MANOHAR S/O RAMCHANDRA DADMAL Vs. MAHARASHTRA STATE ROAD TRANSPORT CORPORATION THROUGH
HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY (AT: NAGPUR)
MANOHAR S/O RAMCHANDRA DADMAL
MAHARASHTRA STATE ROAD TRANSPORT CORPORATION THROUGH
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VASANTI A NAIK, J. -
(1.) By this writ petition, the petitioner challenges the order of the competent authority, dated 09/06/2008 withholding three increments of the petitioner with cumulative effect. The petitioner was appointed as a Clerk by the respondent - Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation in July, 1976. The petitioner was promoted from time to time and while he was working as a Divisional Personnel Officer and Secretary in the year 2004, a charge sheet was served on him, alleging therein that though it was necessary for the petitioner, who was the Secretary, to give separate dockets marked as Annexures - A and B to the Committee Members for awarding the marks for the selection of Drivers (Junior), the petitioner did not provide the said annexures and gave only one docket to the Committee Members. According to the respondent - corporation, though the petitioner was required to collect the mark- sheets from the Members of the Committee, the petitioner did not collect them and acted negligently. The petitioner replied to the charge sheet, but since the reply did not find favour with the respondent, a departmental enquiry was conducted against the petitioner. As per the enquiry report, the charge against the petitioner that he did not give two dockets marked as Annexures - A and B to the Selection Committee Members and gave only one docket was proved. The Enquiry Officer further found that the petitioner had not collected the mark sheets from each of the individual Selection Committee Members and therefore, the petitioner had acted negligently while working as a Secretary. On the basis of the report of the Enquiry Officer, after granting an opportunity to the petitioner, the competent authority imposed the punishment of reduction of three increments with cumulative effect. The said order is challenged by the petitioner in the instant petition. Shri Jamal, the learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the punishment inflicted upon the petitioner is shockingly disproportionate to the act of mis-conduct committed by the petitioner. It is submitted that the petitioner was not solely responsible for looking after the affairs of the Selection Committee. It is stated that merely because two dockets were not given and one docket was supplied to each of the Committee Members, the punishment of withholding of three increments with cumulative effect could not have been imposed. It is submitted that similar charges were framed against three officers by the respondent - corporation and though initially an order of withholding of three increments with cumulative effect was passed against each of them, the departmental appeal filed by one of the officers was allowed and the punishment was set aside. It is stated that two of the three employees approached the Industrial Court and by allowing the complaint filed by the two employees, a lesser punishment was imposed on them. It is submitted that when the three other employees who were charged for having committed similar irregularities have been either exonerated or given a lesser punishment, the petitioner cannot be singled out and made to suffer the punishment that is extremely harsh. It is stated that on parity, it would be necessary for the corporation to impose a lesser punishment on the petitioner. Shri Wankhede, the learned counsel for the corporation has supported the order of the competent authority. It is stated that since the petitioner was holding a responsible post of the Secretary, it was necessary for the petitioner to have followed the circular before preparing the dockets and mark-sheets for the Selection Committee Members. It is submitted that because of the negligence on the part of the petitioner, there were illegalities in the selection process pertaining to the appointment of Drivers (Junior). The learned counsel however fairly admitted that the departmental appeal filed by one of the officers against whom similar charges were levelled was allowed and a lesser punishment was imposed on the other two similarly situated employees in view of the orders passed by the Industrial Court in the complaints filed by them. It is stated that in the circumstances of the case, an appropriate order may be passed. On hearing the learned counsel for the parties, we find that the punishment imposed upon the petitioner is shockingly disproportionate to the act of misconduct committed by him. No doubt, the petitioner should have adhered to the instructions in the circular of the respondent - corporation before preparing the papers for the Members of the Selection Committee for making the appointment of Drivers (Junior). However, the charge proved against the petitioner is that instead of preparing two dockets in the form of annexures A and B, the petitioner had prepared one docket and hence the exact procedure that was required to be followed by the Selection Committee was not followed. If four employees were charge sheeted and similar charges were levelled against them, it would not be proper to inflict a harsher punishment on the petitioner when the departmental appeal filed by one of the officers was allowed and on two other employees a lesser punishment is imposed in terms of the orders of the Industrial Court. When four employees were similarly charged and when similar punishment was imposed on the four employees, the petitioner cannot be singled out and made to suffer a harsher punishment merely because he had not approached the Industrial Court or his departmental appeal was not allowed. In the circumstances of the case, it would be necessary to quash and set aside the order of the competent authority and direct the competent authority to reconsider the case of the petitioner and impose a lesser punishment on him. Hence, for the reasons aforesaid, the writ petition is partly allowed. The order of the competent authority is quashed and set aside. The matter is remanded to the competent authority for imposing a lesser punishment on the petitioner. The respondent - corporation is directed to take a decision pertaining to the imposition of a lesser punishment, positively within two months. Rule is made absolute in the aforesaid terms with no order as to costs.;
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