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State of U.P. & Vs. T.P. Lal Srivastava [1996] INSC 1176 (20 September 1996)

K. Ramaswamy, G.B. Pattanaik

ACT:

HEAD NOTE:

O R D E R

Though notice was sent to the respondent on January 25, 1995, till date neither acknowledge nor unserved cover has been received back. Under these circumstances, notice must be deemed to have been served on the respondent. He is set ex parte.

Leave granted.

We have heard learned counsel for the appellant.

This appeal by special leave arises from the judgment of the Allahabad High Court made on March 15, 1993 in writ Petition No. 12480/87. The admitted position is that while the respondent was working as a Senior Marketing Inspector, a charge-sheet was served on him on November 23, 1984 calling upon him to explain the charges for committing gross irregularities in the movement of wheat outside the State of U.P. Instead of submitting reply to the charge- sheet, he went on dilly-dallying in submitting the reply.

Several letters addressed to the respondent proved ineffective. Resultantly, the appellants took a decision on June 26, 1987 holding that the respondent was found guilty of misappropriation. Consequently, he came to be dismissed from service. The respondent challenged the same in the writ petition. The High Court has set aside the order in the impugned order holding that the documents have not been supplied to the respondent and, therefore, the action was vitiated by error of law. We do not find any justification in the view taken by the High Court; the substratum of the result is that the appellants have not conducted any enquiry though the respondent had been avoiding to give the reply.

Since the respondent had avoided to submit the reply, he has forgone his right to submit his reply. Nonetheless, the appellants are not absolved of the duty to hold an ex-parte enquiry to find out whether or not the charge has been proved. In the event of the Enquiry Officer find that the charge is proved, he would submit his report to the disciplinary authority. The disciplinary authority should communicate the copy of the enquiry report to the respondent and seek an explanation for the proposed action thereon.

If the respondent submits any explanation, the same may be taken into consideration and appropriate order may be passed according to law. Until then, the respondent must be deemed to be under suspension.

The appeal is accordingly allowed, but in the circumstances, without costs.

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