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Benefits to wrongly dismissed Punjab cop restored: Can’t punish staff if act of dept found illegal, says HC

The order has been passed by the bench of Justice Harsimran Singh Sethi, while hearing the plea of a Punjab Police official, Raghbir Singh.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
January 21, 2021 9:42:34 am
Punjab and Haryana High Court, farmers protest, internet ban, punjab internet ban, haryana internet ban, union governmet, haryana government, Article 19 (1) (a), Article 19 (1) (g), chandigarh news, indian expressPunjab and Haryana High Court. (Express file photo by Jasbir Malhi)

Observing that an employee cannot be punished once the act of a department is found to be illegal either by a competent court of law or by the respondents themselves at any given point of time, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed Punjab to consider the claim of a Punjab Police official for promotion as an Assistant Sub Inspector (Local Rank) with effect from the date when the persons junior to him were promoted, and set aside the order which declined his service benefits including the arrears when he remained out of service due to an inquiry.

The order has been passed by the bench of Justice Harsimran Singh Sethi, while hearing the plea of a Punjab Police official, Raghbir Singh.

Raghbir was appointed as a constable in the Punjab Police on April 22, 1994 and was posted at Mohali. In the year 2011, he was promoted as a Head Constable (PR). On December 17, 2012, he was on duty in a PCR along with one Punjab Home Guard official when an FIR was registered against him under sections of extortion and corruption. Thereafter, the SSP Mohali, immediately dismissed him on the same day. Later on, the police after investigation filed an untraced report as no evidence had come against the petitioner with regard to the allegations alleged in the FIR. After going through the investigation done by the police, the untraced report was accepted by the learned Judge, Special Court, Mohali on September 12, 2017. On the acceptance of the untraced report, petitioner stood exonerated of the allegations alleged against him in the FIR. However, the department though reinstated Raghbir, but ordered for initiating disciplinary proceedings against him.

Raghbir was exonerated in the departmental proceedings, and thus filed a representation to the SSP Mohali, in June 2019 seeking the benefits for the period he remained out of service which is re-fixation of his salary after the grant of increments along with arrears for the period petitioner remained out of service. The representation was forwarded by SSP, Mohali to the office of Director General of Police, Punjab, but the claim of Raghbir was declined vide order November 19, 2019.

Raghbir’s counsel, Advocate Ranjivan Singh had contended before the HC that though he has been reinstated in service by the respondents, no benefit for the period when he remained out of service has been paid to him and his request for the re-fixation of his salary by granting him increments for the period he remained out of service along with arrears by treating the said period as duty period has been wrongly rejected by the Punjab Police in order dated November 19, 2019.

The state told the HC that on the basis of principle of ‘no work, no pay’, the petitioner is not entitled for any benefit including the arrears of salary for the period he remained out of service from December 17, 2012 till October 15, 2018.

Justice Sethi after hearing the matter held, “Nothing has come on record as to why, without waiting for the outcome of the investigation, the action was taken against the petitioner in-haste only on the basis of the allegations alleged against him without waiting for any material to come on record to corroborate the said allegations. No service rule has been cited before this court that even on the allegations alleged in the FIR, an employee can be dismissed from service.”

The bench held that the petitioner remained out of service due to the unwarranted actions of the respondents taken in haste and in case now, the petitioner is denied the benefit of arrears for the said period, it will be putting premium on the illegal and arbitrary acts of the respondents, which under any circumstances cannot be permitted, as the petitioner has already suffered enough prejudice in his service career.

“The employee cannot be punished for no fault of his/her once the act of a department is found to be illegal either by a competent court of law or by the respondents themselves at any given point of time. The result of the same has to be that if the employee is not held guilty either in criminal proceedings or in the departmental proceedings, the said employee is to be treated in service for all intents and purposes even for the period he/she remained out of job so as to compensate the said employee for the illegal acts of the department and the least compensation which can be given to the employee, is granting him/her the benefits which he/she would have earned otherwise while in service”, held the bench while stating that rule of ‘no work, no pay’ cannot be made applicable in the present case.

The bench thus ordered that petitioner will be treated in service uninterruptedly for all intents and purposes and the period for which he remained out of service will be treated as a duty period for all intents and purposes including for the grant of increments and fixation of pay.

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