‘Can’t penalise employees without enquiry’: J&K High Court

Charges against employees need to be properly communicated and looked into before taking any serious action against them, such as a demotion

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The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has said that employees cannot be penalised unless the charges against them have been properly communicated in writing, and an enquiry to establish the charges has been conducted.

The HC cited Supreme Court’s directives in the Jagdish Prasad Saxena vs State of Madhya Bharat, and stated that an employee is entitled to an opportunity to defend charges being made against him or her. In the absence of such an opportunity, the penalty imposed on the employee by the authorities cannot be sustained.

Justice Sanjay Dhar was overseeing a petition by the employee of the Kashmir Mercantile Cooperative Bank (KMCB), which stated that he’d been demoted from the post of assistant manager to cashier. The petition explained that according to the service rules, the Secretary of the bank had no right to demote him since there had been no enquiry in the case.

The court observed how vague the charge sheet was and how it failed to specify the reason for the employee’s demotion. There was no mention of any type of misbehaviour that urged the bank to take away his job.

“It becomes manifest that so far as penalties of reduction to a lower category or grade, reduction in seniority and dismissal from service are concerned, such penalties cannot be imposed upon an employee unless the charge has been communicated to him in writing and an enquiry to ascertain correctness of the charges has been held,” the court stated.

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