The Bombay high court has ruled that the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) cannot interfere with a decision taken by an employer against an employee after following due process of law.
A division bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and Kamal Khata set aside an order of the commission and observed that it had "acted totally without jurisdiction".
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Union defence ministry challenging the commission’s order passed in March directing the ministry to reinvestigate a disciplinary action initiated against a staff nurse.
Chandraprabha Kedare was appointed staff nurse in January 1973 in the Deolali cantonment board in Maharashtra's Nashik district. In 2013, disciplinary action was initiated against her and she was compulsorily retired.
Kedare challenged this before the commission which, in March, said injustice had been meted out to the nurse, who belongs to a scheduled caste, and the punishment of compulsory retirement was draconian.
The court observed: “In our view, the commission has no jurisdiction to interfere with the decision already taken by the employer against Kedare after following procedure. The commission cannot act as an appellate authority against an order passed by an employer taking disciplinary action against an employee.”
The judges further observed that an employer has the power to take disciplinary action against an employee and when such action has been upheld in all legal proceedings, the employee cannot file an application before the commission.
The court noted that Kedare had exhausted all legal remedies available to her and only then had filed an application before the NCSC.