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Allahabad High Court says employee can’t be suspended during pendency of inquiry

The petitioner was found Covid negative on May 2, and he joined back on May 3. But without considering it, the petitioner was placed under suspension by an order dated May 5.

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The Allahabad High Court has recently said that it is settled legal position that a suspension order cannot be passed during pendency of a preliminary inquiry while setting aside an order of suspension against a Covid-infected employee.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rajnish Kumar passed this order while hearing the petition filed by Gaurav Bansal. The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the petitioner had gone on three days’ casual leave on April 3, 2021 but on April 7, he was detected Covid positive therefore he could not join back duties and his brother informed the authorities concerned about the disease through speed post and sent the Covid positive report of the petitioner.

The petitioner was found Covid negative on May 2, and he joined back on May 3. But without considering it, the petitioner was placed under suspension by an order dated May 5 in contemplation of preliminary inquiry which is apparent from the letter dated May 8, 2021 of the opposite respondents to the petitioner. It informed the petitioner that he has been suspended by means of the order dated May 5 and the preliminary inquiry is being conducted by him and called the petitioner for recording his statement and he has got recorded his statement.

M.P. Raju, the counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the petitioner has been suspended on a non-existing ground before completion of the preliminary inquiry which could not be done.

Pankaj Srivastava, Additional Chief Standing Counsel, could not dispute the legal position and submission of counsel for the petitioner. However, he submitted that liberty may be granted to pass a fresh order after completion of the preliminary inquiry.

“Having considered the submissions of Counsel for the respondents and perusing the records, it is apparent that the legal position is settled vide judgment and order dated September 3, 2013 that a suspension order cannot be passed during pendency of a preliminary inquiry. The aforesaid judgment has been passed relying on a full bench decision of this Court in the case of Raj Veer Singh v. State of UP and Others,” the Court said.

“In view of the settled position and the facts before the Court the order of suspension dated April 29, 2021 contained in annexure no.1 to the writ Petition cannot be sustained in the eyes of law and the same is accordingly quashed. It is, however, open for the competent authority to pass a fresh order after receipt of report of preliminary inquiry as per law. The consequences shall follow accordingly as per law,” the Court ordered.

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