SC: Absent Employee cannot be granted relief on basis of Medical Certificate

SC: Absent Employee cannot be granted relief on basis of Medical Certificate

Civil-CasesThe bench comprising of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud & Justice Hrishikesh Roy passed a judgement in the case titled State of Odisha v. Ganesh Chandra Sahoo on 10.01.2020.

Facts of the case were that the respondent was serving as a Follower Orderly, Rourkela. He secured leave to visit his ailing mother and went to his native village. While on leave, he suffered from cerebral malaria and was admitted in hospital, and thereafter he was medically advised to take rest for 2 months. When the respondent applied for leave extension, the Commandant directed the respondent to appear before the CDMO, for medical examination and the likely time period needed for treatment, was to be intimated to the Commandant. When the respondent failed to appear for the medical test, a second communication was issued. But since the respondent did not heed those communications and his whereabouts were not intimidated even months after leave expiry, the respondent was sternly directed to have his medical examination done within 7 days of receipt of the letter, to establish the genuineness of his sickness pleas or else, he will face departmental action for unauthorized leave overstay.

Following the failure of the respondent to have himself medically examined and resume his duties, the departmental proceeding was initiated against him and other relevant documents were duly served upon the respondent, at his native place then the respondent was discharged.

The High Court noted that the respondent has no past history of unauthorized absence, and was of the view that medical certificate issued by an expert cannot be brushed aside lightly. The punishment was found to be excessive and accordingly the High Court substituted the penalty of discharge with compulsory retirement.

The Supreme Court set aside the impugned Judgment of the High Court.

The Supreme Court stated that the High Court should not have granted relief to the respondent solely on the basis of the medical certificate of the specialist Doctor who may not have personally treated the patient. In the absence of relevant and contemporaneous medical records, the High Court should not have interfered with the disciplinary action and order a lesser penalty.

SC further stated that the gravity of the misconduct of the respondent was overlooked and unmerited intervention was made by the High Court with the Tribunal’s rightful decision to decline relief filed by the respondent.