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Jahan Singh vs Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation Of India Ltd Trifed and Anr. - (High Court of Delhi) (10 Feb 2022)

Reinstatement cannot flow as a matter of right, when acquittal is not an honourable acquittal



The present petition has been filed assailing the order of the Respondent, whereby the Petitioner was dismissed from service under Rule 19(i) of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965 based upon his conviction under Section 7 and Section 15 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 vide judgments of the Special Court, Delhi. The Petitioner had challenged the conviction orders before this Court, resulting in his acquittal and exoneration from all charges.

The nature of the charges levied against Petitioner, coupled with the fact that he was merely accorded the benefit of doubt on account of the failure of the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, would cast a shadow of doubt, in the eyes of the employer, insofar as his suitability for re-employment / reinstatement in public service is concerned.

The nature of evidence required to be seen in criminal proceedings and in disciplinary proceedings is different. In disciplinary proceedings, the charge framed needs to be proved on preponderance of probability, unlike in a criminal case where the offence has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Given the nature of the offence for which the Petitioner was proceeded against, and the conviction having been set aside only on a technical ground that the offence could not be proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt, and the acquittal not being an honourable acquittal, it must be held that the reinstatement of the Petitioner cannot flow as a matter of right.

This Court is of the view that the Petitioner is not entitled to the prayers made in the petition, for setting aside the order of dismissal and reinstating him in service. If such a relief is granted, it would have the effect of turning a blind eye towards the concern of the employer regarding the integrity, honesty and trustworthiness of the employee. Such a concern of the employer cannot be ignored merely because the Petitioner was accorded the benefit of doubt in a criminal case. Petition dismissed.


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