Punishment to the lowest/minimum grade is legal by LIC: MP High Court

Punishment to the lowest/minimum grade is legal by LIC

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has clarified that the term ‘lower’ grade/post in Clause 39(1)(d) of LIC Staff Regulations includes punishment to the ‘lowest’/’minimum’ grade or post. The division bench, comprising Justices Sujoy Paul and Vivek Jain, held that the regulation makers did not intend to give a restrictive meaning to this enabling provision. The court’s decision emerged from an intra-court writ appeal filed by LIC against its employee, Yashwanth Singh, challenging the interpretation of Regulation 39(1)(d) regarding a reduction in pay.

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The court discussed the findings in Gurudayal Gupta v. Satpura Narmada Kshetriya Gramin Bank, emphasizing that ‘lower stage in the incremental scale’ encompasses the lowest stage. LIC argued that the single-judge bench’s interpretation was not in accordance with the law, and the penalty under Regulation 39(1)(d) allows reduction to the minimum stage in the time scale.

The division bench rejected the single-judge bench’s interpretation, stating that the punishment imposed falls within the enabling Regulation 39(1)(d). The court emphasized that ‘lower’ encompasses the ‘minimum’ grade or post, aligning with previous decisions. The decision underscores the need to consider the broader interpretation of the term, ensuring fair application in disciplinary matters.

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