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Gulshan Kumar Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh and Ors. - (High Court of Himachal Pradesh) (21 Oct 2019)

Punishment which is grossly in excess to allegations remains open for interference under scope of judicial review



In present case, departmental proceedings initiated against Appellant for which he was served a memorandum under Rule 14 of Central Civil Services (classification Control And Appeal) Rules, 1965 (CCS(CCA) Rules, 1965). The Inquiry Officer was appointed, who submitted his report to the Disciplinary Authority. The Inquiry Officer gave findings that the delinquent official drove the vehicle in a negligent manner, resulting in accident and the version put forth by the appellant that some unidentified persons had drugged him and thereafter dropped him at his residence was not accepted by the Inquiry Officer.

The Disciplinary Authority ordered the removal of the Appellant by passing a detailed/speaking order. The Appellant assailed the removal order. The Appellant thereafter filed statutory appeal and the same was dismissed by the Appellate Authority. Aggrieved by the order passed by the authorities below, the Appellant filed Petition and the same came to be dismissed by the learned Single Judge, constraining the Appellant to file the instant appeal.

It is more than settled that, doctrine of proportionality is a well recognized concept of judicial review. The power to impose penalty/punishment is within the discretionary domain and sole power of the decision maker to quantify once the charge of misconduct stands proved, such discretionary power is exposed to judicial intervention only if exercised in a manner which is out of proportion to the fault. Award of punishment which is grossly in excess to the allegations cannot claim immunity and remains open for interference under limited scope of judicial review.

A reasonable employer is expected to take into consideration measure, magnitude and degree of misconduct and all other relevant circumstances and exclude irrelevant matters before imposing punishment. The Appellant admittedly was working as a driver at the relevant time and despite having caused an accident in which the departmental car was badly damaged thereby causing loss of Rs. 59,190, he did not even bother to inform the department, rather, the appellant chose to put up a concocted story.

It has to be remembered that the driver in a department is a man of confidence. Therefore, his conduct, attitude and understanding of responsibility and adherence to discipline is expected of him. The proven charges luminously project that the appellant had given all these aspects a total go-by and chosen to put up a cock and bull story. It is well-nigh impossible to hold that the punishment of removal is in any manner harsh and arbitrary.

Once an accident does take place, the driver of the vehicle, more particularly, when the vehicle belongs to a government department owes a duty to immediately bring the true facts leading to the accident to the notice of his employer and not put up a totally concocted story (like in the instant case) which on the face of it is not believable. Consequently, there is no merit in this appeal and accordingly the same is dismissed.


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