High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
Case Law Search
Nanak Chand v. State of Haryana - CRA-D-1555-2006  RD-P&H 4826 (27 July 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH
CWP No. 1555 of 2006
Date of decision 1 .8.2006
Nanak Chand .. petitioner
State of Haryana and others .. Respondents
CORAM: HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE M.M. KUMAR
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE M.M.S. BEDI
PRESENT: Mr.O.P.Sharma, Advocate for the petitioner M.M.Kumar, J.
The petitioner who is working as a Driver with the Haryana Roadways has approached this Court with a prayer for setting aside the order dated 18.1.1999 ( Annexure P.6) passed by the Additional Transport Controller, Haryana (respondent no.2) dismissing his appeal and order dated 26.7.1993 ( Annexure P.4) passed by the General Manager, Haryana Roadways, Hisar (respondent no.3) whereby he has been punished with stoppage of four annual grade increments with 9850 on 21.8.1992.
Brief facts of the case are that the petitioner has been working with the Haryana Roadways at Gurgaon Depot. When he was on duty on 21.8.1992 while driving bus No. HR-20-9850 enroute Hisar to Chandigarh he caused the accident about 6-7 kms. prior to approaching Narwana town and the passengers suffered injuries. Two passengers were removed to Civil Hospital, Narwana while seven of them had to be admitted to Civil Hospital, Hisar. The accident is alleged to have been caused by the carelessness of the petitioner as he was alleged to be talking to the passengers. The petitioner was suspended on 25.8.1992 on the basis of the report sent by the Traffic Manager. He was subsequently charge sheeted vide order dated 11.9.1992 to which he submitted his reply. Subsequently an Enquiry Officer was appointed on 25.2.1993 who conducted the enquiry and CWP 1555 of 2000 2
submitted his report dated 9.6.1993 ( Annexure P.3). On the basis of the report of the Enquiry Officer, who found the petitioner guilty of all the charges, he was issued a show cause notice which has been duly replied. He was also afforded an opportunity of hearing in person. Respondent no.3 who is the punishing authority accepted the findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer holding him guilty of the charges of negligent driving. However, keeping in view the fact that he has rendered satisfactory service, he took lenient view and instead of dispensing with his services, he awarded him punishment of stoppage of four annual grade increments with cumulative effect. His salary was also limited to the subsistence allowance during the suspension period. Accordingly, the petitioner was reinstated in service with immediate effect. Against the afore-mentioned order of punishment, the petitioner preferred an appeal before the State Transport Controller- respondent no.2. The appeal filed by him was also dismissed on 18.1.1999 by the State Transport Controller by observing as under: " After thoroughly going through the record of the case I have reached the conclusion that there is no merit in the appeal because the bus met with an accident on 21.8.1992 about 6/7 kilometers prior to Narwana on account of the negligent driving by the appellant and on account of this all the passengers on board the bus suffered injuries on their legs and head etc. Out of them 21 passengers received treatment at civil Hospital Narwana, seven passengers including the bus driver (appellant) and the Conductor where shifted to the Civil Hospital Hissar. On enquiry from the passengers in the hospital they informed that the driver was talking to a passenger who was sitting on the Bonnet of the bus and he was so busy in talking with him and he did not notice a four wheeler which (?) reached near the bus, he out of confusion tried to take the bus aside and on account of this reason the bus went out of control and it got down on CWP 1555 of 2000 3
the kacha portion and then (?) struck a tree. In this accident the entire body of the bus was damaged and the engine and gear box was got separated. Meaning thereby the bus was almost finished. The department suffered a loss of 4/5 lacs on account of his negligence.
Hence I understand that the General Manager by not awarding punishment of dispensing with the services of the appellant when he was negligent in driving the bus and punishing him by stopping merely four annual increments with cumulative effect has already dealt with him with leniency. Hence I found no merit in the appeal of the appellant and reject the same."
When the matter came up for consideration before this Court on 7.2.2000, the hearing was deferred in order to enable the petitioner to place on record copies of some documents like FIR dated 21.8.1992 and the case was adjourned sine die on 28.3.2000. Accordingly, the documents has been placed on record and the matter has now been put up for motion hearing.
Mr. O.P.Sharma, learned counsel for the petitioner has raised two fold submissions before us. Firstly, he has submitted that the findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer are not sustainable as there is no statement made by the passengers to show that the petitioner was talking to the passengers while driving the bus immediately before the accident on 21.8.1992. According to the learned counsel, the findings are without any evidence and therefore the enquiry report dated 9.6.1993 (Annexure P.3) cannot constitute the basis for awarding any punishment to the petitioner. Learned counsel has then argued that some of the injured filed claim petitions before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal wherein respondent no.3 has filed the written statement. Learned counsel has pointed out that in para 24 of the written statement the stand taken is that as a matter of fact the Driver of the Canter was rash and negligent in driving the vehicle who dashed with the bus as a result of which the bus went out of control. Learned counsel has CWP 1555 of 2000 4
maintained that in view of the stand taken by respondent no.3, it cannot be concluded by the Enquiry Officer that the petitioner was negligent in driving the bus.
We have thoughtfully considered the submissions made by the learned counsel and are of the view that the impugned order dated 26.7.1993 passed by the General Manager, Haryana Roadways and the appellate order dated 18.1.1999 do not suffer from any illegality . It is not disputed that the petitioner was driving Bus with registration No. HR -20-9850 on 21.8.1992 enroute Hisar to Chandigarh . The fact with regard to the accident has also not been disputed. There is ample evidence produced by the department in support of the allegation that the petitioner was driving negligently. On the issue reliance has been rightly placed by the Enquiry Officer on the statement of Shri Ishwar Singh, Inspector, Traffic Manager and Shri Hukam Chand Head Black-smith who inspected the spot of accident. Both of them have submitted their reports and have also made statement that the accident was caused by the petitioner when he lost control over the vehicle after witnessing a canter coming from the opposite side. There was a truck on the side leaving no room for the petitioner to take the bus on kacha side which was running at a high speed. It was drizzling also. There was no collusion between the offending bus and the Canter and only a side mirror of the four wheeler had broken. It cannot thus be concluded that it is a case of no evidence and the findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer are vitiated on account of non-production of other injured persons or other passengers. It is well settled that adequacy of evidence to sustain the findings is not within the domain of the Courts as the Courts cannot sit in appeal over the findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer as accepted by the Punishing Authority. In that regard, reliance may be placed on a judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of B.C.Chaturvedi v. UOI and others 1995(5) SLR 778 (SC). In para 12, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has observed as under:
CWP 1555 of 2000 5
" Judicial review is not an appeal from a decision but a review of the manner in which the decision is made. Power of judicial review is meant to ensure that the individual receives fair treatment and not to ensure that the conclusion which the authority reaches is necessarily correct in the eyes of Court. When an enquiry is conducted on charges of misconduct by a public servant, the Court/ Tribunal is concerned to determine whether the enquiry was held by a competent officer or whether rules of natural justice are complied with. Whether the findings or conclusions are based on some evidence, the authority entrusted with the power to hold inquiry has jurisdiction, power and authority to reach a finding of fact or conclusion. But that finding must be based on some evidence Neither the technical rules of Evidence Act nor of proof of fact or evidence as defined therein, apply to disciplinary proceeding. When the authority accepts that evidence and conclusion receives support therefrom, the disciplinary authority is entitled to hold that the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge. The Court/ Tribunal in its power of the judicial review does not act as appellate authority to re-appreciate the evidence and to arrive at its own independent findings on the evidence. The Court/ Tribunal may interfere where the authority held the proceedings against the delinquent officer in a manner inconsistent with the rules of natural justice or in violation of statutory rules prescribing the mode of inquiry or where the conclusion or finding reached by the disciplinary authority is based on no evidence. If the conclusion or finding be such as no reasonable person would have ever reached, the Court/ Tribunal may interfere with the conclusion or the finding, and mould the relief so as to make it appropriate to the facts of each case." (emphasis added)
CWP 1555 of 2000 6
When the above principles laid down by Hon'ble the Supreme Court are applied to the facts of the present case, we find that various procedural steps postulated by Rule 7 of the Haryana Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1987 have been religiously followed by issuing charge sheet, obtaining reply from the delinquent employee, appointing Enquiry Officer and holding of regular departmental enquiry. In the enquiry, ample opportunity of cross examining the witnesses and supply of documents has been afforded to the petitioner. In these circumstances, we do not find any procedural lapse in holding the enquiry against the delinquent employee. Therefore, the first argument raised by the learned counsel is devoid of any merit and the same is rejected.
The other submission made by the learned counsel in respect of the stand taken by the respondents before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal does not require any detailed consideration. Neither the petitioner has set up the afore- mentioned defence before the Enquiry Officer nor the record from the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal was summoned. It is appropriate to mention that the Enquiry report was submitted on 9.6.1993 and the written statement was filed by the respondents before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal on 22.5.1993. The afore-mentioned written statement could have been confronted to the departmental witnesses or any other witness could have been summoned by the petitioner for explaining the stand in the written statement. However, no such effort has been made. In the absence of any material having been brought on record of the enquiry file, it is not possible for us to seek explanation of the authority filing the written statement (Annexure P.8). The argument is the result of ingenuity of the counsel and can hardly be accepted. Therefore, we have no hesitation to reject even the second argument raised by the learned counsel.
No other argument has been raised.
Before parting, we are constrained to observe that the petitioner has been let off by a lenient punishment despite the fact that 21 passengers have been CWP 1555 of 2000 7
given medical treatment who had sustained injuries in the accident. If one starts calculating the loss suffered by public exchequer it may turn out to be colossal.
Even the bus has been damaged expensively. Be that as it may, we are not inclined to open this issue. However, we wish to point out that when a Driver is employed by the roadways he does not merely handle the driving of the bus but his driving effects the lives of passengers in the bus, in the other vehicle and the road user.
Therefore, the State Government should ensure that driving licences are not easily given and only those who are given the driving licence actually satisfies the standard fixed by the Motor Vehicles Act, 1998 and the Rules framed thereunder.
We hope and trust that the State Government would take steps in that direction.
In view of the above, the writ petition fails and the same is dismissed.
A copy of the order be supplied to the Advocate General, Haryana for onward transmission to the concerned quarter.
Double Click on any word for its dictionary meaning or to get reference material on it.