P P PAREKH Vs. STATE OF GUJARAT
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
P. P. Parekh
STATE OF GUJARAT
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(1.)The petitioner who was serving as Mamlatdar & Agricultural Lands Tribunal challenges the legality and validity of the Departmental Inquiry initiated against him in the Departmental Inquiry against the petitioner it is alleged that while he was discharging his duties as Mamlatdar & Agricultural Land Tribunal at Una he had decided a case under Sec. 21 of the Gujarat Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act 1960 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) contrary to the provisions of the Act. The case was that of the Jakunvarji alias Devkunvar Prabhudas of village Bhacha. The same case was decided as per order dated 24 198t against the provisions of the Act and it was held the Khatedar was not holding the land in excess of the Ceiling Limit. By deciding the case in this fashion he benefited the Khatedar and adversely affected the public interest. This conduct of the petitioner exhibited lack of sincerity in performance of duties ands therefore petitioner was liable for misconduct as per the relevant provisions of the Gujarat Civil Services (Conduct) Rules 1971 The petitioner has been served with the charge-sheet dated: 31/05/1986 sometime in the first week of June 1986 The petitioner was required to submit the reply to the aforesaid charge-sheet within 21 days from the date of receipt of the same. However instead of giving reply the petitioner has filed this petition on 23/06/1986 and has challenged the legality and validity of the initiation of inquiry itself and has prayed for declaration that the charge-sheet dated: 31/05/1986 is illegal and void and also prayed to direct the respondent to ignore the impugned charge-sheet for all purposes and to direct the respondents to confer all benefits upon the petitioner accordingly.
(2.)The learned Counsel for the petitioner submits that the charge-sheet was served upon the petitioner when he was at the fag end of his service. He was about to retire within a period of fifteen days when he was served with the charge-sheet. Moreover it is submitted that the charge pertains to an incident which took place sometime in July 1981 and September 1981. Therefore no departmental inquiry on the basis of such stale incident should be permitted much more so when the petitioner was about to retire. The aforesaid submission cannot be accepted for the simple reason that before initiating the regular inquiry by serving charge-sheet as the petitioner was served with a show cause notice dated: 25/02/1983 The petitioner replied to the same on 30/10/1983 After the preliminary inquiry was over the regular charge-sheet has been served upon the petitioner. In this view of the matter it cannot be said that the inquiry has been initiated at the fag end of the service carrier of the petitioner. In fact the inquiry was started in the month of February 1988 Moreover it cannot be laid down and it has not been so laid down in any binding decision as a general principle of rule that no Departmental Inquiry should be initiated wherein an employee is about to retire. In a given case if the charge is trivial and if it is alleged to have been committed in the remote past it may be said that Departmental Inquiry on such charge may not be instituted when an employee is about to retire. But when a serious charge of misuse of discretionary power while deciding a case or cases under the relevant provisions of Statue concerned are made against the employee it cannot be said that the inquiry should be dropped or should not have been initiated when the employee is about to reach the superannuation age. Initiation of Departmental Inquiry even in the last days of service of an employee would upon the facts and circumstances of each case. In the instant case it cannot be said that the inquiry had been initiated in the last days of the service of the petitioner nor can it be said that there is an attempt to make up stale incidents. Therefore the aforesaid submission cannot be accepted.
(3.)The learned Counsel for the petitioner has drawn my attention to certain provisions of the Act. The learned Counsel for the petitioner submits that the charge alleged against the petitioner has its roots in certain decisions taken by the petitioner in judicial proceedings. Therefore it is submitted that no Departmental Inquiry whatsoever can be made in respect of something done or omitted to have been done while deciding a case in judicial proceeding. In support of the aforesaid submission the learned Counsel for the petitioner has drawn my attention to Sec. 48 of the Act which provides that all inquiries and proceedings before the Mamlatdar the Tribunal the Collector and Gujarat Revenue Tribunal shall be done to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of Secs. 193 219 and 288 of the 1.P.C. Section 50 of the Act extends protection to the persons for anything which is done in good faith or purported to be done in good faith under the Act. The Government Resolution dated 4/07/1972 bearing No. I.C.H. 2572-14832-J also provides that the officers exercising powers under the Act are required to act independently and they have to act as judicial authority and their decisions should confirm with the principles of natural justice failing which the decision would be invalid and ineffective in law. In the background of the aforesaid provisions it is submitted that the decision taken by the petitioner under the provisions of Sec. 21 of the Act which forms the basis of charge is a decision taken in judicial proceedings. Therefore it is submitted that no departmental inquiry can be held against him in respect of this charge.
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