A Division Bench of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court in State of U.P. v. Faini Singh, Special Appeal No. 416 of 2014 decided on 25.04.2014, while considering the provisions of Regulation 919 A (3) of Civil Service Regulations observed that the power of withholding or withdrawing pension is to be used in cases where allegations are of serious nature or grave misconduct and of causing pecuniary loss and it cannot be exercised mechanically merely on the pendency of any judicial proceedings without considering the allegations against the retired Government Servant. In other words, pendency of even judicial proceedings has not been recognized as a matter of right to withhold the pension.
In Bangali Babu Misra v. State of U.P., 2003 (3) AWC 1760, a Division Bench of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court seised of a similar controversy held that in the absence of any provision under law, even if the petitioner is subjected to punishment in criminal proceedings that would not be a ground for withholding the post retiral benefits admissible to him. Radhey Shyam Chaubey v. High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, 2018 (3) AWC 2521.
In Deputy Commissioner v. J. Hussain, (2013) 10 SCC 106, it was held that power of review of punishment ordinarily is not availed by a Court or Tribunal. Court while undertaking judicial review of matter is not supposed to substitute its own opinion on reappraisal of facts. In exercise of power of judicial review, court can interfere with the punishment imposed only when it is found to be totally irrational or is outrageous in defiance of logic. It was further observed “this limited scope of judicial review is permissible and interference is available only when punishment is shockingly disproportionate, suggesting lack of good faith. Otherwise, merely because in the opinion of the court lesser punishment would have been more appropriate, cannot be a ground to interfere with the discretion of the departmental authorities.” It further observed that it is only when punishment is found to be outrageously disproportionate to the nature of charge, principle of proportionality comes into play. Yogendra Kumar v. Union of India, 2018 (5) AWC 4858.
of suspension of an employee in service jurisprudence is two fold. The
traditional and dominant purpose of suspension is to aid and assist a
disciplinary enquiry against an employee. Suspension in such cases is not a
punishment. The second known purpose of suspension is to impose it as a
When suspension is made in contemplation
of a disciplinary enquiry, certain prerequisites have to be satisfied. An
enquiry should be contemplated or underway into charges of misconduct. The charges
of misconduct, if proved, should be serious enough to warrant a major penalty.
The order of suspension should be passed
after due and independent application of mind. The suspension should not be
made as a matter of routine resulting from a suspension syndrome.
At the stage of suspension the veracity
of the charges cannot be ascertained and the merits of the defence cannot be
examined. However, the order of suspension should disclose a prima facie act of
Suspension in contemplation of an
enquiry, is made to aid the process of enquiry. Suspension takes out the delinquent
employee from his domain of influence. This ensures that the enquiry is
independent and fair.
Suspension also takes off the charged
employee from his regular duties. This enables the employee to join the enquiry
proceedings and give fulsome cooperation to the enquiry officer. It also gives
him adequate time to prepare his defense. Continuing the employee on regular duties,
with an enquiry on foot, would not be in institutional interests either. The
official work would suffer and the enquiry proceedings would be impeded. The
suspension in such cases is not a punishment. Deepika Shukla v. State Of
U.P., 2018 (6) AWC 6050.
Hon’ble Apex Court in Union Of India v. Gyan Chand Chattar, (2009) 12 SCC 78, has clearly held that no enquiry can be sustained on a vague charge. It was held as under:
“An enquiry is to be conducted against any person giving strict adherence to the statutory provisions and principles of natural justice. The charges should be specific, definite and giving details of the incident which formed the basis of charges. No enquiry can be sustained on vague charges. Enquiry has to be conducted fairly, objectively and not subjectively. Finding should not be perverse or unreasonable, nor the same should be based on conjectures and surmises. There is a distinction in proof and suspicion. Every act or omission on the part of the delinquent cannot be a misconduct. The authority must record reasons for arriving at the finding of fact in the context of the statute defining the misconduct.”
It was held in Anant R. Kulkarni v. Y.P. Education Society and others, (2013) 6 SCC 515, that it is absolutely clear that the charge sheet is vague and does not establish any charge, therefore, no enquiry can be proceeded on the basis of that. Tej Singh v. State of U.P., 2018 (3) ESC 1454.
A public servant charged of criminal misconduct thereunder has to be proved by the prosecution to be in possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income, at any time during the period of his office. Such possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income maybe his or of anyone on his behalf as the case may be. Further, he would be held to be guilty of such offence of criminal misconduct, if he cannot satisfactorily account for such disproportionate pecuniary resources or property. The Explanation to Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act elucidates the words “known sources of income” to mean income received from any lawful source and that such receipt has been intimated in accordance with the provisions of law, rules, orders for the time being applicable to a public servant.
From the design and purport of clause (e) of sub-section (1) to Section 13, it is apparent that the primary burden to bring home the charge of criminal misconduct thereunder would be indubitably on the prosecution to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the public servant either himself or through anyone else had at anytime during period of his office been in possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income and it is only on the discharge of such burden by the prosecution, if he fails to satisfactorily account for the same, he would be in law held guilty of such offence. In other words, in case the prosecution fails to prove that the public servant either by himself or through anyone else had at any time during the period of his office been in possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income, he would not be required in law to offer any explanation to satisfactorily account therefor. A public servant facing such charge, cannot be comprehended to furnish any explanation in the absence of the proof of the allegation of being in possession by himself or through someone else, of pecuniary else, of pecuniary resources of property disproportionate to his known sources of income. Vasant Rao Guhe v. State of M.P., (2017) 14 SCC 442.
The Supreme Court in Union of India v. J. Ahmed, AIR 1979 SC 1022, observed that failure to attain the highest expectation of an officer holding responsible post or lack of aptitude of quality of leadership would not constitute as failure to maintain devotion to duty because if it is so then every officer rated average would be guilty of misconduct. In the said case the charges leveled against the officer indicated lack of efficiency, lack of foresight and lack of indecisiveness but the Supreme Court observed that these deficiencies in personal character or personal ability would not constitute misconduct for the purposes of disciplinary proceedings.
In M.M. Malhotra v. Union of of India, JT 2005 (9) SC 506, it was observed as under:
“Misconduct” as stated in Batt’s Law of Master and Servant (4th Edition) (at page 63) is comprised positive acts and not mere neglects or failures. The definition of the work as given in Ballentine’s Law Dictionary is “A transgression of some established and definite rule of action, where no discretion is left except what necessity may demand, it is a violation of definite law, a forbidden act. It differs from carelessness.” Chandra Bhushan Tripathi v. State of U.P., 2017 (6) AWC 6106.