HC dismisses 15 LPAs of the J&K govt in premature retirement case

High Court today dismissed 15 LPAs of the state government wherein it has challenged the premature retirement of several government employees.

Division Bench of State High Court headed by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur dismissed 15 LPAs filed against the judgment of Writ Court whereby Writ Court quashed the premature retirement. High Court dismissed the LPA filed by the State against Kishore Kumar Gupta Chief Engineer, Kamal Mahendru Additional PF Commissioner, Babu Ram Additional Secretary Social Welfare, Dr. Manoj Bhagat Medical Supt, Parshotam Kumar, Shabir Ahmed, Madan Lal, Ghulam Hassan Kamal, Padam Dev Sharma, Ghulam Hassan Kamal, Syed Ikhlaq Hussain, Romesh Chander, Gian Chand, Baj Singh, Krishan Lal and Khurshid Ahmed.

Division Bench after hearing both the sides observed that with a view to get information regarding the reputation which an officer, in this case the petitioner enjoyed, the concerned secretary of the Administrative Department had been co-opted as a member of the committee whose views were given due respect and weightage while making the recommendation.

While the committee can always asses the integrity of a government servant and consider the reputation which he enjoys yet for assessing the same, there has to be some basis in the service records. Hearsay reputation or casual statements questioning the integrity of a person ought not to be considered for the same may be baseless or attributed for malafide purposes.

Even for purposes of assessing the reputation of a government servant, the material must be cogent; the same must be in the shape of record which must then be considered in the correct perspective. Opinion regarding doubtful integrity and questionable reputation must emanate from an officer, who has had an opportunity to see the work and conduct of the officer from a close quarter on a day to day basis.

Relying upon an opinion of Secretary of the Administrative Department, who might not have any firsthand information and experience of having seen and worked with the officer concerned would be both risky and uncalled for and would give credence to the saying “give a dog a bad name and then kill it.’

Division Bench in the present case, the committee has not discussed as to what was the source or material based upon which the petitioner was said to be not enjoying good reputation. If that be so, the order of pre mature retirement based upon any such assessment can only be said to be arbitrary and thus cannot be upheld on the legal touchstone.

Division Bench observed that testing the facts of the present case on the touchstone of the law discussed hereinabove, it can be seen that the Committee constituted by the Govt. did not at all consider the relevant material and had taken a decision based only upon the fact that an FIR had been registered by the Vigilance Organization Jammu against the petitioner. In that view of the matter, there was no justification for the State to pre-maturely retire the respondent-petitioner from service. With these observations Division Bench dismissed the appeals of the state.

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