Srinagar, May 16: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh Tuesday held that when a government servant was fully exonerated, he should be given full pay and allowances and his absence be treated as a period spent on duty.
“When the government servant has been fully exonerated, the government servant should be given full pay and allowances to which he or she would have been entitled had he or she not been dismissed, removed, compulsorily retired before attaining the age of superannuation or suspended, as the case may be, and this period of absence from duty should be treated as period spent on duty,” said a bench of Justice M A Chowdhary.
The court made these observations while allowing a petition by Dr Wajid Ali who had been suspended after a “sting operation” against him by a TV news channel but was later exonerated by a committee due to lack of “scientific evidence”.
Dr Ali’s counsel contended that once an officer or official is discharged of the charges levelled against him, he or she cannot be treated on leave which amounts to inflicting punishment.
While the government ordered reinstating of Dr Ali, it had directed for treating the period of his suspension with effect from January 6, 2018 till his reinstating as “leave whatever kind due to him”.
“In the considered opinion of this court, the petitioner (Dr Ali) has been fully exonerated as the charge has not been conclusively established by the Inquiry Officer. The competent authority, who reinstated (him), was, itself, under an obligation to treat him on duty for the period of suspension and not on leave of whatever kind due and also without a warning to be careful in future,” the court said.
Underscoring that the inquiry officer had come to the conclusion that the charge against the petitioner had not been conclusively established for lack of scientific evidence, the court said: “The same does not, in any manner, mean and cannot be stretched to give a meaning that he has not been fully exonerated so as to warrant to treat him not on duty and, instead on leave whatever kind due with a further warning to be careful in future”.
Dr Ali, along with two other doctors of the SKIMS, had been placed under suspension on January 6, 2018, and an inquiry was ordered into the matter.
During the suspension, they were directed to remain attached with the office of the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir.
Thereafter, a full-fledged inquiry was conducted which took more than a year and, during the inquiry, the video footage was sent for forensic assessment as well.
A charge sheet was served upon Dr Ali, who denied all the charges leveled against him.
The inquiry officer submitted his report before the competent authority on October 5, 2018, wherein it was stated that the charge against Dr Ali could not be conclusively established due to lack of scientific evidence.
Accordingly, the competent authority accepted the report of the inquiry officer and decided to reinstate Dr Ali with immediate effect.