Salary withholding post acquittal is unfair: Allahabad HC

The Court distinguished between mere suspension and detention, emphasising that the 'no work no pay' principle was not applicable in this case

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Rejecting the application of the ‘no work no pay’ principle, the Allahabad High Court has ruled that withholding salary from an employee who was suspended during a criminal case, only to be acquitted later, is unjustifiable. The Court emphasised that since no departmental inquiry was initiated during the suspension period, the denial of salary was unreasonable.

The petitioner, a routine grade clerk in a government college, challenged the decision denying his salary for the suspension period due to his involvement in a criminal case. The petitioner argued that since no disciplinary inquiry was conducted and the suspension was solely due to detention, he was entitled to salary upon reinstatement.

In contrast, the respondents contended that not every acquittal warrants salary payment, implying the petitioner’s conduct may not have been honourable. However, the Court found the respondent’s arguments lacking, noting the absence of evidence regarding the petitioner’s conduct other than his involvement in the criminal case and detention.

Justice Ajit Kumar directed that the petitioner’s suspension, solely due to detention in jail without inquiry and revoked upon acquittal, did not warrant withholding salary, contrary to the respondent’s argument. Furthermore, the Court distinguished between mere suspension and detention, emphasising that the ‘no work no pay’ principle was not applicable in this case, as the petitioner remained in detention until acquitted.

The Court referenced the Supreme Court’s decision in Raj Narain v. Union of India and Ors. (2019), which addressed a similar issue. In that case, although a departmental inquiry was initiated, it was later dropped, and upon acquittal, the employee’s suspension was lifted.

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