The Supreme Court in HP State Electricity Board Ltd vs Mahesh Dahiya, has observed that in disciplinary proceedings, before making opinion with regard to punishment which is to be imposed on a delinquent, the delinquent has to be given an opportunity to submit representation/reply on the inquiry report which finds a charge proved against the delinquent.
A bench comprising Justice SA Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan made this observation while upholding a high court judgment setting aside the punishment order on a delinquent employee charged with willful absentation from official duty and disobeying the directions of the superiors.
On the facts of the case, the court observed that before forwarding the copy of the report, the disciplinary authority had already formed an opinion to punish the delinquent with major penalty. The bench said that a delinquent employee is entitled to point out any defect in the procedure, a defect of substantial nature in appreciation of evidence, any misleading of evidence both oral and documentary. Observing that there has been violation of principle of natural justice at the level of disciplinary authority, the court observed: “In his representation any inputs and explanation given by the delinquent are also entitled to be considered by the disciplinary authority before it embarks with further proceedings as per statutory rules.”
The court, however, modified the judgment of the high court holding that it ought to have permitted the disciplinary authority to have proceeded with the inquiry from the stage in which fault was noticed, while quashing the punishment order.
Read the Judgment here.