Sunday, November 18, 2012



CIVIL APPEAL NOs. 7939-7940  OF 2012
(Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 7597-7598 of 2011)

Ex-Hav. Satbir Singh                              .... Appellant (s) 
The Chief of the Army Staff,
New Delhi & Anr.                                    .... Respondent(s)
                               J U D G M E N T
P. Sathasivam, J.
1)    Delay condoned.
2)    Leave granted.
3)    These appeals are filed against the final  judgment  and  order  dated
02.05.2008 in Writ Petition (C) No. 3874 of 1995 and order dated  20.02.2009
in Review Petition No. 244 of 2008 passed by the Division Bench of the  High
Court of Delhi insofar as rejection of salary and terminal benefits for  the
“intervening period” during which the appellant remained out of service.
4)    Brief facts:
(a)   The appellant herein was enrolled  in  the  Army  on  31.08.1982.   In
September, 1985, he was promoted to the rank of Lance  Naik  and  in  April,
1986, he was promoted to the rank of Naik.  On 14.02.1990,  he  got  further
promotion to the rank of Havildar and with the said  promotion,  his  tenure
of service was extended to 24 years and his date of superannuation also  got
extended to 31.08.2006.
(b)   The Army Headquarters, Adjutant General Branch issued a  letter  dated
28.12.1988, laying  down  the  procedure  for  removal  of  undesirable  and
inefficient candidates by  way  of  discharge/dismissal.   Pursuant  to  the
same, a show-cause notice dated 16.03.1995 was served upon the appellant  as
the particulars in the service record reveal 4  ‘Red  Ink  Entries’  in  the
service of 12 ½ (twelve and a half) years.   On  21.03.1995,  the  appellant
submitted his reply and on 01.04.1995, the  appellant  was  discharged  from
(c)    Challenging  the  same,  the  appellant  filed  petition  being  Writ
Petition (C) No. 3874 of 1995 before the High Court of Delhi and prayed  for
reinstatement of service  with  all  consequential  benefits.   By  impugned
judgment dated 02.05.2008, the High Court set aside the order  of  discharge
and directed the respondents to reinstate the appellant in service  with  no
benefit of salary and other allowances for the “intervening period.”
(d)   Feeling aggrieved by the said impugned judgment, the  appellant  filed
review petition being Review Petition No. 244 of 2008.   By  impugned  order
dated 20.02.2009, the review petition was also dismissed.
(e)   Feeling aggrieved by impugned judgment  dated  02.05.2008  in  W.P.(C)
No. 3874 of 1995 and order dated 20.02.2009 in R.P.(C) No. 244 of 2008,  the
appellant has filed these appeals by way of special leave.
5)    Heard Mr. C.M. Khanna, learned counsel for the appellant and Mr.  A.S.
Chandhiok, learned Additional Solicitor General for the respondents.
6)    On 07.03.2011, this Court issued notice calling upon  the  respondents
to show cause as to why “the intervening period should not  be  counted  for
the purpose of terminal benefits”.
7)    Since the issue in this appeal is very limited,  as  mentioned  above,
in view of narration of facts in the earlier part of our order, there is  no
need to traverse further factual details.
8)    We have to see whether the High Court having arrived at  a  conclusion
that  the  discharge/termination  of   the   appellant   from   service   is
unsustainable and after setting aside the termination  order  was  justified
in depriving the appellant from any salary for  the  intervening  period  as
well as for the purpose of terminal benefits, the intervening period  during
which the appellant remained out of job shall  not  be  counted.   Since  we
have issued notice only for the purpose of terminal benefits,  there  is  no
need to go into the entitlement of salary during the intervening period.
9)    It is not in dispute that in the concluding  paragraph,  the  Division
Bench of the High  Court  in  categorical  terms  set  aside  the  order  of
termination.  The relevant conclusion reads as under:

      “Fact remains that he was discharged/terminated from  service  on  the
      basis of show cause notice.  This action is found to be unsustainable.
       Therefore, we have no hesitation in  setting  aside  the  termination

Having found that the discharge/termination  is  legally  unsustainable,  we
are of the view that the incumbent, namely, the  appellant,  ought  to  have
been provided relief at least to the  extent  of  counting  the  intervening
period for the purpose of terminal benefits.  It is  true  that  during  the
intervening period, the appellant, admittedly, did not work, in that  event,
the Division Bench was justified in disallowing  the  salary  for  the  said
period.  However, for the terminal benefits,  in  view  of  the  categorical
conclusion of the High Court that discharge/termination  is  bad,  ought  to
have issued a direction for counting the intervening  period  at  least  for
the purpose of terminal benefits.  According  to  the  Division  Bench,  the
conduct of the appellant, namely, securing 4 Red Ink Entries in the  service
record is the reason for not considering the  intervening  period  even  for
the purpose of terminal benefits.  We hold that the said  reasoning  adopted
by the Division Bench of the High Court cannot be sustained in view  of  its
own authoritative conclusion  in  setting  aside  the  discharge/termination
10)   In the light of the conclusion that the termination  is  bad  and  the
direction to deprive the appellant the benefit  of  intervening  period  for
the purpose of terminal benefits is punitive imposing break  in  service  as
the period involved amounts to dies non and the  said  direction  was  based
without considering any related issue and decided  on  merits  by  the  High
Court, hence, the same is not sustainable and liable to be set aside.
11)   In the light of the above discussion, while  upholding  the  order  of
the Division Bench setting aside the termination order,  we  hold  that  for
the purpose of terminal benefits, the “intervening  period”  for  which  the
appellant remained out of job shall  be  counted.   In  view  of  the  same,
respondent Nos. 1 and 2 are  directed  to  pass  appropriate  orders  fixing
terminal benefits within a period of two months from the date of receipt  of
copy of this judgment and intimate the same to the appellant.

12) The appeals are allowed to the extent mentioned above.
                                 (P. SATHASIVAM)
                              (RANJAN GOGOI)

NOVEMBER 09, 2012.

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