IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.
Civil Writ Petition No.17402 of 2006
Date of decision: August 12, 2008
Food Corporation of India and others
CORAM:- HON'BLE MR JUSTICE ADARSH KUMAR GOEL HON'BLE MR JUSTICE RAKESH KUMAR GARG
Present: Mr. JS Wasu, Advocate for the petitioner. Mr. AR Takkar, Advocate for the respondents. Adarsh Kumar Goel,J.
1. This petition seeks quashing of penalty of compulsory retirement imposed on the petitioner and also further orders of appellate and reviewing authorities. Prayer has also been made to quash the enquiry report and the charge sheet.
2. Case of the petitioner is that he was employed with the Food Corporation of India. A charge sheet dated 2.4.2003, Annexure P.1 was given to him in respect of misconduct alleged i.e. causing of financial loss to the extent of Rs.28,38,451.20. The petitioner denied the charge and an Enquiry Officer was appointed who gave his report dated 5.5.2004, Annexure P.2, holding the CWP No.17402 of 2006 2 charges to be proved. On the basis of the said report, show cause notice was given to the petitioner and after considering his representation, impugned order of penalty of compulsory retirement was passed. The appeal and review of the petitioner against the said order were dismissed.
3. Learned counsel for the petitioner raised the following points:-
(i) Authors of Exhibits P.5 and P.6 and reports of the inspection team were not examined as witnesses and, thus, the said documents could not be held to have been proved. Reliance was placed on judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in M/s. Bareilly electricity Supply Co. Ltd. V. The Workmen and others, AIR 1972 SC 330.
(ii) Onus was wrongly placed on the petitioner to prove his innocence while infact the onus was on the department to prove the charge. Reliance was placed on judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Delhi Cloth and General Mills Co., v. Ludh Budh Singh, AIR 1972 SC 1031.
(iii) Adverse inference was wrongly drawn for the petitioner having not visited the destination inspite of opportunity available, which was against the law laid down in Managing Director, ECIL, Hyderabad etc. v. B.Karunakar etc,AIR 1994 SC 1074.
(iv) In absence of any charge for the loss caused, the disciplinary authority erroneously observed that the petitioner was responsible for the consequential loss. CWP No.17402 of 2006 3 (v)The appellate authority and the reviewing authority failed to consider the points raised by the petitioner, which was against the law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Ram Chander v. Union of India, AIR 1986 SC 1173.
5. On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondents submitted that charge sheet was duly given to the petitioner after considering his reply. Enquiry officer was appointed who gave his report. During the course of enquiry, reasonable opportunity was given to the petitioner. Evidence was taken in his presence and he was given opportunity to lead evidence. The Enquiry Officer gave a detailed report dealing with all the points raised. Documents Exs. P5 and P.6 were duly proved. PW3 RP Singh confirmed the contents of Exs. P.5 and P.6 as duly noticed by the Enquiry Officer. No prejudice whatsoever was caused to the petitioner. The department duly discharged the burden of proving the charges. The appellate order also deals with all the submission made. Judgments relied upon on behalf of the petitioner are distinguishable. He also referred to judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in S.N. Mukherjee v. Union of India,AIR 1990 SC 1984 to submit that reasons are not required to be recorded for an order passed by affirming authority, confirming findings of the lower authority.
6. We do not find any merit in the writ petition. CWP No.17402 of 2006 4
7. It is well settled that in exercise of power of judicial review, interference with the order of disciplinary authority is permissible only if the finding of Enquiry Officer is based on no evidence or if there is denial of reasonable opportunity. If enquiry has been properly conducted, the departmental authority is the sole judge of the facts. Reference may be made to judgments of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in State of AP and others v. S. Sree Rama Rao, AIR 1963 SC 1723, B.C. Chaturvedi v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 484 and High Court of Judicature at Bombay v. Shashikant S. Patil, AIR 2000 SC 22. In the present case, the petitioner was given opportunity to deny the charge. Evidence was led in his presence and he was given opportunity to cross examine the witnesses and lead the defence evidence. Copy of enquiry report was duly served on him before taking the decision and a speaking order was passed dealing with the objections. We are unable to hold that it was a case of no evidence. Infact, the petitioner also did not go to that extent and only submitted that Exs.P.5 and P.6 were not formally proved and that burden was wrongly placed. We do not find any merit in the said objection. The disciplinary authority as well as appellate authority have examined the case of the petitioner and given sufficient opportunity. Operative part of the order of punishment does not deal with the causing of loss. The department duly CWP No.17402 of 2006 5 discharged the burden of proving the charges. The judgments relied upon are distinguishable on facts.
8. For the above reasons, we do not find any ground to interfere with the impugned order.
9. The petition is dismissed.
(Adarsh Kumar Goel)
August 12, 2008 (Rakesh Kumar Garg) 'gs' Judge