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After two rounds of litigation, the ground of procedural irregularity is no longer available to the Appellant: Odisha High Court

After two rounds of litigation, the ground of procedural irregularity is no longer available to the Appellant as sufficient opportunities of hearing have been given to her. Having been fully aware of what the case against, it was incumbent on the Appellant to demonstrate, which formed the basis of the above orders were, as alleged by her, fabricated. A single bench comprising of Justice S.K. Panigrahi adjudicating the matter of Smt. Sanjukta Lenka v. The State of Odisha and Ors. (WRIT APPEAL No. 690 of 2015 ) dealt with an issue of whether pass an order in favour of the Appellant in the present writ petition.

In the present case, an appeal was preferred by the Appellant against the order dated 9th October 2015 passed by the learned Single Judge. The Appellant was appointed as Anganwadi Worker in Arada-III Anganwadi centre on 1st June 1986 but she was disengaged by the order of Sub-collector by an order dated 28th May 2012. The Appellant challenged the said order before the Collector-Cuttack but such appeal was dismissed.

Further, the Appellant filed a writ petition where she contended that the Collector had blindly relied upon the report of the Supervisor, CDPO, SSWO, and Programme Officer while dismissing the Appellant’s appeal. The writ petition was dismissed by the Single Judge after noting that the show cause notice (SCN) in respect to the action which was proposed to be taken against the Appellant was issued by the Child Development Department Officer and not the Sub Collector, who had to hear the proceedings. Accordingly, while setting aside the orders of the Sub-Collector and Collector, a direction was issued to the Sub-Collector to reinstate the Appellant as Anganwadi Worker and give her all the consequential benefits.

The Respondent (State of Odisha) against the order passed by the single judge appeal and the appeal was disposed by a Division bench by setting aside the order passed by the Single Judge and directed the Sub-Collector to take a fresh decision on the issue after affording reasonable opportunity of hearing to the Appellant herein. The Division Bench in particular found that from the documents placed on record it was clear that an SCN had indeed been issued to the present Appellant and therefore the finding of the learned Single Judge to the contrary was erroneous and in pursuant to such order the Appellant was again disengaged.

The Appellant again filed an appeal before the Collector. She also learned that already taken fresh steps for the appointment of an Anganwadi Worker for the said centre. Therefore, she filed another writ petition. The learned Single Judge disposed of the said writ petition directing the Collector to dispose of the appeal within three months. Pursuant thereto, the Collector passed an order on 4th February 2015 dismissing the appeal confirming the order of the Sub Collector.

In pursuant to such order, the Appellant filed a 3rd writ petition which again dismissed and the court held that the Collector took into consideration the conduct of the Appellant and came to a definite finding that the Appellant was unauthorizedly absent regularly and therefore she could not be entrusted with the safety, security, pre-school care and boarding of children.

The Appellant further contended that the SCN issued to her did not indicate that her disengagement would be on account of her unauthorized absence. The initial SCN issued to her and submitted that despite the Court’s order, the Appellant has not been given adequate opportunity to be heard or defend herself in the inquiry.

After hearing all the set of facts and upon minute examination of all the submissions, the present court concluded that” several orders having been passed by the Sub-Collector, Collector, or even by this Court. The Appellant was aware even when the first order of disengagement was challenged that it was on account of her unauthorized absence regularly. By this time the Appellant was already aware of the numerous complaints received against her in the office of the Sub-Collector” Also it was stated that,” orders passed by the Sub-Collector and the Collector repeatedly mentioned the ground on which she was being disengaged, viz., her unauthorized absence on different dates during visits of various higher supervisory authorities. The only defence of the Appellant appeared to be that all those reports were fabricated and baseless‟.

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