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Absence of govt. employee without prior permission is a valid ground for dismissal: High Court of Calcutta

When an order by a disciplinary authority of a public institution is passed for removal of an employee on the grounds of unauthorized absence, it cannot be set aside if it is evident that the employee had acted in irresponsibly during the absence. This was decided in the case of Anupam Das Vs. Allahabad Bank & Ors [WPA No. 13189 of 2018] by single bench consisting of Hon’ble Judge Amrita Sinha in the High Court of Calcutta.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner was an employee of the Allahabad Bank. A charge sheet was issued against him on five articles of charge all pertaining to continuous absence from work without submission of proper leave application and without obtaining permission of the Competent Authority. It was also alleged that he did not join in his transferred place of posting in violation of the order of his superior authority and also in violation of the order passed by the  High Court. The disciplinary authority conducted an investigation and on perusal of the enquiry report and upon analysis of the witnesses put forth, it concluded, that all the charges leveled against the petitioner was proved. The board imposed the penalty of removal from service. Aggrieved by the order of removal from service, the petitioner has come to this court.

The petitioner relies upon the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in the matter of Krushnakant B. Parmar vs. Union of India & Anr  (2012) 3 SCC 178 where it was held that mere unauthorized absence does not amount to misconduct under the aforesaid.He further said that he was suffering from medical problems and accordingly he was not in a position to join his duties. The absence in such a situation cannot be treated as willful or deliberate. He also contends that the respondents proceeded in a predetermined manner and that the punishment that has been imposed upon him is highly disproportionate.

The counsel for the bank/respondent submitted that due opportunity was given to the petitioner to defend himself. Principle of natural justice was duly complied with by the disciplinary authority. The petitioner did not participate in the disciplinary proceeding and ex parte order was passed removing him from service. The petitioner preferred an appeal against the said order but was unsuccessful. Moreover, the letter sent to his residential address was returned with the remark “unclaimed” and the letter sent by e-mail was also not responded by him, though his correspondences with office were made from the same residential address and same e-mail.

After considering the contentions put forth by both the sides, the court relied upon the judgement of Supreme Court in the matter of Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board & Ors. vs  T. T. Murali Babu  [(2014) 4 SCC 108] “The expression ‘prior permission’ as appearing in the Conduct Regulations has to be given due importance. The service condition of the employee requires a permission to be obtained from the competent authority before he remains absent from work.

The court also observed that the petitioner was handling the foreign exchange services of the bank. Non-reporting to work in such an important department certainly caused inconvenience to the bank. It said “The expression ‘prior permission’ as appearing in the Conduct Regulations has to be given due importance. The service condition of the employee requires a permission to be obtained from the competent authority before he remains absent from work. Remaining absent from 18 work without taking an expressed permission from the competent authority”

The Court was of the opinion that the respondent acted in an irresponsible manner in not complying with the order of transfer which led to his discharge from service and consequently the petition was dismissed.

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