Aapka Consultant Judgment Series- In this series, we are providing case analysis of Landmark Judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
Commodore Commanding, Southern Naval Area, Cochin Vs. V.N. Rajan
AIR 1981 SC 965, 1981 (1) SCALE 510, (1981) 2 SCC 636,  3 SCR 165
Hon’ble Judges/Coram: A.Vardarajan, A.N. Sen and S. Murtaza Fazal Ali, JJ.
Date of Decision: 10.03.1981
The respondent was appointed by the appellant as labourer on casual basis in lieu of Sailor in the Installation Team. The appellant continued the respondent’s employment as labourer in lieu of Sailor in B.R.O. C (Installation) Department, Cochin against some existing vacancy. When he was casual labourer in the B.R.O. (Installation) Department he was transferred by the appellant to the Naval Armament Depot, Alwaye and appointed as labourer in the regular cadre in the scale mentioned therein plus allowances as admissible from time to time in an existing vacancy. Subsequently, when the respondent was working as a labourer in the Naval Armament Depot at Alwaye the appellant promoted him and appointed him as Ammunition Repair Labourer Grade II in the Naval Armaments Depot, Alwaye in the scale mentioned therein plus allowances as admissible from time to time in an existing vacancy. Thereafter, his services were terminated by an Order.
Whether termination of the services of the respondent by the Appellant is justified, given that people junior to him were retained in the service? Is it discriminatory in nature and violative of Article 16 of the Indian Constitution?
It was contended by the respondent that he was a permanent employee and persons junior to the respondent have been retained in service and, therefore, the termination of the services of the respondent without any reason whatsoever, is discriminatory and contravenes Article 16 of the Constitution. The appellant, on the other hand, contended that the phraseology “regular cadre” does not imply as it may in some other instances in the employment of government, a substantive post, that the post in the “regular cadre” is also a purely temporary one and that the post of Ammunition Repair Labourer Grade II to which the respondent was promoted and appointed, was also on a temporary basis. The appellant denied that there was any discrimination in the termination of the services of take respondent.
The principle that even temporary government servants are entitled to the protection of Article 311(2) in the same manner as permanent government servants if the government takes action against them by meting out one of the three punishments of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank and not otherwise, is well settled. Court in the case of Manager, Govt. Branch Press and Anr. v. D. B. Beliappa (1979)ILLJ156SC observed that:
“If the services of a temporary Government servant are terminated in accordance with the conditions of his service on the ground of unsatisfactory conduct or his unsuitability for the job and/or for his work being unsatisfactory, or for a like reason which marks him off in a class apart from other temporary servants who have been retained in service, there is no question of the applicability of Article 16.”
Conversely, if the services of a temporary Government servant are terminated, arbitrarily, and not on the ground of his unsuitability, unsatisfactory conduct or the like which would put him in a class apart from his juniors in the same service, a question of unfair discrimination may arise, notwithstanding the fact that in terminating his service, the appointing authority was purporting to act in accordance with the terms of the employment. Where a charge of unfair discrimination is levelled with specificity, or improper motives are imputed to the authority making the impugned order of termination of the service, it is the duty of the authority to dispel that charge by disclosing to the Court the reason or motives which impelled it to take the impugned action. Excepting, perhaps, in cases analogous to those covered by Article 311(2), Proviso (c), the authority cannot withhold such information from the Court o the lame excuse, that impugned order is purely administrative and not judicial, having been passed in exercise of its administrative discretion under the rules governing the conditions of the service.
Court observed that Respondent was only a temporary government servant and that even as a temporary government servant he is entitled to the protection of Article 311(2) of the Constitution where termination involves a stigma or amounts to punishment. Court looked into the file relating to the respondent ending with order of termination of his service. Court was satisfied that the decision to terminate the services of the respondent had been taken at the highest level on the ground of unsuitability of the respondent in relation to the post held by him and it is not by way of any punishment and no stigma is attached to the respondent by reason of the termination of his service.
Appellant’s order of terminating Respondents Services is justified and cannot be labeled as discriminatory and violative of Article 16 of the Indian Constitution.
To Get Legal Opinion from Advocates/ Legal Experts, Please click here
To Get Legal Opinion from Retired Hon’ble Judges, Please click here