Tag Archives: dismissal

Major Punishment – Examination of Witnesses

In Subhash Chandra Sharma v. Managing Director, 2000 (1) UPLBEC 541, it was held as under:

          “The Court also held that in the enquiry witnesses have to be examined in support of the allegations and opportunity has to be given to the delinquent to cross – examine these witnesses and to lead evidence in his defense. In Punjab National Bank v. A.I.P.N.B.E. Federation, AIR 1960 SC 160, the Supreme Court held that in such enquiries evidence must be recorded in the presence of the charge-sheeted employee and he must be given an opportunity to rebut the said evidence. The same view was taken in ACC Ltd. v. Their Workmen, 1963 (7) FLR 269, and in Tata Oil Mills Co. Ltd. v. Their Workmen, 1963 (6) FLR 257.

          Even if the employee refuses to participate in the enquiry, the employer cannot straightaway dismiss him, but he must hold an ex-parte enquiry where evidence must be led vide Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd. v. Its Workmen, 1961 (3) FLR 524 and Uma Shanker v. Registrar, 1992 (65) FLR 674.

          Hon’ble Supreme Court in Roop Singh Negi v. Punjab National Bank, 2009 (120) FLR 610, held as under:

          “Indisputably, a departmental proceeding is a quasi judicial proceeding. The enquiry officer performs a quasi-judicial function. The charges leveled against the delinquent officer must be found to have been proved. The enquiry officer has a duty to arrive at a finding  upon taking into consideration the materials brought on record by the parties. The purported evidence collected during investigation by the investigating officer against all the accused by itself could not be treated to be evidence in the disciplinary proceedings. Not witness was examined to prove the said documents. The management witnesses merely tendered, the documents and did not prove the contents thereof. Reliance, inter alia, was placed by the enquiry officer on the FIR which could not have been treated as evidence.”

          Similar view has been taken in Sohan Lal v. U.P. Co-operative Federation Ltd., 2013 (139) FLR 723:

          “The principle of law emanates from the above judgments are that initial burden is on the department to prove the charges. In case of procedure adopted for inflicting major penalty, the department must prove the charges by oral evidence also.

          From the perusal of the enquiry report it is demonstrably proved that no oral evidence has been led by the department. When a major punishment is proposed to be passed, the department has to prove the charges against the delinquent/employee by examining the witnesses and by documentary evidence. In the present case, no witness was examined to prove the documents in the proceedings.

          It is trite law that the departmental proceedings are quasi-judicial proceedings. The Inquiry Officer functions as quasi-judicial officer. He is not merely a representative of the department. He has to act as an independent and impartial officer to find out the truth. The major punishment awarded to an employee visits serious consequences and as such the departmental proceedings ought to be in conformity with the principles of natural justice. Even if, an employee prefers not to participate in the enquiry, the department has to establish the charges against the employee by adducing oral as well as documentary evidence. In case the charges warrant major punishment, then the oral evidence by producing the witnesses is necessary.” Lalta Prasad v. State of U.P., 2019 (161) FLR 183.        

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Termination Order – Superseded by a less severe punishment

When the termination order is superseded by a less severe punishment, the said punishment should come into effect from the date of original order of termination. As held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Deepali Gundu Surwase v. Kranti Junior Adhyapak Mahavidyalaya (D. Ed.) and others, (2013) 10 SCC 324, ‘reinstatement’ would mean putting the workman back to the stage when he was terminated. On such reinstatement, the punishment of removal gets substituted by the punishment of withholding of three annual increments for three years with cumulative effect.
As per shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2, 3rd Edition, the word reinstate means to reinstall or re-establish (a person or thing in a place, station, condition, etc.); to restore to its proper or original state; to reinstate afresh and the word “reinstatement” means the action of reinstating; re-establishment. As per Law Lexicon, 2nd Edition, the word “reinstate” means to reinstall; to re-establish; to place again in a former state, condition or office; to restore to a state or position from which the object or person had been removed and the word “reinstatement” means establishing in a former condition, position or authority (as) reinstatement of a deposed prince. As per Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “reinstate” means to place again (as in possession or in a former position), to restore to a previous effective state.
As per Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, “reinstatement” means: “The very idea of restoring an employee to the position which he held before dismissal or removal or termination of service implies that the employee will be put in the same position in which he would have been but for the illegal action taken by the employer”. B.S. Raju v. A.P.S.R.T.C., 2017 (152) FLR 832.

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Departmental and Criminal Proceedings – Are Different

The law is fairly well settled. Acquittal by a criminal court would not debar an employer from exercising power in accordance with the Rules and Regulations in force. The two proceedings, criminal and departmental, are entirely different. They operate in different fields and have different objectives. Whereas the object of criminal trial is to inflict appropriate punishment on the offender, the purpose of enquiry proceedings is to deal with the delinquent departmentally and to impose penalty in accordance with the service rules. In a criminal trial, incriminating statement made by the accused in certain circumstances or before certain officers is totally inadmissible in evidence. Such strict rules of evidence and procedure would not apply to departmental proceedings. The degree of proof which is necessary to order a conviction is different from the degree of proof necessary to record the commission of delionquency. The rule relating to appreciation of evidence in the two proceedings is also not similar. In criminal law, burden of proof is on the prosecution and unless the prosecution is able to prove the guilt of the accused “beyond reasonable doubt”, he cannot be convicted by a court of law. In a departmental enquiry, on the other hand, penalty can be imposed on the delinquent officer on a finding recorded on the basis of “preponderance of probability”. Acquittal by the Trial Court, therefore, does not ipso facto, absolve the employee from the liability under the disciplinary jurisdiction. Om Prakash Singh v. State Bank of India, 2016 (150) FLR 939.

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Communication of Order of Dismissal

In State of Punjab v. Amar Singh Harika, AIR 1966 SC 1313 it was held that mere passing of an order of dismissal or termination would not be effective unless it is published and communicated to the officer concerned. If the appointing authority passes an order of dismissal, but does not communicate it to the officer concerned, theoretically it is possible that unlike in the case on a judicial order pronounced in Court, the authority may change its mind and decide to modify its order. The order of dismissal passed by the appropriate authority and kept with itself, cannot be said to take effect unless the officer concerned knows about the said order and it is otherwise communicated to all the parties concerned. If it is held that mere passing of order of dismissal has the effect of terminating the services of the officer concerned, various complications may arise.

In Union of India v. Dinanath Shantaram Karekar, (1998) 7 SCC 569 it was held as under:

“Where the services are terminated, the status of the delinquent as a Government Servant comes to an end and nothing further remains to be done in the matter. But if the order is passed and merely kept in the file, it would not be treated to be an order terminating services nor shall the said order be deemed to have been communicated.” Dulu Devi v. State of Assam, (2016) 1 SCC 622.

 

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Departmental Enquiry-Reasonable Opportunity

In cases where there is no oral evidence adduced and documentary evidence is not proved or exhibited by witnesses, it cannot be read into evidence for proving guilt of the employee. It is for this reason that many unscrupulous employer/establishment/department fabricate documents for proving charge against innocent employee and punish him without proving the same, thus denying a reasonable opportunity to him to defend himself. Sita Ram v. State of U.P., 2015 (1) ESC 178.

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Loss of Pay – Based on Principle of “No Pay No Work”

Loss of pay is based on the principle of “no pay no work”. It is an action quite separate and distinct from a disciplinary proceeding, which may visit an employee for such misconduct. In State of U.P. v. Madhav Prasad Sharma, 2011 (2) SCC 212, the Apex Court was considering the question whether the employer who had already sanctioned the leave, albeit without pay, was justified in terminating the service for the same charge and whether such an action is hit by the doctrine of double jeopardy. The Apex court after noticing the relevant statutory service rules concluded by holding that leave without pay is not a punishment prescribed under the rules and thus, denial of salary on the ground of “no pay now work” cannot be treated as a penalty nor the doctrine of double jeopardy would be attracted in case the employee is inflicted with the punishment of dismissal for the same charge. Purvanchal Bank v. Umesh Prasad Gupta, 2015 (3) ESC 1317.

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Departmental Enquiry against a Retired Employee

In a recent Judgment of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court it was held as under:
“A retired employee who is no longer in service cannot be inflicted any punishment of dismissal or removal from service, reversion or reduction in rank and stoppage of increments etc. It is only by virtue of specific rule permitting imposition of punishment after retirement that the appointing authority can do so and if necessary after taking leave of the authority concerned. This logically means that when a retired employee cannot be punished as aforesaid there is no point in continuing a departmental enquiry against him once he has been superannuated.” Shiv Ram Verma v. U.P. Co-operative Union Ltd., 2013 (6) AWC 5908.

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