Principles of natural justice to be followed in all cases regarding termination: Chhattisgarh High Court

Any person who is being terminated must be given a show cause notice and a chance to be heard. Not following this would make the termination order void and the person is entitled for reinstatement. This was held by Hon’ble Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal in the case of Smt. Indira Patel vs. State of Chhattisgarh and Ors. [Writ Petition (S) No.7669 of 2011] on the 25th of August 2021, before the Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur.

The brief facts of the case are, the petitioner was duly selected and appointed as Aanganwadi Karyakarta in Aanganwadi Centre No.42 in selection process on 21-5- 2007 which she joined on 8-6-2007. Thereafter, she was served with notice dated 17-2-2010 which she replied, but ultimately her services were terminated on 17-8-2010 by the Chief Municipal Officer, Municipal Council, Dallirajhara which she questioned by filing appeal in terms of circular dated 2-4-2008 before the Additional Collector, Durg, but by impugned order dated 28-10-2011 (Annexure P-1), the learned Additional Collector dismissed the appeal affirming the order of the CMO, Municipal Council, Dallirajhara which is sought to be challenged in this writ petition on the ground that the procedure prescribed in circular dated 2-4-2008 terminating the services of Aanganwadi Karyakarta has not been followed and that has caused serious prejudice to the petitioner and therefore the order of the CMO, Municipal Council, Dallirajhara and that of the Additional Collector deserve to be set aside the petitioner be reinstated on the post of Aanganwadi Karyakarta. Through this petition, the petitioner is challenging the order and prays for it to be quashed.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that, in order to remove the petitioner, who was a duly selected Aanganwadi Karyakarta, the procedure prescribed in circular dated 2-4-2008 (clause 13) was imperative and by merely giving show cause notice, her services could not have been terminated. As such, the order of the CMO is absolutely bad in law, but in appeal preferred in accordance with clause 11 of the said circular, the Additional Collector also did not look into the same and dismissed the appeal which is ex facie illegal and bad in law and therefore the impugned orders be set aside and the petitioner be reinstated along with back- wages. The counsel for the respondents supported the order and held it to be valid as per the order issued by the CMO. The learned judge heard both the parties and observed the order issued by the CMO where, detailed procedure has been prescribed for removal of Aanganwadi Karyakarta which includes enquiry by supervisor at the instance of the Project Officer and in case of embezzlement or gross irregularity, charges have to be served to the delinquent Aanganwadi Karyakarta giving 15 days’ time to submit reply and after receipt of reply, it should be placed before the Committee of Janpad Panchayat/Municipal Council which is competent to recruit and thereafter, order has to be passed by the CMO, Janpad Panchayat/Commissioner, Municipal Corporation. Likewise, as per clause 13.2 of the said circular, if it is not the case of embezzlement or gross irregularity, then warning has to be given.

The current petition is allowed by holding that, “It appears that even no show cause notice for termination along with material which has been collected departmentally by the Project Officer has been served to the petitioner and no minimum opportunity to her to defend herself has been afforded and she has been terminated, which she questioned in terms of clause 11 of the said circular, but the learned Additional Collector misdirected himself by not considering her case in right perspective and without considering the requirement of holding enquiry and giving opportunity in terminating the services of the petitioner, who was a duly selected and appointed Aanganwadi Karyakarta, in terms of clause 13.1 of circular dated 2-4-2008, the impugned order has been passed affirming the order of the CMO, Municipal Council, Dallirajhara removing the petitioner from the said post. The impugned orders are ex facie illegal and in teeth of clause 13 of circular dated 2-4-2008 and also in violation of the principles of natural justice.”

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