Habitual Absenteeism from Workplace Is Misconduct: Bombay HC

Giving a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court has said that habitual absence from the workplace without taking leave or giving prior information amounts to misconduct on the part of employee.

“We are of the view that an employee who is in habit of remaining absent without prior sanction of leave, irrespective of the number of days, is guilty of misconduct under the rules,” the court said.

The above observation by a division bench came while maintaining dismissal of Pandurang Kevne, an employee of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, who filed a petition challenging his removal.

Making further observation, Justice J N Patel and Justice R P Sondurbaldota said, “In our opinion the reason for such misconduct is because it exhibits irresponsibility and lack of interest in work. It is writ large on the facts of the case that the petitioner is least interested in duty.”

While delivering judgement, the bench mentioned Rule 3 of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which requires that a government servant must at all time maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty.

“A person who is in the habit of remaining absent without prior sanction of leave and remains absent for a long period of more than 10 days without leave or intimation, is not somebody who is devoted to duty or maintains integrity. The petitioner’s conduct needs to be tested on this anvil,” the judges said.

For misconduct of absenteeism, the petition was charge-sheeted in 1997. A probe found him guilty and recommended his removal from service. Subsequently, he appealed before an appellate authority, which dismissed it. A reference was made by the government to Industrial Tribunal which upheld the punishment.

Being aggrieved, the petitioner moved the High Court. The petitioner did not dispute that he was absent during the period stated in chargesheet. His counsel B P Jakhade submitted that the entire period during which the petitioner was absent from service had been validly explained by him and his absence from duty was regularised by the respondent company by sanctioning different types of leave.

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