Patna High Court Opines That Employee’s Failure To Respond To Charges Does Not Mitigate The Responsibility Of The Department To Provide Evidence During Inquiry Process

Posted On - 21 November, 2023 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva

[1]The Hon’ble Patna High Court has overturned the dismissal of a Senior Jail Superintendent, stating that the department cannot be absolved of its duty to provide evidence during the inquiry, even if the employee fails to respond to charges related to financial irregularities. The Court emphasized that findings can be entered into on the evidence led, even if the delinquent employee does not cooperate. The Court disagreed with the Single Judge’s findings, particularly because they did not examine whether there was any evidence on which the employee could be found guilty, even on preponderance of probability, in the inquiry proceeding. The Court stated that it could interfere under judicial review if the Inquiry Officer and the Disciplinary Authority relied on extraneous matters and if there was no evidence to find the complicity of the delinquent employee.

The Court observed that there was no list of witnesses or documents supplied to the delinquent employee. It was noted that while the Vigilance Report was mentioned in the evidence column, there was no document relating to evidence made available, and none of the enclosures in the Vigilance Report were supplied to the appellant. The Court set aside the enquiry and the punishment imposed and held that the appellant is entitled to full back wages during his suspension till he attained retirement and pension thereafter. The court clarified that the judgment shall have no bearing on the criminal trial pending; if it is so pending.

[1] Letters Patent Appeal No.1302 of 2017