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    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 Reply
    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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