Contractual Employees entitled to Fair Hearing Before Termination: J&K HC

Contractual Employees entitled to Fair Hearing Before Termination: J&K HC

The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has held in a recent case while allowing a petition filed by at least 16 persons for setting aside an order dated 16 September 2022 issued by Managing Director of the J&K Handicrafts Corporation regarding their termination , that a contractual appointment cannot be terminated without affording an opportunity of hearing if founded on an allegation of misconduct which casts a stigma on such an employee, according to a report published in Kashmir Life.

According to the petitioners, the petitioners were engaged in the Corporation on consolidated, contractual, need or contingency basis from time to time against different posts and were discharging their duties diligently.

However, they said, on a complaint of some persons before the Anti Corruption Bureau against the then Managing Director, the ACB issued a communication, recommending disengagement of the petitioners for the reasons that these engagements have been made by the “abuse of authority by various Managing Directors of the Corporation.”

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They said that disengagement was done without affording any opportunity of being heard to them when it was incumbent upon the Managing Director to provide an opportunity of being heard to the petitioners by following the principle of natural justice and due course of law.

Court observed, “Services of an employee cannot be dispensed with without affording him an opportunity of defending the accusations/allegations made against him in a full-fledged inquiry,” the court said, adding, “Hence, it is settled law that even a contractual appointment cannot be terminated without affording an opportunity of hearing if founded on allegation and/or misconduct, which casts a stigma on such an employee.”

Subsequently, while quashing the order by MD, the court directed officials to allow the petitioners to perform their duties as was assigned to them on being engaged on a  consolidated/need/contractual/contingency basis in the Corporation. “They be granted all the service benefits including wages etc., to which they are entitled,” the court said, adding, “Respondents are directed to release the withheld wages, if any, duly earned by the petitioners, for the period their services had been utilised.”

However, the court made it clear that the quashing of the order will not prevent the authorities from initiating action against the alleged illegal engagements of the petitioners following the rules if warranted in the facts and circumstances.

Souce: kashmirlife

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