State of Uttar Pradesh vs Rajit Singh - Supreme Court Case

State of Uttar Pradesh vs Rajit Singh - Supreme Court Case - Judgement 2022 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 2049-2050 OF 2022
The State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. …Appellant(s)
Versus
Rajit Singh …Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment
and order passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow
Bench in Service Bench No. 5554 of 2020 by which the High Court has
dismissed the said writ petition and has refused to set aside the order
passed by the U.P. State Public Service Tribunal (hereinafter referred to
as “Tribunal”) passed in Claim Petition No.2226 of 2017 whereby the
claim petition of the respondent employee came to be allowed and the
order passed by the Disciplinary Authority imposing the
penalty/punishment came to be set aside, the State of Uttar Pradesh has
preferred the present appeals.
1
2. That the respondent employee was serving as a Junior Engineer
at Balia. An enquiry was conducted by a Departmental Task Force
where it was found that he had committed financial irregularities causing
loss to the Government. Disciplinary proceedings were initiated against
the respondent and others. The respondent was served with charge
sheet. That thereafter the Enquiry Officer held the charges alleged
against the respondent employee as proved and consequently also held
the misconduct proved. The Disciplinary Authority concurred with the
findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer and passed an order of recovery
of Government loss of Rs. 22,48,964.42/- as per the rules from the
salary; temporarily stopping two salary increments and the remarks
given for the year 2017-2018.
2.1 The respondent filed a representation against the said order before
the State Government, which came to be rejected. That thereafter the
respondent filed a Claim Petition No.2226 of 2017 before the Tribunal
challenging the order of punishment imposed by the Disciplinary
Authority. The Tribunal allowed the said petition and quashed the
punishment mainly on the ground of Doctrine of Equality and also on the
ground that the enquiry conducted was in breach of principles of natural
justice in as much as the relevant documents mentioned in the charge
sheet were not supplied to the delinquent officer.
2
2.2 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order passed by the
Tribunal quashing and setting aside the punishment, the State preferred
the writ petition before the High court. By the impugned judgment and
order, the High Court has dismissed the said writ petition and has
refused to interfere with the order passed by the Tribunal. That
thereafter the State preferred Review Application No.138 of 2021 before
the High Court. The High Court has dismissed the said review
application also.
2.3 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment
and order dated 27.02.2020 passed by the High Court in Service Bench
No.5554 of 2020 as well as the order passed by the High Court rejecting
the review application, the State has preferred the present appeals.
3. Shri V.K. Shukla, learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of
the State has vehemently submitted that in the present case fullest
opportunity was given to the respondent – delinquent officer by the
Disciplinary Authority. It is submitted that the respondent was served
with the Enquiry Report and thereafter was given the opportunity by the
Disciplinary Authority and after considering the detailed representation
by the respondent employee against the findings recorded by the
3
Enquiry Officer, the Disciplinary Authority imposed the punishment,
which ought not to have been set aside by the Tribunal.
3.1 It is further submitted that assuming that the Enquiry Proceedings
were vitiated on the ground of violation of principles of natural justice, in
that case also as per the settled proposition of law, the matter ought to
have been remanded to the Enquiry Officer and the Disciplinary
Authority to proceed further with the enquiry from the stage of violation of
the principles of natural justice. It is submitted that however, when it is a
case of loss to the extent of Rs. 22,48,964.42/-, that too, by the Junior
Engineer, the respondent employee cannot be permitted to let off.
3.2 It is further submitted by Shri Shukla, learned Senior Advocate
appearing on behalf of the State that another ground given by the
Tribunal as well as the High Court that other employees involved in
respect of the same incident were exonerated and/or no action was
taken against them, is concerned, it is submitted that on the aforesaid
ground, the Enquiry Report and the order of punishment imposed by the
Disciplinary Authority cannot be set aside. It is submitted that it depends
upon the individual role played by the concerned employee. It is
submitted that even otherwise merely because some other employees
involved in respect of the alleged misconduct might have been
exonerated and/or no action was taken against them, cannot be a
4
ground to set aside the order of punishment imposed in case of an
employee, who is found to be guilty of misconduct.
4. Shri Utkarsh Srivastava, learned Advocate appearing on behalf of
the respondent has supported the order passed by the Tribunal as well
as the High Court.
4.1 It is submitted that considering the fact that all other officers, who
were also involved in respect of the same incident, namely, Assistant
Engineer and Executive Engineer were exonerated and therefore
applying the Doctrine of Equality, both, the Tribunal as well as the High
Court have rightly set aside the order of punishment imposed by the
Disciplinary Authority with respect to the alleged misconduct for which
other employees came to be exonerated.
4.2 It is further submitted that even otherwise, the enquiry conducted
was in total breach of principles of natural justice in as much as the
documents mentioned in the charge sheet were not at all supplied to the
respondent – delinquent officer and therefore the entire departmental
enquiry proceedings were vitiated. It is submitted that therefore the
Tribunal has rightly set aside the order of punishment imposed by the
Disciplinary Authority which is rightly not interfered by the High Court.
5
5. We have heard the learned counsel for the respective parties at
length.
6. At the outset, it is required to be noted that the Enquiry Officer held
the respondent – delinquent officer guilty for the misconduct alleged and
the charges levelled against him of causing monetary loss to the extent
of Rs. 22,48,964.42/- and other charges, which are held to be proved.
Thereafter, the Disciplinary Authority imposed the punishment after
giving the respondent opportunity to meet the findings recorded by the
Enquiry Officer and thereafter imposed the punishment. The Tribunal
set aside the order of punishment imposed by the Disciplinary Authority
by mainly applying the Doctrine of Equality and by observing that as
other officers involved in the incident were exonerated and/or no action
was taken against them, therefore, no action was warranted against
respondent also. The Tribunal has also observed and held that even
otherwise, the enquiry proceedings were in breach of the principles of
natural justice in as much as the relevant documents mentioned in the
charge sheet were not at all supplied to the delinquent officer. The
order passed by the Tribunal has been confirmed by the High Court by
the impugned judgment and order.
7. Now, so far as the quashing and setting aside the order of
punishment imposed by the Disciplinary Authority applying the Doctrine
6
of Equality on the ground that other officers involved in the incident have
been exonerated and/or no action has been taken against them, is
concerned, we are of the firm view that on the aforesaid ground, the
order of punishment could not have been set aside by the Tribunal and
the High court. The Doctrine of Equality ought not to have been applied
when the Enquiry Officer and the Disciplinary Authority held the charges
proved against the delinquent officer. The role of the each individual
officer even with respect to the same misconduct is required to be
considered in light of their duties of office. Even otherwise, merely
because some other officers involved in the incident are exonerated
and/or no action is taken against other officers cannot be a ground to set
aside the order of punishment when the charges against the individual
concerned - delinquent officer are held to be proved in a departmental
enquiry. There cannot be any claim of negative equality in such cases.
Therefore, both the Tribunal as well as the High Court have committed a
grave error in quashing and setting aside the order of punishment
imposed by the Disciplinary Authority by applying the Doctrine of
Equality.
8. It appears from the order passed by the Tribunal that the Tribunal
also observed that the enquiry proceedings were against the principles
of natural justice in as much as the documents mentioned in the charge
sheet were not at all supplied to the delinquent officer. As per the settled
7
proposition of law, in a case where it is found that the enquiry is not
conducted properly and/or the same is in violation of the principles of
natural justice, in that case, the Court cannot reinstate the employee as
such and the matter is to be remanded to the Enquiry Officer/Disciplinary
Authority to proceed further with the enquiry from the stage of violation of
principles of natural justice is noticed and the enquiry has to be
proceeded further after furnishing the necessary documents mentioned
in the charge sheet, which are alleged to have not been given to the
delinquent officer in the instant case. In the case of Chairman, Life
Insurance Corporation of India and Ors. Vs. A. Masilamani, (2013) 6
SCC 530, which was also pressed into service on behalf of the
appellants before the High Court, it is observed in paragraph 16 as
under:-
“16. It is a settled legal proposition, that once the court
sets aside an order of punishment, on the ground that the
enquiry was not properly conducted, the court cannot
reinstate the employee. It must remit the case concerned
to the disciplinary authority for it to conduct the enquiry
from the point that it stood vitiated, and conclude the
same. (Vide ECIL v. B. Karunakar [(1993) 4 SCC
727], Hiran Mayee Bhattacharyya v. S.M. School for
Girls [(2002) 10 SCC 293], U.P. State Spg. Co.
Ltd. v. R.S. Pandey [(2005) 8 SCC 264] and Union of
India v. Y.S. Sadhu [(2008) 12 SCC 30]).”
9. From the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court,
it appears that when the aforesaid submission and the aforesaid
8
decision was pressed into service, the High Court has not considered
the same on the ground that the other officers involved in respect of the
same incident are exonerated and/or no action is taken against them.
Applying the law laid down in the case of A. Masilamani (supra) to the
facts of the case on hand, we are of the opinion that the Tribunal as well
as the High Court ought to have remanded the matter to the Disciplinary
Authority to conduct the enquiry from the stage it stood vitiated.
Therefore, the order passed by the High Court in not allowing further
proceedings from the stage it stood vitiated, i.e., after the issuance of the
charge sheet, is unsustainable.
10. In view of the above discussion and for the reasons stated above,
the findings recorded by the Tribunal as well as the High Court quashing
and setting aside the order of punishment imposed by the Disciplinary
Authority by applying the Doctrine of Equality is hereby quashed and set
aside. However, as the enquiry is found to be vitiated and is found to be
in violation of the principles of natural justice in as much as it is alleged
that the relevant documents mentioned in the charge sheet were not
supplied to the delinquent officer, we remand the matter to the
Disciplinary Authority to conduct a fresh enquiry from the stage it stood
vitiated, i.e., after the issuance of the charge sheet and to proceed
further with the enquiry after furnishing all the necessary documents
9
mentioned in the charge sheet and after following due principles of
natural justice. The aforesaid exercise shall be completed within a
period of six months from today.
Present appeals are allowed accordingly to the aforesaid extent.
However, in the facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be no
order as to costs.
Pending applications, if any, also stand disposed of.
………………………………….J.
 [M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI; ………………………………….J.
MARCH 22, 2022. [B.V. NAGARATHNA]
10

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

संविधान की प्रमुख विशेषताओं का उल्लेख | Characteristics of the Constitution of India

100 Questions on Indian Constitution for UPSC 2020 Pre Exam

भारतीय संविधान से संबंधित 100 महत्वपूर्ण प्रश्न उतर