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The orders of suspension which are not reviewed within a period of 90 days and where the show cause notice has not been issued should be set aside and quashed: Gauhati High Court

Orders of suspension that are not checked within 90 days and for which no show cause notification has been released are set aside and quashed, the observation that no prejudice, whatsoever would be caused to the Department inasmuch as, no blanket order of revocation of suspension is passed. The High Court of Gauhati in the case of Shri Ajit Sonowal vs The State of Assam and 4 Ors. [WP(C)/853/2020] by Single Bench consisting of Hon’ble Shri Justice Sanjay Kumar Medhi.

The facts of the case are the petitioner was working as an Accounts Officer in the office of the Executive Engineer. He was arrested in connection with ACB PS under Section 7(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Accordingly, he was suspended after he was released on bail from custody. The grievance of the petitioner is that no Departmental Proceeding has been initiated against him and no review of the suspension has been done.

The learned counsel for the petitioners has contended that the issue is no longer res Integra in view of the categorical determination of the issue by a Division Bench of this Hon’ble Court in the case of Rekibuddin Ahmed Vs. The state of Assam, It was contended that the Division Bench was answering a reference on the point – “Whether in a case covered by Rule 6(2) of the Assam Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1964, the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Ajay Kumar Choudhury would have automatic application.”

Learned Standing Counsel on the other hand. had attempted to make an argument that the law laid down by the Division Bench in the case of Rekibuddin Ahmed may not be the correct interpretation, this Court apart from disagreeing with such contention, also left with no scope to take a different view than the Larger Bench.

The Court while relying on the case of Rekibuddin Ahmed Vs. The state of Assam, wherein, it was held that “the orders of suspension which are not reviewed within a period of 90 days and where the show cause notice has not been issued are set aside and quashed. This Court would also like to add the observation that no prejudice, whatsoever would be caused to the Department inasmuch as, no blanket order of revocation of suspension is passed and it is left with the Departments to make periodic review within a period of three months and to decide as to whether such suspension is required to be extended by assigning reasons.” Further, in tune with the observation of the Division Bench, this Court is also hastened to add that the respective Departments would be at liberty to transfer the petitioners in any non-sensitive posts.

While allowing the petition the court observed: “the matter having finally put to rest by a conclusive decision by the Division Bench in the judgment Rekibuddin Ahmed, coupled with the fact that the said decision was not put to further challenge and has attained finality, the present objection raised by Learned Standing Counsel is not only legally untenable but also unethical.”

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