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Har Narain Singh v. Regional Manager U.P.S.R.T.C. And Another - WRIT - A No. 31109 of 2005 [2005] RD-AH 1630 (13 July 2005)


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                                                                                                        Court No.38

Civil Misc. Writ Petition No.   31109 of 2005

Har Narain Singh  vs. Regional Manager, UPSRTC, Jhansi Region & another

Hon'ble Vineet Saran, J

The petitioner was initially appointed on 18.9.1971 as a Bus Conductor with the U.P. State Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred to as the Corporation). Thereafter in February, 1990 he was promoted on the post of Booking Clerk. By an order dated 1.5.1999 the petitioner was again given promotion on the post of Assistant Traffic Inspector. On 29.7.2001 he was transferred from Orai Depot to Hamirpur Depot as Assistant Traffic Inspector, on which post he joined on the same day. For an incident which had taken place on 2.8.2001 (the details of which shall be given hereinafter) an enquiry was instituted and the petitioner has been terminated from service by order dated 23.3.2005 passed by Regional Manager, UPSRTC, Jhansi Region, Jhansi, Respondent no.1. Aggrieved by the said order the petitioner has filed this writ petition with the prayer for quashing the termination order dated 23.3.2005 and for a direction to the respondents to permit him to continue to work as Assistant Traffic Inspector and pay him his regular salary.

I have heard Sri M.C.Chaturvedi, learned counsel for the petitioner as well as Sri R.A.Gaur, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents and perused the record. Counter and rejoinder affidavits have been exchanged and with the consent of the learned counsel for the parties this writ petition is being disposed of at the admission stage itself.

Sri R.A.Gaur, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents has raised a preliminary objection that since under Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation Employees (other than Officers) Service Regulations, 1981 an appeal lies against the impugned order, this writ petition would be barred by the principles of alternative remedy.

Sri Chaturvedi has, however, submitted that he does not dispute any factual position as stated in the enquiry report or in the impugned order and is only confining his relief to the quantum of punishment which has been awarded on the basis of the findings recorded by the enquiry officer.

Considering the fact that pleadings have been exchanged between the parties and that the petitioner is limiting his prayer only to the extent of quantum of punishment, I am not inclined to dismiss this writ petition on the ground of alternative remedy and relegate the petitioner to appellate jurisdiction.

The brief facts as stated by the learned counsel for the petitioner are that it was only three days before the incident that the petitioner was given charge of Hamirpur Depot i.e. on 29.7.2001. As per the charge sheet and the enquiry report, on 2.8.2001 bus no. U.P.93 - 7969 was found plying in the territory of the petitioner of which he had taken charge three days back and on a surprise check by the officials of the Head office, 16 passengers were found to be travelling without ticket. A charge sheet dated 31.8.2001 was served on the petitioner, to which a reply was submitted by him on 12.9.2001. Thereafter the enquiry report was submitted on 3.11.2001 along with which another show cause notice was issued to the petitioner with regard to the imposition of punishment. A reply to the said show cause notice was submitted by the petitioner on 9.11.2001. Then, after lapse of more than three years the impugned order dated 23.3.2005 has been passed terminating the services of the petitioner. It has been categorically stated by the learned counsel that no further proceedings had taken place after submission of the reply by the petitioner on 9.11.2001. The explanation of the petitioner is that on 2.8.2001 when the alleged incident had taken place the petitioner had gone to Jhansi in a departmental enquiry proceeding regarding which a certificate has been issued (filed as Annexure-5 to this writ petition). However, since I am not inclined to go into the factual aspect of the matter as to whether the enquiry was conducted properly or that the findings of the enquiry officer were proper or not, I am, thus, not entering into these facts of the case.

As regards the quantum of punishment given to the petitioner, Sri Chaturvedi has submitted that the conductor of the Bus in which 16 passengers were found to be travelling without ticket, had also been issued a show cause notice and an independent enquiry had been conducted in his matter also. The report of such enquiry has been filed on 12.8.2002 (copy filed as Annexure-9 to this writ petition). In the said report the explanation of the bus conductor had been partially accepted to the extent that the passengers travelling without ticket had boarded the bus but the bus conductor was in the process of issuing tickets and hence, giving him the benefit of doubt, a lighter punishment of withholding five annual increments had been imposed. The submission of the learned counsel is that the main accused in the matter has been let off with a minor punishment whereas the petitioner, who was not directly connected with the incident but was only indirectly responsible for checking the buses on his route, has been imposed a punishment of termination of service. Thus, according to the petitioner the punishment imposed is grossly disproportionate to the charges levelled and proved against him.

Sri Gaur has, however, submitted that it was the duty of the petitioner to check the buses on the route allotted to him and any lapse in the same was his complete responsibility. As such when the petitioner has been found guilty of not performing his duty, the punishment awarded is justified.

Having heard learned counsel for the parties and considering the facts and circumstances of this case, in my view, in the present case the punishment imposed on the petitioner is grossly disproportionate to the charges, which shocks the conscience of this Court. Admittedly the petitioner had joined Hamirpur Depot only three days prior to the alleged incident. Even if the explanation of the petitioner that he had gone to Jhansi for evidence in a departmental enquiry on the date of the incident is not accepted, then too although his responsibility in checking the routes may be there, but any single lapse in the same would certainly not be grave enough so as to call for a punishment of termination from service specially when the explanation of the bus conductor for his lapses had been accepted by the competent authority and he has been imposed a much lesser punishment. The responsibility of the petitioner was only indirect. However, the same would not mean that the petitioner, on the findings as given by the enquiry officer, can be exonerated from the charges. In my view the punishment awarded by the impugned order is inequitable and grossly disproportionate to the charges proved against him and requires reconsideration.  This Court would, however, not be inclined to go into the question as to what appropriate punishment ought to have been awarded. However, the impugned order in so far as the punishment of termination from service awarded to the petitioner is liable to be quashed and the same should be reconsidered by the competent authority in accordance with law after taking into consideration the enquiry report submitted in the case of the bus conductor as well as the punishment awarded to him and also the fact that the petitioner had joined Hamirpur Depot only three days prior to the said incident as well as the fact that the incident took place in August, 2001 and the enquiry report was submitted in November, 2001 which was served on the petitioner along with a show cause notice, to which a reply was also filed by the petitioner in November, 2001 itself and the impugned order has been passed after a lapse of more than three years.

The writ petition stands partly allowed. The impugned order dated 23.3.2005 passed by Regional Manager, UPSRTC, Jhansi Region, Jhansi, Respondent no.1, awarding the punishment of termination of the services of the petitioner is hereby set aside. The matter is remitted back to the Respondent no.1 for reconsideration of punishment in the light of the observations made herein above. No order as to cost.

Dt/- 13.7.2005



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