The case of Nina Lath v. Union of India is a case in which the petitioner is attempting to overturn an impugned order from April 24, 2018, pursuant to which the petitioner’s services were unlawfully terminated based on allegations of conduct that are ex-ante punitive and stigmatising, without giving her a chance to be heard and in complete violation of the National Film Development Council’s service rules. With a provision for renewal, the petitioner was appointed managing director of the National Film Development Corporation (“NFDC”) for a term of five years. The petitioner was given two additional 5-year extensions after her initial 5-year term was up; the most recent one, from 17 April 2016 to 16 April 2021, was based on her merits and took into account her flawless service history. However, the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity filed a complaint against the NFDC alleging violations of the Electronic Media Advertisement Policy, and UOI subsequently launched an inspection of the NFDC and released an inspection report, in which the allegations were refuted.
While the petitioner was serving her third five-year term, a termination order was issued against her without giving her the chance to request a hearing. After the petitioner filed a petition to have the termination order overturned, UOI revised the termination order and deleted the “stigmatic” referenced language from the previous one. The petitioner filed a second appeal in opposition to the division bench’s decision to halt the implementation of the fresh notification that had been issued to fill the position of MD, NFDC. So, the current petition was submitted.
whether the impugned order terminating the services of the petitioner and truncating the five-year tenure is punitive and stigmatic
In the single judge bench of Delhi high court Justice Jyoti Singh, quashed and set aside the impugned order and directed the respondents to pay all outstanding dues of the petitioner on account of salary and other allowances for the balance tenure. Reliance on the ruling in Baijnath Mandal v. UOI, wherein the Court stated that there can be no doubt that a departmental inquiry must precede the termination and that an order without an inquiry would violate the principles of natural justice, is necessary when an employee has been granted temporary status and the order of termination is stigmatic and punitive and not a discharge simpliciter. The stigmatising declaration made against the employee is printed and submitted, severely harming his chances of finding future employment.
The Court stated that the impugned order is a ruse and is based on the same accusations because there was no new evidence or another factor that would have justified shortening the five-year duration. The petitioner wasn’t qualified for the position. The fact that the impugned order refers to the order from April 23, 2018, is sufficient to draw a connection between the allegations contained therein and how they will inevitably affect the petitioner’s career prospects. As a result, set aside the NFDC order if a termination order is based on allegations, the order is stigmatising and punitive, and an employee’s services cannot be terminated without giving him the chance to respond to the charges against him in a fair hearing.