High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Sushila Devi v. State of Haryana & Ors - CWP-1472-2005  RD-P&H 2149 (30 March 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB & HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH
CWP NO.1472 OF 2005
DATE OF DECISION: 4.4.2006
Sushila Devi ....Petitioner
State of Haryana and others ....Respondents.
CORAM: HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE J.S. KHEHAR
HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE P.S. PATWALIA
PRESENT: Mr.Vinod S. Bhardwaj, Advocate for the petitioner.
Mr.Harish Rathee, Sr. DAG Haryana, for
respondents No.1 to 3.
Mr.Parveen Gupta, Advocate for
J.S. Khehar, J. (oral)
A Sexual Harassment Committe (hereinafter referred to as the Grievance Committee) was constituted by the State Government to examine allegations of sexual harassment. Suffice it to state, that the petitioner made certain allegations of sexual harassment against respondent No.5. The allegations made by her were referred to the Grievance Committee, which adjudicated upon the matter and recorded a finding against respondent No.5. The report of the Grievance Committee has been placed on the record of this case as Annexure P9. In sum and substance, the Grievance Committee recommended that disciplinary action be initiated against respondent No.5 as per the instructions of the CWP NO.1472 OF 2005 2
Chief Secretary dated 5.10.1999.
Although in an issue, wherein the allegations pertain to sexual harassment, both parties need to be afforded an opportunity to establish their claim, which, in our view, can only be established by holding a regular departmental enquiry, the competent authority, after having examined the report of the Grievance Committee and its recommendations, issued a Memo. dated 28.11.2000 (Annexure P12) to respondent No.5 , proposing the infliction of a minor punishment. The aforesaid Memo. should shock anybody's conscience. Be that as it may, having received a response to the same from respondent No.5, the competent authority passed an order dated 7.10.2001 inflicting the punishment of stoppage of four annual increments without cumulative effect on respondent No.5. Relevant part of the order, inflicting the aforesaid punishment, is being extracted hereunder:- " I have examined the case in detail and I agree with the findings given by the Complaints Committee. Shri Malik in his reply and at the time of personal hearing has brought out no new fact to counter the findings arrived at by the Complaints Committee. A female employee has the right to work with dignity as a human being and as a woman. An officer who is in a position of authority is expected to not only behave in a decent manner towards woman subordinates but is also expected to set an example by his behaviour in this respect and also by his behaviour in general towards the women he interacts with at the work place. Shri Malik has failed to uphold such behaviour and CWP NO.1472 OF 2005 3
has in fact indulged in sexual harassment of a subordinate woman employee at the work place. He is, therefore, awarded the minor punishment of stoppage of four annual increments without cumulative effect."
It emerges from the pleadings of this case that respondent No.5 preferred an appeal against the order dated 7.10.2001, whereupon the order passed on 7.10.2001 was reiterated. The appellate order came to be challenged by respondent No.5 by filing CWP No.4621 of 2003. This Court by its order dated 4.5.2004 set aside the appellate order, on account of the fact that the appeal had been decided by the same authority which had passed the order of punishment dated 7.10.2001. While disposing of the aforesaid writ petition, this Court further directed the State Government to take a decision on the appeal of the petitioner within three months. It is in furtherance of the instant direction of this Court that an order dated 13.12.2004 came to be passed by a Cabinet Sub Committee. The appellate order, which has been placed on the record of this case, in so far as its operative part is concerned, is being extracted hereunder:- " In view of the above, it was decided to treat the appeal of Sh.S.S.Malik as memorial. Accordingly his memorial was placed before the Sub Committee of Council of Ministers for consideration and taking the decision in the matter. In his memorial Sh.S.S.Malik has also requested for personal hearing, which was given to him on 19.10.2004 by the Sub Committee of Council of Ministers. The memorial dated 19.11.2001 of Shri S.S.Malik, Assistant Director was duly considered by the competent authority and after careful CWP NO.1472 OF 2005 4
consideration, the competent authority has accepted it.
Therefore, the punishment of stoppage of four annual increments without cumulative effect imposed by the then Financial Commissioner Industrial Training vide orders dated 7.10.2001 stands withdrawn."
Having perused the aforesaid order, it was the Court's desire to see the reason, which had weighed with the Cabinet Sub Committee while adjudicating on the appeal/memorial submitted by respondent No.
5. We, therefore, summoned the record of this case. The issue pertaining to respondent No.5 was examined as item No.4 by the Cabinet Sub Committee. Its determination, which has already been taken on the record of this case as Annexure `A', vide our order dated 28.3.2006, is being extracted hereunder:-
"Memorial of Sh.S.S.Malik, Asstt. Director, Industrial Training & Vocational Education Deptt. against the punishment of stoppage of four increments without cumulative effect.
The memorial dated 19.11.2001 of
Sh.S.S.Malik, Assistant Director, Industrial Training & Vocational Education department was duly considered by the Sub Committee and after careful consideration, it was decided that the memorialist be given an opportunity to appear before the Committee in person and explain his case in the next meeting of the Sub-Committee." In spite of the seriousness of the issues involved, it seems that the appellate authority i.e. Cabinet Sub Committee, which treated the appeal filed by respondent No.5 as a memorial, did not record any reason CWP NO.1472 OF 2005 5
whatsoever while setting aside the punishment order inflicted on respondent No.5. The instant order has far reaching implications and consequences. An issue akin to the one in hand cannot be brushed under the carpet without reasons and justification. We, therefore, are constrained to set aside the order passed by the Cabinet Sub Committee, accepting the memorial submitted by respondent No.5. The respondents are directed to decide the appeal filed by respondent No.3 within three months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order. We hope an expect that the appellate authority will afford an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner as well as respondent No.5, before any final order is passed.
Disposed of accordingly.
( J.S. Khehar )
( P.S. Patwalia )
April 04, 2006. Judge
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