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Prolonged suspension of employees amounts to sentence: HC

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Dismisses appeal filed by Govt against a suspended employee

Srinagar: The J&K High Court today held that suspension of an employee is not a punishment but if prolonged it amounts to a sentence.

The observation was made by a division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal while dismissing an appeal filed by the government with regard to one of its employees, H A Rather. The accused had been placed under suspension in 2018 but no charge sheet or inquiry was conducted against him since then.

“On the one hand, the (authorities) have vehemently pleaded that there are very serious charges against (the employee) and on the other hand, (they) failed to discharge obligations to proceed in accordance with law by issuing charge sheet and conducting inquiry after placing (the employee) under suspension for more than 4 years,” the bench  said.

It further said “no plausible reasons have been explained for such delay for not framing the charge sheet, even after a lapse of more than 4 years.”

The court held that the law is settled by the Supreme Court in various authoritative pronouncements that although, suspension is not a punishment but once it is prolonged, then it amounts to punishment, as it has very strong stigmatic social connotations.

“By keeping the employee under suspension for four long years, the (employee) has been put to lot of stress and temporary deprivation of his full wages over this period, and such inaction on part of the (authorities) indicate a total lack of seriousness in dealing with the matter. It was expected on the part of (them) to have acted with promptitude by conducting the inquiry within the stipulated time period,” the court said.

It accordingly dismissed the appeal filed by the government against the erring employee.

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