6 Feb 2023 10:20 AM GMT
The Chhattisgarh High Court on Friday, directed to restore the payment and annual increment of an official of SAIL on the ground that no departmental enquiry has been initiated against him. The petitioner was posted as Deputy General Manager (Inspection Deptt.) at Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) and was entrusted with the job of organizing inspection of the refractory material at...
The Chhattisgarh High Court on Friday, directed to restore the payment and annual increment of an official of SAIL on the ground that no departmental enquiry has been initiated against him.
The petitioner was posted as Deputy General Manager (Inspection Deptt.) at Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) and was entrusted with the job of organizing inspection of the refractory material at supplier’s (vendor) premises and also in the stores situated in BSP.
In the months of November- December 2007, the petitioner deputed several inspection officers to conduct inspection of firebricks of certain refractories at Rourkela, Nagpur and Narketpalli.
After the inspection conducted by the inspecting officers and after their approval, the vendors supplied the material to the BSP and was received in the Refractory Stores. 17 samples from different lots of these bricks were drawn for further laboratory test at BSP’s laboratory. Out of above 17 samples, 5 passed and 12 were declared defective.
The petitioner was issued a charge sheet dated 9.6.2008 together with statement of imputation of misconduct. The charge was that the petitioner failed to effectively supervise the performance and devotion to duty of his sub-ordinate officers which resulted in acceptance of poor quality of refractory bricks.
The petitioner submitted a detailed reply and challenged the propriety of issuing a charge sheet to him on the ground that he was neither present at the above places nor conducted any inspection or witnessed testing of the firebricks in those places.
However, the respondent authorities imposed a punishment on petitioner of reduction of pay by one stage for a period of one year without cumulative effect and stoppage of increment.
The petitioner challenged the impugned order before the Chairman, Steel Authority of India which as rejected on the ground that a minor penalty has been imposed which does not call for any interference.
Hence, the petitioner filed the instant petition under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution for quashing the order of penalty dated 20.8.2008 and seeking payment of annual increment and other benefits from 1.1.2009.
The bench of Justice Rajani Dubey Observed:
“from all the documents annexed herewith it is clear that no enquiry was initiated against the petitioner and penalty was imposed upon him on the basis of his reply. This act of the respondent authorities is against the principles of natural justice and the settled legal position holding the field.”
The court relied upon the decision of O.K. Bhardwaj v. Union of India reported in 2001 (9) SCC 180 in which the Supreme Court held:
“Even in the case of a minor penalty an opportunity has to be given to the delinquent employee to have his say or to file his explanation with respect to the charges against him. Moreover, if the charges are factual and if they are denied by the delinquent employee, an enquiry should also be called for. This is the minimum requirement of the principle of natural justice and the said requirement cannot be dispensed with.”
The court ruled that the appellate authority also passed the order dated 15.12.2008 against the petitioner dismissing his appeal without appreciating the legal position, in a mechanical manner as the appellate authority found that for imposing minor penalty, departmental enquiry is not required under Rule 27 of the CDA Rules, 1977. Therefore, the action and order of the respondent authorities are against the principles of natural justice.
The court set aside the impugned order and directed the respondent authorities to restore the payment of the petitioner and his annual increment which fell due on 1.1.2009 with simple interest @ 6% per annum within a period of three months.
Case Title: S. K. Dwivedi v. Steel Authority of India Ltd., Bhilai Steel Plant
Case Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Chh) 5
Coram: Justice Rajani Dubey
Click Here to Read/Download Judgment