High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Punjab State Electricity Board v. Tarlok Chand Gautam - RSA-637-1994  RD-P&H 553 (3 February 2006)
Case No. : C.M.No.11076-C of 2005 &
R.S.A.No.637 of 1994
Date of Decision : February 10, 2006.
Punjab State Electricity Board .... Appellant Vs.
Tarlok Chand Gautam .... Respondent
Coram : Hon'ble Mr.Justice Viney Mittal.
* * *
Present : Mr.H.N.Mehtani, Advocate
for the appellant.
for the respondent.
C.M.No.11076-C of 2005 :
For the reasons stated in the application, the order dated January 08, 2004 is recalled and the main appeal is re-admitted for hearing to its original number.
R.S.A.No.637 of 1994 :
With the consent of learned counsel for both the parties, the main appeal itself has been taken up for final hearing.
The defendants Punjab State Electricity Board and others have concurrently lost before the two courts below in a suit for declaration filed by the plaintiff to the effect that the order dated March 29, 1989 passed by defendant no.1, whereby a demand of Rs.69,300/- has been made is illegal, void and arbitrary and liable to be set aside. A consequential relief for restraining defendant no.3 was also sought for not making the reduction of the said amount from pay and other emoluments of the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed that a show cause notice was issued to him when he was posted as Junior Engineer with the Punjab State Electricity Board. He filed a comprehensive reply to the show cause notice but without considering the C.M.No.11076-C of 2005 & : 2 :
R.S.A.No.637 of 1994
said reply and affording any opportunity to him, an order dated March 29, 1989 imposing a penalty of recovery of Rs.69,300/- was passed. The said order was challenged by way of filing of the suit in question.
The defendants contested the suit. They raised various technical pleas. It was raised by them that there were serious allegations of shortage of copper wire against the plaintiff and therefore, show cause notice was served upon him. After considering the reply filed by the plaintiff, the order dated March 29, 1989 was passed, which the defendants claimed, was fully legal and valid.
The learned trial court, on the basis of material evidence available on record, found that the order dated March 29, 2003 was totally a non-speaking order and did not contain any reasons for ordering the recovery against the plaintiff. It was also held that the aforesaid order did not show that the reply of the plaintiff was taken into consideration.
Consequently, the suit filed by the plaintiff was decreed but liberty was granted to the defendants for taking action against the plaintiff on the same subject matter, in accordance with law.
Rather than availing of the aforesaid liberty, the defendants proceeded and filed a first appeal before the appellate court.
The learned first appellate court re-appraised the evidence but still came to the similar conclusion as had been arrived at by the learned trial court. The appeal filed by the defendants was also dismissed.
I have heard Shri H.N.Mehtani, learned counsel for the defendants-appellants and Ms.Kulwant Kaur Kahlon, learned counsel appearing for the plaintiff-respondent and with their assistance, have also gone through the record of the case.
The only argument raised by Shri Mehtani is that the order had been passed by the defendant-Board keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case and keeping in view the shortage of the copper wire and the punishment awarded was only a minor punishment.
After considering the aforesaid contention, I do not find any merit in the same.
C.M.No.11076-C of 2005 & : 3 :
R.S.A.No.637 of 1994
Both the courts below have concurrently held it as a fact, which is not disputed by Shri Mehtani, that the order dated March 29, 2003 is a non-speaking order. No reasons have been assigned therein. It does not even show that the reply filed by the plaintiff had been considered. In these circumstances, not only the order of punishment was a non-speaking order but the same was also in violation of principles of natural justice as well.
It is well settled that no punishment, minor or major, can be awarded to a person without affording a reasonable opportunity of hearing to him. In this case, this has not been done.
Moreover, a specific liberty had been granted by the trial court to the defendants to proceed against the plaintiff, in accordance with law, if so desired. The aforesaid judgment was passed on April 06, 1992. The defendants have not availed of the aforesaid liberty at all. They have proceeded with the filing of first appeal and second appeal. In these circumstances, it is apparent that rather than having any interest in making the recovery, the defendants are after the plaintiff. This act of the defendants does not show that they had any genuine interest of the department in their minds.
Consequently, the present Regular Second Appeal is dismissed.
It is also directed that at this stage, the defendants would not be at liberty to proceed against the plaintiff any further.
Nothing has been shown that the findings recorded by both the courts below suffer from any infirmity or are contrary to the record.
No question of law, much less any substantial question of law, arises in the present appeal.
February 10, 2006 ( VINEY MITTAL )
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