Thursday, March 31, 2011

Officers can be sacked without inquiry: Supreme Court

Extraordinary constitutional powers can be used in national interests to dismiss an officer without inquiry or disclosing reasons, the Supreme Court has ruled, upholding the sacking of a senior diplomat for anti-national activities during his posting in China.
A bench of justices Mukundakam Sharma and A R Dave said in a judgement that in special cases where it impinges on national security, the disciplinary authority was not bound to disclose the reasons for such dismissals.
Interpreting Article 311 of the Constitution, the apex court said the powers to be exercised under clauses(a)(b) and (c) being special and extraordinary in nature, there was no obligation on the part of the disciplinary authority to communicate reasons for imposing the penalty of dismissal.

“For taking action in due discharge of its responsibility for exercising powers under clause(a)or(b)or(c) it is nowhwere provided that the disciplinary authority must provide the reasons indicating application of mind for awarding punishment of dismissal.

“While no reason for arriving at the satisfaction of the President or the Governor, as the case may be to dispense with the inquiry in the interest of the security of the state is required to be disclosed in the order, we cannot hold that in such a situation the impugned order passed against the respondent should mandatorily disclose the reasons for taking action of dismissal of his service and not any other penalty,” Justice Sharma, writing the judgment, said.

The apex court passed the judgment while upholding an appeal filed by the Centre challenging a Delhi High Court direction asking it to pass a detailed order for dismissing diplomat M.M. Sharma.

The officer, during his tenure as First Secretary in charge of “external intelligence” was found to be involved in an unauthorised and undesirable liaison with foreign nationals of the host country.

On the basis of the report submitted by the IB Director, it was felt that due to the seriousness of the case and the adverse implications on the security of the state, it would not be expedient to hold the inquiry and he was dismissed in terms of the special constitutional provisions on December 22, 2009.

Mr. Sharma challenged his dismissal in the Central Adminstrative Tribunal(CAT) which rejected his plea. The Delhi High Court had on September 27 last year asked the government to pass a detailed order for the dismissal.

Aggrieved, the Centre had appealed in the apex court.

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