Supreme Court imposes limit on suspension of Govt Employees

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A new ruling by the Supreme Court of India will ensure that no government employees can be kept suspended for over three months unless they are formally made aware of the charges against them.

The apex court argued that suspended employees are entitled to know the reason behind their suspension owing to the principle of human dignity and their constitutional right to speedy trial. The new verdict will definitely bring some much smile to lakhs of government employees across the country who are currently under suspension for years in the awake of painfully slow departmental proceedings.

“Suspension, specially preceding the formulation of charges, is essentially transitory or temporary in nature, and must perforce be of short duration,” the Supreme Court bench led by justice Vikramjit Sen said.

The ruling also made it categorically clear that if the memorandum of charges or charge sheet is served within three months, it was possible to legally extend the suspension even further.

“If it (suspension) is for an indeterminate period or if its renewal is not based on sound reasoning…, this would render it punitive in nature,” the court said.

The court supported the petitioner’s (senior counsel Nidhesh Gupta) argument that a suspension order cannot be imposed for an unreasonably long period in the awake of pending deparatmental inquiries.

The SC verdict added: The plight of the suspended person begins even before being formally charged and “his torment is his knowledge that if and when charged, it will inexorably take an inordinate time for the inquisition or inquiry to come to its culmination”.

SC, however, said that the government had the option to transfer the employee to another location, or department/sub-department in order to ensure that he or she can not obstruct the departmental proceedings in the case.

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