Civil servants lose right to be heard if convicted

penjawat-awm

PUTRAJAYA: The 1.6 million government employees take heed.

Civil servants who are suspended and finally sacked have no right to be heard before a disciplinary tribunal if they are convicted of any crime or are detained under a preventive law.

The Federal Court established this legal principle in allowing a government appeal against a police officer who was once held under the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA).

Justice Raus Sharif, who delivered the judgment on Tuesday, said the Federal Constitution had taken away the right to be heard from such errant employees.

Mohd Azuan Aniffa, 48, was suspended on Dec 18, 2006 after he was detained under the ISA and placed at the Kamunting Detention Centre for two years.

The disciplinary authority later terminated his service in a letter dated Nov 28, 2008.

His appeal to the authority against the dismissal was also dismissed in early 2009 on grounds that the rules of natural justice – the right to be heard – was denied.

Dissatisfied, he filed a judicial review to challenge the dismissal and the grounds relied on was that the authority used the wrong provision in the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 to suspend and dismiss him.

The High Court and Court of Appeal, which had then ruled in favour of the police officer, also ordered his reinstatement and payment of backdated salary.

Ruling on the present case, Raus said there were errors in quoting the wrong provision in the regulations but the question was whether the oversight was sufficient to impair the decision to dismiss Mohd Azuan.

“We are of the view the contents of the suspension and dismissal letters were clear. The respondent was dismissed due to the detention order,” Raus said.

He said the error in quoting the wrong provision, regulation 33(1) instead of 33 (2) of the 1993 Regulations, did not render the dismissal void and of no effect.

He added that neither provision gave Azuan the right to be heard and the end result was the same.

“We allow the appeal. We set aside the decision of the High Court and Court of Appeal. In the circumstances of this case, we make no order as to costs,” Raus said.

Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan and Maisarah Juhari apppeared for the government while G Subramaniam Nair and Ebrina Zubir represented Azuan.