26 Oct 2022 7:03 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has said the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) "ordinarily should" endeavour to examine a case on merits rather than dismissing the same on technicalities.Dismissing a plea filed by an employee challenging the order by which his original application against the disciplinary action taken against him was rejected by CAT, a division bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva...
The Delhi High Court has said the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) "ordinarily should" endeavour to examine a case on merits rather than dismissing the same on technicalities.
Dismissing a plea filed by an employee challenging the order by which his original application against the disciplinary action taken against him was rejected by CAT, a division bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela asked the Tribunal to consider the case afresh.
It was the petitioner's case before the CAT that since he was honourably discharged by court in a criminal case due to lack of evidence, the disciplinary authority should not have proceeded with the disciplinary action and should have closed the same.
It was also submitted that even though the order of the trial court was placed before the disciplinary authorities, they continued with the proceedings and passed an adverse order against the petitioner.
Relying on K.L. Shinde vs. State of Mysore, the CAT in 2019 held that judicial review by the Tribunal in departmental enquiries is not permissible and power of judicial review is meant to ensure that individuals receive fair treatment.
The High Court noted that the tribunal had decided the case only on the premise that principle of natural justice was complied with and that the power of judicial review was not to be exercised in such a case. The tribunal had not gone into the merits of the case or even considered the effect of an acquittal in criminal proceedings, it noted.
"The order passed by the Disciplinary Authority against the Petitioner is based solely on the alleged involvement of the Petitioner in the criminal proceedings. The Inquiry Officer in the Inquiry Report has held that the plea of the Petitioner that he was not identified by the complainant during the time of the arrest and during the course of investigation and further that no recovery was made from him and that he had been acquitted in the subject FIR because prosecution had failed to prove its allegations or established its case against the Petitioner, carries some weight and could not be overlooked," the court said.
Despite returning the funding, the court said, the Inquiry Officer has held that since the petitioner was arrested and there was a disclosure statement of a co-accused and charges were framed against him, the charge stood proved against the Petitioner.
Holding that the Tribunal erred in ignoring the said aspects and solely decided the case on scope of judicial review, the court said the impugned order has to be remitted back to the Tribunal for a fresh consideration of the petitioner's plea.
The court also referred to the Supreme Court decision in L. Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India and Ors. wherein it was observed by a Constitution Bench that the High Court "will also have the benefit of a reasoned decision on merits which will be of use to it in finally deciding the matter".
"It is thus advisable that the Tribunal ordinarily should endeavour to examine the case on merits, rather than dismissing the same on technicalities," the court said.
Setting aside the impugned order, the court restored petitioner's Original Application on record of the Tribunal with a direction that it shall consider the same afresh in accordance with law and on merits.
"Parties shall appear before the Tribunal for directions on 06.12.2022. Since the Petitioner is slated to superannuate in normal course on 31.01.2025. Tribunal is requested to decide the Original Application expeditiously and endeavour to conclude the same prior to date of superannuation of the Petitioner," said the court.
Title: SURINDER SINGH v. GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI AND ORS.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 1011
Click Here To Read Order