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Dr. Shiv Hari Singh v. Lok Ayukta, Government Of U.P. Lucknow And Others - WRIT - C No. 14078 of 2006  RD-AH 5521 (8 March 2006)
8.3.2006 Hon'ble Dr. B.S. Chauhan, J
Hon'ble Dilip Gupta, J
This writ petition has been filed challenging the order directing the de novo inquiry for the reason that two Inquiry Officers had been appointed but the inquiry report has been signed only by one person.
Shri S.K. Verma, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner has submitted that such a course is not permissible and as the second Inquiry Officer has also participated in the inquiry, it is immaterial if he has not put his signature on the inquiry report. Therefore, the orders impugned dated 22.12.2005 and 6.1.2006 are liable to be quashed.
On the contrary, learned Standing Counsel Shri C.K. Rai, has vehemently opposed the petition contending that unless the Inquiry Officer has put his signature, his participation in the inquiry becomes meaningless and as two Inquiry Officers had been appointed, not signing by one of the Inquiry Officers, the inquiry report suffers from procedural defect. Therefore, the petition is liable to be dismissed.
De-novo enquiry should generally be directed, if the Authority is satisfied that enquiry stood vitiated for non-compliance of the principles of natural justice or for some other statutory requirement, or evidence could not be properly recorded. For directing enquiry afresh on the same charge, Authority is required to record reasons, otherwise it may become a tool for harassment of the delinquent, in the hands of such Authority and in that case, it would amount to a mala fide colourable exercise of power. (Vide State of Assam & Anr. Vs. J.N. Roy Biswas, AIR 1975 SC 2277; State of Punjab Vs. Kashmir Singh, 1997 SCC (L&S) 88; Sri Keshab Chandra Sarma Vs. State of Assam & Ors., AIR 1962 Assam 17; and Dinesh Chandra Sarkar Vs. State of West Bengal & Ors., 1989 Lab & IC 329).
A Constitution Bench of Supreme Court in K.R. Deb Vs. The Collector of Central Excise, Shillong, AIR 1971 SC 1447 held that in absence of any statutory rule holding a de novo enquiry is not permissible. In case Disciplinary Authority is of the opinion that there has been some defect in the enquiry conducted by an Enquiry Officer, it may direct the said officer to conduct further enquiries in respect of that matter. But it can neither change the Enquiry Officer nor it can ask to hold the enquiry de novo on the same charges. In the said case the Apex Court interpreted the provisions of Central Civil Services (Classification Control & Appeal) Rules, 1957.
In Union of India & Ors. Vs. P. Thayagarajan, 1999 (1) SCC 733, the Hon'ble Supreme Court while interpreting the provisions of Central Reserve Police Force Rules, 1955 considered the aspect of de novo enquiry and observed that if a Disciplinary Authority comes to the conclusion that while holding the enquiry there has been a fundamental procedural defect in taking evidence, it may order a fresh enquiry.
Therefore, in view of the aforesaid settled legal propositions, the Disciplinary Authority was under an obligation to record the reasons as to why instead of concluding the enquiry a de novo enquiry was required and whether enquiry had suffered from some procedural defect or has been conducted in violation of some statutory provisions.
It appears that in view of the above the impugned orders have been passed.
At this juncture Shri Verma prays and is granted further time to prepare the case. List after Holi vacations.
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