Jhar HC | Hearing delinquent employee necessary where disciplinary authority defers from finding of enquiry officer

Jharkhand High Court: Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, J. quashed the order which inflicted the punishment of non-payment of the salary of petitioner for a period of time during which a criminal case was lodged against the petitioner. 

The petitioner filed this writ petition for quashing order whereby the petitioner has been inflicted with the punishment of withholding of increment in salary for one year and also of not making payment of the salary for the period 14-08-2006 to 11-06-2007. The facts of the case were that the petitioner was a constable in Jharkhand Police and while serving as such in the year 2006, a criminal case was lodged against him for committing the murder of his daughter-in-law. Pursuant thereto the petitioner was put under suspension and a departmental proceeding was initiated against him. In the departmental proceeding, the enquiry officer conducted the enquiry and exonerated the petitioner from the charges levelled against him. But, the disciplinary authority differing with the finding recorded by the enquiry officer, inflicted the impugned order of punishment upon the petitioner.

Rishikesh Giri, learned counsel for the petitioner relied upon the precedent of Punjab National Bank v. Kunj Behari Misra, (1998) 7 SCC 84 and submitted that the petitioner had already been acquitted in the criminal case, which is the basis of initiation of departmental proceeding against the petitioner and though the enquiry officer has exonerated the petitioner but the disciplinary authority without affording an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner passed the order. It is well settled that if the enquiry officer exonerates the delinquent and the disciplinary authority differs with the findings recorded by the enquiry officer, he needs to call upon the delinquent by way of show cause and to afford an opportunity of hearing to the delinquent but in the instant case that procedure has not been followed. 

The Court held that the enquiry officer exonerated the petitioner from charges; hence the disciplinary authority ought to have provided opportunity of hearing while differing with the view taken by the enquiry officer. Hence, the Court has quashed the impugned orders.[Indradeo Prasad Singh v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 1022, decided on 05-08-2019]

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