Pat HC | Order punishing violation of mid-day meal scheme norms – unsustainable where no evidence considered by disciplinary authority

Patna High Court: The Bench of Madhuresh Prasad, J. allowed a petition challenging order directing withdrawal of pay increments, holding that enquiry into the matter was done without considering relevant materials.

Petitioner, while working as in-charge officer of mid-day meal scheme in Khagaria, was proceeded against under charge memo alleging that he had recommended one Non-Government Organization (NGO) – ‘Maya Labour Seva Sansthan’ – for executing mid-day meal in an urban and semi-urban area of Khagaria ignoring the norms in vogue.

Petitioner’s case before the Enquiry Officer was that alleged charges were unsustainable in view of the fact that prior to his recommendation, the District Superintendent of Education, Khagaria had already issued an order granting responsibility of mid-day meal in favour of the said NGO. Thus, in view of the earlier order of District Superintendent of Education, he could not have been held responsible for granting the work of mid-day meal. However, the disciplinary authority did not consider his plea, and ordered the withdrawal of five increments of petitioner’s pay with cumulative effect. The Appellate Authority affirmed this order. Aggrieved thereby, the instant petition was filed.

The Court noted that the alleged recommendation of the petitioner had not even been produced in the enquiry. The Enquiry Officer had not considered any evidence in support of the charge whatsoever, and had not even looked into the communication allegedly issued by the District Superintendent of Education. Thus, it was opined that the petitioner had been punished without even examining any evidence in support of the charges.

In view of the above, it was held that report of the Enquiry Officer was clearly unsustainable. Further, the impugned order of Disciplinary Authority and Appellate Authority was also held to be unsustainable and thus quashed.[Sanjay Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 236, Order dated 22-02-2019]

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