HIMA KOHLI, J. -
(1.) By way of the present petition, the petitioner has impugned her termination order dated 7th May, 2001 and has sought directions to the respondents to reinstate her back into service and to treat the period of her service from the date of the termination to the date of her reinstatement, as period spent on duty and that all service dues and other service benefits be released to her, as per her entitlement.
(2.) To begin with, facts leading to the filing of the present petition need to be culled out. An advertisement was published by the respondent No.2, the Rehabilitation Council of India in the Employment News dated 20-26th March, 1999, inviting applications for the post of Deputy Director (Technical/Programme Officer). The petitioner applied for the post and appeared for an interview on 14th May, 1999. Vide letter dated 22nd June, 1999, the petitioner was appointed to the said post on a temporary basis on probation for a period of two years. According to the respondent No.2, the petitioner, while working at the said post, was granted 4 days' leave with effect from 26th December, 2000 to 29th December, 2000, to join her husband who was posted in Andamans but she overstayed for a period of 120 days with effect from 30th December, 2000 to 30th April, 2001 without obtaining necessary sanctions. On 11th April, 2001, a memorandum was issued by the respondent no.2. to the petitioner, rejecting her request for leave for the reason that she had not specified the period of leave which is mandatory for a Govt. servant and also due to the fact that no leave was granted to her from after 30th December, 2000. On 12th April, 2001, another memorandum was issued to the petitioner stating that she had violated Conduct Rule 3 Clause (ii) of sub-rule(1) of the CCS (CCA) Rules i.e. devotion to duty and was asked to show cause as to why disciplinary action be not initiated against her. Finally, vide letter dated 7th May, 2001, i.e., within a period of two years of her appointment, and well within her probationary period, the services of the petitioner were terminated under Rule 5(i)(b) of CCS (Temporary Services) Rules, 1965 (hereinafter referred to as `the Rules'). The termination letter was accompanied with a cheque for Rs.15,065/- towards one month"s salary in lieu of notice. On 11th June, 2001, the respondent No.2 received a letter of request dated 7th June, 2001 from the Andaman and Nicobar Administration seeking cadre clearance for the appointment of the petitioner to a Group-'A' post in Andaman and Nicobar Administration, on deputation. Upon receipt of the said request, the matter was placed before the then Minister of State for Social Justice and Employment, Govt. of India (hereinafter referred to as 'the 1st Minister'), who made the following remarks in the relevant file on 21st June, 2001 :- "Even if she is reinstated, she, I learn cannot go on deputation. Since she is not a person to be trusted with dedicated work, let the termination stand."
(3.) On 24th July, 2001, the petitioner filed an appeal against the order of her termination under the provisions of Rule 5(2) of the Rules, read with Regulations 9(4) and 18 of the Rehabilitation Council of India (Conditions of Service of the Member-Secretary, Officers and other than Employees) Regulations, 1998 (hereinafter referred to as `the Regulations') before the Minister in the capacity of an Appellate Authority under Regulation 9 of the Regulations. Incidentally, at the time of filing of the appeal, the 1st Minister had changed and the file was placed before the newly appointed Minister (hereinafter referred to as 'the 2nd Minister'), who allowed the appeal of the petitioner on 27th August, 2001 on the ground that she was not afforded an opportunity of hearing in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The termination order of the petitioner was forwarded to the Ministry of Law and Justice for advise and the said Ministry vide note dated 7th April, 2003 opined that the termination order was valid and the petitioner had failed to make out a strong case for review of the decision of respondent No.2 or those taken by the 1st Minister. The said opinion was reiterated by the Law Department vide note dated 5th November, 2003, while dealing with another representation of the petitioner dated 6th October, 2003.;