30 March 2022 7:26 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court has said that a departmental inquiry against a government servant is not to be treated as a casual exercise and the principles of natural justice are required to be observed so as to ensure not only that justice is done but is manifestly seen to be done.The Bench of Justice Yogendra Kumar Srivastava observed thus as it upheld an order of the UP State Public...
The Allahabad High Court has said that a departmental inquiry against a government servant is not to be treated as a casual exercise and the principles of natural justice are required to be observed so as to ensure not only that justice is done but is manifestly seen to be done.
The Bench of Justice Yogendra Kumar Srivastava observed thus as it upheld an order of the UP State Public Services Tribunal, Lucknow setting aside the order of punishment passed by the State of UP against respondent no. 2 (deceased govt employee).
The case in brief
Essentially, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against a government servant/respondent no. 2 (deceased) while he was posted as Collection Amin at Jahanabad, District Pilibhit, and a charge sheet was issued whereupon an inquiry was conducted and a report was submitted holding respondent no. 2 guilty of the charges.
A show-cause notice was issued to him to which he submitted a reply and thereafter, the order of punishment was passed on 30.04.2005 whereby respondent no 2 was reverted to his original pay scale in addition to the award of adverse entry in his character role. The appeal and revision filed were ALSO dismissed.
Challenging the same, he moved to the UP State Public Services Tribunal, which took into consideration the inquiry report and thereafter, came to a conclusion that neither any date, time, or place was fixed by the inquiry officer nor any oral evidence was led.
The Tribunal also concluded that only on the basis of some documentary evidence, the respondent no. 2 was held guilty of the charges. In view of this, the Tribunal held that respondent no. 2 was not afforded an opportunity to adduce evidence and was denied the reasonable opportunity of defence.
However, taking notice of the fact that respondent no. 2 had expired during the pendency of the claim petition, the Tribunal held that no fruitful purpose would be served in remitting the matter for fresh inquiry.
In view thereof, while setting aside the orders of punishment, the appellate order, and the revisional order, the benefits withheld due to the punishment order were directed to be refunded to the legal representatives of respondent no. 2. Challenging this order, the State of UP moved to the HC.
The Court agreed with the findings of the Tribunal that the reply submitted by the employee to the show cause notice issued by the disciplinary authority consequent to the inquiry and the defence raised therein were not accorded consideration.
The Court also noted that the disciplinary authority had passed the order of punishment only on the basis of inquiry report in gross disregard to the provisions under the Rules, 1999 and also the principles of natural justice.
"The departmental proceedings pursuant to which the punishment order has been passed having thus not followed the procedure prescribed under the Rules, 1999 and there being several procedural infirmities in the conduct of enquiry, the order of punishment has rightly been held to be legally unsustainable," the Court further held.
In view of this, the Court observed that in the instant case, the inquiry officer had failed to fix any date, place, or time in the conduct of inquiry.
The Court also took into account the fact that no witnesses were examined to support the charges leveled against the respondent-employee, and this had led to a situation where the delinquent had been condemned unheard.
Therefore, finding that the entire proceedings were held in violation of principles of natural justice and total disregard of procedural fairness, the Court UPHELD the order of the Tribunal and thus, DISMISSED the instant plea moved by the State Government.
Case title - State Of U.P. Through Secretary Revenue And 4 Others v. State Public Service Tribunal And 4 Others
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 145
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