A ‘show-cause notice’ does not infringe civil or fundamental rights of a person

High Court of Karanataka: While deciding a writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Raghvendra S. Chauhan, J., inter alia, held that a show-cause notice does not infringe rights of a person, unless it is issued by an authority not competent to do so.

The petitioner challenged the charge-sheet-cum-suspension order whereby the respondent-company suspended the petitioner from the post of Junior Section Officer. The petitioner, Working President of the Trade Union, was alleged to have forged three letters filed in the Court records. The respondent alleged that such act by the petitioner fell within ‘misconduct’ as contained in the Standing Orders of the respondent-Company. And considering the gravity and seriousness of the misconduct, the petitioner was suspended. Learned counsel for the petitioner put up a stern defence for the petitioner and vehemently argued against the impugned order.

The High Court perused the material available on record, contentions and submissions by the parties as well as the impugned order. It found that the impugned order not only states the reasons for initiating a departmental enquiry against the petitioner, but also gives time to the petitioner to show cause as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. Thus, the impugned communication was merely a ‘show-cause notice’; the charges were yet to be framed.

The Court relied on the Apex Court decision in (2012) 11 SCC 565 to hold that a show-cause notice does not infringe civil or fundamental rights of a person, unless such notice has been issued by an authority not competent to do so or is beyond the jurisdiction of the authority.

In the instant case, the petitioner did not challenge the competence of the respondent to pass the impugned order. Accordingly, the Court was of the view that no cause of action arise and the petition was devoid of merits. The petition was dismissed. [Krishnappa v. Bharat Electronics Ltd., WP No. 49304 of 2017 (S-DE), order dated 20.11.2017]

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