TIME BARRED IS BARRED
03 November 2008: The Supreme Court has directed the courts across the country not to entertain petitions based on belated representation by an employee against their removal from service, as these representations are being used as a device to overcome the bar of limitation.
A bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and Lokeshwar Singh Panta, dismissed the petition of an employee who made a representation to the Director of Geology, Tamil Nadu and Minister for Industries after 18 long years of his removal from service and later filed an application with the Central Administrative Tribunal, seeking directions to the department to decide his representation.
Appellant C Jacob had joined as a drill helper in June 1967.
His services were terminated in 1982 on account of unauthorised absence from service.
He made a representation after 18 years on May 5 and July 21, 2000 against his termination.
The tribunal directed the department to decide his representation within four months. The department rejected his representation.
Mr Jacob went to the Madras High Court where a single judge bench allowed his petition while the two judge bench of the High Court, however, allowed the appeal of the department.
The apex court, while dismissing the petition noted in its judgement that ‘ when a government servant leaves service to take an alternative employment or to attend personal affairs and doesn’t bother to send any letter seeking leave, letter of resignation or voluntary retirement and the records do not show that he is being treated as being in service, he can not appeal after two decades that he should be taken back on duty.’ ‘ Nor can such employee be treated as having continued in service. There by deeming the entire period as qualifying service for purpose of pension, that will be a travesty of justice,’ the apex court said in its decision.
The Supreme Court further added that sympathy in such matters will encourage indiscipline.
The court also noted ‘ The courts/tribunals proceed on the exemption that every citizen deserve a reply to his representation.
Secondly they assume that a mere direction to consider and dispose of a representation des not involve any decision on rights and obligation of parties.’ ‘ If the representation is considered and accepted, the ex-employee gets a relief, which he would not have got on account of the long delay, all by reason of direction to consider.
If the representation is considered and rejected, ex-employee files an application or writ petition not with reference to the original cause of action of 1982 but by treating the rejection of the representation given in 2000 as the cause of action.
In this manner, the bar of limitation gets obliterated or ignored,’ court stated.
The apex court also held that as per the pension rule an employee of Tamil Nadu government can claim pension only on completion of 20 years of qualifying service.