Cannot Stall Promotion Indefinitely Over Pending Cases: HC To Odisha Govt
Cuttack: The Orissa High Court, in 11 separate but identical judgments, ruled that promotion of an employee by the departmental promotion committee (DPC) cannot be withheld awaiting conclusion of disciplinary proceeding or criminal proceeding indefinitely.
While considering the cases of four civil engineers, two police officers, one clerk, one agriculture engineer, one food supplies & consumer welfare officer and two civil service officers against whom criminal proceedings have been drawn, the single judge bench of Justice Sibo Sankar Mishra directed the state government to give promote them from the date their juniors and batch-mates got such promotion.
Though the DPC had recommended their case for promotion years ago, in some cases over 10 years, sealed cover procedure has been adopted owing to the pendency of the criminal prosecution against them. “This is nothing but adding insult to the injury, “ Justice Mishra observed, while adding that “Unexplained prolongation of criminal trial violates the constitutional rights of an accused and denial of statutory or any other rights.”
While chargesheets have been filed, the trial of the proceedings is moving in the snail’s pace. In one case for 19 years, and in two cases for 24 years.
The high court, however, maintained that in case of conviction their promotion would be revoked.
It is worth mentioning here that the then Chief Justice Dr S Muralidhar and Justice G Satapathy in May held that government employees facing trial in criminal cases are not entitled to get either regular or ad-hoc promotion. The court had then cited a Supreme Court judgment (April 27, 2017) which ruled that there was no right of the government servant to be considered for promotion during the pendency of either departmental proceedings or criminal proceedings or both against such government servant.
“It is clarified that as and when the criminal proceedings end in favour of the government servant by way of an acquittal and such government servant also stands exonerated from the departmental proceedings then notwithstanding the superannuation of such government servant, the notional benefits attaching to the promotion that is due to the government servant would be calculated and the pension fixed accordingly, the order concluded.