Protecting Seniority: Madras High Court Bars Suspensions Near Retirement

In the case of K Saravanan v The Joint Director of School Education and Another, the Madras High Court reaffirmed a crucial principle regarding employee rights. Justice RN Manjula emphasized that it’s unacceptable for an employer to suspend an employee either on the day of retirement or shortly before retirement, only to initiate disciplinary actions after a significant delay.

The court stated that such actions undermine the integrity of the disciplinary process and disrupt government operations and demoralize employees who have faithfully served until retirement.

The court considered a petition by K Saravanan contesting a charge memo from the Joint Director of School Education. Saravanan contended that he was suspended on his retirement date without receiving the charge memo, alleging the charges were influenced by individuals with whom he had disputes. The department countered, accusing Saravanan of fraudulent employment acquisition and material fact suppression.

The court observed that the action stemmed from complaints rather than governmental initiatives, highlighting a bias against the employee’s interests.

The court noted that the Department’s delayed action contradicted its own Government orders, potentially invalidating subsequent proceedings, including the charge memo. Allowing the proceedings to proceed would unfairly harm the petitioner, especially by suspending him on his retirement date. Consequently, the court granted the petition, nullifying the charge memo and instructing the department to allow Saravanan to retire with full benefits within six weeks.

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About the Author: Payal Singh