JAMMU, Nov 8: High Court has quashed the Government order whereby Chief Accounts Officer in the Directorate of School Education Kashmir was prematurely retired from the service with the direction to the Government to reinstate him with all consequential benefits within a period of one month.
The petitioner Mushtaq Ahmad Baba, Chief Accounts Officer in the Directorate of School Education Kashmir was prematurely retired by the Government vide Order No.863-GAD dated June 30, 2015 as per the recommendations made by a committee headed by Chief Secretary. The baseline of the order impugned was the alleged involvement of the CAO in two FIRs registered by the Vigilance Organization.
However, the CAO challenged the Government order in the High Court on various grounds.
After hearing counsels for both the sides, Justice M K Hanjura observed, “the State has enacted a specific provision for dealing with the compulsory retirement of the public servants in the Civil Services Regulations with the ultimate aim of weeding out the corrupt and inefficient public servants. But at the same time the State is required to ensure that the provision is not used as a weapon of a penalty”.
“Taking an overall view of the matter, the bottom line of the order of compulsory retirement of the petitioner is his conduct and the registration of two FIRs against him, in which charge-sheets have not been laid before the court”, High Court said, adding “the contention of the respondents in this petition is that there was no material in the shape of Character Roll Entries available before them and if these were not available the State could not have concluded that the conduct of the petitioner was unbecoming of a public servant or that he was a man of doubtful integrity or that he was a fit person to be retired compulsorily from service”.
“The order of compulsory retirement of the petitioner in these circumstances is punitive having been passed for the collateral purpose of his immediate removal rather than in public interest”, Justice Hanjura observed, adding “the Annual Performance Reports of the petitioner were not considered by the committee and it appears to have been done with the ultimate aim of showing the petitioner the exit”.
“Had these APRs been considered the shit would have hit the fan. Not only this, the Government by order No.210-F dated September 27, 2013 had regularized the petitioner in the Pay Band-3 on the recommendations of the Departmental Promotion Committee. How could this order, which was almost proximate in time to that of the order of his compulsory retirement, come into being in case the conduct of the petitioner was not above board”, Justice Hanjura observed.
“Laws are like cobwebs wherein the small fries are caught and bumble bees break through…..Law is battery, which targets all that is behind it but sweeps with destruction that it outside it…..Laws are generally found to be nets of such a texture as the little creep through, the great break through and the middle-sized are alone entangled in”, Justice Hanjura observed, adding “these quotes apply in all the fours of the instance case”.
Stating that the impugned order cannot stand the test of law and reason, Justice Hanjura said, “merely that a case or cases have been registered against the petitioner by the Vigilance Organization cannot form the basis of retiring him prematurely as such the impugned order is quashed and respondents are directed to reinstate him with all consequential benefits within a period of one month”.