Himachal Pradesh HC Rejects Government Employee’s Petition, Quotes Thomas Fuller, “Be You Ever So High, the Law Is Above You”

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In the case, Sumedha Bhatti vs State of Himachal Pradesh & Ors., the Petitioner is a public servant and has filed an instant petition in the court. The Coram consisted of Hon’ble Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Hon’ble Justice Jyotsna Rewal DuaThe petition prayed the court to issue writs of Mandamus and Certiorari against the administration to adhere to the claims made by her. By observing the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court found the Petitioner guilty and rejected the petition.

Facts of the case

The petitioner is an Assistant Commissioner in the State Taxes & Excise department. She claimed that she was on an earned leave from 26th December 2018, to 5th February 2019. While being on the leave, she got a transfer order in January 2019. 

During that same time, she applied for an extension of leave from 6th January 2019 to 7th March 2019. Between the said dates, the Petitioner was transferred once again in February. The petitioner joined her duty on 19th March 2019. The petitioner stated that her salary has been stopped since August 2019.

The Respondents claim that the Petitioner was asked to deliver a revised request letter for the leave she was on from 17th December 2018 to 16th March 2019. The Respondents have stated that the Petitioner did not follow the orders of the administration.

In February 2019, the Petitioner was given a chance to be heard, before any action was to be taken against her. According to the Respondent, she did not mend her ways. Moreover, the Petitioner has not shown up for her duty after 10 May 2019. This absence has resulted in a lot of loss of work. The Respondents have claimed that the Petitioner’s salary was stopped for the same reason, from July 2019. 

Further, a show-cause notice was also issued against the petition during the end of July 2019. The Petitioner, however, was not present for the same. The Petitioner was asked to submit revised Pro-forma for her earned leave in 2020 to be granted. Yet again, she failed to do the same. 

Petitioner’s Arguments 

The Petitioner pled the court to issue a Writ of Mandamus against the administration to pay her due salary. Further, the Petitioner prayed for the grant of her earned leave from 6th January 2019 to 7th March 2019 to get sanctioned as ex post facto. She claimed that this was already assured by the administration. 

Further, she also prayed for the Writ of Certiorari to be issued to quash show-cause notice issued by the administration. She claimed the notice to be erroneous and frivolous. Lastly, the Petitioner also prayed that the Court passes an order, fulfiling her demand for a separate room.

Respondents’ Arguments

The Respondents stated that the Petitioner has been negligent. She has failed to perform her duty even after many chances were given to her. Thus, the Respondents prayed that the court rejects the petition.

Observations of the Court

The Court observed that the Petitioner has not countered any statements put forth by the Respondents. The Court concluded that the Petitioner has abused her privileges and degraded the rules. The Court further stated that the government employee cannot act as a private citizen and act in any manner (within the bounds of the law) as they please. The Court stated that public servants have to work according to law and should be disciplined and loyal. 

The Bench quoted Churchman Thomas Fuller: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”. The Court observed that the Petitioner knew that leave cannot be claimed as a right. Neither can the Petitioner dictate terms of the earned leave. 

Court’s Judgment 

The Court held the Petitioner guilty and found no merit in her petition. The Bench stated that the subject matter of the list is already subject to the Show Cause Notice issued to the Petitioner.

Thus, the Petitioner cannot urge a decision in her favour by filing the instant petition. Based on the aforesaid facts, the court quashed the petition.


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