NATIONAL ALUMINIUM COMPANY LIMITED Vs. DEEPAK KUMAR PANDA
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: ORISSA)
NATIONAL ALUMINIUM COMPANY LIMITED
DEEPAK KUMAR PANDA
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P. Venkatarama Reddi, J. -
(1.)The respondent herein was appointed as French Interpreter by the petitioner-company (a public sector undertaking) on contract basis on 25-1-1985 after holding an interview. It was in the nature of contract appointment on a consolidated pay,which was initially for a period of one year. The contract of employment was being extended from time to time up to 1-1-1990, the latest order of extension being 30-10-1989. He was drawing a consolidated pay of Rs. 1800/- per month. By a telegraphic communication dated 8-1-1990, the respondent was notified that his contractual appointment had expired on 1-1-1990 and that he was free to collect the dues from the Finance Department. It is this order that was challenged in the High Court of Orissa. The specific relief the respondent sought for was to direct the grant of renewal/extension of service. It is the case of the respondent-writ petitioner that the persons junior to him, were appointed on similar terms, were continued and later on their services were regularised. It may be mentioned that the respondent's application for permanent absorption was negatived by an order dated 13-10-1989 (at Annexure-F), the ground of rejection being that he failed to produce the original certificate of Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education, Pondicherry in proof of having passed the three year higher course, which is equivalent to graduation. It was stated in the said order that the respondent represented at the time of joining the service that he possessed the qualification of graduation, but he failed to produce the original certificate in spite of several communications sent from 12-12-1988 onwards. One more opportunity was given to him to produce the original certificate with a warning that in case of failure to do so, it would be presumed that he did not pass the 'higher course' from Sri Aurobindo International Centre and that he had given false declaration. The respondent wanted five days time to produce the certificate, but he failed to furnish the same. Another communication was sent on 16-11-1989 directing the respondent to produce the certificate on or before 25-11-1989. At that stage, the respondent sent a representation dated 27-11-1989 stating as follows :
"In view of the above facts, I would like to draw your kind attention that whatever documents which had been submitted by me regarding my educational qualification to the company at the time of joining may be treated as final. Copies of the previously submitted documents during my joining in service are attached herewith for necessary action."
(2.)The petitioner-company, in answer to the writ petition, took the stand firstly, that the respondent stayed away from duties from 21-12-1989 onwards without waiting for sanction of leave and, therefore, his name was liable to be struck off from the muster rolls in terms of Cl. (31) of the standing orders and secondly, the contractual appointment having come to an end, the respondent has no legally enforceable right to continue in service. The third and more important stand taken by the petitioner-company was that the respondent did not produce satisfactory proof of possessing the requisite educational qualification for being appointed as French Interpreter or to the post of Assistant and, therefore, the question of extension of service or regularisation did not arise. The High Court did not accept any of the contentions raised by the Management in answer to the writ petition. Accordingly, the writ petition was allowed by the impugned judgment with the following directions :
"In the result, we direct the opposite parties, to consider the case of the petitioner for regularisation and appointment in the post of Assistant of the Company, with effect from the date other French Interpreters were so regularised, on the premise that the petitioner has the requisite educational qualification and without insisting on age bar. However, we hope and trust that the only ground on which he was denied consideration being lack of requisite qualification, there would be no further impediment in the way of regularisation in service, the petitioner having been held to have the requisite qualification. However, on regularisation and permanent absorption in service, the period from such date till the joining, shall only be counted for the purpose of pensionary benefits but he shall not be entitled to salary for those period he has not rendered any service to the company inasmuch as there is no tangible material on record that he was not gainfully employed during that period."
(3.)As regards the first contention that on account of unauthorised absence of the respondent, his services automatically stood terminated in terms of Cl. (31) of the Standing Orders, no exception can be taken to the conclusion reached by the High Court. The High Court rightly held that even on admitted facts, S.O. (31) was not attracted. Further, it is not the case of the petitioner that any decision was taken on the leave application submitted by him by the date of the impugned order or that the ground of sickness urged by the respondent was negatived. This is apart from the question whether there could be, in law, automatic termination of service without enquiry or even show cause notice.
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