Civil Appeal No. 3383 Of 2007 Arising Out Of Special Leave Petition
(Civil) No. 17250 Of 2006
H.K. Sema, J. - Leave granted.
This appeal is directed against the
judgment and order dated 3rd April, 2006 passed by the High Court of
Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh in CWP No. 10039 of 2005.
(3) Briefly stated, the facts are as
The respondent was working as Sub Divisional Engineer in Public Works
Department (B&R). By an order dated 20.10.1999, the following charges
were levelled against him:
"1. Breach of trust in making
attempt to pilferage Govt. Material/Cement.
2. Negligence/ failure in the
faithful discharge of his duties as Sub Divisional Engineer.
3. Concealment of facts by making
4. According approval to the indent
for 200 bags of cement without assessing exact requirement.
5. Failure in getting a case
registered against the guilty persons and further failure in supervision
of Government material and
6. Failure to report to the
authorities in time after being in the knowledge of the incident."
(4) The Competent Authority
appointed Sh. B.D. Gupta, the then Superintending Engineer as Enquiry
Officer. The Enquiry Officer submitted the report exonerating the
respondent of the charges levelled against him. The Competent Authority
disagreed with the finding of the Enquiry Officer and a notice was
issued to the respondent along with a copy of the Enquiry Report and
dissenting note. The respondent filed a reply to the show cause notice
vide letter dated 21.1.2000. The reply was rejected by affording the
respondent an opportunity of personal hearing. Thereafter, the
disciplinary authority, with the concurrence of the Punjab Public
Service Commission, awarded punishment of stoppage of two annual
increments with cumulative effect by an order dated 20.10.2003.
Aggrieved thereby, the respondent filed a Review Appeal before the
Authority on 22.1.2004. The said Review Appeal, preferred by the
respondent, was considered by the Competent Authority and the same was
rejected vide its order dated 24.6.2004. Aggrieved thereby, he preferred
a Writ Petition before the High Court.
(5) The only ground on which the
High Court has set aside the order of punishment dated 20.10.2003 and
the order passed by the Competent Authority in Review dated 24.6.2004,
rejecting the Review Appeal was that there was violation of the
principles of natural justice inasmuch as the opportunity of personal
hearing was not afforded to the respondent while dismissing the Review
Appeal by an order dated 24.6.2004.
(6) Rule 21 of the Punjab Civil
Service (Punishment & Appeal) Rules, 1970 deals with the review. A
perusal of the aforesaid rule shows that there is no provision of
personal hearing in regard to inflicting minor penalties. The Rule
contemplates a personal hearing only when the Disciplinary Authority
proposes to impose any of the major penalties specified in clauses (v)
to (ix) of Rule 5 or to enhance the penalty imposed by the order sought
to be reviewed to any of the penalties specified in those clauses.
Admittedly, by an order dated 20.10.2003, the respondent was inflicted
punishment of stoppage of two increments with cumulative effect, which
is a minor punishment. The High Court, in our view, was clearly in error
in setting aside the order dated 24.6.2004 passed by the Competent
Authority on the ground of violation of principles of natural justice.
The High Court was also of the view that the order passed by the
Competent Authority dated 24.6.2004 is not a speaking order. This
finding of the High Court was not based on the material on record. We
have gone through the order dated 24.6.2004 passed by the Competent
Authority. In our view the order is supported with reasons.
(7) For the reasons aforestated, the
impugned order of the High Court is unsustainable in law. It is
accordingly set aside. The order dated 24.6.2004 passed by the Competent
Authority in the Review Appeal is restored.
(8) This appeal is allowed. The Writ
Petition filed by the respondent stands dismissed. Parties are asked to
bear their own costs.
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