Supreme Court: An employee found unsuitable for the job can be dismissed without notice during the probation period


The Supreme Court recently reiterated the distinction between simple termination and punitive termination. This distinction is important because if the order of termination is punitive in nature then it becomes mandatory to conduct investigation following the procedure and opportunity of being heard should be given. Failure to do so may render such termination illegal and in violation of the principles of natural justice.

the court has State of Punjab vs. Balbir Singh, (2004) relied upon, which emphasized that if an investigation or evaluation is conducted for the purpose of uncovering any misconduct by an employee and results in his/her dismissal then it is considered punitive in nature, whereas if it If termination focuses on evaluating the suitability of an employee for a specific job then termination is considered simple termination and not punitive termination.

The court said,

“If any inquiry or assessment is conducted for the purpose of detecting any misconduct of the employee and his services are terminated for that reason, it will be punitive in nature. On the other hand if the purpose of such investigation or assessment is to determine the suitability of an employee for a particular job then such termination will be done simply and will not be punitive in nature. This theory is based on Shah, J. (as he then was) as early as 1961 in the case of State of Orissa v. Ram Narayan Das, (1961). It held that one must look into the “objective or object of the investigation” and should not consider termination as punitive merely because of a previous investigation. Whether it (order of termination) amounts to an order of dismissal depends on the nature of the investigation, if any.”

Supreme Court bench of Justice JK Maheshwari and Justice KV Vishwanathan It was hearing an appeal against a judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had dismissed a petition challenging the orders of the lower courts, holding that the dismissal of the probation constable (respondent) was illegal and he was entitled to all service benefits. Was entitled to do.

The respondent was appointed as a constable and joined for duty on 12 November 1989. During his probation period he remained absent without notice. The Superintendent of Police at the Training Center recommended his dismissal on the grounds that he was not likely to become an efficient police officer under Rule 12.21 of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934.

The respondent challenged the order before the trial court, which held the discharge order to be illegal as it was passed in violation of the principles of natural justice. Subsequently, the First Appellate Court held that he was entitled to receive all the service benefits earned. Aggrieved by this, the state filed an appeal before the High Court, which was also rejected. Then, he approached the Supreme Court.

The Court initially referred to Rule 12.21 of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934.

“12.21 – A constable who is found incapable of proving himself to be an efficient police officer may be relieved by the Superintendent at any time within three years of enrollment. No appeal will be made against the order of dismissal under this rule. ,

the court has Sher Singh, Ex-Constable v. State of Haryana (1994) Reference was made to the Full Bench of the High Court in the case of P&H, which had held that the SP can apply Rule 12.21 depending on the performance and suitability of the probation person.

it said“If the SP on consideration of the relevant material finds that a particular constable is not active, disciplined, self-reliant, punctual, calm, polite, straightforward or does not have knowledge of technical details.” He may reasonably form the opinion that he is not likely to prove an efficient police officer on the basis of the work required to be performed by him. Further added that in such a situation the SP can exercise his power under Rule 12.21 of the PPR and dismiss the constable from the force.”

Such approach was also approved by the apex court in the case of Superintendent of Police v. Dwaraka Das, (1979).

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