Oral Order: (Mohd. Haleem Khan, Member (A)):
Mr. H.K. Das, learned counsel for the applicant emphasized on the protracted litigation which has gone into this case. Initially the applicant filed O.A.No. 149 of 2008 challenging the termination order dated 19.08.2008. The court vide order dated 21.08.2008 disposed of the said O.A. directing the respondents to pass a reasoned and speaking order treating the O.A. as a representation and till passing of the speaking order, the termination order was ordered as stayed. In compliance of the order of the Tribunal dated 21.08.2008, the respondents passed an order dated 07.10.2008. Being aggrieved by the order dated 07.10.2008, the applicant filed another O.A.No. 227 of 2008. This Tribunal vide order dated 14.08.2009 allowed the said OA. Relevant portion is reproduced below:
'8. Having heard the rival contentions, we are of the opinion that ends of justice will meet adequately if a direction is issued to the Respondents to disclose clearly the reasons for termination (with all materials on the basis of which such decision was taken to the Applicants and to provide adequate opportunity to them to make effective representations; which should receive consideration of the Respondent No.2, if necessary, by giving personal hearing of the Applicants and on such consideration the Respondent No.2 should pass a reasoned order. Till such orders are passed by the Respondent No.2, status quo of the applicants are to be maintained.'
2. No action, however, was taken by the respondent authority in pursuance of the above order dated 14.08.2009. Accordingly, applicant filed E.P.No. 35 of 2014. The order was passed by this court on 07.04.2014. Relevant portion of the said order is reproduced below:
'However, accepting the plea of Mrs. S. Bora, learned Addl. C.G.S.C. for the respondents, we grant two weeks more time to pass a reasoned and speaking order giving reasons as to whey their services were terminated within three years period and justifying the termination. It goes without saying that if they themselves feel the reasons are not sufficient to warrant termination, then consequence must necessarily follow.'
3. In compliance of the order dated 07.04.2014, the respondents issued notice on 08.04.2014 to seek attendance of the applicant for personal hearing on 23.04.2014 and thereafter an order dated 15.05.2014 was issued whereby the order of the Superintendent of Post Offices, Dibrugarh Division, Dibrugarh vide Memo No. A-49(C)/EDA/Silgrant dated 18.07.2008 was reinstated on the strength of D.G., P&T letter No. 45-22/71-SPB.I/Pen., dated 04.09.1982.
4. Learned counsel for the applicant submitted that the Chief Post Master General, Assam Circle, Guwahati while passing the Speaking Order have not applied his mind. Word and phrases used in the circular 'within a period of 30 days' has been interpreted as if minimum 30 days have to be provided between the date of notification and last date for receipt of application. Since in the instant case, oly 18 days were provided, the authority concerned on this ground, justified the impugned termination order dated 18.07.2008.
5. On 27.01.2016, while the matter was taken up, the Division Bench specifically observed as hereunder:
'Written statement has not been filed. Earlier several adjournments have been granted for filing of written statement. On 08.12.2015, while granting six weeks time for filing written statement, it was made clear that no further time would be allowed. To-day also no written statement has been filed. That being the position, the O.A. is admitted and fixed for hearing on 22.03.2016. The respondent No.4 shall be present before the Tribunal on that day to assist the Court so that the matter can be disposed of.'
6. As per order of the court dated 22.03.2016, Mr. S. Peda, Superintendent of Posts, Dibrugarh Division, Dibrugarh was personally present today. He could not be of any assistance to the court as he brought no records and files with regard to the recruitment and termination of the applicant. This is a strange behavior on the part of a senior officer. On the basis of records available at the time of hearing, he could not convince the court as to how the Chief Post Master General could interpret the D.G., P&T letter No. 45-22/71-SPB.I/Pen., dated 04.09.1982 as if it provides for minimum 30 days between the date of notification for calling application and last date of receipt of the application.
7. Learned counsel for the applicant however, agitated that respondents cannot be allowed to improve upon their case beyond the parameters on the basis of which the speaking order dated 15.05.2014 has been passed.
8. In view of the above observations, the respondents’ case is left with no legs to stand. The order of the Chief Post Master General dated 15.05.2014 is found to have been issued without proper appreciation of the D.G., P&T letter No.45-22/71-SPB.I/Pen., dated 04.09.1982 which clearly shows total lack of application of mind. Accordingly, the reliefs sought for in the application will have to be allowed.
9. Relief sought in the O.A. with regard to setting aside the speaking order dated 15.05.2014 is allowed and the order is quashed which inter alia includes the quashing of the order dated 18.07.2008. Consequential benefits to the applicant will be made available in the light of decision of this Tribunal in O.A.No. 227 of 2008 read with E.P.No. 35 of 2014.
10. The respondents have wasted court’s time in the protracted litigation. It is a classic case of arbitrary action on the part of the respondents. Respondents are therefore, awarded a cost of Rs.10,000/
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- (Ten Thousand) only to be deposited in the CAT, BAR Association, Guwahati Bench for legal aid purposes. 11. The applicant has not provided public service during the pendency of proceedings, therefore, he will not be entitled to full back wages. However, because of arbitrariness and high handedness of the respondent authorities, applicant had suffered three rounds of litigation. Therefore, in the interest of justice, applicant will be entitled to 25% of the back wages from the date of the decision dated 14.08.2009 in O.A.No. 227 of 2008 and he will be deemed to be in continuous service as per the order dated 14.08.2009.