Allahabad High Court reserves order in Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University's Registrar termination row

  • Salil Tiwari
  • 01:04 PM, 18 Nov 2021

Read Time: 08 minutes

The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court today reserved order in a case revolving around termination of the first Registrar of Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University (RGNAU), Amethi, Jitendra Singh. 

The bench of Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Vivek Verma was hearing a special appeal filed by the Union of India through the Ministry Of Civil Aviation and others against one single judge bench judgment that had reinstated Singh's services as the first Registrar of the University on September 17.

Opposing Singh's reinstatement, Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) of India appearing on behalf of the Union of India today argued that the single judge has erred in his decision while reinstating Singh, for that power lies only with the competent authority, i.e. President of India in this case. 

He argued that this was because Singh was on probation at the time of his termination and the High Court’s reinstatement would actually mean that Singh’s probation period has been extended for 3 years, which cannot be done by a court.  

The ASG further contended that for terminating the services of the probationer a full-fledged departmental enquiry would not be required and the services of such probationer may be terminated by giving one months' notice or salary in lieu thereof and that such exercise has been carried out in this case, therefore, the termination order could not be interfered with.

However, Singh, who appeared in person today, vehemently opposed the Union's and University's arguments and categorically countered the Union's contentions.

Singh argued that the President of India being the appointing authority as a visitor of the University approved his termination order which was stigmatic in nature. He said that allegations leveled against him were serious allegations and before accepting those allegations, he had not been afforded an opportunity of hearing of any kind whatsoever.

He argued that if his service being probationer had been terminated on the basis of facts and evidences without affording him any opportunity of hearing, then his termination order would be considered punitive order and such punitive order could not be passed even against the probationer without affording an opportunity of hearing in conformity with the principles of natural justice.

He also contended that the reasoning that Union had adopted that he was a probationer was also wrong as before being terminated he had served for nine months, which would amount to 75% of his one year probation.

He said that as per University’s service rules, if 75% of total probation period has been served, then it would be considered effective and therefore, he was not a probationer.

Singh also pleaded that he is being harassed by the appellants as he is currently residing in Bangalore, and coming to Lucknow time and again is nothing less than punishment for him, especially when he has been unpaid and unemployed since January, 2020. 

Taking note of all the contentions raised by both parties, the court decided to reserve its order. 

Earlier, on September 17 the single-judge bench of the High Court comprising Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan had quashed Singh's termination order and had directed the Ministry of Civil Aviation to restore Singh on the post of Registrar with all consequential service benefits on his appointment dated 1st March, 2019.

Similar arguments were raised before that bench also, which had observed that the President of India is a statutory authority and the law is trite that the action of any statutory authority shall be subjected to judicial review.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had sacked Singh on January 8, 2020 on several grounds including- obstructing an officer appointed by the government from discharging his duties, fabricating a complaint of sexual harassment by involving two girl students of the university, and wilful insubordination and indiscipline by exhibiting defiance to the official orders.

Jitendra Singh had applied for the post on August 14, 2018, and was issued an appointment letter on March 1, 2019. He joined on April 8, 2019, with his three-year term ending on April 8, 2022.

Cause Title: Union of India and others v. Jitendra Singh