CENTRAL ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
New Delhi this the 16th day of March, 2012
(Through Shri Rajinder Nischal, Advocate)
1. Union of India
Through Its Secretary
Ministry of Home Affairs,
2. Government of NCT of Delhi
Through Chief Secretary,
Players Building, I.P. Extension,
3. Lieutenant Governor
Government of NCT of Delhi
(Through Shri Vijay Pandita, Advocate)
O R D E R
Mrs. Manjulika Gautam, Member (A):
The applicant is working as Grade-II, Delhi Administration Subordinate Service (DASS) Officer in the Education Department of the Government of NCT of Delhi. On 23.05.2002, a charge sheet under Rule 14 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965 was issued to him. According to the Inquiry Officer the charges against CO stand proved to the extent mentioned and in terms of findings given above. On this basis respondent no.2 imposed the penalty of reduction in pay by three stages in the time scale of pay for a period of three years with cumulative effect w.e.f. 01.05.2009 vide order dated 28.04.2009. The applicant being aggrieved preferred an appeal dated 29.06.2009 to the Appellate Authority. The appeal was turned down on 04.07.2011 after consultation with the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The advice of the UPSC was supplied to the applicant along with the appellate order. Accordingly, the present OA has been filed by the applicant seeking the following reliefs:-
a. Quash and set aside penalty orders dated 28.04.2009, and the appellate Order dated 04.07.2011 and grant all consequential benefits such as promotion and arrears of pay;
b. pass any other relief that this Honble Tribunal may consider fit in the interest of justice.
2. As per the records, only one charge was framed against the applicant which reads as under:-
While functioning as Inspector, ward No. 63, Sh. Sandeep Yadav has committed misconduct in as much as that on 03.01.2001 while he was marked inquiry of a firm namely M/s Nangloi International, D-569, Phase-I, Nangloi, Delhi, the proprietor of which has applied for registration of his above mentioned firm in Sales Tax Department, he demanded Rs.5000/- as illegal gratification from Sh. Chatter Singh, proprietor of the firm, and stuck a deal for Rs.3000 to be paid to him on 02.02.2011 after lunch. On 02.02.2011 he took Sh. Sanjiv Miglani, Chartered Accountant to Sh. Chatter Singh to Sh. Yogesh, STO ward No. 63 and Yogesh agreed in front of Inspector Sandeep Yadav to complete the file. It was settled that Rs. 1500/- be paid to STO and Rs.200/- to steno on that day and Rs.1200/- to be paid to Inspector Sandeep Yadav on Monday. During the raid by Anti Corruption Branch on 02.02.2001 on the complaint of Sh. Chatter Singh, against Sh. Sandeep Yadav, Sh. Yogesh, STO and Smt. Reena Sapra, Stenographer were arrested red handed for demanding, accepting and obtaining illegal gratification of Rs.1500 and Rs.200, respectively while Inspector Sandeep Yadav was found to have left the office and case FIR No.8/2001 dated 02.02.2001 u/s 7/13 POC Act No. 49 of 1988 PS A C Branch, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, was registered at P.S. A C Branch, Delhi.
The above act of Sh. Sandeep Yadav, Inspector amount to grave misconduct, negligence, dereliction in the discharge of official duties and an act unbecoming of a Govt. Servant and thereby violated the provisions of Rule 3 of the CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964.
3. The contention of the applicant is that he was not present at the time when the trap was laid and, therefore, he neither demanded the bribe nor accepted it. According to him, there is no evidence to prove the charge against him. The basis of the charge framed against him was the complaint by Shri Chatter Singh but during the inquiry, Shri Chatter Singh was not produced as witness and, therefore, the charge against the applicant was not proved by the prosecution. It is also the contention that the advice of the UPSC should have been provided to the Charged Officer before the appellate order was passed so that he would have an opportunity of making a representation if he so wished. But in the present inquiry, the copy of the UPSC advice was provided to the applicant only along with the appellate order and not before that. It has also been stated by the applicant that whereas he has been held guilty in spite of there being no evidence against him, his co-accused namely Smt. Reena Sapra, who was caught accepting the bribe during the raid, has been punished with the penalty of reduction by one stage in the time scale of pay for a period of one year without cumulative effect whereas he has been imposed the punishment of reduction in pay by three stages in the time scale of pay for a period of three years with cumulative effect w.e.f. 01.05.2009.
4. In the counter affidavit filed by the respondents, it has been stated that disciplinary proceedings are not criminal proceedings and that only preponderance of probability is required rather than proof beyond reasonable doubt. In this connection, they have referred to Union of India Vs. Sardar Bahadur, (1972) 2 SCR 225 and Union of India Vs. A. Nagamalleshwara Rao, AIR 1998 SC 111. They have also stated that the scope of judicial review is limited and is restricted to examining the manner in which the inquiry has been conducted rather than into the facts of the case. In this connection, they have cited the following references:-
(i) State of Tamil Nadu Vs. S.Subramanyan, (1996) 7 SCC 509
(ii) State of Tamil Nadu Vs. K.V. Perumal, (1996) 5 SCC 474
(iii) UOI Vs. B.C. Chaturvedi, (1995) 6 SCC 750
(iv) State Bank of India Vs. S.K. Endow, (1994) 2 SCC 537
5. It has been admitted by the respondents that the complainant Shri Chattar Singh did not come forward to give evidence during the inquiry but on the basis of circumstantial evidence from various prosecution witnesses, the Inquiry Officer has held the charge against the Charged Officer proved.
6. We have heard both the counsel and perused the record on file.
7. The important facts which stand out are that at the time when the trap was laid, the Charged Officer was not present at the site. The two other co-accused were present and were found with the money which was seized and accordingly action was initiated. The charge against the applicant is totally based on the complaint lodged by Shri Chatter Singh, the main witness who did not come forward in the inquiry to give evidence. The applicant, therefore, had no opportunity to cross-examine him either. It is only on the basis of evidence given by other prosecution witnesses which is mainly with regard to two persons who were arrested during the raid that the Inquiry Officer has held the Charged Officer guilty on the basis of circumstantial evidence. Throughout the inquiry report, it has been observed by the Inquiry Officer that in spite of repeated summons, the complainant Chatter Singh did not come forward to give evidence during the inquiry. Ultimately, at the end of the inquiry report, the Inquiry Officer has made guarded statement that the charges against CO stand proved to the extent mentioned and in terms of findings given above.
8. In view of the circumstances, which existed at the time of the raid i.e. the non-presence of the applicant, it is difficult to believe that the demand for bribe was initiated and planned by the applicant specially when there is no evidence at all to prove that the complaint made by Chatter Singh was authenticated by any other witness. To us, it appears to be a case of no evidence against the applicant and the conclusions have been drawn only on the basis of conjectures and surmises. We are of the opinion that the impugned orders dated 28.04.2009 and 04.07.2011 cannot be sustained. They are accordingly quashed and set aside and OA is allowed. No costs.
( Manjulika Gautam ) ( M.L. Chauhan )
Member (A) Member (J)