Officers can be sacked without inquiry/reasons :SC

Officers can be sacked without inquiry/reasons :SC

A bench of justices Mukundakam Sharma and A R Dave said in a judgement that in special cases where it impinges on national security, the disciplinary authority was not bound to disclose the reasons for such dismissals.

Interpreting Article 311 of the Constitution, the apex court said the powers to be exercised under clauses(a)(b) and (c) being special and extraordinary in nature, there was no obligation on the part of the disciplinary authority to communicate reasons for imposing the penalty of dismissal.

"For taking action in due discharge of its responsibility for exercising powers under clause(a)or(b)or(c) it is nowhwere provided that the disciplinary authority must provide the reasons indicating application of mind for awarding punishment of dismissal.

"While no reason for arriving at the satisfaction of the President or the Governor, as the case may, be to dispense with the inquiry in the interest of the security of the state is required to be disclosed in the order, we cannot hold that in such a situation the impugned order passed against the respondent should mandatorily disclose the reasons for taking action of dismissal of his service and not any other penalty," Justice Sharma, writing the judgement, said.

The apex court passed the judgement while upholding an appeal filed by the Centre challenging a Delhi High Court direction asking it to pass a detailed order for dismissing diplomat M M Sharma.

The officer, during his tenure as First Secretary in charge of "external intelligence" was found to be involved in an unauthorised and undesirable liasion with foreign nationals of the host country.

On the basis of the report submitted by the IB Director, it was felt that due to the seriousness of the case and the adverse implications on the security of the state, it would not be expedient to hold the inquiry and he was dismissed in terms of the special constitutional provisions on December 22, 2009.

Sharma challenged his dismissal in the Central Adminstrative Tribunal(CAT) which rejected his plea. The Delhi High Court had on September 27 last year asked the government to pass a detailed order for the dismissal.

Aggrieved, the Centre had appealed in the apex court.

Setting aside the high court order, the apex court said the inquiry committee took the decision of not disclosing the grounds for taking action against the delinquent officer under Clause(C)of the proviso to Article 311(2) as disclosure of the same or holding of an inquiry had the potential to jeoparadise national security and relations with a neighbouring country; and such disclosure could lead to gross embarssment to the government.

"The original records were placed before us, which we have perused. The allegations against the respondent are very serious which could jeoparadize the sovereignty and integrity of India. The records also disclose the highly objectionable activities and conduct of the respondent, which is unbecoming of a responsible government servant.

"In our considered opinion in the present case, charges against the delinquent officer being very serious and also in view of the fact that the respondent was working in a very sensitive post, it cannot be said to be a case of disproportionate punishment to the offence alleged," the bench said.

The bench said the high court, while passing the order, was fully and effectively aware of the reasons as to why the requirement of holding an inquiry in accordance with the law was dispensed with. 

"Being so situated, the high court could have examined and scrutinised the original records to ascertain as to whether the order imposing the penalty of dismissal of services is justified or not in the light of the allegations and reports of the fact finding enquiry.

"In terms of the mandate of the Constitution, the communication of the charge and holding of an inquiry could be dispensed with in view of the interest involving security of the state, there is equally for the same reasons no necessity of communicationg the reasons for arriving at the satisfaction as to why extreme penalty of dismissal is imposed on the delinquent officer. The high court was there not justified in passing the impugned order," the apex court added.