HC: Employer not bound to retain contractual staff till term-end

HC: Employer not bound to retain contractual staff till term-end

The Punjab and Haryana HC has ruled that an employer was not bound to retain the services of a contractual employee till the completion of the term if his work and conduct was dissatisfactory.

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16

The Punjab and Haryana HC has ruled that an employer was not bound to retain the services of a contractual employee till the completion of the term if his work and conduct was dissatisfactory.

Employee’s conduct not satisfactory

The question before the court is whether an employer is bound to retain the services of a contractual employee till the completion of the term even if his work and conduct is not satisfactory. The answer could not be in the affirmative. Justice HS Madaan

Every employee, on regular basis, ad hoc or contractual basis, was supposed to work with dedication. If he indulged in any misconduct, the employer could curtail the terms of the employee and dispense with his services.

The ruling by Justice HS Madaan came on a petition against Haryana and other respondents by a junior engineer appointed on contract basis. The Bench was told that the petitioner was removed from service vide order dated September 4, 2020, without issuing charge-sheet and holding a regular inquiry.

Justice Madaan asserted the question before the court was whether an employer was bound to retain the services of a contractual employee till the completion of the term even if his work and conduct was not satisfactory. The answer could not be in the affirmative.

Justice Madaan added an employer could not be compelled to retain in service a contractual employee when he was displeased with his work and conduct. In the present case, the employer purportedly received several complaints against the petitioner for not taking action against land grabbers. As such, the employer served a show-cause notice on the petitioner, got the reply and passed the impugned order dispensing with his services. The petitioner, under the circumstances, could certainly not complain of being condemned unheard.

His grouse that he did not join the inquiry did not make any sense since the probe was conducted to find out whether there was merit in the allegations against him and it was found to be so. Though it would have been better if the petitioner was associated in the probe, his non-joining did not vitiate the proceedings in any manner or cause prejudice to him. This was because he had separately been issued a show-cause notice and he submitted a reply before his services were dispensed with.

“A contract with regard to personal services cannot be got specifically enforced. The petitioner may claim damages for the remaining part of his contract period by approaching the court of competent jurisdiction, if so advised,” Justice Madaan concluded.

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