An employee cannot seek benefit of acquittal in the criminal case so as to quash the order passed by the Disciplinary Authority, said the Karnataka High Court while dismissing an appeal filed by police constable of the Karnataka State Reserve police, challenging an order of the tribunal which upheld his dismissal order.
A division bench of Justice S N Satyanarayana and Justice P G M Patil while dismissing the petition filled by S N Murkloti said "By the time the petitioner was acquitted in the criminal case, the penalty of dismissal from service was already imposed and same was confirmed by the Appellate authority. Under these circumstances, the petitioner cannot seek benefit of acquittal in the present case so as to quash the order passed by the Disciplinary Authority."
The bench also relied on the Supreme Court judgement in the case of Shashi Bushan Prasad Vs. Inspector General, Central Industrial Security Force and Others, to hold that "The articles of charges served on the petitioner in the departmental enquiry are all together different from the charges against the petitioner in the criminal case. Therefore, the charges in the criminal case and the imputation of charge in the disciplinary proceedings cannot be held as one and the same so as to hold that on the basis of the acquittal in the criminal case, the departmental enquiry and proceedings have to be set aside."
The petitioner joined the service as a Police Constable in Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) on May 5, 1993 and served in the Department till 2003. In the month of October 2001, the petitioner was implicated in a criminal case by the Belagavi Rural Police, for the offences punishable under Sections 307, 109, 120B r/w Section 34 of IPC and Sections 3, 25(1)(b)(a), 28 and 29 of the Indian Arms Act. He was arrested and then released on bail.
On the basis of the criminal case registered against him, he was placed under suspension and Departmental Enquiry was also held against him. Disciplinary Authority passed an order dated November 4, 2003 imposing the punishment of removing him from the service.
The disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner were mainly initiated on the ground that the petitioner was involved in the said criminal case and that subsequently, the petitioner has been honorably acquitted in the criminal case. Therefore, departmental enquiry purely based on the charges in the criminal case should have been dropped and the disciplinary authority should have exonerated the petitioner from the charges. The leaned counsel further submitted that the Appellate authority and the KSAT ought to have considered that the petitioner was honorably acquitted in the criminal case and therefore, the disciplinary proceedings initiated against the petitioner would not survive.
Additional government advocate argued:
The charges in the criminal case against the petitioner and the articles of charges imputed in the disciplinary proceedings are all together different and therefore, only on the basis of the petitioner being acquitted in the criminal case, the disciplinary proceedings cannot be dropped and that the order of acquittal in the criminal case cannot be considered to hold that the misconduct is not proved.
The KSAT has properly appreciated the material on record and held that the disciplinary authority has assigned the reasons while imposing the penalty and the Appellate Authority has also considered the ground of appeal and has given reasons while dismissing the appeal. It is further observed that the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court relied on by the applicant are not on the same set of facts and therefore, no grounds are made out for quashing the impugned orders.
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