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Satish Chandra Mittal v. State Of U.P.& Others - WRIT - A No. 14080 of 2001  RD-AH 1011 (7 April 2005)
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 14080 Of 2001
Satish Chandra Mittal ..............................Petitioner
State of U.P. and others .......................... Respondents.
Hon. Tarun Agarwala,J.
The petitioner was charge-sheeted on 21.4.1995 with regard to certain irregularities committed by him during the period 10.4.1987 to 26.9.1990 while he was posted at Tilhar. The petitioner submitted his reply denying all the charges. In view of the reply submitted by the petitioner, an Inquiry Officer was appointed and during the pendency of the inquiry proceedings, the inquiry officer was transferred and a new inquiry officer was appointed, who, without conducting an oral inquiry submitted a report. Based on this inquiry report, the disciplinary authority by an order dated 1.3.2001 passed an order terminating the services of the petitioner and also directed for the recovery of Rs.11,40,340.60 from the petitioner. The petitioner preferred an appeal which was dismissed by an order dated 31.3.2003. Consequently the present writ petition.
In paragraph 13 of the writ petition the petitioner has contended that no oral inquiry was conducted by the Inquiry Officer nor any witness was produced to prove the charges against the petitioner. These allegations have not been denied by the respondents in paragraph 12 of the counter affidavit. The respondents submitted that the petitioner only demanded for a personal hearing which he was provided and therefore, there was no question of examining any witness/or witnesses.
In my view the approach adopted by the respondents in conducting the inquiry was in gross violation of the principles of natural justice. Admittedly, the Uttar Pradesh Government Servant (Disciplinary and Appeal) Rules, 1999 (hereinafter referred to as the ''Rules of 1999') are applicable to the case of the petitioner. Rule 7 provides the procedure for conducting the inquiry where a major penalty is to be imposed upon a Government Servant. Sub Clause(vii) of Rule 7 of the Rules of 1999 states-
"Where the charged Government Servant denies the charges the Inquiry Officer shall proceed to call the witnesses proposed in the charge-sheet and record their oral evidence in presence of the charged Government Servant who shall be given opportunity to cross-examine such witnesses. After recording the aforesaid evidences, the Inquiry Officer shall call and record the oral evidence which the charged Government Servant desired in his written statement to be produced in his defence:
Provided that the Inquiry Officer may for reasons to be recorded in writing refuse to call a witness."
From the perusal of the aforesaid, it is clear that where the delinquent denies the charges, the Inquiry Officer is required to proceed with the inquiry and call the witnesses and record their oral evidence and that the delinquent would also be given an opportunity to cross examine the witness. It is not open to the respondents to discontinue the inquiry merely because the petitioner stated that he should be given an opportunity of personal hearing. Personal hearing can be permitted only after oral inquiry as contemplated under Clause (vii) Rule 7 of the Rules of 1999 is completed.
In Meenglas Tea Estate vs. Workmen , A.I.R. 1963 SC 1719, the Supreme Court held-
"It is an elementary principle that a person who is required to answer a charge must know not only the accusation but also the testimony by which the accusation is supported. He must be given a fair chance to hear the evidence in support of the charge and to put such relevant questions by way of cross-examination as he desires. Then he must be given a chance to rebut the evidence led against him. This is the barest requirement of an enquiry of this character and its requirement must be substantially fulfilled before the result of the enquiry can be accepted."
In Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd. vs. Its Workmen, AIR 1962 SC 1348 and in Uma Shanker vs. Registrar, 1992 (65) F.L.R. 674, it has been held that even where a delinquent refuses to participate in the inquiry, the employer cannot straightaway dismiss him from the service and that the employer must hold an exparte inquiry and lead the evidence.
In view of the aforesaid, it is clear that no opportunity was given to the petitioner to cross examine the witnesses and that the inquiry proceeded in gross violation of Sub-clause (vii) of Rule 7 of the Rules of 1999. No witnesses were produced nor any opportunity was given to the petitioner to cross-examine the witness nor any opportunity was given to the petitioner to produce his own witness or lead the evidence. Consequently, in my opinion, the impugned order was clearly violative of the principles of natural justice.
Consequently, the impugned orders cannot be sustained and are quashed. The writ petition is allowed and the matter is remitted back to the disciplinary authority who will appoint an Inquiry Officer and conduct the inquiry from the stage where it had been left off. The Inquiry Officer shall complete the inquiry within a period of four months from the date a certified copy of the order is produced before the disciplinary authority. The disciplinary authority shall pass final orders within six weeks from the date of the receipt of the inquiry report. Till the completion of the inquiry, the petitioner shall be treated as a suspended employee. The petitioner shall however, be entitled for suspension allowance till the disposal of the inquiry proceedings but will not be given the arrears of the suspension allowance. The disciplinary authority while passing the final order shall also pass orders with regard to the arrears of suspension allowance.
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