[Case Brief] Syed Mansoor Hasan Rizvi v. Director, Local Bodies, and Others, 2017

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Facts in brief –

  • The matter involves the petitioner being put under suspension for committing certain irregularities while he was posted at Lucknow Development Authority and he was subjected to disciplinary proceedings under the U.P Government Servant (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1999.
  • The charge-sheet was supplied to the petitioner but the evidential documents as mentioned in the charge-sheet were not.
  • It has been argued that there was a patent violation of the principle of natural justice and that the petitioner is being also accused of misuse of process of law.

Issue –

  • Whether the petitioner should be subjected to such disciplinary proceedings where the due procedure has not been followed and that the evidence was not produced which being a condition precedent with the inquiry?
  • Whether there’s a violation of the principle of natural justice?

Petitioner’s argument –

  • The petitioners contended that though the charge-sheet was served to the petitioner but the documents mentioned there under were never served or supplied despite repeated requests to the Inquiry Officer.
  • No inquiry at all took place and no departmental witness was ever produced or examined to prove the charges. It has evidently been contended that producing of evidence on behalf of the department against the charge-sheeted person is a condition precedent to proceeding with the inquiry.
  • The approach of the Inquiry officer is opined to be in contravention to the law and opposing to the principle of natural justice.
  • Further, it has been found by the Inquiry officer that the petitioner is not responsible for the alleged omission and commission mentioned in the said charges and that his superior officers were held responsible for that even then only the petitioner has been made the escape-goat and punished. Contrary to this the punishing authority held that the charges stand proved against the petitioner.
  • A perusal of the punishing order would indicate that the probabilities have been made the basis for awarding punishment to the petitioner although from the record no charge against the petitioner is made out.
  • It has been further contended that the charges levied against the petitioner were not only stale but the inquiry was initiated with a pre-determined mind to harm the petitioner and that the departmental inquiry was conducted in breach of the provisions of the natural justice.

Respondent’s argument –

  • The respondents to the submissions made by petitioners contended that the petitioner was placed under suspension in contemplation of inquiry because of the serious irregularities that was committed by him and that in the departmental proceedings, the petitioner was afforded ample opportunities and was supplied with documents having due relevance.
  • It has further been contended that full opportunity was given to the petitioner to defend himself but he himself failed to avail the same.

Findings of the Court –

  • The court found it imperative to ensure whether the procedure prescribed for imposing major penalty rule under Rule 7 (v), (vii) and 7 (x), as well as Rule 9 (2), has been followed or not.
  • Additionally, it has also been found that the charged employee at no point of time was informed about the date, time and place for holding the inquiry. Otherwise also even if it is assumed that the charged employee was informed of the date, time and place for holding the inquiry even then the Inquiry officer has failed to deal with each and every charge separately and found them to be proved.

Decision of the Court –

  • The Hon’ble Court opined that if the charged Government servant denies the charges then in that eventuality the Inquiry Officer is under an obligation to call the witnesses proposed in the charge-sheet and record their oral statements in presence of the charged employee, who shall be given an opportunity to cross-examine such witnesses.
  • The Court while referring to many decided cases emphasized that a proper opportunity must be afforded to a government servant at the stage of inquiry and if it is found to be not in adherence to the basic principles, the order is to be quashed.
  • The burden to establish the wrong is not on the accused but on the department or the employer and hence the court held that ‘where no witnesses are examined and no exhibit/record is made available but straightaway the employee is asked to produce his evidence and documents, is illegal’.
  • Hence, the Court found that the inquiry disregards and violates the principles of natural justice, allowed the writ petition and the impugned order of dismissal to the writ petition were set-aside and ordered the payment of all retiral dues and other service benefits.

Syed Mansoor Hasan Rizvi v. Director, Local Bodies, and Others

Before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India

Decided on- March 9th, 2017

Facts in brief –

  • The matter involves the petitioner being put under suspension for committing certain irregularities while he was posted at Lucknow Development Authority and he was subjected to disciplinary proceedings under the U.P Government Servant (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1999.
  • The charge-sheet was supplied to the petitioner but the evidential documents as mentioned in the charge-sheet were not.
  • It has been argued that there was a patent violation of the principle of natural justice and that the petitioner is being also accused of misuse of process of law.

Issue –

  • Whether the petitioner should be subjected to such disciplinary proceedings where the due procedure has not been followed and that the evidence was not produced which being a condition precedent with the inquiry?
  • Whether there’s a violation of the principle of natural justice?

Petitioner’s argument –

  • The petitioners contended that though the charge-sheet was served to the petitioner but the documents mentioned there under were never served or supplied despite repeated requests to the Inquiry Officer.
  • No inquiry at all took place and no departmental witness was ever produced or examined to prove the charges. It has evidently been contended that producing of evidence on behalf of the department against the charge-sheeted person is a condition precedent to proceeding with the inquiry.
  • The approach of the Inquiry officer is opined to be in contravention to the law and opposing to the principle of natural justice.
  • Further, it has been found by the Inquiry officer that the petitioner is not responsible for the alleged omission and commission mentioned in the said charges and that his superior officers were held responsible for that even then only the petitioner has been made the escape-goat and punished. Contrary to this the punishing authority held that the charges stand proved against the petitioner.
  • A perusal of the punishing order would indicate that the probabilities have been made the basis for awarding punishment to the petitioner although from the record no charge against the petitioner is made out.
  • It has been further contended that the charges levied against the petitioner were not only stale but the inquiry was initiated with a pre-determined mind to harm the petitioner and that the departmental inquiry was conducted in breach of the provisions of the natural justice.

Respondent’s argument –

  • The respondents to the submissions made by petitioners contended that the petitioner was placed under suspension in contemplation of inquiry because of the serious irregularities that was committed by him and that in the departmental proceedings, the petitioner was afforded ample opportunities and was supplied with documents having due relevance.
  • It has further been contended that full opportunity was given to the petitioner to defend himself but he himself failed to avail the same.

Findings of the Court –

  • The court found it imperative to ensure whether the procedure prescribed for imposing major penalty rule under Rule 7 (v), (vii) and 7 (x), as well as Rule 9 (2), has been followed or not.
  • Additionally, it has also been found that the charged employee at no point of time was informed about the date, time and place for holding the inquiry. Otherwise also even if it is assumed that the charged employee was informed of the date, time and place for holding the inquiry even then the Inquiry officer has failed to deal with each and every charge separately and found them to be proved.

Decision of the Court –

  • The Hon’ble Court opined that if the charged Government servant denies the charges then in that eventuality the Inquiry Officer is under an obligation to call the witnesses proposed in the charge-sheet and record their oral statements in presence of the charged employee, who shall be given an opportunity to cross-examine such witnesses.
  • The Court while referring to many decided cases emphasized that a proper opportunity must be afforded to a government servant at the stage of inquiry and if it is found to be not in adherence to the basic principles, the order is to be quashed.
  • The burden to establish the wrong is not on the accused but on the department or the employer and hence the court held that ‘where no witnesses are examined and no exhibit/record is made available but straightaway the employee is asked to produce his evidence and documents, is illegal’.
  • Hence, the Court found that the inquiry disregards and violates the principles of natural justice, allowed the writ petition and the impugned order of dismissal to the writ petition were set-aside and ordered the payment of all retiral dues and other service benefits.

( This brief was prepared and submitted to LawBriefs.in by Ritum Kumar, Student at Lloyd’s Law College – Greater Noida. ) 

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