SC quashes charge sheet against retired Odisha judge facing departmental proceedings


NEW DELHI, May 25: The Supreme Court has quashed the charge sheet against a retired judicial officer in Odisha facing departmental proceedings for alleged irregularities committed in the process of selection of caretakers, and said she is entitled to all retirement benefits.
A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi said as per Orissa Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1992, an inquiry against an employee, who has retired from service, can be initiated if sanction has been obtained from the government and it must be during the period of four years before such initiation.
"Admittedly, in the instant case, the petitioner stood retired from service on July 31, 2021 and charge sheet was served in October 2021 and this is for the period when the petitioner served as a Registrar from June 28, 2012 to October 3, 2015, and that it is undisputedly beyond the period of four years of such institution.
"In the given facts and circumstances, in our considered view, the charge sheet served on the petitioner dated October 11/16, 2021 is in clear breach of the mandate of Rule 7 of Rules 1992," the bench said.
Granting relief to the judicial officer, the top court said she is entitled to all retirement benefits, if the same have been withheld because of pendency of the departmental inquiry, along with interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date it was withheld, until actually paid.
After an employee has retired, there is complete embargo on initiation of departmental proceedings in respect of events which may have taken place more than four years prior to such initiation and the date of initiation is deemed to be the date when a charge sheet is issued to the government employee concerned.
The top court was hearing a plea filed by Suchismita Mishra who had sought quashing of the departmental proceedings against her pursuant to a charge sheet.
As per the plea, the judicial officer served as registrar of the Odisha Administrative Tribunal from June 28, 2012 to October 3, 2015.
During her stint as registrar of the Tribunal, an advertisement was published for the post of caretaker' pursuant to which a selection process was undertaken and suitable candidates were appointed.
The process of selection held in 2012 was challenged before the Odisha Administrative Tribunal and dismissed by an order in 2016.
The order of the Tribunal was further challenged before the high court by unsuccessful candidates and the HC dismissed their petitions.
Later, an enquiry was initiated by the high court on the administrative side to examine the process of selection. Two days before Mishra's retirement, a letter was issued to her for alleged irregularities committed in the process of selection.

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