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It is a settled legal proposition that, once the Court set asides an order of punishment on the ground, that the enquiry was not properly conducted, the Court should not severely preclude the employer from holding the inquiry in accordance with law. It must remit the concerned case to the disciplinary authority, to conduct the enquiry from the point that it stood vitiated, and to conclude the same in accordance with law. However, resorting to such a course depends upon the gravity of delinquency involved. Thus, the court must examine the magnitude of misconduct alleged against the delinquent employee. It is in view of this, that courts/tribunals, are not competent to quash the charge-sheet and related disciplinary proceedings, before the same are concluded, on the aforementioned grounds. – In the facts and circumstances of the case, as the Tribunal as well as the learned Single Judge have examined all the charges on merit and also found that the enquiry has not been conducted as per the Rules 1981, it was not the cause of the Management Committee which had been prejudiced, rather it had been the other way around. In such a fact-situation, it was not necessary for the Division Bench to permit the respondents to hold a fresh enquiry on the said charges and that too, after more than a decade of the retirement of the appellant. 30. In view of the above, appeal succeeds and is allowed. The impugned judgment and order of the High Court is modified to the extent referred to hereinabove. The appellant shall be entitled to recover all his salary and retirement dues, if not paid already. No costs.

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3935 of 2013
Shri Anant R. Kulkarni … Appellant
Versus
Y.P. Education Society & Ors. … Respondents
J U D G M E N T
Dr. B.S. Chauhan, J.
1. This appeal has been preferred against the impugned
judgment and order dated 4.10.2011 of the High Court of
Judicature of Bombay in Letters Patent Appeal No.171 of 2011
arising out of Writ Petition No. 1849 of 2003, by way of which
the Division Bench of the High Court upheld the judgment of
the learned Single Judge, as well as that of the School Tribunal
(hereinafter referred to as the ‘Tribunal’), quashing the enquiry
against the appellant, while giving liberty to respondent Nos.1Page 2
and 2 to hold a fresh enquiry on the charges levelled against the
appellant.
2. Facts and circumstances giving rise to this appeal are
that:
A. The appellant was appointed as Assistant Teacher in the
school run by the respondents on 7.6.1965, and was promoted
as the Head Master of the said school on 21.6.1979.
B. A new Management Committee came into power in the
year 2000, and began to raise allegations of misconduct against
the appellant, as the appellant had certain apprehensions with
respect to the eligibility of certain office bearers of the
Management Committee.
C. The respondents-management issued show-cause notice
dated 21.2.2001 to the appellant, under Rule 28 of the
Maharashtra Employees of Private School Rules, 1981
(hereinafter referred to as the ‘Rules 1981’), seeking an
explanation as to why disciplinary proceedings should not be
initiated against him, for his alleged misconduct. The appellant
submitted his reply on 3.3.2001, and also challenged the
2Page 3
eligibility of some of the elected members of the Management
Committee.
D. The Management Committee, vide resolution dated
4.3.2001 took a decision to hold disciplinary proceedings
against the appellant as per the provisions of Rule 36 of the
Rules 1981, and in pursuance thereof, a chargesheet dated
17.5.2001 containing 12 charges of misconduct, was served
upon the appellant. The appellant vide letter dated 1.7.2001,
submitted his clarifications with respect to the said charges that
had been levelled against him.
E. An Enquiry Committee consisting of two members
instead of three, as per the Rules 1981, conducted the enquiry
and submitted its enquiry report on 20.5.2002, making a
recommendation that the appellant be dismissed from service.
The said enquiry report was accepted by the Management
Committee, and the services of the appellant were terminated
vide order dated 24.5.2002 w.e.f. 31.5.2002.
F. Aggrieved, the appellant challenged the said termination
order by filing Appeal No.65 of 2002, before the Tribunal. The
3Page 4
respondents contested the appeal. However, upon reaching the
age of superannuation, the appellant stood retired on 30.9.2002.
G. The Tribunal vide judgment and order dated 19.10.2002
held, that none of the charges levelled against the appellant
stood proved, and that the enquiry had not been conducted
according to the Rules 1981. Thus, the termination order
against the appellant was quashed.
H. Aggrieved, the respondents-management filed Writ
Petition No.1849 of 2003 before the High Court, and the
learned Single Judge decided the said writ petition vide
judgment and order dated 20.4.2011, upholding the judgment of
the Tribunal, and found the enquiry to be entirely defective and
thus, illegal.
I. The respondents-management filed Letters Patent Appeal
No.171 of 2011, and the Division Bench too, upheld the
judgment of the learned Single Judge, as well as that of the
Tribunal, but simultaneously also held, that the respondents
were at liberty to proceed with the enquiry afresh, as regards the
said charges.
Hence, this appeal.
4Page 5
3. Shri C.U. Singh, learned senior counsel appearing for the
appellant, has submitted that the charges have been found to be
vague, and that the enquiry was conducted in violation of the
statutory Rules 1981, and further that none of the charges
reflected embezzlement or mis-appropriation, and cast no doubt
upon the integrity of the appellant whatsoever. As the appellant
stood retired on 30.9.2002, the question of holding a fresh
enquiry in 2011 could not arise. The court does not lack
competence to decide the case on merits even if it comes to the
conclusion that there has been violation of statutory rules,
principles of natural justice or the order also stood vitiated on
some other technical ground. There is no statutory rule
permitting the Management Committee to hold an enquiry
against a person who has retired a decade ago, particularly
when the school is a government-aided school, and the
appellant-employee receives pension from the State. Thus, the
appeal deserves to be allowed.
4. Per contra, Shri Braj Kishore Mishra, learned counsel
appearing for the respondents, has submitted that a person
cannot be allowed to go scot-free simply because he has retired.
5Page 6
An enquiry can be conducted against him, and he can be
punished by withholding either full or part of his pension. No
fault can be found with the impugned judgment and thus, the
appeal is liable to be dismissed.
5. We have considered the rival submissions made by the
learned counsel for the parties and perused the record.
6. The appeal raises the following substantial questions of
law:-
(i) In case the punishment is set aside by the Court/Tribunal
as the enquiry stood vitiated for technical reasons, whether the
employer is entitled to hold the enquiry afresh from the point it
stood vitiated;
(ii) Whether the enquiry can be quashed on the ground of
delay;
(iii) Whether the enquiry can be permitted to be held on
vague and unspecified charges; and
(iv) Under what circumstances enquiry can be conducted
against the delinquent employee who has retired on reaching
the age of superannuation.
6Page 7
In case the punishment is set aside:
7. It is a settled legal proposition that, once the Court set
asides an order of punishment on the ground, that the enquiry
was not properly conducted, the Court should not severely
preclude the employer from holding the inquiry in accordance
with law. It must remit the concerned case to the disciplinary
authority, to conduct the enquiry from the point that it stood
vitiated, and to conclude the same in accordance with law.
However, resorting to such a course depends upon the gravity
of delinquency involved. Thus, the court must examine the
magnitude of misconduct alleged against the delinquent
employee. It is in view of this, that courts/tribunals, are not
competent to quash the charge-sheet and related disciplinary
proceedings, before the same are concluded, on the
aforementioned grounds.
(Vide: Managing Director, ECIL, Hyderabad etc.etc. v. B.
Karunakar etc.etc. AIR 1994 SC 1074; Hiran Mayee
Bhattacharyya v. Secretary, S.M. School for Girls & Ors.,
(2002) 10 SCC 293; U.P. State Spinning C. Ltd. v. R.S.
7Page 8
Pandey & Anr., (2005) 8 SCC 264; and Union of India v.
Y.S. Sandhu, Ex-Inspector AIR 2009 SC 161).
Enquiry at belated stage:
8. The court/tribunal should not generally set aside the
departmental enquiry, and quash the charges on the ground of
delay in initiation of disciplinary proceedings, as such a power
is de hors the limitation of judicial review. In the event that the
court/tribunal exercises such power, it exceeds its power of
judicial review at the very threshold. Therefore, a charge-sheet
or show cause notice, issued in the course of disciplinary
proceedings, cannot ordinarily be quashed by court. The same
principle is applicable in relation to there being a delay in
conclusion of disciplinary proceedings. The facts and
circumstances of the case in question, must be carefully
examined, taking into consideration the gravity/magnitude of
charges involved therein. The Court has to consider the
seriousness and magnitude of the charges and while doing so
the Court must weigh all the facts, both for and against the
delinquent officers and come to the conclusion, which is just
8Page 9
and proper considering the circumstances involved. The
essence of the matter is that the court must take into
consideration all relevant facts, and balance and weigh the
same, so as to determine, if it is infact in the interest of clean
and honest administration, that the said proceedings are allowed
to be terminated, only on the ground of a delay in their
conclusion. (Vide: State of U.P. v. Brahm Datt Sharma &
Anr., AIR 1987 SC 943; State of Madhya Pradesh v. Bani
Singh & Anr., AIR 1990 SC 1308; State of Punjab & Ors. v.
Chaman Lal Goyal, (1995) 2 SCC 570; State of Andhra
Pradesh v. N. Radhakishan, AIR 1998 SC 1833; M.V. Bijlani
v. Union of India & Ors., AIR 2006 SC 3475; Union of India
& Anr. v. Kunisetty Satyanarayana, AIR 2007 SC 906; The
Secretary, Ministry of Defence & Ors. v. Prabash Chandra
Mirdha, AIR 2012 SC 2250; and Chairman, LIC of India &
Ors. v. A. Masilamani, JT (2012) 11 SC 533).
Enquiry – on vague charges :
9. In Surath Chandra Chakravarty v. The State of West
Bengal, AIR 1971 SC 752 this Court held, that it is not
permissible to hold an enquiry on vague charges, as the same
9Page 10
do not give a clear picture to the delinquent to make out an
effective defence as he will be unaware of the exact nature of
the allegations against him, and what kind of defence he should
put up for rebuttal thereof. The Court observed as under:–
“The grounds on which it is proposed to take
action have to be reduced to the form of a definite
charge or charges which have to be communicated
to the person charged together with a statement of
the allegations on which each charge is based and
any other circumstance which it is proposed to be
taken into consideration in passing orders has to
be stated. This rule embodies a principle which is
one of the specific contents of a reasonable or
adequate opportunity for defending oneself. If a
person is not told clearly and definitely what the
allegations are on which the charges preferred
against him are founded, he cannot possibly, by
projecting his own imagination, discover all the
facts and circumstances that may be in the
contemplation of the authorities to be established
against him.” (Emphasis added)
10. Where the chargesheet is accompanied by the statement
of facts and the allegations are not specific in the chargesheet,
but are crystal clear from the statement of facts, in such a
situation, as both constitute the same document, it cannot be
held that as the charges were not specific, definite and clear, the
enquiry stood vitiated. Thus, nowhere should a delinquent be
served a chargesheet, without providing to him, a clear, specific
10Page 11
and definite description of the charge against him. When
statement of allegations are not served with the chargesheet, the
enquiry stands vitiated, as having been conducted in violation
of the principles of natural justice. Evidence adduced should
not be perfunctory, even if the delinquent does not take the
defence of, or make a protest with against that the charges are
vague, that does not save the enquiry from being vitiated, for
the reason that there must be fair-play in action, particularly in
respect of an order involving adverse or penal consequences.
What is required to be examined is whether the delinquent
knew the nature of accusation. The charges should be specific,
definite and giving details of the incident which formed the
basis of charges and no enquiry can be sustained
on vague charges.
(Vide: State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. v. S. Sree Rama
Rao, AIR 1963 SC 1723; Sawai Singh v. State of Rajasthan,
AIR 1986 SC 995; U.P.S.R.T.C. & Ors. v. Ram Chandra
Yadav, AIR 2000 SC 3596; Union of India & Ors. v. Gyan
Chand Chattar, (2009) 12 SCC 78; and Anil Gilurker v.
11Page 12
Bilaspur Raipur Kshetria Gramin Bank & Anr., (2011) 14
SCC 379).
11. The purpose of holding an enquiry against any person is
not only with a view to establish the charges levelled against
him or to impose a penalty, but is also conducted with the
object of such an enquiry recording the truth of the matter, and
in that sense, the outcome of an enquiry may either result in
establishing or vindicating his stand, and hence result in his
exoneration. Therefore, fair action on the part of the authority
concerned is a paramount necessity.
Enquiry against a retired employee:
12. This Court in NOIDA Entrepreneurs Association v.
NOIDA & Ors., AIR 2011 SC 2112, examined the issue, and
held that the competence of an authority to hold an enquiry
against an employee who has retired, depends upon the
statutory rules which govern the terms and conditions of his
service, and while deciding the said case, reliance was placed
on various earlier judgments of this Court including B.J. Shelat
v. State of Gujarat & Ors., AIR 1978 SC 1109; Ramesh
12Page 13
Chandra Sharma v. Punjab National Bank & Anr., (2007) 9
SCC 15; and UCO Bank & Anr. v. Rajinder Lal Capoor,
AIR 2008 SC 1831.
13. In State of Assam & Ors. v. Padma Ram Borah, AIR
1965 SC 473, a Constitution Bench of this Court held that it is
not possible for the employer to continue with the enquiry after
the delinquent employee stands retired. The Court observed:-
“According to the earlier order of the State
Government itself, the service of the respondent
had come to an end on March 31, 1961. The State
Government could not by unilateral action create
a fresh contract of service to take effect from
April 1, 1961. If the State Government wished to
continue the service of the respondent for a further
period, the State Government should have issued a
notification before March 31, 1961.”
(Emphasis added)
While deciding the said issue, the Court placed reliance on the
judgment in R.T. Rangachari v. Secretary of State, AIR 1937
PC 27.
14. In State of Punjab v. Khemi Ram, AIR 1970 SC 214,
this court observed:
“There can be no doubt that if disciplinary action
is sought to be taken against a government servant
13Page 14
it must be done before he retires as provided by
the said rule. If a disciplinary enquiry cannot be
concluded before the date of such retirement, the
course open to the Government is to pass an order
of suspension and refuse to permit the concerned
public servant to retire and retain him in service
till such enquiry is completed and a final order is
passed therein.”
15. In Kirti Bhusan Singh v. State of Bihar & Ors., AIR
1986 SC 2116, this Court held as under:
“…. We are of the view that in the absence of such
a provision which entitled the State Government to
revoke an order of retirement……. which had
become effective and final, the order passed by the
State Government revoking the order of retirement
should be held as having been passed without the
authority of law and is liable to be set aside. It,
therefore, follows that the order of dismissal
passed thereafter was also a nullity.”
16. In Bhagirathi Jena v. Board of Directors, O.S.F.C. &
Ors., AIR 1999 SC 1841, this Court observed:
“… There is also no provision for conducting a
disciplinary enquiry after retirement of the
appellant and nor any provision stating that in
case misconduct is established, a deduction could
be made from retiral benefits. Once the appellant
had retired from service on 30-6-1995, there was
no authority vested in the Corporation for
continuing the departmental enquiry even for the
purpose of imposing any reduction in the retiral
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benefits payable to the appellant. In the absence of
such an authority, it must be held that the enquiry
had lapsed and the appellant was entitled to full
retiral benefits on retirement.”
17. In U.P. State Sugar Corporation Ltd. & Ors. v. Kamal
Swaroop Tondon, (2008) 2 SCC 41, this Court dealt with a
case wherein statutory corporation had initiated proceedings for
recovery of the financial loss from an employee after his
retirement from service. This Court approved such a course
observing that in the case of retirement, master and servant
relationship continue for grant of retrial benefits. The
proceedings for recovery of financial loss from an employee is
permissible even after his retirement and the same can also be
recovered from the retrial benefits of the said employee.
18. Thus, it is evident from the above, that the relevant rules
governing the service conditions of an employee are the
determining factors as to whether and in what manner the
domestic enquiry can be held against an employee who stood
retired after reaching the age of superannuation. Generally, if
the enquiry has been initiated while the delinquent employee
was in service, it would continue even after his retirement, but
15Page 16
nature of punishment would change. The punishment of
dismissal/removal from service would not be imposed.
19. The case requires to be examined in the light of the
aforesaid legal propositions.
The following charges were framed against the appellant:
(a) Charge No.1:-The first respondent did not submit
dead stock verification report in spite of several
letters.
(b) Charge No.2:-The first respondent did not submit
the documents such as cash books, ledgers and
voucher files in spite of demands made by the
management.
(c) Charge No.3:- relates to not calling School
Committee meeting and causing loss of Rs.48851/-
as no timely approval was obtained for that
expenditure from the school committee.
(d) Charge No.4:- The first respondent did not send
appointment proposal dated 4.9.2000 of Mr.
Ghadge for approval to the Education Officer
(Secondary) Z.P. Solapur and salary of the said
teacher could not be paid .
(e) Charge No.5:- The Respondent prepared budget
2001-2002 and forwarded to the management
directly without obtaining sanction of the School
Committee.
(f) Charge No.6:- The first respondent obstructed
working of the management and the School
Committee on the ground that he had challenged
16Page 17
the election of the office bearers before the Joint
Charity Commissioner, Latur even though there
was no stay/injunction.
(g) Charge No.7:- The first respondent did not attend
any of the 11 meetings of the Managing
Committee in the capacity as a Head Master.
(h) Charge No.8:- The first respondent did not submit
explanation regarding his teaching workload
though asked for by the management as per letter
No. S/167 dated 11.12.2000.
(i) Charge No.9:- The first respondent did not give his
explanation about donation of Rs.4900/ – given by
the Lioness Club of Barsi demanded by the
management as per letter No. S/174 dated
27.12.2000.
(j) Charge No.10:- The respondent did not reply letter
no. S/131 dated 10.10.2000 in respect of Internet
connection.
(k) Charge No.ll:- The first respondent did not explain
excessive telephone bills as stated by him in his
letter no.L/83 dated 26.10.2000.
(1) Charge No.12:- The first respondent did not
submit report as to his activities during two days
on duty leave in the office of Education Officer
(Secondary) Solapur and the Deputy Director of
Education, Pune Region, Pune.
The charges were found proved and punishment was
imposed.
17Page 18
20. The Tribunal examined all the issues involved, and
recorded its specific findings as under:
“The charge No.11 is in respect of excessive telephone
bills. The telephone bill for the academic year 1999-
2000 is Rs.3931/-. According to Management this is
excessive bill. The charge is vague. The explanation
given by appellant that specifically no call was made for
private purpose. The objection regarding call at Chennai
is properly explained that this call was made to the
Institute of Brilliant Tutorials as it was required for the
students of Xth standard for guiding them for career for
Engineering. The Institute by names Brilliant Tutorials is
famous well known academy and some phone calls made
to it are well within the powers of Head Master. The
total bill of Rs.3931/- for a High School during a year
cannot be said to be excessive particularly when many
of the calls are made to Pune and Thane. These calls have
properly been explained that Writ petition was filed
against the school and these calls were made to the
Advocate concerned in connection with the Writ Petition.
Calling such an explanation on every call by the
Management to the Head Master is nothing but over
victimizing or interference of Management in day-to-day
business of the school.
xx xx xx xx
There is no evidence brought before the Inquiry
Committee to hold guilty for these charges. But the
members seem to have anxious to hold the guilty of the
charges to the appellant. They have based their
conclusion on some thread of evidence ignoring all other
circumstances and evidence in favour of appellant”
The Tribunal further stated as under:
18Page 19
(i) Charge No.1, is in respect of not submitting the
documents papers asked by the Management particularly
pertaining to dead stock.
(ii) Charge No.2 is regarding the Registers and journals
regarding school fees, voucher files etc. The accounts of
school are audited by the authorized auditor. Under these
circumstances, calling these record seems to be only for
finding loop holes. This is a sort of interference of the
Management in day-to-day work of the school, which is
unwarranted. In spite of this, the explanation shows that
there is sufficient compliance of direction and there is no
insubordination.
(iii) Charge No.3, is not calling meetings of school
committee as per code….and the explanation submitted
by appellant not calling the meetings is acceptable.
(iv) Charge No.4, is in respect of not forwarding proposal
of Shikshan Sevek to the Education Officer. The reasons
explained by the appellant are acceptable.
(v) Charge No.5, is in respect of submitting the budget
for the year 2001-2002 to the Management without
approval of school committee. When the Management
has accepted this budget this charge does not survive. As
such when the Management has directly accepted the
budget and budget proposals, this charge ought not to
have been framed at all.
xx xx xx xx
(vii) Charge No.7, is in respect of not attending the
Management council meeting. This charge is also purely
technical. The explanation of the appellant is that
intimation of meeting was given by the Management at
the 11th hour before few hours of the meeting without
providing agenda of the meeting…. The explanation
needs sympathetic consideration and the allegations if at
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all considered, cannot be a ground for termination of
appellant’s service.
(viii) Charge No.8, is in respect of workload of about six
hours in a week to be discharged by the Head
Master….Explanation given by the appellant is that the
hard subjects of science and mathematics were given to
new comers as appellant was to retire in near future. He
wanted that new man should be well prepared before
appellant leaves the school. This explanation is
reasonable and acceptable.
In the conclusion, I hold that the evidence on
record is not sufficient to hold the appellant guilty of the
charges. The net result of the scrutiny of the proceedings
is that the inquiry seems to have been initiated on very
technical flaws which lead to only conclusion that it was
pre-determined and pre-judicial inquiry. As explained
above, there is no sufficient proof on record to hold that
the charges are proved.”
21. The Tribunal, as well as the learned Single Judge of the
High Court have recorded a categorical finding of fact to the
effect that initiation of departmental enquiry against the
appellant had been done with malafide intention to harass him.
The charges were not specific and precise; infact, they were
vague and unspecific. Furthermore, the Management committee
had failed to observe the procedure prescribed in Rules 36 & 37
of Rules, 1981. The said Rules 36 & 37, prescribe a complete
procedure for the purpose of holding an inquiry, wherein it is
20Page 21
clearly stated that an inquiry committee should have minimum
three members, one representative from the Management
committee, one to be nominated by the employees from
amongst themselves, and one to be chosen by the Chief
Executive Officer, from amongst a panel of teachers who have
been awarded National/State awards. In the instant case, there
was only a two member committee. The procedure prescribed
under the Rules is based on the Principles of Natural Justice and
fair play, to ensure that an employee of a private school, may
not be condemned unheard. It is pertinent to note that the
Management committee failed to prove even a single charge
against the appellant.
22. Therefore the Tribunal, as well as the learned Single
Judge have both made it clear that the inquiry had not been
conducted in accordance with the provisions of Rules 36 and 37
of the Rules 1981. However, they themselves have dealt with
each and every charge, and have recorded their findings on
merit. The present case is certainly not one where a punishment
has been set aside only on a technical ground, that the inquiry
stood vitiated for want of a particular requirement. Thus, in
21Page 22
light of such a fact situation, the Division Bench has
committed an error by giving liberty to the respondents to hold
a fresh enquiry.
23. The Division Bench after examining the case, held as
under:
(i) If there was defect found in the manner in which
the departmental enquiry was held, liberty should
have been given to the management to hold a fresh
enquiry if so advised, and if the appellant was found
guilty thereafter, punishment could have been
imposed on him as permissible under law.
(ii) Once the Tribunal and the learned Single judge
have found that there was infact, a defect in the
manner in which the enquiry was held, there was no
question of them recording findings on merit to the
effect that the charges were not proved against the
appellant.
(iii) However, before taking any steps towards
holding an enquiry, the management would have to
make payment of the full salary owed to the appellant,
22Page 23
for the period between the date of termination of the
appellant from service, till the date of his retirement.
24. The conclusion reached by the Division Bench that the
Tribunal and the learned Single Judge had found that there was
a defect in the manner in which the enquiry was held, and
therefore there was no question of it recording a finding on
merit to the effect that charges levelled against the appellant
were not proved, is also not sustainable in law. It is always
open for the Court in such a case, to examine the case on merits
as well, and in case the Court comes to the conclusion that there
was infact, no substance in the allegations, it may not permit the
employer to hold a fresh enquiry. Such a course may be
necessary to save the employee from harassment and
humiliation.
25. In the instant case, there is no allegation of
misappropriation/embezzlement or any charge which may cast
a doubt upon the integrity of the appellant, or further, anything
which may indicate even the slightest moral turpitude on the
part of the appellant. The charges relate to accounts and to the
23Page 24
discharge of his functions as the Headmaster of the school. The
appellant has provided satisfactory explanation for each of the
allegations levelled against him. Moreover, he has retired in the
year 2002. The question of holding any fresh enquiry on such
vague charges is therefore, unwarranted and uncalled for.
26. The Education Officer (Secondary), Zilla Parishad,
Solapur, had filed an affidavit before the High Court, wherein it
was stated that a dispute had arisen between the trustees, and in
view thereof, an enquiry was initiated against the appellant. The
respondents terminated the services of the appellant and many
other employees, as a large number of cases had been filed
against the Management Committee without impleading the
State of Maharashtra, though the same was a necessary party, as
the school was a government-aided school. Rules 36 and 37 of
the Rules 1981, which prescribe the procedure of holding an
enquiry have been violated. The charges levelled against the
appellant were entirely vague, irrelevant and unspecific. As per
statutory rules, the appellant was not allowed to be represented
by another employee. Thus, the procedure prescribed under
Rule 57(1) of the Rules 1981 stood violated. No chargesheet
24Page 25
containing the statement of allegations was ever served. A
summary of the proceedings, alongwith the statements of
witnesses, as is required under Rule 37(4) of the Rules 1981,
was never forwarded to the appellant. He was not given an
opportunity to explain himself, and no charge was proved with
the aid of any documentary evidence. There existed no charge
against the appellant regarding his integrity, embezzlement or
mis-appropriation. Therefore, the question of mis-appropriation
of Rs.4,900/- in respect of a telephone bill remained entirely
irrelevant. Furthermore, the same was not a charge of misappropriation. The learned Single Judge has also agreed with
the same. The Division Bench though also in agreement, has
given liberty to the respondents to hold a fresh enquiry.
27. We may add that the court has not been apprised of any
rule that may confer any statutory power on the management to
hold a fresh enquiry after the retirement of an employee. In the
absence of any such authority, the Division Bench has erred in
creating a post-retirement forum that may not be permissible
under law.
25Page 26
28. In light of the facts and circumstances of the case, none
of the charges are specific and precise. The charges have not
been accompanied by any statement of allegations, or any
details thereof. It is not therefore permissible, for the
respondents to hold an enquiry on such charges. Moreover, it is
a settled legal proposition that a departmental enquiry can be
quashed on the ground of delay provided the charges are not
very grave.
29. In the facts and circumstances of the case, as the Tribunal
as well as the learned Single Judge have examined all the
charges on merit and also found that the enquiry has not been
conducted as per the Rules 1981, it was not the cause of the
Management Committee which had been prejudiced, rather it
had been the other way around. In such a fact-situation, it was
not necessary for the Division Bench to permit the respondents
to hold a fresh enquiry on the said charges and that too, after
more than a decade of the retirement of the appellant.
30. In view of the above, appeal succeeds and is allowed.
The impugned judgment and order of the High Court is
26Page 27
modified to the extent referred to hereinabove. The appellant
shall be entitled to recover all his salary and retirement dues, if
not paid already. No costs.
………………………..…………………………………………J.
(DR. B.S. CHAUHAN)
……………..………………………………………………… J.
(FAKKIR MOHAMED IBRAHIM KALIFULLA)
NEW DELHI
APRIL 26, 2013
27

 

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