RAM LAKHAN NIGAM Vs. STATE OF UTTARAKHAND
LAWS(UTN)-2012-4-4
HIGH COURT OF UTTARAKHAND
Decided on April 03,2012

RAM LAKHAN NIGAM Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF UTTARAKHAND Respondents

JUDGEMENT

BARIN GHOSH, J. - (1.) ON 8th September, 2008, the Managing Committee of the Institution issued a charge-sheet. ON 21st April, 2010, the Managing Committee of the Institution issued yet another charge-sheet. In order to inquire into the charges levelled in the said charge-sheets, an Inquiry Officer was appointed. The Inquiry Officer concluded the inquiry without giving an opportunity of hearing to the delinquent. Conclusion of the inquiry was reported by the Inquiry Officer to the disciplinary authority, whereupon the disciplinary authority, accepting the inquiry report, passed an order of dismissal against the delinquent. The delinquent approached the court and the court quashed the order of the disciplinary authority, principally on the ground that the inquiry into the charges could not be conducted behind the back of the delinquent. The court, accordingly, directed the disciplinary authority to appoint an inquiry officer with a direction upon him to inquire into the charges in accordance with law and after observing the rules of natural justice. In pursuance therewith on 20th December, 2010, the Managing Committee of the Institution, namely, the disciplinary authority, appointed an Inquiry Officer. Inquiry Officer, however, on 22nd December, 2010 purported to hold out that he has gone through various public complaints, the inquiry reports submitted by earlier Inquiry Officers and other related documents, and that, charges against the delinquent have been listed in the charge-sheet attached as Annexure to the said letter. The said action on the part of the Inquiry Officer, so appointed on 20th December, 2010, has been challenged by filing the present writ petition by the delinquent. It is his contention that reading of the contents of the letter dated 22nd December, 2010 will make it amply clear that the Inquiry Officer is utterly biased against the delinquent and, accordingly, has gone through records, which were not handed over to him by the disciplinary authority through the Presenting Officer. It has further been contended that the Inquiry Officer has purported to issue a charge sheet, while he was merely appointed to inquire into the charges, which were already levelled by the charge sheets dated 8th September, 2008 and 21st April, 2010. In answer to the points highlighted by the writ petitioner, it is the contention of the Managing Committee that the Inquiry Officer has merely repeated in the same language the charges, which have already been levelled. If that be so, the same requires comparison of the Annexure to the letter dated 22nd December, 2010 with the charge sheets dated 8th September, 2008 and 21st April, 2010. However, the fact remains that the letter of the Inquiry Officer dated 22nd December, 2010 does not, at all, indicate that the charges, enumerated in the Annexure, are those charges, which have been levelled by the disciplinary authority in the charge sheets dated 8th September, 2008 and 21st April, 2010. The fact, however, remains, as nothing contrary has come on record, that no Presenting Officer has been appointed by the Disciplinary Authority. It has also not come on record as to how the Inquiry Officer obtained various public complaints and inquiry reports submitted by earlier Inquiry Officers. The manner in which the Inquiry Officer has exposed his mind in the letter dated 22nd December, 2010 reasonably raises a doubt as regards his impartiality in the matter of dealing with the inquiry. The contention of the petitioner that he did not get appropriate opportunity to defend him before the Inquiry Officer, in the background of what the Inquiry Officer has already done, cannot be brushed aside.
(2.) WE, accordingly, interfere with the matter and quash the appointment of the Inquiry Officer Sri D.P. Shukla. The disciplinary authority is directed to appoint another Inquiry Officer, who shall inquire into the charges levelled by the disciplinary authority in the charge-sheets dated 8th September, 2008 and 21st April, 2010. In the event, the disciplinary authority seeks to issue supplementary charge sheet, it shall be open to the disciplinary authority to do so, but the same can only be done within 15 days from today. It goes without saying that the Inquiry Officer, so to be appointed, shall conduct the inquiry in accordance with law and after observing the rules of natural justice. It is made clear that the Inquiry Officer shall be entitled to look at and respond to only those materials, which are brought before him in accordance with law, i.e. either by the Presenting Officer to be nominated by the disciplinary authority or by the delinquent petitioner. The disciplinary authority is directed to appoint a new Inquiry Officer as quickly as possible, but not later than 15 days from the date of service of a copy of this order upon him and the Inquiry Officer shall fix the first date of hearing upon notice to the disciplinary authority as well as to the delinquent, which shall be served upon both of them at least 15 days before the date fixed for the first sitting of the inquiry proceeding. The delinquent and the disciplinary authority shall discharge, until the disciplinary proceedings are concluded, all their obligations, as mentioned in the order of this Court dated 19th November, 2010. In view of the order, as above, each and every step taken by the Inquiry Officer subsequent to that letter dated 20th December, 2010 shall be deemed to have been quashed, consequentially any step taken by the disciplinary authority on the basis thereof shall also be deemed to have been quashed. The writ petition is, thus, disposed of.;


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