Raj HC | Court can exercise its power of judicial review if the quantum of penalty is disproportionate

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Narendra Singh Dhaddha and Mohammad Rafiq, JJ. dismissed the appeal filed by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) challenging a judgment passed by the single judge of the present court.

In the instant case, the respondent-writ petitioner was appointed in the service of the appellants as Conductor on 09-03-1984. He was dismissed from his service and the appellant-RSRTC was directed to substitute the penalty by compulsory retirement of the respondent with continuity of service and all the benefits, with payment of only 50% actual wages. After a lot of litigation, the respondent finally joined his duties but upon rejoining he was served with a charge sheet on 10-01-2000 alleging that he was absent from his duty. Earlier also a charge sheet was issued on the allegation that he too leave for somedays and cancelled the travel of the vehicle which caused loss of Rs 22,010 to the RSRTC. Another charge sheet was issued on 25-06-2003, alleging that when he was transferred to Hanumangarh from Kota, he did not report for the duty. A notice was served to him but he avoided it by giving the reason that he was undergoing treatment for back and spinal pain. An enquiry was conducted on the respondent for three different cases. After the enquiry was completed, the Chief Manager of the RSRTC passed a common order of penalty for removal of the respondent from service on 10-05-2006. This order was challenged by the respondent, but it was dismissed later with direction to the respondent to avail alternative remedy before the Labour Court under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Then the respondent preferred to a division bench, which set aside the order and remanded the matter back to the Single Bench to decide the writ petition afresh.

Vinayak Joshi, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants argued that the Single Judge had done a mistake of law by setting aside the order of removal of the respondent from the service. Illegality was observed by the Single Judge because a common order of penalty cannot be passed in three different charge sheets issued. The learned Single Judge did not analysis the order dated 10-05-2006 well.

H.V. Nandwana, learned Amicus Curiae appearing on behalf of the respondent opposed the appeal and contended that the appellant-RSRTC had adopted Rajasthan Civil Services Rules, 1958 for the purpose of holding disciplinary proceedings against its employees. Relying on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Mohd. Yunus Khan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2010) 10 SCC 539 the counsel submitted that the order passed by the disciplinary committee was vague and non-speaking one.

The court upon perusal of the facts of the case stated that the court can exercise its power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and interfere if the quantum of penalty is disproportionately given. Furthermore, it was held that the order of the Single Judge of this court is just, reasonable, and equitable. [Rajasthan State Road Corporation v. Suresh Agarwal, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 3960, decided on 04-11-2019]

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