Rajasthan HC Limits Post-Retirement Disciplinary Inquiry Punishment while Overturning 5% Pension Deduction

Rajasthan high court Law Insider

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Published on: 30 September 2023 at 10:32 IST

The Rajasthan High Court in Jaipur has emphasized that the scope of punishment in a disciplinary inquiry completed after retirement is quite limited. Consequently, the court overturned a penalty order that imposed a 5% deduction from the petitioner’s pension, reasoning that the petitioner’s actions did not amount to serious misconduct warranting such a penalty.

Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand pointed out that, according to Rule 7 of the Rajasthan Civil Service (Pension) Rules, withholding pension or any portion of it can only occur when a pensioner is found guilty of grave misconduct committed during their service tenure.

The Court heard a case brought by a retired Inspector General (Prison) challenging a penalty order issued by the State, which imposed a 5% deduction from his pension for two years.

The petitioner contended that he retired on June 30, 1991, and, on the day before his retirement, he received a charge sheet under Rule 16 of the Rajasthan Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules (CCA Rules) for an incident that occurred in 1977.

The incident concerned two jail guards who had been convicted in a criminal case and granted probation. It was alleged that the petitioner misused his authority by revoking the suspension orders of these jail guards, leaving it to the Government to take action against them.

The State argued that the petitioner had acted maliciously to protect these jail guards, justifying the charge sheet. The State also argued that a thorough inquiry had been conducted before issuing the penalty order.

However, the petitioner argued that he had forwarded the matter to the competent authority, which did not take any action against the jail guards. He contended that the authorities had been aware of the incident since 1977, and he should not be held responsible for their inaction.

The Court found the State’s actions arbitrary, as it had failed to take action against the petitioner for over 14 years and issued a charge sheet against him just before his retirement.

The Court questioned why no disciplinary action was taken against the petitioner for such a long time and why the charge sheet was issued on June 29, 1991, the day before his retirement on June 30, 1991. It deemed the State’s actions arbitrary.

The Court further noted that when no action was taken against the two jail guards under Rule 19, so there was no reason to serve a charge sheet for these charges against the petitioner on the eve of his retirement.

The Court concluded that the charge sheet was served malafidely and in an arbitrary manner after a lapse of 14 years, and it caused severe prejudice to the petitioner. The disciplinary inquiry against the petitioner had taken 8 years to complete, and there was no explanation for such a lengthy delay.

Therefore, the Court ruled that the impugned order was not legally sustainable and should be quashed and set aside.

As a result, the Court directed the State to refund any deducted amount from the petitioner’s pension, if applicable, to the petitioner’s legal representatives within three months, with an interest rate of 9% per annum.

Case Title: Ramanuj Sharma v. State of Rajasthan

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