OBSERVING THAT the “situation was critical” during the national lockdown with “prevalence of fear psychosis”, the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) last week set aside the dismissal of an SRPF official who had been dismissed from service for not turning up for duty during the pandemic.
Mayur Vadje, a police naik with the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) posted at Goregaon, had gone on a sanctioned leave to his native place Indapur in Pune from March 16, 2020 to March 31, 2020. However, he did not turn up for work on April 1, 2020 and claimed it was on account of “non-availability of government vehicles or public vehicles to go back to Mumbai during the pandemic.”
The applicant claimed that even though he sent his application to SRPF seeking concession, his service was terminated on June 5, 2020 on the ground that his was an “emergency service” that he did not join on time. He further alleged that while others who were dismissed by the same order were reinstated, he was not.
For its part, the SRPF said that on May 12 that year, the applicant was, on WhatsApp, asked to resume duty either in Mumbai or in the units in Pune closer to his house. His service was terminated after he did not join either of the place, the SRPF added. It was further mentioned that an FIR, too, had been registered against the applicant for not appearing on duty.
The Tribunal observed that the applicant had “defaulted” as he did not join his duty despite having the option to report to work at Pune. “However, considering the critical situation and nationwide lockdown moreover fear psychosis and the fact that the applicant had already put in service of more than 10 years and he is 36 years old, we are of the view that this is not a case fit for dismissal,” the order read.
It added, “The respondents can however take appropriate steps that are provided in the rules against the applicant for the misconduct.” The Tribunal further clarified to the applicant that it was not inclined to grant his prayer to provide him wages for the period he was not allowed to serve. The Tribunal directed that the applicant be reinstated within a period of three weeks from August 8, when the order was passed.