Leniency Can't Be Shown For Drunken Driving Merely Because No Major Accident Occurred : Supreme Court
While dealing with the case of an employee's dismissal from service after being found guilty of driving under influence of alcohol, the Supreme Court of India has observed that merely because no major accident occurred leneincy can't be shown for the micconduct of drunken driving. The Court stated that driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is not only a misconduct but it is...
While dealing with the case of an employee's dismissal from service after being found guilty of driving under influence of alcohol, the Supreme Court of India has observed that merely because no major accident occurred leneincy can't be shown for the micconduct of drunken driving.
The Court stated that driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is not only a misconduct but it is an offence also.
"Nobody can be permitted to drive the vehicle under the influence of alcohol" Supreme Court said.
A Bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna made the observation in a civil appeal filed by an employee charged with causing an accident under influence of alcohol, against Allahabad High Court's judgement dismissing a writ petition refusing to set aside the order of his dismissal passed by the Disciplinary Authority.
While noting that the fact that he was driving the truck under the influence of alcohol has been established and proved, the Bench observed that driving a truck carrying the Provincial Armed Constabulary (P.A.C.) personnel under the influence of alcohol is a very serious misconduct and such an indiscipline cannot be tolerated and that too in the disciplined Military.
The Bench observed that merely because there was no major loss and it was a minor accident cannot be a ground to show leniency.
"It was sheer good luck that the accident was not a fatal accident. It could have been a fatal accident. When the employee was driving a truck carrying the P.A.C. personnel, the lives of those P.A.C. personnel who were travelling in the truck were in the hands of the driver. Therefore, it can be said that he played with the lives of those P.A.C. personnel, who were on duty and travelling from Fatehpur to Allahabad on Kumbh Mela duty." the Bench said.
However the Bench granted a partial relief to the employee by converting the punishment of dismissal to that of compulsory retirement, observing that the award of punishment of dismissal can be said to be too harsh.
As the employee has since died, the Bench directed that the death-cum-retirement benefits as also the benefit of family pension, if any, are to be paid to the legal heirs of the deceased employee in accordance with law and bearing in mind that punishment of dismissal has now been converted into one of compulsory retirement.
The employee was a driver posted at the 12th Battalion, P.A.C. at Fatehpur and was involved in a motor accident with a jeep while on duty. He was charged for having caused the accident by dashing his truck on the back side of the jeep while driving under the influence of alcohol. On medical examination conducted on the same date, he was found to have been under the influence of alcohol. A departmental enquiry was initiated against him and the Inquiry Officer proposed punishment of dismissal after the inquiry
A second show-cause notice was issued by the Disciplinary Authority and after considering his reply the punishment of dismissal was awarded which was confirmed by the Appellate Authority.
When the award of punishment of dismissal was challenged before the High Court arguing that the punishment of dismissal is disproportionate to the misconduct proved, the High Court dismissed the writ petition and has also held that in the facts and circumstances of the case, a punishment of dismissal cannot be said to be disproportionate to the misconduct committed.
The High Court's order has been challenged before the Apex Court. During the pendency of the proceedings, the employee died and thereafter his heirs were brought on record and the present appeal has been prosecuted by the heirs of the deceased.
The appellant employee arguing that the punishment of dismissal is disproportionate to the misconduct proved sought that some leniency may be shown and the order of dismissal be converted into compulsory retirement.
Case Title: Brijesh Chandra Dwivedi (Dead) & Thr LRs vs Sanya Sahayak & Ors
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 81