Fixed-pay contract staff cannot be terminated without inquiry: Gujarat HC

The High Court ruled that if charges are levelled against contractual employees, they have to be issued a show-cause notice, a chargesheet has to be filed, and an inquiry officer has to be appointed for a thorough departmental inquiry.

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A ruling by a two-judge HC bench states that charges cannot be levelled against employees working on fixed-pay contract without a proper departmental inquiry.

The order was issued by the court following the termination of two assistant motor vehicle inspectors, against whom charges of corruption were levelled, while they were on duty at two different checkposts in Gujarat. The Anti-Corruption Bureau had charged them, following which they were fired about five years ago.

The accused had been issued a show-cause notice followed by a termination order, which the two challenged in the High Court. Last year, the High Court had ruled in their favour. However, the State government had appealed before a two-judge bench, saying that contractual employees accept and sign certain terms and conditions of employment of their own free will at the time of joining. These terms and conditions clearly state that they are not eligible to be subjected to departmental inquiries like regular employees; that the rules that apply to them are different from those that apply to regular staff. However, the bench has again upheld the HC order that no employee, whether regular or on fixed-pay contract, can be fired following levelling of charges against him or her, without a “full-scale departmental inquiry”.

Any accused has to be issued a show-cause notice, followed by filing of a chargesheet and then the appointment of an inquiry officer for the deposition.

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