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Gurcharan Singh Sodhi Vs. Railway Board, Ministry of Railways and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (07 Dec 2018)

Departmental proceedings could continue even after date of superannuation



The Petitioner has filed the present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging the legality of the order passed by Director, Railway Protection Force ('RPF'), Railway Board, Ministry of Railways, Government of India. By the impugned order, Director, RPF has imposed a penalty of withholding 30 percent monthly pension of the Petitioner for a period of five years under Rule 9 (1) of Railway Services (Pension) Rules, 1993 ('Pension Rules').

The Petitioner was a member of the Railway Protection Force. The definition of "railway servant" includes members of the Railway Protection Force appointed under the RPF Act. Rule 2 of the Pension Rules provides that the Pension Rules are applicable to the railway servants. The term "Railway servants" includes members of RPF. Thus, the Petitioner being a member of RPF is governed by the Pension Rules.

The definition in Rule 2(k) of the Pension Rules includes the rules contained in the "Indian Railway Establishment Code". Thus, the harmonious reading of the aforesaid provisions leads to the conclusion that Pension Rules are applicable to members of RPF. In view of the above, the objection of the Petitioner regarding the non-applicability of Pension Rules, merits rejection. Further, the Petitioner's submission that, Section 20 (3) of Railway Protection Force Act, 1957 bars the disciplinary proceedings is also without merit.

The law with respect to the continuation of disciplinary proceedings against a person who has superannuated is well settled. In the case of State of West Bengal v. Pronab Chakraborty, the Supreme Court considered the relevant rules which provided for continuation of the departmental proceedings and held that the departmental proceedings could continue even after the date of superannuation. It is therefore clear that, in the present case there is a statutory rule for continuation of proceedings after superannuation. The continuation of the departmental proceedings after the Petitioner's superannuation is thus not invalid.

The original records of the inquiry proceedings produced by the Respondents shows several letters sent by the Chief Security Commissioner, from which it can be seen that opportunities were given to the Petitioner to defend the case. Notices were also pasted at the last known address as well as the notice board of the last working place of the Petitioner. The Petitioner however, chose not to attend the proceedings. Therefore, at this stage, the Petitioner cannot make any grievance about the denial of opportunity to defend the enquiry.

Inquiry Officer has elaborately and meticulously considered the evidence produced by the Respondent that is in the nature of the statements of several witnesses. The said testimonies have gone unrebutted, as the inquiry proceedings were conducted ex-parte since Respondent elected to stay away from the same. The Inquiry Officer taking note of the evidence before him, has elaborately discussed the credit-worthiness of such statements and has rightly come to the conclusion that, Respondent was guilty of the imputations of misconduct/misbehaviour. The Articles of Charges thus stood proved beyond any doubt. There is no merit in the present writ petition and the same is dismissed.

Relevant : State of West Bengal vs. Pronab Chakraborty MANU/SC/0998/2014


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