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Theft slur wiped after 32 years
- On eve of retirement, attendant gets job back

Calcutta, Dec. 9: Nirmal Kumar Ghosh is happy justice wasn't denied. But behind the tears of joy is pain at the delay that marred his youth.

Ghosh, an attendant in a tuberculosis hospital at Kalyani, was suspended 32 years ago on charges of stealing a ceiling fan. Today, he was cleared by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) and got his job back. But he is 59, a year away from retirement.

At the fag end of his career, Ghosh is taking satisfaction from the fact that his name has been cleared and he will get all his salary arrears for the period of suspension.

In early 1972, the hospital authorities found a ceiling fan of the hospital missing. The then superintendent, after receiving a tip-off from the other employees, charged Ghosh with theft.

The superintendent issued Ghosh a showcause notice. He declined to accept the charges, but the hospital authorities were firm in their decision. Ghosh was suspended.

The attendant wrote to the authorities, urging them to carry out an inquiry. But there was no response.

Finally, Ghosh moved Calcutta High Court in the mid-seventies, challenging the suspension order.

As the case came under the SAT's jurisdiction, the high court referred the case there for disposal. Years went by, but the case did not come up for hearing.

Thirty years after Ghosh moved the high court, the case finally came up for hearing before a SAT division bench presided over by chairman Justice Pradip Kumar Biswas. Achyut Basu pleaded on behalf of Ghosh that his client had been falsely implicated. The government counsel could not prove the charges framed by the hospital.

The bench today set aside the suspension order and directed the hospital authorities to allow Ghosh to join duty. The court also directed director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee to pay all salary arrears for the period of his suspension along with benefits from various pay revisions.

'My client broke down on hearing the judgment. The only question he had in mind was that he would get back his job on the basis of the court order, but who would give him back the prime years of his life. But he is happy that he finally got justice,' Basu said later in the evening.

The lawyer said he was sending a copy of the judgment to the hospital authorities and also to Chatterjee.

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