Decided on April 29,2020

Keshaba Ch Panda Appellant


S. K. Sahoo, J. - (1.) In this writ appeal, the appellant Dr. Keshaba Chandra Panda seeks to set aside the impugned judgment and order dated 29.08.2018 passed by the learned Single Judge of this Court in W.P.(C) No.5598 of 2004 in rejecting the prayer made by the appellant to quash the charges framed against him by the disciplinary authority on 14.05.2003 and further directing the respondents to furnish a copy of the enquiry report along with the 2nd show-cause notice to the appellant and then to proceed with proceeding.
(2.) The case of the appellant, in short, is that he was appointed as Lecturer in Physics in Sambalpur University (hereafter 'the University') during September 1979 and was promoted to the post of Reader in the year 1993. There was no blemish in his service career. The victim girl was appointed as Junior Research Fellow on 14.08.2002 in the Department of Physics by the Vice-Chancellor of the University. She was not sincere with her research work for which she was cautioned time and again. The victim as a Post-Graduate student for the academic session 1998-2000 had the acquaintance with the appellant. She also cooperated and participated in the research work. As a project leader, it was the duty of the appellant to see, remind, reprimand the fellows those who were working in the project in order to have a good reputation of the project work. The victim girl submitted her resignation on 30.09.2002 but the same was not accepted with a hope that she would improve but all the efforts made by the appellant ended in a fiasco. Finally when the victim submitted her resignation on 24.02.2003, the same was accepted on 28.02.2003. While the matter stood thus, the father of the victim girl made a complaint on 26.03.2003 before the Vice-Chancellor of the University with regard to the sexual harassment of his daughter by the appellant. The complainant alleged in the complaint that the victim enrolled herself as a research scholar under the appellant in a project namely, 'Studies in Nuclear Reaction' and she never thought that her career would come to an abrupt end for no fault of her. She had a brilliant academic record in Physics and great enthusiasm in fundamental research but her ordeal started after joining the project work. The appellant as a guide talked with regard to unrelated work of the research with the victim and was making amorous advances in talks and gestures and used to comment about her dress and looks. His lasciviousness and mischief were visible and his lewd remarks and lecherous looks became a routine event. A national symposium on nuclear physics was to be held in Chennai from 26th December to 30th December 2002. Around second week of December 2002, the victim registered for the said national symposium as was asked by her guide. Days before the event, she was told that her railway ticket and accommodation had been taken care of. The appellant told her that they would stay together for which she was shocked and did not go to Chennai. Thereafter the appellant became very irritable and uncooperative with the victim and started troubling her. The appellant made a second effort in February 2003 when the victim's 'Project Definition' was to be done at IUC/DAEI, Calcutta Centre. Just two days before the event i.e. 16th February 2003, the victim was informed by the appellant about the programme and told that they would stay together as there was no time for making arrangements for separate accommodation. The victim vehemently protested to it but the appellant told her that to earn a Ph.D. degree, she had to bear all these and if she was unwilling and try to divulge anything, she would be ruined. The appellant warned the victim of the consequences of going against him and often talked of his links with Chancellor's Office and Minister of Higher Education. The appellant received a letter on 07.04.2003 from Professor P.K. Mohapatra, Convenor of Enquiry Committee to remain present on 10.04.2003 at 09.30 a.m. in the Syndicate Hall of the University in order to respond to the charges made against him by the father of the victim. Pursuant to such letter, the appellant appeared before the Enquiry Committee and submitted his reply. Then he received another letter dated 12.04.2003 to appear before the Committee on 15.04.2003 at 09.30 a.m. The appellant submitted a written request before the Committee on 15.04.2003 to supply the recorded statements of all the persons examined by the Committee ex-parte at the first instance for preparing an effective defence and then to give his own statement. Enquiry was not completed on 15.04.2003. On 16.04.2003 some of the students appeared before the Committee and stated that it was an effort to tarnish the image of the appellant at the behest of some of the interested persons having ill intention and motive. The Committee submitted its report to the Vice-Chancellor on 16.04.2003/17.04.2003. After receipt of the report, the Vice-Chancellor convened the Syndicate meeting on 19.04.2003 for discussion. The Syndicate considered the report of the Enquiry Committee and resolved to place the appellant under suspension with immediate effect and accordingly by order dated 19.04.2003, the appellant was placed under suspension pending framing of charges. The charges were framed against the appellant and it was placed before the Syndicate for approval. The Syndicate after due deliberations and as per resolution dated 12.05.03 approved the charges and resolved to appoint a retired High Court Judge/retired District Judge as Inquiring Officer as per the Odisha Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1962 (in short '1962 Rules'). Charges were served upon the appellant on 14.05.2003 and he was called upon to file his reply within thirty days. The appellant sent a letter to the Registrar of the University on 12.06.2003 to supply the documents at an early date enabling him to submit an effective explanation. On 06.08.2003 the Registrar of the University sent a letter to the appellant indicating that no other copies of any document in support of the complaint petition dated 26.03.2003 was submitted except the copy which had already been supplied to him along with the charge sheet. The appellant was asked to inspect the documents with prior permission of the Inquiring Officer on the date, time and place fixed for such inspection. It is the case of the appellant that the Registrar refused to supply the documents and a copy of the preliminary report was not furnished to him and that he was prevented to submit explanation. Again the appellant submitted a representation on 05.10.2003 requesting the Registrar of the University to supply the documents as per his letter dated 12.06.2003 enabling him to submit his reply. Being aggrieved, the appellant filed an appeal before the Chancellor for supply of documents, payment of subsistence allowance and also to revoke the order of suspension which was kept pending for consideration. While the matter stood thus, the appellant received a letter from the Marshalling Officer to appear before the Inquiring Officer on 12.01.2004 in the University Guest House. The appellant pointed out to the Vice-Chancellor that he was not given adequate opportunity to file his reply to the charges for non-supply of documents. On 12.01.2004 the appellant received a letter from the Inquiring Officer about his non-appearance on that day and about the adjournment of the proceeding to 21.01.2004. On 13.01.2004 the appellant was intimated about the appointment of Mr. G.R. Dubey, a retired District Judge as Inquiring Officer pursuant to the resolution of the Syndicate. On 21.01.2004 the appellant requested the Inquiring Officer to supply the copies of day to day order sheet of the proceeding. The Inquiring Officer directed the appellant to file his written statement by 31.01.2004 and accordingly the appellant filed a list of documents/witnesses. According to the appellant, the appointment of Inquiring Officer was illegal. The Inquiring Officer was biased and conducted the inquiry with undue haste and closed the same on 30.03.2004. The Inquiring Officer submitted the report to the Registrar of the University which was placed before the Syndicate on 24.04.2004. The Syndicate resolved to accept the report of the Inquiring Officer and take action as per the statutory provision. A copy of the enquiry report was not furnished to the appellant before issuing 2nd show cause notice on 24.04.2004. According to the appellant, the Inquiring Officer had no role to suggest imposition of penalty on the delinquent officer and the finding rendered by the Inquiring Officer is perverse and that the resolution of the Syndicate also suffers from non-application of mind.
(3.) The appellant preferred W.P.(C) No. 5598 of 2004 for quashing the show-cause notice dated 24.04.2004 and also to quash the charges framed against him on 14.05.2003.;

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