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Officials can`t exercise powers as per whims and fancies: Madras HC

The Madras High Court has ruled that government officials could not initiate departmental action against an employee on the verge of retirement for an alleged offence committed several years ago.



Madurai: The Madras High Court has ruled that
government officials could not initiate departmental action
against an employee on the verge of retirement for an alleged
offence committed several years ago.

The officials cannot exercise powers conferred on them
under the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal)
Rules, according to their "whims and fancies," Justice
S Manikumar said, allowing a writ petition filed by an office
assistant working with commercial taxes department.
"There should be fairness and reasonableness in exercising
powers," the judge said, observing that disciplinary
proceedings were initiated against the petitioner 14 years
after the alleged offence was committed.

Rejecting the contention of officials that they were
waiting for the outcome of a criminal case registered against
the petitioner, the judge said, "When simultaneous proceedings
are permitted in law, nothing could have prevented the
authorities in initiating disciplinary proceedings even during
the pendency of the criminal case."

The petitioner M K Meer Baskhan submitted that he joined
the Commercial Taxes department at Nagercoil as an office
assistant in 1969. He was to retire on July 31, 2007, after
serving the department for 38 years. His higher official
issued him a charge memo and suspension order on the day of
his superannuation, in the process not allowing him to retire.
The petitioner`s counsel said his client was implicated in
a criminal case in 1993 for allegedly threatening the
Superintendent of a Regulated Market at Kulasekaram to let go
three trucks transporting raw rubber sheets without payment of
market fee.

He was arrested in connection with the case and released
on bail. He was then suspended. The suspension order was
challenged before the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal which
initially granted interim stay, and subsequently made it
absolute. Then he served the department for 14 years.

He was acquitted in the criminal case in 2007. Pursuant to
the judgement, he was suspended again on the day of his
retirement, the petitioner said and sought to quash the order.

PTI

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