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Appointment On 'Humanitarian Ground' In Absence Of Any Law To That Effect Can't Be Justified By Any Document: Jharkhand High Court

Shrutika Pandey
18 May 2022 5:11 AM GMT
Jharkhand High Court, Framing Guidelines, Issuance, Notice, Appearance, Police Officers, 41A CrPC, State Government, Justice Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, Section 498 A IPC,

The Jharkhand High Court has recently held that to justify a 'humanitarian appointment,' one only needs to show the provision of law which allows such an appointment; and no other document of law can justify the same in the absence of the power to do so.

Justice Anubha Rawat Choudhary placed no merit in the petitioner's argument that he could not place his best defence as he was not given an opportunity to produce essential documents. She remarked,

"The petitioner, in order to justify his appointment of "humanitarian ground" has to simply show the provision of law and no document can justify his appointment of "humanitarian ground" in absence of any power to do so. In the absence of power to appoint on "humanitarian ground," no document concerning appointment could have justified the appointment of the petitioner, and accordingly, the arguments of the petitioner that he could not place his best defence in the absence of essential documents are devoid of any merits and in fact no prejudice has been caused to the petitioner by non-supply of documents demanded by the petitioner."

A writ petition was filed by the Petitioner challenging the order of his dismissal. The challenge was made alleging that the authorities had already decided to impose major punishment and that the departmental proceedings were a mere formality. The appeal filed by the petitioner against the dismissal was also rejected.

The draft memo of charge was issued to the petitioner based on a report submitted by one IGP alleging the illegal appointment of the petitioner. The Court noted that this communication could not be seen as a dictation of the higher authority.

Further, even the inquiry officer was not influenced by the said communication, which is apparent from the allegation of fraud and forgery was brushed aside by the inquiry officer for want of documents. The inquiry officer recorded finding that the petitioner's appointment was illegal. There is no provision for appointment on "humanitarian ground," based on the face of the appointment letter itself produced by the petitioner before the inquiry officer.

Therefore, the Court noted that a pre-conceived mind initiated neither the department proceedings nor the letter issued by the higher authority constituting department inquiry influenced the department proceedings, causing any prejudice to the petitioner.

The Court referred to the case of Kuldeep Singh v. The Commissioner of Police & Others, where the issue of bias of the inquiry officer has also been considered, wherein it has been held that the inquiry proceedings will be vitiated if the inquiry officer acts so arbitrarily and as a matter of course merely carrying out the command from some superior officer who perhaps directed "fix him up." The Court held that although the petitioner has made an allegation that the dismissal of the petitioner was already contemplated at the time of issuance of the charge memo itself. The departmental inquiry was only a formality; neither has any allegation been made against the two inquiry officers who conducted the proceedings, nor is there anything on record to suggest bias against the petitioner. It added,

"Rather, the inquiry officer refused to record any adverse finding against the petitioner on the major part of the allegation against him regarding obtaining appointment by using forged documents in the absence of the material documents being not available on record. Thus, the petitioner's allegation regarding the inquiry having been held with a pre-conceived mind, is also rejected."

The Court also noted that the provision of Article 311(2) (b) of the Constitution does not apply to the instant case. It applies when a situation renders holding of inquiry not reasonably practical, and the disciplinary authority must record in writing its reasons to support its satisfaction. In the present case, the inquiry was initiated, the petitioner participated, the inquiry report was submitted, and the order of punishment was passed.

Case Title: Sanjay Kumar v. The State of Jharkhand & Ors.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Jha) 56

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