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Ramesh Chandra Sharma v. District Judge And Another - WRIT - A No. - 55192 of 2007  RD-AH 17526 (6 November 2007)
HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD
Court No. 38
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 55192 of 2007
Ramesh Chandra Sharma
District Judge Farrukhabad and another
Hon'ble Sudhir Agarwal, J.
Heard learned counsel for the petitioner.
The petitioner, an employee of the District Judgeship, Farrukhabad, has filed this petition challenging the order dated 05.09.2007 passed by the District Judge, Farrukhabad conducting regular inquiry against the petitioner and appointing inquiry officer for the said purpose and against the order dated 15.10.2007 which is a consequential order since earlier inquiry officer was posted as A.D.J. III and now he is A.D.J. II.
Learned counsel for the petitioner submits that he has requested the District Judge to change the inquiry officer and since no action has been taken thereon, therefore, he is not able to participate in the inquiry.
Learned counsel for the petitioner also submitted that the charge levelled against the petitioner relates to an incident which is about 12 years old and, therefore, no inquiry now can be held after such a long time. In support of his contention, he placed reliance on Apex Court's judgement in State of Madhya Pradesh Vs. Bani Singh and another 1990 (Supp.) SCC 738.
I do not find any material making substantial allegations contained in the writ petition levelling mala fide against the respondent no. 2 and on the other hand it is evident that the petitioner is only delaying departmental inquiry by not cooperating therein and it appears that he has filed this petition only to further delay the proceedings.
The submission that delay of about 12 years is fatal for inquiry is thoroughly misconceived. There is no principle of law that an inquiry would stand vitiated merely for the reason that it has been initiated after a long time. On the contrary, whether delay in initiating inquiry would be fatal or not would depend on various facts and circumstances. Dealing this question and considering Bani Singh (Supra) the Apex court in State of Punjab Vs. Chaman Lal Goel, 1995 (2) SCC 570 declined to set aside disciplinary proceeding initiated after a long time and said:-
"9. Now remains the question of delay. There is undoubtedly a delay of five and half years in serving the charges. The question is whether the said delay warranted the quashing of charges in this case. It is trite to say that such disciplinary proceeding must be conducted soon after the irregularities are committed or soon after discovering the irregularities. They cannot be initiated after lapse of considerable time. It would not be fair to the delinquent officer. Such delay also makes the task of proving the charges difficult and is thus not also in the interest of administration. Delayed initiation of proceedings is bound to give room for allegations of bias, mala fides and misuse of power. If the delay is too long and is unexplained the court may well interfere and quash the charges. But how long a delay is too long always depends upon the facts of the given case. Moreover, if such delay is likely to cause prejudice to the delinquent officer in defending himself, the enquiry has to be interdicted. Wherever such a plea is raised, the court has to weigh the factors appearing for and against the said plea and take a decision on the totality of circumstances. In other words, the court has to indulge in a process of balancing."
In Additional Superintendent of Police Vs. T. Natrajan, 1999 SCC (L & S) 646 Apex Court held as under:-
"It is settled law that some delay in initiating proceedings would not vitiate the enquiry unless the delay results in prejudice to the delinquent officer."
The same view was reiterated in P.D. Agarwal Vs. State Bank of India and others, AIR 2006 SC 2064.
A Division Bench (in which I was also a Member) in Writ Petition No. 6095 (S/S) of 1996 (State of U.P. & another Vs. S.P. Singh Pundhir and another) decided on 09.08.2007, considering the aforesaid judgements of the Apex Court, has also held as under:-
"There is no hard and fast rule that disciplinary proceedings initiated after a long time would be per se improper or illegal merely for the reason that it has been initiated after long lapse of time but it depends upon the facts and circumstances of that case. For example, if the delinquent employee could show that after long lapse of time he has lost evidence or has no capacity to defend himself due to loss of memory etc. then indulgence can be granted on this ground but mere delay in the proceedings can not vitiate the same."
However, since disciplinary proceeding, once initiated, should not be allowed to continue for long time, in my view, it would be appropriate to direct the respondents to complete disciplinary inquiry against the petitioner within a period of three months from the date of production of certified copy of this order. It is made clear that in case the petitioner fails to cooperate, it is open to the authority concerned to proceed and complete inquiry in accordance with law without participation of the petitioner.
With the aforesaid direction, this writ petition is dismissed.
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