High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Bhag Singh v. Pepsu Road Transport Corporation & other - RSA-2052-2006  RD-P&H 12673 (15 December 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.
Case No. : R.S.A.No.2052 of 2006
Date of Decision : December 15, 2006.
Bhag Singh ..... Appellant
Pepsu Road Transport Corporation & others ..... Respondents Coram : Hon'ble Mr.Justice P.S.Patwalia
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Present : Mr.Vishal Sodhi, Advocate
for the appellant.
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P.S.Patwalia, J. (Oral) :
The plaintiff has filed the present Regular Second Appeal against concurrent findings recorded by the courts below dismissing the suit filed by him.
A reading of the judgments of the courts below would show that basically the charge against the plaintiff was that he along with the driver of the bus, had disposed of the dead body of a lady who died while alighting from the bus. On this allegation a detailed departmental inquiry was conducted against him. On the basis of the evidence recorded before the courts the lower appellate court has come to the following conclusion regarding the procedure followed in the departmental inquiry :- "Resultantly, the appellant was charge-
sheeted vide letter dated 9.11.2000 alongwith imputation of charges, list of witnesses and list of documents. The reply of the delinquent official R.S.A.No.2052 of 2006 2
was called which is at page 84 (of enquiry file).
Thereafter, the Enquiry Officer was appointed.
Regular enquiry was conducted in which the statements of departmental witnesses were recorded and the delinquent official was given full and proper opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses produced by the department against him and the delinquent official was given full and proper opportunity to lead his defence and then the Enquiry Officer vide his report, which is at pages 126 to 128 on the enquiry file, held the plaintiff guilty for the charges levelled against him except charge No.3 holding that the department failed to prove that the delinquent official snatched the golden ear rings of the deceased and sold the same in the market. Whereas he was held guilty for the other charges that he tried to dispose of the dead body of the deceased traveler secretly; that he brought bad name of the P.R.T.C. in the eyes of the general public; he was held
responsible for misconduct and violated discipline in the performance of his duties as public servant.
Thereafter, show cause notice was given to the delinquent official for dismissal of service and he was also served with the copy of the report of the Enquiry Officer. Reply of the delinquent official was called and he was also given opportunity of personal hearing and he was personally heard by the punishing authority i.e. General Manager, R.S.A.No.2052 of 2006 3
P.R.T.C. on 5.11.2001 under the signatures of delinquent official Bhag Singh which is evident from page 96-A of the enquiry file and then taking lenient view, the punishing authority i.e. General Manager, Special Cell, Patiala passed the impugned order. The delinquent official was reduced to the lowest/initial pay scale of the appellant (post) permanently and he was ordered to be paid nothing over and above the subsistence allowance paid to him during the period of suspension. So, the entire enquiry file as well as the proceedings conducted by the punishing authority in this regard fully proves that the delinquent official was given full and proper opportunity of being heard. The delinquent official (appellant) could not point out any defect in the procedure adopted by the punishing authority as well as passing of the impugned order."
A reading of the portion extracted above would show that the lower appellate court has found that the departmental enquiry was held in consonance with the rules. The delinquent official could not point out any defect in the procedure adopted by the punishing authority before passing the impugned order.
Before me learned counsel has raised a two fold contention.
Firstly he submits that the plaintiff has been exonerated in the criminal case. Therefore the findings recorded in the departmental enquiry cannot be sustained. I have gone through the judgment of the criminal court. The concluding part of the judgment states that the prosecution could not lead R.S.A.No.2052 of 2006 4
sufficient evidence and hence the plaintiff was exonerated.
Before the Enquiry Officer there was a letter dated 21.8.2000 written by the plaintiff. A reading of the letter shows that the plaintiff had virtually accepted the entire allegations against him. The relevant extract of the letter written by the plaintiff reads as hereunder :- "When the bus was going near Dakoha
railway crossing near Jalandhar Cantt then a lady passenger was to be descended from the bus, I gave a whistle to stop the bus, bus stopped for a while and the driver without caring and carelessly restarted the bus and during descending down from the bus, the lady passenger due to the negligence of driver fell down from the front window of the bus. She received injuries and become unconscious. After that myself and driver took the woman to Gurunanak Mission Hospital, Jalandhar, where doctor declared her brought dead. At that time I asked the driver to took her to Civil Hospital, and after getting postmortem done, the dead body be handed over to its relatives.
Upon this the Bus driver turned back the bus and he instead of taking the bus to Civil Hospital, took the bus on Amritsar road, when I asked the reason from the driver, then he said that she has died, if you raised any alarm or told about this to any body then your head would be cut off and thrown alongwith the dead body also. He also gave me many threatening and said that I am a driver of a Judge and nobody can cause any harm to me and R.S.A.No.2052 of 2006 5
nor you? After hearing this, I was frightened and he then threw the dead body of lady in the bushes near Subhanpur in my presence and then we took the bus to Gurdaspur. After this I did not talk about this incident to anybody on account of fear.
I continued to perform my duties, however, after two days driver went on leave and Baljit Singh's driver was put on duty in our place. After this on 15.8.2000 the police arrested me alongwith the vehicle on bus stand Jalandhar at 10:30 A.M. and I recorded the above statement to the police. On the same day the police also arrested Kulwant Singh driver and took him to the police station at night.
Therefore, I have no fault in the above case.
I could not narrate the above incident to the police or to any body else on account of fear, therefore, complaint is submitted with the request that I may be taken back on duty."
Apart from this on the basis of the evidence led in the departmental enquiry the Enquiry Officer held the allegations to be proved.
Standard of proof required in a departmental enquiry is much less than what is required in a criminal trial. The allegations against the plaintiff are indeed serious. He along with the driver of the bus had disposed of the dead body of a woman who unfortunately died while alighting from the bus.
In these circumstances I find no merit in the submissions of the learned counsel for the appellant.
Learned counsel then submits that the punishment imposed is disproportionate to the allegations against the plaintiff. Keeping in view the R.S.A.No.2052 of 2006 6
nature of allegations against the plaintiff I find that the respondents have been rather lenient with him. He has been retained in service as a Conductor. He has been reduced to the initial pay scale permanently. I find that in the facts and circumstances of this case the punishment is not disproportionate to the allegations against the plaintiff.
For the reasons aforesaid I find no merit in the present Regular Second Appeal and the same is accordingly dismissed.
December 15, 2006 ( P.S.Patwalia )
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