High Court orders to pay 19 years pending salary to illegally terminated employee

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The Jharkhand High Court has directed the State government to release 19 years of pending salary to an illegally terminated employee of its Department of Industries (Handloom, Resham, and Sericulture). The court emphasized that it would be unjust to deny an employee the benefits of employment they rightfully deserve if they are found to be blameless and subjected to illegal termination motivated by malice.

Background of the Case

The petitioner in this case was initially appointed as a clerk-cum-cashier at one of the Department’s pilot project centers in 1984. His services were confirmed, and he received time-bound promotions. However, in 1998, the Director of Industries issued instructions not to pay salaries to the petitioner and two others. Disciplinary action was initiated, leading to the petitioner’s termination on December 12, 2007.

The petitioner challenged his termination in court, and the Jharkhand High Court set aside the termination order, remanding the matter back to the competent authority. Subsequently, on March 24, 2017, the Director recognized that the petitioner’s case was comparable to that of another individual who had been reinstated with all consequential benefits, including salary entitlement. However, the petitioner’s salary for the period from April 1, 1998, to April 12, 2017, was withheld as he had not worked during that period.

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Court’s Ruling

The Jharkhand High Court ruled that once the dismissal order was overturned and a decision was rendered in favor of the petitioner, there was no justification for withholding the petitioner’s salary for the period from April 1, 1998, to April 12, 2017. The court emphasized that while the principle of ‘no work, no pay’ applies, there are parameters for passing such orders. In this case, where the petitioner was prevented from working due to the authority’s illegal actions, the court concluded that the petitioner is entitled to receive salary for the aforementioned period.

The Court also noted that the petitioner’s termination order had already been invalidated, and the predecessor of the relevant authority had acknowledged the petitioner’s entitlement to arrears. Therefore, the Court annulled the impugned order dated November 12, 2020, and directed the respondents to release the petitioner’s salary from April 1, 1998, to April 12, 2017, within six weeks.

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