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Employee service can be terminated during probation if material facts are suppressed: Hon’ble SC [READ ORDER]

The hon’ble apex court observed that the employee can be terminated without notice during probation if material facts were omitted by relying on its decision in Avatar Singh v. Union of India, wherein it was noted that once a verification form requires certain information, it can be terminated without notice

By: Rashi Jain, SOA National Institute of Law

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has reaffirmed that during an employee’s probationary period, the employer has the right to cancel the employee’s candidature or terminate his employment without notice if the employee conceals material facts or submits misleading information (Rajesh Kumar v. Union of India and Others).

The Division Bench of Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Hrishikesh Roy was hearing an appeal filed by one Rajesh Kumar against a series of Delhi High Court orders dated April 20 and April 29, 2008.

In 1994, the appellant was posted to the Delhi Police as a sub-inspector. In 1996, the respondent authorities received a complaint alleging that the appellant was a deserter from the Army and had been declared an absconder following his 1992 desert from the armed forces. This was corroborated by the Station House Officer at Inderpuri, who also confirmed that he had not reported this information on a paper he had filled up. As a result, the respondent authorities terminated the appellant’s employment during the probationary period.

The appellant objected to this. He contended that he was not given an opportunity to provide his version of events and that the order ending his service was obtained through a covert investigation.

To begin, the Hon’ble Supreme Court recognized that the appellant’s employment was terminated simpliciter (simply and unconditionally) and fell squarely within the authorities outlined in Rule 5 of the Central Civil Services (Temporary Service) Rules of 196.

“During the period of probation, it is always open to the employer to verify the antecedents of a temporary appointee, in case any information is received by way of complaint or otherwise. Merely because the antecedents were verified by addressing a letter to the SHO/Inderpuri, it cannot be said that respondents have conducted the regular inquiry so as to give an opportunity to the appellant. In the absence of any allegation in the impugned order, the order of termination dated 14.08.1996 cannot be said to be an order casting stigma on the appellant,” the Court observed.

The Court cited its decision in Avatar Singh v. Union of India and Others, in which it was held that once a verification form requires the particular information to be provided, the declarant is required to provide it accurately, and any omission of material facts may result in service termination.

The Court thus dismissed the appeal, stating that “prior to the declaration of probation, on the grounds that the appellant has not provided details of previous employment, the respondents may always terminate his temporary employment without giving notice.”

Anshu Mahajan argued on behalf of the appellant. Jayant Sud, Additional Solicitor General of India, argued on behalf of the respondents.

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