Gauhati High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court:In a case relating to suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the police atrocities, which took place at Paltan Bazar, Guwahati City on 17.03.2022, the division bench of R.M. Chhaya, CJ. Soumitra Saikia, J. has observed that Police may have the authority to control the traffic but the same cannot be handled as a tool to violate the fundamental rights of the citizen. Further, the steps taken by the authorities against the erring police personnel do not end the agony of the citizens at large, and if there is any breach of traffic rules, the police personnel could have taken an action in accordance with law instead of using force on the innocent citizens and issued certain directions to the State authorities.

In this case, the victim was riding a two-wheeler along with his wife and his three-year-old child at Paltan Bazaar, Guwahati. On an allegation of a minor traffic violation, the Police Constable on duty assaulted him and a heated argument took place leading to a brawl. Such action of the constable involved in the incident was captured on camera and had also gone viral on social media. Moreover, a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against the bike rider for alleged offences under Sections 294, 341, 353 and 325 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and also, against the constable under Sections 294, 325, 34 of IPC. The respondent authorities have taken departmental action against the constable and suspended him from service, pending the enquiry.

The Court observed that “we stay in a society where rule of law prevails and, therefore, it is eminently necessary for the respondent authorities to impart appropriate training to their police personnel and make them citizen centric while discharging their duties”. It further noted that the allegations levelled against the victim were without any foundation.

The Court further observed that such an incident occurred because of lack of training in police personnel and viewed that the State authorities should periodically apprise their police personnel and must give practical training to the higher officers. Moreover, the police personnel, who are handling the traffic at traffic junctions, must keep a citizen centric approach instead of using their might. Thus, directed the State authorities:

(i) To impart training to all Police Constables, who are handing traffic in cities, more particularly at all district levels, to remain citizen centric.

(ii) To educate the police personnel about their rights and responsibilities as a public servant.

(iii) To impart appropriate basic knowledge of law by conducting training of police personnel by taking help and guidance of the Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) for the same.

(iv) To constitute a committee for the same also consisting of the Member Secretary, Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) in order to avoid any such similar incident in future.

[XXX v. State of Assam, 2022 SCC OnLine Gau 1270, decided on 05.09.2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Senior Advocate U.K. Nair, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Advocate S.S. Hazarika;

Government Advocate R.K. Borah, Advocate, for the Respondents.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., affirmed impugned judgment of the Gauhati High Court whereby the High Court had reversed the findings of the Single judge who had interfered with the order of disciplinary authority and remanded the matter for re-consideration.

The Court held that punishment/penalty to be imposed on a particular employee depends upon various factors, like the position of the employee in the department, role attributed to him and the nature of allegations against him. The Court opined,

“…merely because one of the employees was inflicted with a lesser punishment cannot be a ground to hold the punishment imposed on another employee as disproportionate, if in case of another employee higher punishment is warranted and inflicted by the disciplinary authority after due application of mind.”

Facts

The petitioner-appellant was serving as a Head Constable (Ministerial) in Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) when he was charged with violation of good order and discipline under Section 43 of the Shashastra Seema Bal Act, 2007, for having entered the Mahila Barrack of the Battalion at around 00:15 hours. Resultantly, the petitioner-appellant was charged for compromising the security of the occupants of the Mahila Barrack. The Summary Force Court (SFC) found him guilty of the charges and initially ordered for his dismissal but subsequently, converted the pentaly to ‘removal from service’.

The Single Judge interfered with the order of punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority of ‘removal from service’ solely on the ground that female constable, Rupasi Barman, who allowed the entry of the delinquent during her sentry duty, was inflicted a lesser penalty – forfeiture of two years seniority in the rank of constable and also forfeiture of two years’ service for the purpose of promotion only. Whereas the petitioner-appellant was inflicted the punishment of ‘removal from service’, which was disproportionate.

Analysis and Findings  

The Court noted that the petitioner-appellant was imposed the penalty of ‘removal from service’ after following the procedure prescribed under the SSB Rules. Therefore, opining that the nature of allegations against the petitioner-appellant was grave in nature, the Court remarked,

“He entered the Mahila Barrack in the midnight at around 00:15 hours, may be to meet his alleged friend Rupasi Barman, but such an indisciplined conduct leading to compromising the security of the occupants of the Mahila Barrack cannot be tolerated.”

Relying on the decision in Union of India v. Diler Singh, (2016) 13 SCC 71, the Court held that a member of the disciplined force is expected to follow the rules, have control over his mind and passion, guard his instincts and feelings and not allow his feelings to fly in a fancy. Observing that the nature of misconduct proved against the petitioner-appellant was unpardonable, the Court opined that when the disciplinary authority considered it appropriate to punish him with the penalty of ‘removal from service’, which was confirmed by the appellate authority, thereafter it was not open for the Single Judge to interfere with the order of punishment. The Court noted,

“The misconduct committed by the delinquent official, being a male Head Constable cannot be equated with the misconduct committed by the female constable.”

Conclusion

In the backdrop of above, the Court opined,

“The misconduct of entering the Mahila Barrack of the Battalion in the midnight is more serious when committed by a male Head Constable. Therefore, the learned Single Judge committed a grave error in comparing the case of female constable with that of the appellant – delinquent, male Head Constable.”

Hence, the appeal was dismissed and the order of the Division Bench of the High Court was upheld.

[Anil Kumar Upadhyay v. Director General, SSB, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 478, decided on 20-04-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice M.R. Shah


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner-appellant: Ankita Patnaik, Advocate

For the Respondent: Vaishali Verma, Advocate


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Hot Off The PressNews

The IBBI Disciplinary Committee has issued an ex-parte interim order due to the urgency of the matter and suspended the registration of Mr Subrata Monindranath Maity as an Insolvency Professional.

Read the directions issued by IBBI, here: Interim Order


Background

The Central Bureau of Investigation had arrested Subrata Monindranath Maity regarding the demand for the undue advantage of Rs 20,00,000/-.

On perusal of the FIR against the Insolvency Professional, it was observed that the allegations were serious in nature leading to contravention of multiple provisions of the Code including Section 208(2)(a) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code,2016 (the Code) read with regulations 7(2)(a), 7(2)(b), 7(2)(h) and 7(2)(i) of the IBBI (Insolvency Professionals) Regulations, 2016 and clauses 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 12, 14, 17, 24 and 28 of the Code of Conduct specified thereunder.

The above-said raised serious questions about him being ‘fit and proper’ to continue as an IP.

His arrest is bound to hamper the ongoing processes being handled by him, and therefore would jeopardise the interest of concerned stakeholders.


Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of India

[Notification No. IBBI/DC/95(Interim)/2022]

[Interm Order dt. 9-5-2022]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of Ajay Rastogi* and Abhay S. Oka, JJ., held that non-supply of demanded documents is not sufficient to challenge a disciplinary inquiry unless it is showed what prejudice has been caused due to non-supply.

Twelve Lakhs Stolen from UCO Bank

The respondent delinquent was an Assistant Manager at UCO Bank when the 10/11-11-1999 when the incident of theft was reported. The respondent being one of the joint custodian of cash was responsible for safety of keys of cash/strong room and failed to take all precautionary steps as being indicated in the guidelines of the Bank and the alleged negligence resulted into theft/loss of cash from the cash safe amounting to 12 lakhs rupees.

Disciplinary Inquiry and Suspension

After affording opportunity of hearing and due compliance of principles of natural justice, the inquiry officer found the respondent guilty.  The disciplinary authority concurred with the findings of the Inquiry Officer and after due compliance of principles of natural justice, inflicted the penalty of dismissal from service with disqualification for future employment. In appeal, the appellate authority modified exonerated the respondent from charges 2 and 5 and modified the decision to the following affect, that the respondent be compulsorily retired, the Basic Pay be reduced by two stages in the time scale of pay for a period of 4 (four) years.

Impugned Judgment

The Single Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court concluded that the conclusion that Mr. Vinod Kumar Khanna was the Branch Manager on the date when the incident had occurred and the joint responsibility was of the Branch Manager and the Assistant Manager (Cash). Since the present respondent delinquent was the Assistant Manager, he could not be held to be responsible for.

Findings and Conclusion

The Bench Opined that factual error was committed by the High Court in passing the impugned judgment as Mr. Vinod Kumar Khanna  was also served with the chargesheet and he too faced departmental inquiry but the allegation against him was that despite being fully aware that the respondent delinquent was the custodian of cash he did not take appropriate steps against the staff who was reportedly keeping overnight safety of the keys of the chest in the Branch itself which was a gross negligence and for his supervisory negligence.

The Bench noted that power of judicial review in the matters of disciplinary actions is well circumscribed by limits of correcting errors of law or procedural errors leading to manifest injustice or violation of principles of natural justice and it is not akin to adjudication of the case on merits as an appellate authority. Therefore, the Bench opined that neither the Single Judge nor the Division Bench of the High Court had taken pains to look into the finding which was recorded by the inquiry officer and appreciated thereafter by the disciplinary/appellate authority.

Therefore, the Bench held that the finding recorded by the High Court was unsustainable and not supported with the report of inquiry available on record. Rejecting the contention of the respondent that the inquiry officer was biased and that caused prejudice to him, the Bench held that merely making allegation of biasness is not sufficient unless supported by the material either during the course of inquiry or before the disciplinary/appellate authority. With regard to the contention that the record demanded by the respondent was not made available to him, the Bench noted that the all the records except the one confidential in nature (which the respondent was permitted to inspect) were made available to the respondent. Further, respondent failed to show what prejudice was caused to him due to non-supply of the document demanded.

In the light of the above, the Bench held that the High Court had exceeded in its jurisdiction while interfering with the disciplinary proceedings and being unsustainable the impugned judgment was set aside.

[UCO Bank v. Krishna Kumar Bhardwaj, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 201, decided on 18-02-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Ajay Rastogi


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Sharad Kumar Sharma, J. disposed of a writ petition filed against the order of Cooperative Election Tribunal, resulting in the election of the two Cooperative Society blocks of Kotabagh and Ramnagar, which was supposed to be held for the Primary Dugdh Cooperative Society, had been directed to be kept in abeyance till the conclusion of enquiry which was directed to be conducted by the Joint Director, Dairy.

The Petitioners, the Directors and Vice Chairman of Nainital Dugdh Utpadak Sehkari Sangh, submitted that under the normal election laws, once the election programme has been notified and the constituencies have been determined, the candidature of the probable candidates has already been determined, the list of voters is finalized after inviting objections. In that eventuality, the impugned order of 31-08-2021, suspending the election of Dugdh Utpadak Sehkari Samiti particularly for Block Ramnagar and Kotabagh, would be in violation of Rule 16 and 17 of the Rules of 2018, which contemplates and provides for specific inevitable circumstances under which the election programme after being notified could be suspended. They further contended that the suspension of the election, had been maliciously made in order to make the petitioners ineligible to contest the election of the Cooperative Societies.

The Court held that “suspension of election cannot be done in a routine manner, because it infringes and runs contrary to the very democratic set up of augmenting the Cooperative activities for the benefit of public at large and the members attached to it”. Furthermore, the Court directed Respondent to appoint an alternative body and an election officer too in accordance with Rules of 2004, to be read with the Rules of 2018 and conduct the election by appointment of new Election Officer. Court didn’t found malice attached in the public complaint submitted against the Respondent. Subsequently, the petition was dismissed.[Virendra Singh Mehra v. Director/Registrar, Dairy Development, 2022 SCC OnLine Utt 84, decided on 17-02-2022]


Appearances by:

Mr Sandeep Tiwari, Advocate for the petitioners.

Mr C.S. Rawat, Chief Standing Counsel for the State of Uttarakhand/respondent 1, 3 & 4. Mr Sadeep Kothari, Advocate for respondent 2.


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Addressing a case of dismissal of a Bank clerk for breaching the trust of a widowed sister-in-law as well as of the bank, the Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and M.M. Sundresh, JJ., held that it was hardly a case for interference either on law or on moral grounds. The Court opined,

“The High Court had applied the test of criminal proceedings to departmental proceedings while traversing the path of requirement of a hand writing expert to be called for the said purpose.”

Backdrop

The dispute in the instant case was with regard to departmental proceedings made by the Indian Overseas Bank against the respondent employee and declaring him guilty on various counts inter alia including breach of duty as a custodian of public money and dishonesty, fraud or manipulation of documents.

The respondent was employed with the appellant-Bank as a clerk cum-cashier. It was on a complaint from the sister-in-law of the respondent, Smt. Meera Srivastava, complainant herein, that the respondent had opened and operated a savings account in the joint name of the respondent and his sister-in-law by forging her signatures, and encashed a demand draft of Rs. 20,000 which was issued to her by Kalyan Nigam Ltd., employer of her deceased husband, who passed away in a road accident, that the departmental proceedings were initiated against the respondent and he was placed under suspension and later on, on charges being proved against him he was dismissed from service.

Award by the Industrial Tribunal

The Industrial Tribunal decided the preliminary issue against the Bank as the Management/Bank had failed to produce original documents and most photocopies of the relevant pages were not readable. It was, thus, concluded that there was violation of the principles of natural justice. However, the Tribunal allowed the Bank to prove the charges against the respondent by adducing evidence. Consequently, the Tribunal opined that the Bank/Management had been successful in establishing all the charges against the respondent. On the issue of quantum of punishment also it was held that the same was commensurate to the charges levelled and proved against the respondent.

Findings of the High Court

However, by the impugned judgment the High Court had held that when the earlier departmental proceedings were found to be violative of the principles of natural justice then no findings vis-a-vis charges 1, 2, 3, 6 & 7 should have been arrived at, based on the plea that the Bank led evidence only in respect of charges 4 & 5. In respect of charges 4 & 5 it was opined that on the request of the respondent the signatures of the complainant should have been got compared with her admitted signatures by an expert and then only a correct conclusion could have been arrived at whether the signatures on the account opening form or the withdrawal form had been forged by the respondent or not and the Tribunal should have refrained from acting like an expert. The High Court held that degree of investigation should have been a standard which is resorted to by a criminal court.

Factual Analysis

Noticeably, while observing the admitted signatures in comparison with the signatures in question from a banker’s eye, the inquiry officer had opined that it could be said that there was absence of similarity. The stand of the complainant was that even the account was opened fraudulently without her ever visiting the bank. Considering that in her cross-examination it was never put to the complainant that she had gone to the Bank to open the account and the account opening form bears her signatures nor was it put to her that she had gone to the Bank to withdraw the amounts of Rs.7,000 and Rs.13,000, the Bench opined,

“We are of the view that the High Court has fallen into an error in coming to the conclusion in the impugned judgment and directing, once again, the matter to be remitted to the Industrial Tribunal to now seek opinion of a hand writing expert.”

The Bench emphasised that at the threshold that there are certain inherent legal limitations to the scrutiny of an award of a Tribunal by the High Court while exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. Referring to GE Power India Ltd. v. A. Aziz, 2020 SCC Online SC 782, the Bench stated, “if there is no jurisdictional error or violation of natural justice or error of law apparent on the face of the record, there is no occasion for the High Court to get into the merits of the controversy as an appellate court.” That too, on the aspect of an opinion formed in respect of two sets of signatures where the inquiry was held by an officer of the bank who came to an opinion on a bare comparison of the signatures that there was a difference in the same.

Further, the Inquiry Officer had opined while observing the admitted signatures in comparison with the signatures in question, it was not just the ipse dixit of the Inquiry Officer but was based on the deposition of the complainant. She unfortunately lost her husband in an accident. Observing the sorry state of situation, the Bench remarked,

“She unfortunately lost her husband in an accident. The two drafts were received from his employer and those drafts were kept in custody with the respondent, possibly because he was a banker and the elder brother of her deceased husband. Instead of extending the benefits of the same to her, the respondent went on a path of opening an account jointly in his and his sister-in-law’s name, presenting the drafts, and drawing the amounts with appropriation of the same to himself.”

Findings and Conclusion

Referring to a recent judgment in Ashoo Surendranath Tewari v. CBI, (2020) 9 SCC 636, where it had been observed that the standard of proof in departmental proceedings, being based on preponderance of probability, is somewhat lower than the standard of proof in criminal proceedings where the case has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, the Bench opined that the evidence was enough to implicate the respondent and  the High Court had applied the test of criminal proceedings to departmental proceedings while traversing the path of requirement of a hand writing expert to be called for the said purpose.

With regard to opinion of the High Court that only charges 4 & 5 could really have been gone into by the Industrial Tribunal, which required further evidence of a hand writing expert and that no evidence was led for other charges, the Bench held that view was neither the correct approach nor borne out of the record as, the Bench said,

“Evidence was led. Even earlier, the material in respect of other charges emanates from the record of the bank which shows the conduct of the respondent which are apparent from the manner of framing of the charges themselves and the material led in support thereof. Thus, even the aspect of the other charges could not have been brushed aside in the manner it purports to. “

In the light of above the Bench held that the respondent, a clerk-cum-cashier which was a post of confidence had breached that confidence along with the trust of a widowed sister-in-law, making it hardly a case for interference either on law or on moral grounds. Accordingly, the punishment imposed on the respondent was held to be appropriate as the conduct established of him did not entitle him to continue in service. The impugned judgment was set aside and the challenge to the award of the Industrial Tribunal was repelled.

[Indian Overseas Bank v. Om Prakash Lal Srivastava, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 62, decided on 19-01-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 


Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a big relief to the 12 BJP MLAs who were suspended by the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, by resolution dated 05.07.2021, for a period of 1 year due to “indisciplined and unbecoming behavior resulting in maligning the dignity of the House”, the 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar*, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, JJ has held that the said resolution is unconstitutional, grossly illegal and irrational to the extent of period of suspension beyond the remainder of the concerned (ongoing) Session.

The bench observed,

“Only a graded approach is the essence of a rational and logical approach; and only such action of the Legislature which is necessary for orderly conduct of its scheduled business of the ongoing Session can be regarded as rational approach. Suspension beyond the Session would be bordering on punishing not only the member concerned, but also inevitably impact the legitimate rights of the constituency from where the member had been elected.”

Resultantly, the 12 MLAs are entitled for all consequential benefits of being members of the Legislative Assembly, on and after the expiry of the period of the remainder of the concerned Session in July 2021.

Controversy

The suspended MLAs belong to BJP, the principal Opposition Party in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. The Ruling Party is a coalition between the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) christened as “Maha Vikas Aghadi”.

The proceedings of the House on 5.7.2021witnessed heated exchanges between the members of the Opposition Party and the Ruling Party due to an impression formed by the former that the business of the House was being conducted   in unilateral manner, with conscious and engineered effort to suppress voice of the Opposition Party. Even the Leader of Opposition was denied an opportunity to speak on a crucial motion under consideration. At the relevant time, the House was presided over by the Chairman nominated under Rule 8 of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules, who according to the petitioners, denied opportunity to the Opposition Party to speak including to the Leader of Opposition.

As a result, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs moved a resolution for initiating action against 12 MLAs of the BJP for having committed contempt of the House. That motion was tabled in the House and the Chairman was called upon to do the needful.  The Chairman then called upon the House to pass the said resolution. The House in turn passed that resolution by majority votes after it was put to vote at 14:40 hours on 5.7.2021. The resolution read,

“Due to the indisciplined and unbecoming behavior resulting   in maligning the dignity of the House, this House resolves to suspend the membership of Sarvashree Dr. Sanjay Kute, Adv. Ashish Shelar, Sarvashree Abhimanyu Pawar, Girish Mahajan, Atul Bhatkhalkar, Adv. Parag Alvani, Sarvashree Harish Pimple, Ram Satpute, Jaikumar Rawal, Yogesh Sagar, Narayan Kuche, Kirtikumar @ Bunty Bhangdia for a period of one year. Similarly, during the period of suspension they may be restrained from entering into the premises of Vidhan Bhawan at Mumbai and Nagpur.”

One-year suspension worse than “expulsion”, “disqualification” or “resignation”

It was observed that one-year suspension is worse than “expulsion”, “disqualification” or “resignation” — insofar as the right of the constituency to be represented before the House/Assembly is concerned. Long suspension is bound to affect the rights harsher than expulsion wherein a mid-term election is held within the specified time in terms of Section 151A of the 1951 Act, not later than six months. Thus, the impugned resolution is unreasonable, irrational, and arbitrary and liable to be set aside.

The graded (rational and objective standard) approach predicated in Rule 53 of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules is the benchmark to be observed by the Speaker to enable him to ensure smooth working of the House, without any obstruction or impediment and for keeping the recalcitrant member away from the House for a period maximum upto the remainder of the entire Session. Longer or excessive deprival would not only be regarded as irrational, but closer to or bordering on perversity.  Resultantly, such an action would be violative of procedure established by law and also manifestly arbitrary, grossly irrational and illegal and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

Such suspension would  also violative of basic democratic values owing to unessential deprivation of the member concerned and more importantly, the constituency would remain unrepresented in the Assembly. It would also impact the democratic setup as a whole by permitting the thin majority   Government (coalition Government) of the day to manipulate the numbers of the Opposition Party in the House in an undemocratic manner. Not only that, the Opposition will not be able to effectively   participate in the discussion/debate in the House owing to the constant fear of its members being suspended for longer period.  There would be no purposeful or meaningful debates but one in terrorem and as per the whims of the majority.   That would not be healthy for the democracy as a whole.

“Indeed, the constituency cannot have any right to be represented by a disqualified or expelled member. However, their representative cannot be kept away from the House in the guise of suspension beyond the necessary (rational) period linked to the ongoing Assembly Session, including the timeline referred to in Article 190(4) of the Constitution and Section 151A of the 1951 Act.”

Long or excessive suspension, even though is not a case of disqualification incurred by the member, it would entail in undue deprivation of the constituency to be represented in the House by their duly elected   representative. It is, therefore, a drastic measure trenching upon imposing penalty more than disciplinary or corrective measure, beyond the limited inherent powers of the House.

[Ashish Shelar v. Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 105, decided on 28.01.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice AM Khanwilkar


Counsels

For petitioners – Senior Advocates: Mahesh Jethmalani, Mukul Rohatgi, Neeraj Kishan Kaul and Siddharth Bhatnagar. Advocate on Record: Abhikalp Pratap Singh

For State –  Senior Advocate C. Aryama Sundaram


Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Image Courtesy: Nagpur Today 

Jharkhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Shree Chandrashekhar, J. held that a charged employee has no unfettered right to ask for any document on which the department does not intend to place reliance.

The petitioner was an ex Block Co-operative Development Officer who was in-charge of Kuru LAMPS Project as Member Secretary. A departmental proceeding was initiated against him and he was placed under suspension later on.

The memorandum of charges was served upon him contained the following charges:

  1. The delinquent employee defalcated Rs. 12,58,048 in different development projects within Kuru Blocks.
  2. The delinquent employee defalcated Rs. 77,000 from the amount deposited in the recurring deposit scheme under Kuru LAMPS.

A supplementary charge-memo was also served upon the petitioner on an allegation that he defalcated Rs.11,22,125 and destroyed relevant records with a view to cause disappearance of the evidence. In the departmental proceeding, the petitioner asked for some records which were not provided to him and presumably for that reason he did not co-operate in the departmental proceeding. Accordingly, as punishment it was directed that the petitioner should not be entitled for any payment except subsistence allowance during the period of suspension and Rs. 24,57,173 was to be recovered from his post-retiral dues along with deduction of his 10% pension.

The petitioner had assailed the departmental action on the two grounds, namely; the departmental proceeding was conducted in complete breach of the rules of natural justice inasmuch as neither a show-cause notice was issued nor a copy of the inquiry report was furnished to him, and that the right of appeal under Jharkhand Pension Rules had been taken away because the punishment order was approved by the Secretary, Co-operative Department.

Rejecting the second contention, the Bench observed that Rule 43 of the Jharkhand Pension Rules discloses that the appellate authority under Rule 43 is the State Government and not the departmental secretary. Further, the Bench opined that the proceeding was not conducted against the petitioner in violation of the principles of natural justice as the materials on record clearly indicated that the petitioner was afforded opportunity to defend himself but on a specious plea that he was not provided some documents so as to prepare his defence he did not participate in the departmental proceeding.

Noticing that the petitioner had not shown that the documents sought by him were so important that in absence of the same he could not have effectively defended himself, the Bench stated that a charged employee has no unfettered right to ask for any document on which the department does not intend to place reliance–in many cases the procedure adopted by the department is that the charge officer is permitted to inspect the records.

Citing the decision in U.P. State Textile Corpn. Ltd. v. P.C. Chaturvedi, (2005) 8 SCC 211, wherein the Supreme Court had observed that in absence of showing how the alleged non-supply of documents caused prejudice to workman, the same cannot by itself vitiate the enquiry, the Bench stated that in a departmental proceeding in which the delinquent employee refused to co-operate, it was lawful for the departmental authority to proceed in the matter and take a final decision.

Consequently, in the view that the charges framed against the petitioner were very serious, the Bench held that the order of punishment was not outrageous or disproportionate to the charges framed and found proved against the petitioner. Further stating that the quantum of punishment is within the exclusive domain of the departmental authority and the writ Court would not interfere with the same, the Bench dismissed the instant petition. [Bivash Chandra Thakur v. State of Jharkhand, 2021 SCC OnLine Jhar 834, decided on 23-12-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: Abhay Kumar Mishra, Advocate

For the Respondents: Om Prakash Tiwari, GP-III

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ., Surya Kant* and Hima Kohli, JJ., held that the Bank is not the trustee of the money that a customer deposits in a bank and the same is not held by the former on trust for him. The money so deposited becomes a part of the banker’s funds who is under a contractual obligation to pay the sum deposited by a customer to him on demand with the agreed rate of interest. Such a relationship between the customer and the Bank is one of a creditor and a debtor.

Background

The prosecution case was that the Appellant-N. Raghavender, Branch Manager of Sri Rama Grameena Bank along with accused 2 abused their respective position in the Bank and conspired with accused 3-Treasurer of the Nishita Educational Academy and brother-in-law of Appellant, by allowing withdrawal of amounts up to Rs. 10,00,000 from the account of the Academy in spite of availability of requisite funds for such withdrawal.

The prosecution contested that the Appellant, in his capacity as a Branch Manager, issued three loose-leaf cheques and despite withdrawal of the said amount, the debit was deliberately not entered into the ledger book. The endorsement on the third cheque showed the payment in favour of the accused 3; however, the signature on the cheque did not tally with that of accused 3. The Appellant was further accused of prematurely closing two FDRs for a sum of Rs. 10,00,000 and 4,00,000 respectively, and stood in the name of one B. Satyajit Reddy. The case was referred to CBI for offences under Sections 409, 477(A), and 120B Penal Code, 1860 and Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(c) & (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The Courts below acquitted all the accused of offences under Section 120B IPC. Further accused 2 and accused 3 were acquitted of all the other charges, while the appellant was held guilty and was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment along with various fines.

Observation and Analysis

A. Fraudulent and unlawful withdrawal of Rs. 10 Lakhs from Account No. 282 in the year 1994

Noticeably, the record though clearly revealed that issuance of a loose cheque was a departure from the standard operating procedure followed at the Bank, but no evidence had been led that it was an ‘illegal practice’ as in certain contingencies the Bank could issue loose cheques also. Therefore, the Bench stated,

“Since no explicit prohibition on issuing of loose cheques has been proved, the mere fact that the Appellant issued those loose cheques, is not sufficient to conclude that he acted unlawfully or committed a ‘criminal misconduct’.”

The case of the Prosecution rested heavily on the premise that the three cheques in question were passed even though there weren’t adequate funds in account however, the Auditor and the accountant had testified about there being sufficient funds in account throughout which was corroborate the Current Account Ledger for account in question. Therefore, the Bench held that the Bank did not suffer any loss.

With respect to the charge of ‘deceit’, the depositions of the Auditor and Accountant unveiled that though the relevant entries were missing in the Current Account Ledger, they did find a mention in the Officer’s Cash Scroll and the Cashier Payment Register. Noticing the non-production of these relevant ledgers by the Bank, the Bench was of the view that,

“Since the direct and relevant evidence has been withheld, the benefit of doubt for such failure ought to be accorded to the Appellant.”

Similarly, in order to substantiate the charge under Section 477-A IPC, the primary contention of the Prosecution was that despite passing the three cheques, the Appellant did not make the relevant entries into the Current Account Ledger of the account in other to conceal the withdrawals as there were insufficient funds in the account of the Academy. Rejecting that argument, the Bench noted that the expression ‘intent to defraud’ as given under Section of 477-A, contains two elements, deceit and injury. So far as the second element was concerned, no financial injury was caused to the Bank.

B. Unauthorised premature encashment of the two FDRs belonging to B. Satyajit Reddy

The allegation of premature withdrawal was also accompanied by the averment that despite the premature withdrawal, the interests relating to the two FDRs continued to be deposited into savings account of one B. Satyajit Reddy. Notably, the interest amount was transferred from the joint account of the Appellant and his wife which according to the prosecution was to ‘deceive’ the FDR holder into believing that the FDRs were still alive.

Observing that misappropriation with this dishonest intention is one of the most important ingredients of proof of ‘criminal breach of trust’, the Bench opined that relationship between the customer and the Bank is one of a creditor and a debtor and not of a trustee. Further, relying on the following grounds the Bench stated that there was no fraudulent intention as  no financial loss was caused to B. Satyajit Reddy, since:

  • Satyajit Reddy had made no complaint alleging any loss to him;
  • His written requests dated 22.02.1995 and 24.2.1995 for premature encashment of his FDRs and to deposit the amount in the account of the Academy had gone unrebutted;
  • The payment of interest on those FDRs even after pre-mature closure was made by the Appellant from his personal account and no public fund had been divested for such payment;
  • Satyajit Reddy might or might not have got undue monetary gain but definitely he suffered no loss in any manner.

Findings and Conclusion

In the backdrop of above, the Bench opined that in the absence of any reliable evidence that could unfold a prior meeting of minds, the High Court erred in holding that Appellant and other accused orchestrated the transactions in question to extend an undue benefit to Accused 3. Having held so, the Bench added that the appellant acted brazenly contrary to the norms and internal instructions of the Bank.

“Although he was clever enough to not trespass into the prohibited area(s) of Sections 409, 420 and 477-A IPC, he ran the risk of causing financial loss to the Bank.”

Therefore, the Bench held that the actions of the appellant constituted gross departmental misconduct and were unbecoming of a senior Bank Officer and hence, his dismissal from service of the Bank was fully legitimised and the punishment so awarded, was proportionate to the proven misconduct. The Bench, though acquitted the appellant of all the charges, it stated that acquittal would not entitle him for reinstatement. [N. Raghavender v. State of A.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1232, decided on 13-12-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: Sidharth Luthra, Senior Counsel

For CBI: Jayant K. Sud, Additional Solicitor General


*Judgment by: Justice Surya Kant

Armed Forces Tribunal
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal: The Division Bench of Justice Umesh Chandra Srivastava and Vice Admiral Abhay Raghunath Karve, Member (A) slammed the Union of India opining that gross injustice done to the applicant was a case of mind set and adhering to old junk system. Opining that it requires interference by administration of justice so that one has to obey and respect law, the Bench remarked,

“It is a matter of great surprise that 23 years have elapsed but order of High Court Allahabad has not yet been complied with and respondents are stating that compliance of order is in process.”

Brief facts of the case were that the applicant’s husband was enrolled in the army on 15-12-1971 and dismissed from service on 22-11-1986, after completing about 14 years and 11 months of service. Noticeably, on 03-02-1985 the husband of the applicant had written a to Defence Secretary, Chief of Army Staff and GOC-in C, Southern Command containing allegation against his Squadron Commander. The matter was investigated and disciplinary action was taken against her husband for direct writing to superior officers.

The applicant’s husband was tried by District Court Martial (DCM) for an offence under Army Act Section 56 (a); i.e. making a false accusation. Consequently, he was punished and was dismissed from service.

The husband of the applicant preferred appeal before the Allahabad High Court which was allowed His appeal was allowed vide order dated 27.07.1998 and order of punishment awarded by DCM was quashed and respondents were directed to reinstate husband of the applicant in service and treat him in continuous service with all service benefits including increment and promotion as per relevant rules.

The grievance of the applicant was that instead of complying with the decision of the High Court, the respondents had filed an appeal on 18-11-1998 against the judgment which was dismissed on 08-07-2010. During pendency of the appeal, husband of the applicant died on 31-01-2002. The applicant contended that though there was no any stay against the order of High Court, the same was not complied with.

Noticing that the High Court had passed detailed order in favour of the husband of the applicant granting all service benefits including promotion and pay and allowance and that the appeal against the order was dismissed in the year 2010, the Bench opined that the respondents should have immediately reinstate the husband of the applicant in service and grant his dues.

The public interest demands that administration must abide by the promises held out to citizens. It is totally immoral to go back from the promises held out by the mighty state to the detriment of a small people.

Considering that the husband of the applicant died during pendency of the matter and applicant suffered mental pain and agony for more than 34 years and had to enter in unnecessarily litigation even after her case was decided by the High Court, the Bench imposed exemplary cost of Rs. 75,000 on the respondents for not implementing the order of the High Court for about 23 years.

Accordingly, the respondents were directed to grant all service benefits as applicable to the husband of the applicant in terms of order of the High Court Allahabad along with arrears and further grant family pension to the applicant from the next date of death of her husband within four months. Interest at the rate of 8% was also awarded on the amount accrued from due date till the date of actual payment. [Gulkandi Devi v. Union of India, Original Application No. 605 of 2018, decided on 13-10-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance by:

For the Applicant: Advocate Birendra Prasad Singh

For Union of India: Central Govt. Counsel RC Shukla

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Administrative Tribunal: The Division Bench of Justice R.N. Singh and A. K. Bishnoi, Member (A), settled a case of family pension and retirement dues in favour of widow of the deceased ASI who had committed suicide while in judicial custody. The Bench held,

“When subjective satisfaction of dispensing with the inquiry is not supported by any independent material, dispensing with holding the inquiry would be illegal and if a preliminary inquiry could be conducted, there may not be any reason as to why formal departmental inquiry could not have been initiated against the delinquent.”

The applicant – widow of deceased Satbir Singh, ASI (Exe.) in Delhi Police, had challenged the impugned order whereby the deceased was dismissed from service by the respondents without conducting the regular departmental inquiry.

The deceased was implicated in case under Sections 302 of Penal Code, 1860 read with Sections 25/54/59 of Arms Act, pursuant to which he was placed under suspension w.e.f. 21-01-2019. A preliminary inquiry was conducted by the respondents and taking into account the allegations levelled against the deceased the respondents had dismissed him from service by dispensing with the departmental inquiry by invoking the provisions of Article 311 (2) (b) of the Constitution. Consequently, the deceased committed suicide while in judicial custody.

The applicant contended that though the respondents had heavily relied upon the report of the preliminary inquiry as well as the allegations levelled against the her husband, no copy of the said report was ever served to the deceased and so her husband was deprived of an opportunity to refute the said report, findings in the said preliminary inquiry report and/or the allegations levelled against him in the said FIR, therefore, the impugned order was illegal, bad in the eyes of law and not sustainable.

The Bench noticed that the deceased had 37 years of unblemished service under the respondents and was to retire on attaining the age of superannuation on 31-05-2021. Moreover, keeping in view the facts noted hereinabove, he committed suicide while in judicial custody on 08-06-2019 and whatever the applicant would have got as retirement/terminal benefits had also been taken away in view of the orders passed by the respondents.

Hence, the application was allowed and the impugned orders were set aside. The respondents were directed to grant and release death-cum-retirement dues, viz., family pension, DCRG, leave encashment etc. with all consequential benefits family pension, arrears of family pension and interest on family pension, gratuity, etc. [Santra Devi v. GNCT of Delhi, O.A. No.3170 of 2019, decided on 07-10-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 


Appearance by:

For the Applicant: Advocate Sourabh Ahuja

For the GNCT of Delhi: Advocate Sameer Sharma

Jharkhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, J. while holding the reason assigned by the Director-General of Police (DGP) while rejecting the claim of the petitioner to review the order of his suspension bad in law, directed the DGP to reconsider the matter.

The petitioner had preferred this writ petition for quashing the order of the Director-General of Police, Government of Jharkhand, whereby, the revision application preferred against the order passed by the Inspector General of Police had been affirmed.

The petitioner, a Sub-Inspector was alleged to have shot his wife dead and was charged with offences under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 27 of the Arms Act, 1959. Pursuant to which the petitioner was suspended from service and a show cause notice was issued. Meanwhile, the Trial Court convicted and sentenced the petitioner to undergo life imprisonment in the said case and accordingly, the inquiry report was submitted in the departmental proceeding.

The petitioner assailed the impugned order on the ground that in the departmental proceeding, inquiry report was submitted only on the ground that the petitioner had been convicted by the Trial Court and without adducing any evidence in the departmental proceeding, the inquiry report was submitted without giving him any opportunity, hence, the same was against the principle of natural justice. Moreover, the petitioner was acquitted by the High Court in an appeal against the judgment of the Trial Court.

On the contrary, the State argued that the departmental proceeding and criminal proceeding are two different subjects and parameters of both the proceedings are different. Merely on the ground that the petitioner had been acquitted in the criminal case by the High Court, the case of the petitioner could not be considered for reinstatement.

Noticeably, when the inquiry report was submitted in the departmental proceeding, the petitioner was being treated in Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry & Allied Sciences (RINPAS), for mental illness (Schizophrenia), which was why reply to the show-cause had not been received. Considering the stand taken by the State that the Director General of Police had rejected the revision application of the petitioner after acquittal by the High Court, on the ground that the High Court had not directed for reinstatement of the petitioner in service while acquitting the petitioner, the Bench stated that,

“It is well known that the High Court while acquitting the petitioner has decided the criminal case only and the authority concerned has to consider the reinstatement of the petitioner in service while passing a reasoned order.”

From the inquiry report, it transpired that the petitioner was being treated in RINPAS and the inquiry report had been submitted only taking into consideration that the petitioner had been convicted by the Trial Court. Hence, the Bench held that the reason assigned by the Director General of Police while rejecting the claim of the petitioner did not sound good.

In the light of above, the impugned order was quashed and the matter was remitted to the Director General of Police to consider the case of the petitioner afresh and pass a reasoned order.  [Anil Kumar Singh v. State of Jharkhand, W.P. (S) No. 6342 of 2017, decided on 10-09-2020]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: Mr. Diwakar Upadhyay, Advocate

For the Respondent-State: Mr. Rahul Kamlesh, A.C. to SC.-VI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of R. Subhash Reddy* and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has held that reinstatement with full back wages is not automatic in every case, where termination/dismissal is found to be not in accordance with procedure prescribed under law.

The ruling came in the matter where,

  • A Clerk-cum-Cashier was dismissed by the Allahabad Bank, alleging his involvement in the incident relating to burning of relevant Bank records.
  • The respondent was appointed in the Bank as Clerk–cum– Cashier on 23.09.1985 and he was placed under suspension on 13.02.1989 and dismissed from service vide Order dated 22.08.1991.
  • The Industrial Tribunal–cum–Labour Court found that though there was a strong suspicion, but there was no sufficient evidence to prove his misconduct to dismiss from service. However, on the ground that a case is made out by the management of loss of confidence, ordered payment of compensation of Rs.30,000/- in lieu of reinstatement.
  • The respondent, aggrieved by the award of the Industrial Tribunal–cum–Labour Court, seeking reinstatement with back wages, carried the matter to the High Court wherein it was held that suspicion, however, high may be, can under no circumstances be held a substitute to legal proof. The High Court, hence, directed reinstatement with all consequential benefits.
  • The directions issued by the High Court of Allahabad for reinstatement were stayed by this Court on 23.08.2019. During the pendency of these proceedings, the respondent – workman had attained age of superannuation.

Considering the aforementioned facts and circumstances, the Supreme Court held,

“Though, there was strong suspicion, there was no acceptable evidence on record for dismissal of the workman. However, as the workman has worked only for a period of about six years and he has already attained the age of superannuation, it is a fit case for modification of the relief granted by the High Court.”

Noticing that reinstatement with full back wages is not automatic in every case, where termination / dismissal is found to be not in accordance with procedure prescribed under law, the Court held that in the present case, the ends of justice would be met by awarding lump sum monetary compensation. It, hence, directed payment of lump sum compensation of Rs.15 lakhs to the respondent, within a period of eight weeks, failing which, the respondent will be entitled for interest @ 6% per annum, till payment.

[Allahabad Bank v. Krishan Pal Singh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 751, decided on 20.09.2021]

______________________________________________

Appearances before the Court:

For Bank: Advocate Rajesh Kumar Gautam

For Respondent: Advocate Rakesh Taneja


*Judgment by: Justice R. Subhash Reddy

Know Thy Judge| Justice R. Subhash Reddy

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by PTI, the Single Judge Bench of Mukta Gupta, J. granted anticipatory bail to an Air India Pilot. He was accused of violating the aircraft rules.

The pilot was accused of forgery and evading the breath-analyzer test.

Pilot had refused to go through the breath analyser test in 2017 before taking the flight from Delhi to Bengaluru and he refused the same when he landed due to which he was suspended for a period of 3 years by DGCA.

“The Court had earlier restrained the police from taking coercive steps against Kathpalia, who was removed as the director of operations of Air India last November after failing to clear pre-flight alcohol test, with the government citing “serious nature of the transgression and (his) failure to course-correct.”

[Judgment Awaited]


[Source: PTI]

Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Home Affairs has issued orders to suspend the LoC trade in Jammu & Kashmir w.e.f 19-04-2019. This action has been taken as the Government of India has been receiving reports that the Cross LoC trade routes are being misused by the Pakistan based elements for funneling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency, etc.

It may be recalled that the LoC trade is meant to facilitate the exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir. The trade is allowed through two Trade Facilitation Centres located at Salamabad, Uri, District Baramulla and Chakkan-da-Bagh, District Poonch. The trade takes place four days a week. Trade is based on the Barter system and zero duty basis.

However, reports have been received that the LoC trade is being misused on a very large scale. It has been revealed that the trade has changed its character to mostly third party trade and products from other regions, including foreign countries, are finding their way through this route. Unscrupulous and anti-national elements are using the route as a conduit for Hawala money, drugs and weapons, under the garb of this trade.

During the ongoing investigations of certain cases by NIA, it has been brought out that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organizations involved in fuelling terrorism/separatism. Investigations have further revealed that some individuals, who have crossed over to Pakistan and joined militant organizations have opened trading firms in Pakistan. These trading firms are under the control of militant organizations and are engaged in LoC trade.

After the Pulwama incident, the Government of India has withdrawn the MFN status to Pakistan. Inputs have also been received that in order to evade the consequent higher duty, LoC trade is likely to be misused to a much larger extent.

It has, therefore, been decided by the Government of India to suspend the LoC trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir with immediate effect. Meanwhile, a stricter regulatory & enforcement mechanism is being worked out and will be put in place in consultation with various agencies. The issue of reopening of LoC trade will be revisited thereafter.


[Dated: 18-04-2019]

Ministry of Home Affairs

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: The Division Bench of Surya Kant, CJ and Ajay Mohan Goel, J. disposed of the petition allowing the petitioner to continue in the office of Pradhan of Gram Panchayat subject to certain restrictions.

In the case a complaint was made against the petitioner, alleging huge irregularities in the execution of development works, including misappropriation/embezzlement of funds. Subsequently, the preliminary enquiry report was also released in support of the same which later resulted in the petitioner’s suspension. The appellate authority also declined to interfere in the suspension orders and directed to conclude the inquiry within 6 months. However, the Court allowed the petitioner to continue in the office subject to certain restrictions since it would be preposterous to assume the allegations against him would hold true in the ongoing enquiry.

It cannot be overlooked that due to personal rivalry within the village, there would be unabated complaints against an elected office bearers in whom the majority of resident of the village have expressed their faith. Such an elected person should not be lightly suspended from the office and/or be deprived from performing the duties of elected office merely because there is a complaint against irregularities.

The petition was accordingly disposed of. [Roshan Lal v. State of H.P., 2019 SCC OnLine HP 125, Order dated 11-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: A  Bench of Dr S. Vimala, J. addressed a writ petition in which it was stated that petitioner was charged with corruption and put on suspension for which no order has yet been passed in a period of 9 years.

The petitioner in the present case was working in TANGEDCO and was placed under suspension on charges of corruption. For the said charge, a criminal case was filed but after a lapse of even more than 9 years, no order has been passed by the respondents and the grievance of the petitioner for the said issue is that his suspension is prolonged for which he has made a representation seeking to reinstate him in service.

Learned Counsel for the petitioner Mr Ravi Anantha Padmanaban contended that the prolonged suspension was against the decision of the Supreme Court in Ajay Kumar Choudhary v. Union of India, (2015) 7 SCC 291, which held that:

“Currency of a suspension order should not extend beyond 3 months, if within this period, the memorandum of charges/ charge sheet is not served on the delinquent officer/ employee; if the memorandum of charges/ charge sheet is served, a reasoned order must be passed for the extension of suspension”.

Thus, the High Court on perusal of records and the decision of the Supreme Court placed above held that the order of suspension be revoked and the respondents were directed to reinstate the petitioner in service and post him in any non-sensitive post. The petition was disposed of accordingly. [S.P. Chandrasekar v.  TANGEDCO, 2018 SCC OnLine Mad 3607, Order dated 04-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Anant S. Dave and Biren Vaishnav, JJ., allowed a regular bail application along with the order of the suspension of the sentence.

The present application was preferred under Section 389 CrPC for the suspension of sentence and grant of bail for the offences punishable under Sections 302, 307, 324, 452, 118 and 114 IPC including a sentence for rigorous imprisonment for life with fine.

It was contended that both the petitioners who were convicts, were only seen abusing, instigating and giving fist blows, none of which constituted towards the injury conferred on the deceased or the injured person by any weapon of assault. Also, the witnesses present confirmed the same. Further, one of the cross-complainants was herself convicted under Section 323 of IPC and thus this version of the alleged allegation cannot be taken into consideration on the account of being untrustworthy. Hence the two incidences that took place on the same date and the nature of quarrel presuppose the involvement of both the parties.

The Court was of the view that the nature of testimonies implicated the petitioners for a limited role and prima facie, no clear or specific role of both the petitioners could be surfaced on record. Accordingly, the court deemed it just and proper to consider their case for suspension of sentence and grant of regular bail as prayed for and allowed the petition. [Kavlaben v. State of Gujarat, 2018 SCC OnLine Guj 1396, order dated 14-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Arun Bhansali, J., dismissed a writ petition filed challenging the order of suspension passed against the petitioner.

The petitioner was aggrieved by the order of Deputy Director, Secondary Education, Bikaner, whereby the petitioner was placed under suspension and his headquarter was fixed at Senior Secondary School, Gadiyala, Bikaner. The petitioner assailed the said order stating it to be against Rule 13 of Rajasthan Civil Services (Classification, Control, and Appeal) Rules 1958, wherein a suspension can only take place in contemplation of an inquiry or pending inquiry; however, no inquiry was pending against the petitioner as was indicated by the impugned order.

The High Court considered the submission made by the respondent Deputy Director that the order was passed contemplating enquiry against the petitioner. A preliminary inquiry had already started and the prima facie finding was that the petitioner had hit the Principal. The Court perused the impugned order and observed that the language used in the order though gives an impression that inquiry was pending against the petitioner, however, the respondents had clarified the real intention was to suspend the petitioner contemplating inquiry. The Court opined that the use of incorrect phrase in the order does not by itself vitiates it. In such facts and situation, the Court held that no interference was called for in the impugned order. Thus, the petition was dismissed. [Vijay Kumar Sharma v.  State of Rajasthan, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 1335, dated 01-06-2018]

Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: In the Haryana Judicial Services Preliminary exam paper leak controversy, the 3-judge bench of Rajesh Bindal, Tajan Gupta and GS Sandhawalia, JJ, has suspended Dr. Balwinder Sharma, Registrar (Recruitment) after the Recruitment/Promotion/ Court Creation Committee (Subordinate Judicial Services) of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, submitted in it’s report that there was, prima facie, material suggesting that he was involved in the paper leak.

On 13.09.2017, it was submitted before the Court that there were total 760 calls and SMSs exchanged between Dr. Balwinder Sharma and Sunita, one of the canditates who has allegedly leaked the paper, during last one year. The Committee had recommended the Court that since atleast two candidates namely Sunita and Sushila had the question papers, the possibility that other candidates may have also had access to the question paper cannot be ruled out and hence, an FIR should be lodged against Sunita, Sushila and Dr. Balwinder Sharma.

The Court, after considering the fact that the exam was held in Chandigarh and the alleged conversations and Transaction also took place in Chndigarh, directed that the FIR be registered in Chandigarh. The Court also made it clear that the investigation in the matter will be done by Chandigarh Police only.

Accepting the contention of the counsel appearing for the High Court that if the investigation is to be done by a Special Investigating Team then it should be done by senior officers only, the Court asked Randeep Singh Rai, Public Prosecutor, UT Chandigarh to submit a list of senior officers who can be a part of the SIT. The Court now hear the matter on 18.09.2017.

On 14.09.2017, the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a public notice stating that it has scrapped the Haryana Judicial Services Preliminary Exam held on 16.07.2017 in the light of the paper leak allegations. The date of re-exam will be notified soon. [Suman v. State of Haryana, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 2340, order dated 15.09.2017]