UMESH CHANDRA Vs. REGISTRAR, CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETIES, UTTARAKHAND
HIGH COURT OF UTTARAKHAND (AT: NAINITAL)
Registrar, Co -operative Societies, Uttarakhand And Ors.
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(1.) The petitioner while serving as an Assistant Accountant in a Co-operative Bank was suspended by an order of 4th of May, 2006. Subsequently, a charge sheet dated 21/24.7.2006 was issued levelling five charges. The petitioner was required to submit a reply, which he did, denying the charges. The disciplinary authority found that the explanation submitted was not satisfactory and accordingly appointed an Enquiry Officer to conduct an enquiry. The petitioner, accordingly, appeared before the Enquiry Officer and submitted his reply denying the charges. In paragraphs 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14, the petitioner contended that the Enquiry Officer proceeded with the enquiry in his own fashion, without involving the petitioner, and submitted an ex-parte report. No personal hearing was given to the petitioner at any stage of the enquiry nor any witness was examined nor any opportunity was given to cross-examine the witness nor any opportunity was given to rebut the documents examined by the Enquiry Officer. It was contended that the entire procedure adopted by the Enquiry Officer was against Regulation 85 of The U.P. Cooperative Societies Employees Service Regulation, 1975 (hereinafter referred to as the Regulations). It was also alleged that the enquiry report was submitted and the petitioner was not given an opportunity to show cause against the enquiry nor any copy of the enquiry report was submitted. The disciplinary authority, after considering the enquiry report, issued an order of penalty withholding one increment and treating the period of suspension as not spent on duty and further holding that the petitioner would not be entitled for any salary during the suspension period other than the subsistence allowance which he had received. The petitioner, being aggrieved, filed a departmental appeal, which was partly allowed to the extent that the period of suspension would be treated as one on duty. The petitioner has thereafter filed the present writ petition. The counter affidavit of the respondents reveals the sordid details of the stand taken by the respondents. In paragraph 13 of the counter affidavit, it has been stated that the petitioner never approached the Enquiry Officer for providing an opportunity of personal hearing and that the enquiry report was provided to the petitioner pursuant to the information sought by him under the Right to Information Act.
(2.) Upon hearing Sri Manoj Tiwari, Senior Advocate assisted by Sri Alok Mehra, the learned counsel for the petitioner and Sri Kailash Tiwari, the learned counsel for the respondent nos. 2, 3 and 4, it is apparently clear that the entire procedure adopted by the respondents was per se against the principles of natural justice and in violation of the procedure provided in Regulation 85 of the Regulations.
(3.) The law is well settled that the principles of natural justice, as embodied in Article 14 of the Constitution, is required to be applied and made available to a delinquent servant or officer, as the case may be, at every stage of the proceedings. When a charge sheet is served upon the delinquent officer and the delinquent officer in response submits a reply denying the charges, it becomes incumbent upon the Enquiry Officer to give notice to the delinquent officer about the date, time and place of enquiry, so that the delinquent officer could produce his witness and can cross-examine the witness produced against him. This procedure was not adopted by the Enquiry Officer.;
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