7-Judge Bench of this Court in Samsher Singh v. State of Punjab, (1974) 2 SCC 831 has held:
“The authority may, in some cases, be of view, conduct of probationer may result in dismissal or removal on an inquiry. But in those cases, authority may not hold an inquiry and may simply discharge probationer with a view to giving him a chance to make good in other walks of life without a stigma at time of termination of probation. If, on other hand, probationer is faced with an enquiry on charges of misconduct or inefficiency or corruption, and if his services are terminated without following provisions of Article 311(2), he can claim protection.
The fact of holding an enquiry is not always conclusive. What is decisive is whether order is really by way of punishment (State of Orissa v. Ram Narayan Das, [AIR 1961 SC 177 : (1961) 1 SCR 606 : (1961) 1 SCJ 209]). If there is an enquiry, facts and circumstances of case will be looked into to find out whether order is one of dismissal in substance (Madan Gopal v. State of Punjab, [AIR 1963 SC 531 : (1963) 3 SCR 716 : (1963) 2 SCJ 185]).
If facts and circumstances of case indicate, substance of order is termination is by way of punishment – then a probationer is entitled to attract Article 311. The substance of order and not form would be decisive (K.H. Phadnis v. State of Maharashtra [(1971) 1 SCC 790 : 1971 Supp SCR 118]).”
– Hon’ble Justice Vineet Saran, Abhay Jain v. High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan, [Civil Appeal No. 2029 of 2022].