Light Page » Supreme Court Judgments » Union of India and Ors Vs Subrata Nath(23/11/2022)
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    • #116068

      being fact finding authorities, both the Disciplinary Authority and the Appellate Authority are vested with the exclusive power to examine the evidence forming part of the inquiry report. On finding the evidence to be adequate and reliable during the departmental inquiry, the Disciplinary Authority has the discretion to impose appropriate punishment on the delinquent employee keeping in mind the gravity of the misconduct.

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    • #116078
      Gia (DU)

      After the respondent (a section officer in the Ministry of
      Industry and Commerce) was acquitted in a criminal case an
      enquiry under r. 15 of the Central Civil Services
      (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1957, was held
      against him on the basis of three. charges. Statements of
      the witnesses in the criminal case were tendered in evidence
      in the enquiry without calling the witnesses. The Inquiring
      Officer rejected those statements and found that only the
      third charge was proved and not the first two. The third
      charge was that he borrowed a sum of money without obtaining
      previous sanction of the Government and placed himself
      tinder pecuniary obligation to the lender and thereby
      contravened r. 13(5) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct)
      Rules, 1955. The lender was the representative of a firm
      which was an applicant for licences, and though the
      application was made to a section in which the respondent
      was not working, it would in due course have to be dealt
      with by’ the section in which the respondent was working.
      The Disciplinary Authority found that all the charges had
      been proved and passed an order compulsorily retiring the
      respondent from service.
      A Single Judge of the High Court quashed the order and the
      letters patent appeal filed by the State was dismissed.
      In appeal to this Court, it was contended that the
      statements rejected by the Inquiring Officer should have
      been admitted, that all the three charges should have been
      held to be proved and that the order of compulsory
      retirement was justified.
      HELD : (1) Tribunals should observe rules of natural justice
      in the conduct of the inquiries, that is, no material can be
      relied upon to establish a contested fact unless spoken to
      by a witness who is subjected to cross-examination. In the
      present case, the persons whose statements were sought to be
      relied on were in station, but were not produced for cross-
      examination by the respondent. They should have been
      recalled, and tendered for cross-examination by the
      respondent. The Inquiring Officer was therefore justified
      in refusing to receive the statements as evidence.[223 A-D]
      M/s. Barailly Electricity Supply Co. Ltd. v. Workmen,
      [1971] 2 S.C.R. 617 at 629 and State of Mysore v. S. S.
      Makapur, [1963] 2 S.C.R. 943, 952, followed.
      (2)But the interference by the High Court with respect to
      the third charge was not justified. [225 F-G]
      The second part of r. 13(5) of the Civil Services Conduct
      Rules forbids a civil servant from borrowing money from a
      person with whom he is likely to have official dealings.
      The words ‘likely to have official dealings’ take within
      their ambit the possibility of future dealings between the
      officer concerned and the person from whom he borrowed the
      money. In the present case, even if the applications were
      dealt with at the initial stage by another section the
      respondent should have known, that in due course, the
      section in which be was working would have to deal with
      them. Therefore, when he borrowed money a few days earlier
      the respondent contravened the rule. [225 A-C]
      (3) A disciplinary proceeding is not a criminal trial and
      therefore the standard of proof required is that of
      preponderence of probability and not proof beyond reasonable
      doubt. If the inference that the lender was a person likely
      to have official dealings with the respondent was one which
      a reasonable person would draw from the proved ‘facts of the
      case, the High Court was wrong in sitting as a court of
      appeal over a decision based upon it. The ‘Letters Patent
      Bench had the same power of dealing with all questions,
      either of fact or of law arising in the appeal, as the
      Single Judge of the High Court. It the enquiry was properly
      held the question of adequacy or reliability of the evidence
      cannot be canvassed before the High Court. A finding cannot
      be characterised as per-verse or unsupported by any relevant
      materials, if it was a reasonable inference from proved
      facts. [225 D-G]
      State of Andhra Prsdesh v. S. Sree Rama Rao, [1964] 3 S.C.R.
      25, 33, followed.
      Jugal Kishore Bhadani v. Union of india, A.I.R. 1965 Pat.
      196, approved.
      (4) If the order of the punishing authority could be
      supported on any finding as to substantial misdemeanour for
      which the particular punishment could be imposed it is not
      for the court to consider whether the charge proved alone
      would have weighed with the authority in imposing the
      punishment. Therefore, the punishment of compulsory re-
      tirement imposed was not liable to be quashed even though
      the first two charges had not been proved.[226 G-H;227 A-C]
      State of Orissa v. Bidyabhushan Mahapatra, [1963] Supp. I
      S.C.R. 648, 666, followed.

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