Initiation of disciplinary proceedings would lead to ineligibility under Haryana Civil Service Rules: Top Court

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Court further noted that the rule disentitling a candidate for selection if disciplinary proceeding is pending or contemplated was not under challenge in these proceedings.

The Supreme Court has said a decision taken to initiate disciplinary proceedings at the time of consideration of candidature even though no charge sheet has been issued till the time would make a candidate ineligible as per the Haryana Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 2016.

A bench of Justices MM Sundresh and Aravind Kumar allowed an appeal by the Haryana government against the Punjab and Haryana High Court division bench judgment and affirmed the single judge's order, which had found writ petitioner Dinesh Singh ineligible among candidates for recruitment and appointment to the Haryana Civil Services (Executive Branch).

The court, here, applied the rule as it is, since the rule disentitling a candidate for selection if disciplinary proceeding is pending or contemplated was not under challenge in these proceedings.

The main allegation against Singh, acting as Tehsildar, was that he remained absent when directed to act as duty magistrate during the Haryana Teachers' Eligibility Test, 2018.

The Deputy Commissioner, Kurukshetra wrote a letter on January 9, 2019 to the Additional Chief Secretary and Finance Commissioner, Government of Haryana, Department of Revenue and Disaster Management and recommended that formal inquiry be initiated against him.In view of this communication, a decision was taken on February 05, 2019 to charge-sheet him.   

The reason for declaring Singh ineligible for selection as per Rule 9 was on the ground that ‘decision has been taken on file to charge sheet him under Rule 7'.

Singh's entire case from the very beginning has been that the cut-off date qua all eligibility conditions must be determined as on November 01, 2018 and since there was no decision/contemplation to initiate any disciplinary proceedings as of that date, he ought to have been recommended for appointment. However, in the Counter-Affidavit filed on his behalf, there is an implicit admission that a decision to initiate disciplinary action against him was taken on January 09, 2019.  

"The relevant cut-off date qua Rule 9 (1)(a)(iii) is 31.08.2019 and therefore, it was not necessary for us to decide anything further," the bench said.

"A decision was taken on 05.02.2019 to charge-sheet Respondent No. 1. It is not relevant for us to consider what happened beyond the date of consideration, that is, 31.08.2019. However, it may be recorded here that subsequent to this date, there was a charge sheet issued against the Respondent and ultimately, the entire proceedings came to be dropped on 11.12.2019. Since the eligibility conditions in Rule9 (1)(a)(iii), the validity of which is not under challenge before us, requires us to limit our inquiry into the question of eligibility as on date of consideration, what happens after that becomes insignificant to the inquiry," it added.  

The court, thus, concluded that as on the date of consideration, disciplinary action was contemplated against the writ petitioner Dinesh Singh, and therefore he was rightly held to be ineligible for selection of his name.

It held that the single judge was correct in concluding that November 01, 2018 was meant only for the purpose of determining the age related eligibility as provided for in Rule 9(1)(a)(ii), while the cut off for the purpose of determining eligibility in so far as Rule 9(1)(a)(iii) has to be determined as on date of consideration.

Case Title: State of Haryana and Others vs Dinesh Singh and Another