Where disciplinary authority disagrees with inquiry authority, delinquent officer to be given an opportunity

Rajasthan High Court: This writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is directed against the order of punishment dated 8/12/2011, whereby the petitioner has been dismissed from service. The petitioner who was selected in Rajasthan Judicial Service was promoted to the post of Additional District Judge (Fast Track) and while he was posted at Baran, a Memorandum under Rule 16 of the Rajasthan Civil Services Rules, 1958, was issued to the petitioner. It was alleged that he accepted bribe of Rs. 20,000 per accused and discharged accused from grave offences under Sections 302, 365 I.P.C. and framed charges for offences under Sections 148, 120B, 304/149 & 201 I.P.C. of lesser gravity, vide his order dated 8.12.2003. He was also alleged to have accepted the bail applications of accused persons in judicial custody including accused Banshi Lal not considering the fact that bail application of accused Banshi Lal u/S. 439 Cr.P.C. had already been rejected by District & Sessions Judge, Baran thus acting with corrupt and ulterior motive to give undue benefit to accused persons and committing gross misconduct.
After hearing the parties, the Inquiry Judge, on the two charges, inter alia came to the conclusion that although the charges were not proved by leading evidence, yet, the delinquent officer had failed to observe sufficient degree of caution and judiciousness which was expected of him being member of Higher Judicial Service. The Inquiry Judge ordered the same to be placed before the Hon’ble Chief Justice. The inquiry report dated 31/3/2011 being placed before the Full Court, the Full Court was of the opinion that the officer appears to have acted with corrupt motive.
It was submitted by counsel for the petitioner that the Inquiry Judge by his inquiry report clearly absolved the petitioner of charge no. 1 and on a totally vague charge no. 2, though came to the conclusion that no evidence was produced in support of charge no. 2 and that the same was not proved, still went on to make observations and found the petitioner guilty of failure to maintain judicial efficiency, a charge which was neither indicated nor framed.

Learned counsel appearing for the respondent High Court vehemently opposed the submissions made by the petitioner’s counsel and submitted with reference to Articles 226 and 235 of the Constitution that the jurisdiction of this Court in interfering with the decision of the Full Court is limited and that this Court is not sitting as an appellate authority qua the decision of Full Court and, therefore, no interference was called for in the order impugned.
The High Court while adjudicating the matter pointed out that when the inquiry report was placed before the Full Court, the Full Court by its resolution dated 22/5/2011 while accepting the report, was of the opinion that the officer appears to have acted with corrupt motive also. The Full Court then directed sending of a copy of inquiry report along with resolution of the Full Court to the delinquent officer inviting his representation. The admitted facts which emerge from the record are that despite specific direction by the Full Court to send copy of the resolution of the Full Court to delinquent officer (petitioner), only the copy of the inquiry report was sent and the resolution of the Full Court was made available to the petitioner only after the order impugned dismissing the petitioner from service was passed on 8/12/2011.

The High Court opined that  as admittedly the copy of the resolution of the Full Court was not made available to the petitioner, the same apparently was in violation of the resolution itself as well as express provisions of Rule 16(10A) of the Rules, 1958 and thus resulted in causing prejudice to the petitioner, who being unaware of the opinion of the Full Court did not make any representation qua the said opinion of the Full Court.

The High Court, disposing of the writ petition and remitting the matter back to the disciplinary authority to take up the inquiry afresh, held, “In view of the fact that the opinion of the Full Court was not communicated to the petitioner and petitioner could not make any representation qua the said opinion, further the Full Court rejected the representation and the State acting on the opinion of the Full Court has ordered for dismissal of the petitioner, the order of dismissal stands vitiated.” [Ghanshyam Giri v. Rajasthan High Court through the Registrar General, 2017 SCC OnLine Raj 2559, decided on 20.9.2017.]

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