In democracies or in any form of government, the government is the most reliable authority for carrying out civil responsibilities for which it creates assisting institutions. All institutions are created by men (women included) and also run by men and thus, the government requires people to function with them.
Therefore, a system of employment mechanism is developed by the government in dealing with the suspension of government employees.
However, in a state where a federal structure has been implemented the domain of power is diversified between the Central Government authority and its Federating units (States), then it runs into more complexity in the procedure of managing such institution.
This adds up more when, a mixed/socialist system of macroeconomics are adopted by the State, where governments through various enactments have established government holdings in companies or corporation in the market whereby, the only institution established by them are allowed to function in doing business.
Thus, every employee appointed by the government or its fully/partially owned institute is a government employee, with this the Government becomes an active participant in generating employment.
However, the government in the role of being an employer also have the right to frame the nature of services of the government employee which include suspension of such servent.
What Suspension From Service Means?
Suspension means a period of service of the government employee whose services are withheld because of any action or conduct of the government employee during his service period.
Suspension does not mean expulsion from services, it is a preliminary action taken by the employer before any final decision to be made against the employee by the employer.
As iterated in the case of Pradyat Kumar Boe vs The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court [AIR 1956 SC 285] whereby, if there is no specific document to establish the nature of appointment but a consensus between the parties in dispute, the respondent is the employer and the petitioner is the employee then as per the general power of appointing authority arising out of Section 16 of the General Clauses Act an appointing authority also include the power to “to suspend and dismiss” any employee.
What Are The Consequences of Suspensions?
An employee in functioning on a post is remunerated for his services by way of payment of salary and some additional benefits attached to it. However, on suspension of a government employee, the actions or functions performed by the employee comes to a status quo.
Therefore, the only affect on the part of the government employee while being in suspension is with regard to his/her salary and other benefits arising while being on the post. It must be duly noted that suspension does not amount to termination or the end of services.
As it has been noted in the case of O.P Gupta vs Union of India [AIR 1987 SC 2257] wherein, it was iterated that, a real effect of an order of suspension of a government servant does not put an end to his service, he continues to be a member of service but is not permitted to work.
A government servant in suspension is allowed with some pay along with benefits or with full pay if not particularly mentioned in the order of suspension. Therefore, give rise to two types of suspension from government service.
Types of Suspension
Suspension from the above paragraph can be understood as the order of suspension with full pay/interim pay or without pay. This distinction specifically ends on the payment of salary to the employee.
As it has been observed in the R.P Kapur vs Union of India [AIR 1964 SC 787] that there is a distinction between permanent suspension by of punishment and interim suspension pending enquiry or criminal case, misconduct while being in office against the government servant.
An employee is either suspended permanently which is termination and can in other situations is suspended as a way of interim punishment pending enquiry against him until the employee is proven innocent.
Is Suspension A Punishment?
The question has been dealt with under various case finding and it has been held that suspension does not amount to punishment against an employee. It is rather a preliminary measure imposed upon the government servant.
As observed in the case of O.P Gupta case “In certain cases suspension may cause stigma even after exoneration in the departmental proceedings or acquittal by the Criminal Court, but it cannot be treated as a punishment even by any stretch of the imagination in the strict legal sense.”
Similarly observed in P.L Shah vs Union of India & another [(1989) 1 SCC 546] in its para 6 of the judgement that order of suspension is not an order imposing punishment on a person found to be guilty. It is an order made against him before he is found guilty to ensure smooth disposal of the proceeding initiated against the government servant.”
Since suspension does put an end to service but rather he is not permitted to work therefore, this does not amount to punishment.
Only a closure of an enquiry by way of departmental proceeding or criminal charges levied upon the employee will amount to punishment.
On What Grounds Suspension Of Government Employee Can Be Revoked?
This question has been addressed in the case of Jagdish Rathi vs State of Madhya Pradesh in Para 11 quoting from the case of Jayrajbhai Jayantibhai Patel v. Anilbhai Nathubhai Patel & Ors., [(2006) 8 SCC 200] on the question of whether High Courts have the authority interfering with the domain which is restricted to the competent authorities for which the Para 14 from the Jayrajbhai Jayantibhai Patel case has been reproduced :
“it is ordinarily not open to the court to interfere in case of suspension as it is in the exclusive domain of the competent authority who can always review its order of suspension being an inherent power conferred upon them by the provisions of Article 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 and while exercising such a power, the authority can consider the case of an employee for revoking the suspension order, if satisfied that the criminal case pending would be concluded after an unusual delay for no fault of the employee concerned. Where the charges are baseless, mala fide or vindictive and are framed only to keep the delinquent employee out of job, a case for judicial review is made out. But in a case where no conclusion can be arrived at without examining the entire record in question and in order that the disciplinary proceedings may continue unhindered the court may not interfere. In case the court comes to the conclusion that the authority is not proceeding expeditiously as it ought to have been and it results in prolongation of sufferings for the delinquent employee, the court may issue directions. The court may, in case the authority fails to furnish proper explanation for delay in conclusion of the enquiry, direct to complete the enquiry within a stipulated period. However, mere delay in conclusion of enquiry or trial can not be a ground for quashing the suspension order, if the charges are grave in nature. “
The quoted part can be summed up into following points:
- The criminal case is pending will conclude causing unusual delay for no fault of the employee.
- The chargers are baseless, mala fide or vidnictive used with otherwise intention against the employee.
- No conclusion can be derrived after proper examination of the entire record in question.
- That, the authority conducting enquiry is not proceeding expeditiously.
- Where, the authority fails to furnish proper explanation for delay.
Though, the judgement added a caveat that in cases where the charges are in grave nature and the proceedings suffers from delay in conclusion of the trial or enquiry.
Thus, suspension from services does not makes a government servant into a legal deadlock it only amounts to fair enquiry or trial completed by the competent authority on the issues arising on the face of it. The suspension does not even concludes into removal from the service although it only features deliberate exemption from work, but does not amount to punishment. The only conclusion to a suspension is after proper completion of enquiry or trial against the employee without any delay and laches.
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