Madhya Pradesh High Court: Atul Sreedharan, J. decided on a petition which was filed by the petitioner who was aggrieved by the departmental proceedings against him on the identical charges by the CBI in the criminal case.

The case is one where the petitioner was allegedly apprehended red-hand taking bribe for the clearance of bills of complainant M/s. Sandeep Kapoor Security Agency.

Counsel for the petitioner contended that illegal gratification demanded and received from Sandeep Kapoor was identical to that of article of Charge No.1. The second ground taken by him was that the departmental charge-sheet, which has been served upon him, had been prepared on the basis of a vigilance report whereby those who carried out the vigilance investigation were junior in rank to the petitioner which was impermissible.

Counsel for the respondent submitted that the witnesses and the charge in the CBI charge-sheet were not identical to that of Article 1 in the charge-sheet initiating departmental enquiry.

The Court referred to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Capt. M. Paul Anthony v. Bharat Gold Mines Ltd., (1999) 3 SCC 679 wherein it was held that departmental proceedings and proceedings in a criminal case can proceed simultaneously as there is no bar. It also held that if the departmental proceedings and the criminal case are based on identical and similar set of facts and the charge in criminal case against a delinquent employee is of a grave nature, which involves complicated questions of law and fact, it is desirable to stay the departmental proceedings till conclusion of the criminal case. It also held that the question whether the nature of the charge in a criminal case is grave involving complicated questions of fact and law, will depend upon the nature of the offence, the nature of the case against the employee, based upon evidence and material collected against him during investigation or as reflected in the charge-sheet.

The Court noted that in the instant case charge against the petitioner is under section 120-B read with section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The offence under section 7 is far more complexed in nature than the offences pointed out in the orders of the co-ordinate Benches, which refused to stay the proceedings of the departmental enquiry during the pendency of the criminal trial. The Court was of the view that under such circumstances law laid down in Capt. M. Paul Anthony will squarely apply in the facts and circumstances of this case and, therefore, the department was prohibited from proceedings against the petitioner as far as Article-1 of the departmental charge-sheet is concerned. The department, however, is at liberty to proceed with Article No.2 of the chargesheet which had no relevance, commonality or intended purpose to allegations in the charge sheet against the petitioner before the court trying the criminal case.[Harish Chandra Hinunia v. FCI, Writ Petition No. 453 of 2022, decided on 07-02-2022]

For the petitioner: Mr Sanjay Agrawal

For the respondent: Mr Mukesh Kumar Agrawal

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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