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In the absence of relevant and contemporaneous medical records, the High Court cannot interfere the

State of Odisha & Ors. Vs. Ganesh Chandra Sahoo, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9514 OF 2019 (Arising out of SLP(C) No.1731 of 2019) – JANUARY 10, 2020

The bench comprising of Hon’ble Ms. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Hon’ble Ms. Justice Hrishikesh Roy in the Supreme Court delivered the judgment on the appeal filed to challenge the judgment and order in Writ Petition where the High Court of Orissa has substituted the punishment of discharge for the respondent, to compulsory retirement and to this extent modified the order where under, the Orissa Administrative Tribunal had dismissed the O.A.No.1459(C)/2003 filed by the discharged Orderly.

The appellant submitted that the High Court relied on the ratio in Rajinder Kumar v. State of Haryana & another which is a dissimilar case to grant relief to the errant employee.

On the other hand, the respondent contended that the respondent’s mental condition during 1991 to 1998 must be borne in mind to understand why he failed to participate in the disciplinary proceeding and/or why he did not re-join the battalion after expiry of leave.

 The court stated that; in the present case, the respondent failed to report back for duty for about seven years after availing leave for 9 days. Therefore, the nature and degree of misconduct in the two cases (Rajinder case) are not of the same category and hence the two cases with different facts could not have been decided, in our opinion, with the same judicial standard.

It is also significant that the High Court failed to notice that the respondent did not present himself for the official verification of his medical status by the CDMO and thereby prevented confirmation of his pleaded medical condition. In this manner, the respondent not only defied the Commandant’s direction but remained absent without authorization, for about seven years. Later, he tried to justify his long absence without producing any contemporaneous medical records and also the doctrine of proportionality is not attracted in the present facts.

The Court held that; The High Court should not have granted relief to the respondent solely on the basis of the medical certificate of the specialist Doctor who may not have personally treated the patient. In the absence of relevant and contemporaneous medical records, the High Court should not have interfered with the disciplinary action and ordered for a lesser penalty. The gravity of the misconduct of the respondent was overlooked and unmerited intervention was made with the Tribunal’s rightful decision to decline relief in the O.A. filed by the respondent.

Therefore the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment and order of the High Court.

–  Srutha R Elayidom

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