Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has said that Special Police Officers (SPOs) can be disengaged from service even without an enquiry.
“It is not possible to hold that a departmental enquiry was required to be held although the SPOs might be discharging significant duties at their respective places,” a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar said while allowing an appeal filed by the state government against a single bench order of the court which had held that a SPO could not be disengaged from discharging duties without an enquiry.
On July 1, 2011, the government had disengaged SPO Mohammad Iqbal Malla, less than three years after his appointment, on account of remaining absent from duty.
Malla had petitioned the high court, questioning the disengagement order mainly on the ground that it was passed without an enquiry and even a show-cause notice to him.
On April 5, 2014, the single bench set aside the disengagement order, observing that it suffers from violation of principles of natural justice.
The state filed an appeal against the single bench order with Additional Advocate General R. A. Khan vehemently arguing that Malla was not holding any post under any rules warranting compliance of rules of natural justice.
Khan said that in a case where an employee does not hold any post, then no enquiry was required to be held.
“There are no statutory rules governing the service conditions of SPOs,” the AAG said.
Advocate A. M. Khan, counsel for Malla, however, argued that principles of natural justice of issuing show-cause notice was required to be followed.
After hearing both the sides, the division bench allowed the appeal, thereby upholding the disengagment of Malla.
“We are of the considered view that once the (SPO) was not holding any post regulated by any statutory rules, then it is not possible to hold that a departmental enquiry was required to be held although the SPOs might be discharging significant duties at their respective places,” the court sad. The division bench also referred to a judgment by the Supreme Court (rendered in the case of State of Assam v. Kanak Chandra Dutta,) whereby the apex court has held that appointments made under a scheme and recruitment process being carried out through a committee, would not render the incumbents thereof holders of civil post.
“In the present case (Malla) was working as SPO at an honorarium of Rs 3000 per month. He absented himself from duty and his services were disengaged …He has no right to any post. There was no requirement of law to hold an enquiry for complying with the rules of principles of natural justice as he was not a holder of a post, much less a civil post,” the court said while allowing the appeal.