HC quashes disengagement of SFC grading assistants, attendants

The High Court has quashed two orders through which Jammu and Kashmir State Forest Corporation (SFC) had disengaged grading assistants and attendants from their services in 2012, two years after they were appointed

While scraping the orders issued by Managing Director SFC on 24 February 2012, a bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey observed that the principles of natural justice “appear to have been violated with impunity.”

While allowing plea of the aggrieved who had petitioned through senior advocate Zaffar Shah, the Court observed that apparently no “opportunity of being heard” as provided under the rules was given to the petitioners before issuing the orders of disengagement of their services which were already regularized by the Corporation.

“The petitioners were simply thrown out by two orders of disengagement without following the due procedure of law with a premeditated design to divest them of their right of being heard,” the Court said.

The Court observed that an opportunity of being heard was absolutely necessary of every order involving disengagement of the services of government servants, besides, reasons justifying so, while issuing the order had to be spelt out in detail.

Underscoring that, in the case, on hand the principles of natural justice were apparently violated with impunity, the Court held that defence of the petitioners was scuttled by deception and the procedure governing the subject was given a complete go by.

“Justice is not only law and its administration, but is, in most cases, above law and is done to safeguard an individual from whatever he or she seeks protection,” the court said.

It said the reason for disengaging the petitioners was that the Corporation was of the view that their services were no longer required. “The rules relating to reasonableness, good faith, justice, equity and good conscience, which are a part of law and relate to administration of justice and fairness, have been followed in breach and, resultantly, it has caused miscarriage of justice,” the Court said.

It pointed out that the services of the petitioners were regularized with the approval of the Chairman of the Corporation after passing of the ‘performance test’ on their part. The Corporation, the Court said, all of a sudden could not have unilaterally issued the disengagement orders of the petitioners solely on the ground that the services of the petitioners were no longer required.

“The Corporation was obliged under law to give adequate time to the petitioners for seeking their response before disengaging them”.

While quashing the orders, the Court directed the Corporation to allow the petitioners to continue discharging their services.