High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Harbhajan Singh v. Punjab State Civil Supplies - RSA-2056-2004  RD-P&H 658 (9 February 2006)
Case No. : R.S.A.No.2056 of 2004
Date of Decision : January 24, 2006.
Harbhajan Singh .... Appellant
Punjab State Civil Supplies
Corporation Limited, Chandigarh .... Respondent Coram : Hon'ble Mr.Justice Viney Mittal.
* * *
Present : Mr.Puneet Jindal, Advocate
for the appellant.
for the respondent.
The defendant having concurrently lost before the two courts below, has approached this Court through the present appeal.
The plaintiff-Corporation filed a suit for recovery of Rs.1,69,725.92 paise. It was claimed by the Corporation that the plaintiff was employed as Sub Inspector under the control of Managing Director on April 24, 1976 and while serving the Corporation, he took over the charge of Centre at Dhilwan. It was noticed that there was a loss and shortage in the stocks. Consequently, on account of the aforesaid shortage, the said suit was filed.
The suit was contested by the defendant on various grounds.
He denied his liability for any such shortage. He also claimed that since the aforesaid recovery amounted to a punishment, the same could only be awarded after following procedure under the rules, therefore, the suit for recovery was not maintainable.
The learned trial court on the basis of evidence brought by Corporation, found it as a fact that when the defendant was Incharge of the Centre at Dhilwan, there was shortage in the stocks. He was also held liable for the aforesaid shortage. Consequently, the suit of the plaintiff- Corporation was decreed for an amount of Rs.1,69,725.92 paise along with R.S.A.No.2056 of 2004 : 2 :
interest. A future interest at the rate of 18% was also awarded against him.
The defendant took up the matter in appeal. The learned first appellate court re-appraised the evidence and came to the similar conclusions as were arrived at by the learned trial court. The appeal of the defendant was also dismissed.
I have heard Shri Puneet Jindal, learned counsel for the defendant-appellant and Shri D.S.Virk, learned counsel appearing for the respondent-Corporation and with their assistance, have gone through the record of the case.
Shri Jindal has argued that under Rule 5 of the rules applicable to the defendant-appellant, the recovery for the loss caused on account of any negligence by an employee was one of the punishment and the aforesaid punishment could not be awarded to the defendant unless and until the departmental procedure was followed. It has been argued that filing of the present suit by the Corporation itself was contrary to the rules.
I am afraid that the aforesaid contention is absolutely without any justification. The argument of the learned counsel is, in fact, mix up of two things. The requirement of undertaking the procedure of Rule 5 of the rules would arise if any departmental proceedings are to be taken against the delinquent official. In such a situation, if the departmental proceedings are required to be taken, then besides the other punishment awardable to the delinquent official, recovery can be ordered for the loss caused. However, in any case, if the loss is caused by the official/officer of the Corporation, then civil rights available to the Corporation for recovery of the aforesaid amount of loss from the person, who had caused the loss, are not lost. The said civil rights are only enforcible in a civil suit. The said right to recovery for the loss is independent of the disciplinary proceedings against the delinquent official.
In this view of the matter, the argument raised by the learned counsel for the appellant is absolutely without any merit.
The second argument raised by the learned counsel is that the plaintiff-Corporation has failed to prove that any loss was ever caused to the Corporation on account of any negligence/dereliction of duty by the defendant.
R.S.A.No.2056 of 2004 : 3 :
Even this argument of the learned counsel is without any merit.
Both the parties have produced their evidence on record and a perusal of the same leads to a positive conclusion that the loss in question was caused on account of dereliction of duty by the defendant.
In this view of the matter, the suit for recovery filed by the Corporation, for making good the said loss was also totally justified.
The last argument raised by the learned counsel is that awarding of 18% interest by the trial court and upheld by the first appellate court, was excessive. I find merit in this argument of the learned counsel.
The recovery sought from the defendant-appellant is not on account of any commercial transaction. It is only to make good the loss suffered by the Corporation. In this situation, the interest awarded by the trial court is reduced to 12%.
Except for the aforesaid modification, I do not find any further merit in the present appeal.
No question of law, much less any substantial question of law arises in the present appeal.
January 24, 2006 ( VINEY MITTAL )
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