove him to approaching the High Court. The discharge of the driver from service on medical grounds in violation of the Act not only affected his fundamental right but also that of his family members.

Whenever new legislations were enacted, the higher authorities should educate and sensitise officials about the purpose and provisions of the laws.

The court said of the total costs imposed, the transport corporation should pay the driver Rs. 25,000 as litigation costs and the remaining sum to The Chief Justice Relief Fund.

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