Now, habitual absence from work without taking leave amounts to misconduct on the part of an employee. According to the ruling by the Mumbai High Court, a person in the habit of being absent without prior sanction, is somebody who is not devoted to duty. “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,” observed a division bench recently while upholding dismissal of a Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) employee, Pandurang Kevne, who filed a petition challenging his removal.

Justices J N Patel and R P Sondurbaldota further 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.”

The Bench also referred to Rule 3 of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which states the requirement, that a government employee must during all time maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty.

According to Rediff, the petitioner was chargesheeted in 1997 for misconduct of absenteeism. An inquiry held him guilty and recommended his removal from service. On this, the employee filed an appeal before an appellate authority but it was dismissed. A reference was then made by the government to Industrial Tribunal which upheld the punishment.

The petitioner’s 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 regularized by the respondent company by sanctioning different types of leave.

However, Counsel for BSNL, A S Rao, argued that even if the petitioner’s leave was regularized, he cannot escape from the rigours of mischief of misconduct because the leave was not authorized.

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