When a plea moved by a Port Trust engineer in this regard came up for hearing, Justice S Vaidyanathan noted that criminal proceedings were not concluded within a timeframe and take decades in several cases. During investigation, there is intervention either by the court or extraordinary pressure on the investigating officer, he said.
“In the process, if the suspended employee dies or attains the age of superannuation, all the terminal benefits including back wages becomes a bounty as there are no rules to continue the departmental proceedings after retirement,” the judge said.
“Nowadays, instances are such that some of the permanent employees in government service commit serious offences with regard to defalcation of funds, take a suspension order, keep quiet, then attain the age of superannuation and thereafter, take a stand on technical ground and go scot-free,” the judge observed while seeking the courts to allow the departmental proceedings to go on, irrespective of the pendency of the criminal case. “If criminal proceedings are not concluded within one year from the date of FIR, final orders in the departmental proceedings shall be passed. The decision can be put in a sealed cover till the outcome of the criminal proceedings. In the meantime, if an employee dies or attains the age of superannuation, the sealed cover can be opened and depending upon the result, benefits, if any, can be extended,” it suggested. However, pointing out that it was a very bad practice in service law and courts are also made as a scapegoat to enrich the corrupt, the judge said, “Even if time frame to complete the proceedings is given, it is not mandatory and becomes only directory and ultimately, it is dilatory. The case on hand is a classic example of protracting the proceedings by a hard core miscreant.”
In the case before the court, the petitioner was trying to escape from the clutches of law on technical grounds based on an interim order staying departmental proceedings against him, he noted.