27 Oct 2022 4:15 AM GMT
The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently observed that it is only from the stage of framing of charges that an alleged delinquent employee can raise the objection regarding departmental proceeding, which is being carried out parallel to their criminal prosecution, is causing prejudice to their defense. The division bench of Justices Sheel Nagu and Virender Singh further observed that prior...
The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently observed that it is only from the stage of framing of charges that an alleged delinquent employee can raise the objection regarding departmental proceeding, which is being carried out parallel to their criminal prosecution, is causing prejudice to their defense.
The division bench of Justices Sheel Nagu and Virender Singh further observed that prior to framing of charges, the possibility of the accused being discharged cannot be ruled out-
In all the stages of criminal prosecution prior to framing of charge, the possibility of cognizance not being taken or the accused being discharged, cannot be ruled out…It is thus, the stage of framing of charge and thereafter that this cause of prejudice due to disclosure of defence can be raised by an accused who also happens to be delinquent employee in disciplinary proceedings initiated against them.
Facts of the case were that the Petitioners were facing disciplinary proceedings for corruption charges which was running parallel to the criminal prosecution arising out of the same cause of action. They were apprehending that since the proceedings was being conducted parallel to their criminal prosecution, the same was bound to cause prejudice to their defense in the criminal trial. Therefore, they moved the Court, praying that their disciplinary proceedings be quashed for the said reason.
Examining the submissions of parties and documents on record, the Court noted that the investigation into the allegations levelled against the Petitioners was pending. Therefore, it was possible that the matter may not fructify into a charge-sheet-
There may be cases where the trial Court find the contents of charge- sheet to contain insufficient evidence and material to reveal prima facie case against the accused and therefore may decline to take cognizance. Similarly, at the stage of framing of charges, the trial Court may not find a strong case of suspicion and therefore discharge the accused.
The Court, thus, opined that the cause of action regarding the disciplinary proceedings causing prejudice to criminal trial would arise only at the stage of framing of charges-
After the criminal prosecution crosses both the two stages of cognizance and framing of charge, that it can safely be said that the trial would now begin where the accused who is also delinquent employee in disciplinary proceedings will suffer the prejudice of disclosure of defence, taken in disciplinary proceedings. Thus, the stage of arising of prejudice to the accused of disclosing his defence is only after the charges are framed in the criminal proceeding.
The Court then noted that in the instant case, it would be appropriate to let the disciplinary proceedings conclude and if exonerated, the Petitioners could use that finding in their criminal trial.
In this view of the matter, it would be appropriate that the disciplinary proceedings instead of being deferred by judicial intervention or otherwise are allowed to be concluded. The final order that is passed in the disciplinary proceedings, which in case is of clean exoneration, the delinquent employee, can then use this exoneration for causing judicial intervention in the pending criminal trial provided the trial has crossed the stage of framing of charge, as held by the Apex Court in Ashoo Surendranath Tewari vs. Deputy Superintendent of Police, EOW, CBI and another, (2020) 9 SCC 636 [para 12].
With the aforesaid observations, the Court dismissed the petition but extended liberty to the Petitioners to move the Court once the cause of action is available to be raised i.e., after framing of charges in the criminal proceedings.
Case Title: DESHRAJ SINGH PARIHAR VERSUS STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH
Case citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 237
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