[Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University] Allahabad High Court upholds reinstatement of the Registrar

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Tabling its decision in the controversy pertaining to termination of the first Registrar of Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University (RGNAU), Amethi, the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court has upheld the single-judge bench order wherein Jitendra Singh's termination had been quashed. 

However, the Union Civil Aviation Ministery's special appeal has been partly allowed and the bench of Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Vivek Verma has made some modifications to the single-judge bench order.

The division bench has opined that being ex-facie stigmatic, termination of Singh's probation was illegal, therefore, it needs to be revisited. Accordingly, the bench has remitted the matter back to the University to proceed in accordance with law and pass a fresh order within a period of two months from the date of the order. 

However, differing with the single-judge bench on the issue of consequential service benefits, the bench has directed that so far as the entitlement of back wages is concerned, the same shall be subject to the outcome of further action to be taken by the University.

The bench mainly dwelled upon the question as to whether Ministry's orders, whereby Singh's services were terminated, could be regarded as an order of termination simpliciter (termination without casting any stigma) or is ex-facie stigmatic (on the face of it stigmatic).

The bench opined, that going by the contents of the letter dated January 9, 2020, whereby grounds for Singh's termination were disclosed, it could not be construed as termination simpliciter. 

The bench observed, "Had it been a case of mere unsatisfactory performance, the situation would have been entirely different..... It is a well-established position that the material which amounts to stigma need not be contained in the order of termination of the probationer. Such reference may inevitably affect the future prospects of the incumbent and if so, the order must be construed as ex-facie stigmatic order of termination."

Observing thus, the bench concluded the case in Singh's favor.

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.

Singh was sacked midway through his three-year probation period that is due to end on April 8, 2022. Upon Singh's challenge to Ministry's decision, 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.

Cause Title: Union of India through Secretary, Ministry Of Civil Aviation N. Delhi & Ors. vs Jitendra Singh