DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST RETIRED GOVERNMENT SERVANT

Disciplinary action is being taken against the erring official as per the rules framed in this behalf. We have witness many an officer/officer has been suspended on the date of retirement on superannuation and their pensionary benefits are subject to the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings. The issue to be discussed in this article is whether a Government servant after his retirement be initiated with disciplinary action by the Government.

In ‘Union of India V. Sabu Joseph’ – 2016 (2) TMI 549 – KARNATAKA HIGH COURT the respondent was working as an Additional Commissioner of Central Excise at Mysore. He retired from service on superannuation on 31.03.2013. He was permitted to retire on superannuation and relieved from the services in the afternoon of 31.03.2013. Due to his surprise he was issued with charge sheet alleging some misconduct and served at 22.15 hours on the same day. The Officer also acknowledged the receipt of the charge sheet.

The respondent approached the Central Administrative Tribunal challenging the issue of charge sheet after the retirement. The CAT allowed the application of the Officer and set aside the charge sheet issued to him. Against the order of the CAT the Department filed the present writ petition before the High Court.

The Department contended before the High Court that the respondent is deemed to have been in duty till the midnight of 31.03.2013 and therefore, the department was justified in serving Articles of charge in between 10.00 p.m., and 11.00 p.m., on 31.03.2013. The same is deemed to be issued while the respondent was in service.

The High Court did not accept the contentions of the Department. The High Court analyzed the Rule 14 of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965. The said rule requires that the disciplinary authority shall deliver or cause to be delivered to the Government Servant a copy of the Articles of Charge, the statement of imputations of misconduct or misbehavior and a list of documents and witnesses by which each article or charge is proposed to be sustained. Thus Rule 14(4) makes it clear that the disciplinary authority can serve a copy of the Articles of charge only the Government Servant and no one else.

The High Court from the records confirmed that the respondent Officer has attained the age of superannuation on 31.03.2013. He was relieved from all official duties in the forenoon of 31.03.2013. The Commissioner has certified that the respondent, who was working as Additional Commissioner, is relieved of his duties from the Head Quarters, Mysore Commissionerate, Mysore in the afternoon of 31.03.2013. The Articles of Charge were served on the respondent in the night of 31.03.2013 which has not been disputed by the Department i.e., after the respondent was relieved from his official duties. The High Court held that the respondent was not supposed to perform his duties as an Additional Commissioner any more till mid night as argued by the Department. Once the respondent was relieved from his official duty he will not continue as a Government Servant. Therefore it is clear that the Articles of Charge etc., were not served on the Government servant.

The High Court further held that Rule 9 of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 makes it clear that the departmental proceedings should have been initiated against the Government servant while he was in service. Rule 9(2)(b) provides that the Departmental proceedings can be initiated against the retired Government Servant under certain contingencies that too with the sanction of the President. In this case the sanction of the President or his delegate has not been obtained by the Department while initiating the Departmental action against the respondent, after his retirement from duties. The High Court, therefore, did not find any ground to interfere in the impugned order the Tribunal since the Tribunal is justified in concluding that the Articles of Charge were served on the respondent only after he was relieved from the duties. The High Court dismissed the writ petition filed by the Department.

Thus it is clear that the Government official/Officer could not be charge sheeted after he retires on superannuation since he is no more Government servant. However in exceptional circumstances it is required to initiate action against the retired Government Servant the sanction of the President or the Officer duly authorized in this behalf by the President.