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Thursday, May 17, 2012

An – Interesting CAT Decision

Abnormal delay in issuing a charge-sheet to an employee for his omissions and commissions leads to quashing of charge-sheet and also return of recovered money, if any amount is recovered from the charge-sheeted employee

Facts: While the Applicant was working as Accountant with effect from 21.5.1996 and BCR with effect from 1.7.2007, he was issued with a charge-memo under rule 16 of CCS (CCA) Rules vide Memo, dated 11.12.2008 for a matter which related to October, 1997, i.e. more than 11 years old. A recovery of Rs1,94,791 was to be recovered as per the order of SPOs, Sitapur, dated 27.03.2009. His appeals were rejected. Hence he filed this OA for setting aside his punishment.

The Applicant, Accountant-II, states that no undertaking was taken from him in regard to recovery of amount if any amount is paid by him incorrectly and that B. K. Tripathi, Accountant-I is fully responsible for the lapse and an amount of Rs.24,442 only is to be recovered from him. Further, the punishment order is non-speaking and hence liable to be quashed.

The Respondents sustain their orders based on various instructions of the Ministry of Finance and Chief Postmaster-General of U. P. Circle, Lucknow. They further state that an enquiry was conducted in the misappropriation of money and four persons including the Applicant was found responsible. Out of four, one had retired and another died. Hence no action was taken against them The Applicant and B. K. Tripathi, another employee were found guilty and an amount of Rs. 194791 and Rs. 24,442 respectively are to be recovered from them.

The Applicant placed reliance on the case of P. V. Mahadevan v. M. D. Tamilnadu Housing Board (2005 AIR SCWs 690), wherein the charge memo was quashed due to inordinate delay. In the case of State of M. P. v. Bani Singh, reported in AIR similar view of delay led to quashing of the charge-sheet. In the case of State of A. P. v. N. Radhakrishnan (1998 (4) SCC 154), it was held that in all situations in respect of delay in conclusion of departmental enquiry may vitiate the proceedings. Following these judgments, the tribunal passed similar orders in O. A. No. 427 of 2006. Jhabbar Yadav v. Union of India and others decided on 16.10.2008.

The Tribunal considering the delay in this case of 11 years which pertained to a case 11 years back examined the issue of charge-sheet and punishment thereon. The two employees now punished reportedly committed the mismanagement of money and on the pretext of having given and underataking for recovery, if found guilty is not sustainable. In that connections. It was held:

Held: “In view of aforesaid discussion, we come to the conclusion that there was an inordinate delay of about 11 years in issuing the charge-sheet for initiating disciplinary proceedings for which there is no proper explanation from the side of the Respondents. Therefore, having regard to the aforesaid preposition of law laid down by Hon. Apex Court (Supra) in the above cases, the disciplinary proceedings in question, deserved to be quashed, including order of recovery against Applicant initiated through charge-sheet, dated 11-12-2008 along with recovery Order, dated 27.03.2009. for the same reasons, the Appellate Order, dated 29.6.2009 is also liable to be quashed and accordingly it is so ordered. It is further directed that the amount already recovered, if any from the pay of the Applicant, shall also be refunded.”

The OA is allowed accordingly to the above extent.

(Chandrika Prasad v. Secretary, Department of Posts, Dak Bhawan, New Delhi and other 5/2012, Swamynews 61 (Lucknow) date of judgment 25.8.2011)
OA No. 297 of 2009

Courtesy: Swamy News, May 2012

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