NEW DELHI Even in India, where government jobs are considered to be for life, A.K. Verma was pushing it.
Verma, an executive engineer at the Central Public Works Department, was fired after last appearing for work in December 1990.
"He went on seeking extension of leave, which was not sanctioned, and defied directions to report to work," the government said in a statement on Thursday.
Even after an inquiry found him guilty of "wilful absence from duty" in 1992, it took another 22 years and the intervention of a cabinet minister to remove him, the government said.
India's labour laws, which the World Bank says are the most restrictive anywhere, make it hard to sack staff for any reason other than criminal misconduct.
States, led by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, have recently changed the law to make it easier to hire and fire staff, in a move welcomed by industry leaders but opposed by labour unions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cracked down on rampant absenteeism by making New Delhi bureaucrats sign in at work using a fingerprint scanner. The results are publicly available online - at www.attendance.gov.in - in real time.
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Douglas Busvine, Robert Birsel)