Q:I was holding the post of a sub-inspector in the West Bengal Police. About a month ago, a letter of termination of service was served on me on the alleged ground that I had accepted illegal gratification and had let go two persons involved in smuggling activities. The letter of termination was not issued by the appointing authority. No enquiry was held against me and as such, I had no opportunity to show that the said charge was false and that I am innocent. Apart from suffering from financial hardship, I am perturbed by the stigma that has been attached to me on account of this charge and the subsequent dismissal. Can I be dismissed without an enquiry' Do I have a remedy'
A:You were a government servant and your service was protected by Article 311 of the Constitution of India. The said Article in effect provides that no government servant shall be dismissed or removed except after an enquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges. This protection is not available to a public servant in three cases, i.e., where the penalty is imposed on the ground of conduct which has led to the public servantís conviction on a criminal charge; or, where the authority empowered to impose the penalty is satisfied that for some reason, to be recorded in writing, it is not reasonably practical to hold such an enquiry; or, where the President or the governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the state it is not expedient to hold such an enquiry.
In your case, none of the above three exceptions seem to apply. Hence in my view, the termination of your service without holding an enquiry is bad in law. As held by the Supreme Court in the case of M. Raja reported in 2006 (9) Judgments Today 495, holding of a departmental proceeding before penalising a public servant is the rule. If recourse is taken by the employer to the exceptions, such exceptional situations must be shown to exist on the basis of relevant materials. Even otherwise, the basic principles of natural justice warrant that a person must be heard before he is condemned or penalised.
Your obvious remedy is to file a writ petition in Calcutta High Court on the basis of Article 311 of the Constitution and breach of the principles of natural justice for quashing of the termination order. If the termination letter was issued by an authority subordinate to your appointing authority, that will be an additional ground for challenge since Article 311 provides that no public servant shall be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed.
Q: I have obtained a money decree from a civil court against a partnership firm which was my erstwhile employer, towards my unpaid salary and compensation for wrongful dismissal from service. I have now come to know that the firm has been dissolved. Do I have any scope of recovering my dues and if so how'
A: You can execute the decree against the partners of the firm. In law, the partners of a firm are jointly and severally liable for the liabilities of the firm. The partners cannot escape such liability by dissolving the firm. You should forthwith file an execution application against the partners of the firm in the court which passed the decree in your favour.
Send your letters to Inlaw at The Telegraph,
Jobs Desk, 6 Prafulla Sarkar Street,
or fax at 225 3142;
or send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.