of Punjab Vs. Nirmal Singh  Insc 791 (1 August 2007)
Sema & Lokeshwar Singh Panta
APPEAL NO. 3383 OF 2007 ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 17250
OF 2006 H.K. SEMA, J.
This appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 3rd April, 2006 passed by the High Court of Punjab
& Haryana at Chandigarh in CWP No. 10039 of 2005.
Briefly stated, the facts are as under:
respondent was working as Sub Divisional Engineer in Public Works Department
(B&R). By an order dated 20.10.1999, the following charges were levelled
Breach of trust in making attempt to pilferage Govt. Material/Cement.
Negligence/ failure in the faithful discharge of his duties as Sub Divisional
Concealment of facts by making wrong statement.
According approval to the indent for 200 bags of cement without assessing exact
Failure in getting a case registered against the guilty persons and further
failure in supervision of Government material and
Failure to report to the authorities in time after being in the knowledge of
The Competent Authority appointed Sh. B.D. Gupta, the then Superintending
Engineer as Enquiry Officer. The Enquiry Officer submitted the report
exonerating the respondent of the charges levelled against him. The Competent
Authority disagreed with the finding of the Enquiry Officer and a notice was
issued to the respondent along with a copy of the Enquiry Report and dissenting
note. The respondent filed a reply to the show cause notice vide letter dated
21.1.2000. The reply was rejected by affording the respondent an opportunity of
personal hearing. Thereafter, the disciplinary authority, with the concurrence
of the Punjab Public Service Commission, awarded punishment of stoppage of two
annual increments with cumulative effect by an order dated 20.10.2003.
Aggrieved thereby, the respondent filed a Review Appeal before the Authority on
22.1.2004. The said Review Appeal, preferred by the respondent, was considered
by the Competent Authority and the same was rejected vide its order dated
24.6.2004. Aggrieved thereby, he preferred a Writ Petition before the High
The only ground on which the High Court has set aside the order of punishment
dated 20.10.2003 and the order passed by the Competent Authority in Review
dated 24.6.2004, rejecting the Review Appeal was that there was violation of
the principles of natural justice inasmuch as the opportunity of personal
hearing was not afforded to the respondent while dismissing the Review Appeal
by an order dated 24.6.2004.
Rule 21 of the Punjab Civil Service (Punishment & Appeal) Rules, 1970 deals
with the review. A perusal of the aforesaid rule shows that there is no
provision of personal hearing in regard to inflicting minor penalties. The Rule
contemplates a personal hearing only when the Disciplinary Authority proposes
to impose any of the major penalties specified in clauses (v) to (ix) of Rule 5
or to enhance the penalty imposed by the order sought to be reviewed to any of
the penalties specified in those clauses. Admittedly, by an order dated
20.10.2003, the respondent was inflicted punishment of stoppage of two
increments with cumulative effect, which is a minor punishment. The High Court,
in our view, was clearly in error in setting aside the order dated 24.6.2004
passed by the Competent Authority on the ground of violation of principles of
natural justice. The High Court was also of the view that the order passed by
the Competent Authority dated 24.6.2004 is not a speaking order. This finding
of the High Court was not based on the material on record. We have gone through
the order dated 24.6.2004 passed by the Competent Authority. In our view the
order is supported with reasons.
For the reasons aforestated, the impugned order of the High Court is
unsustainable in law. It is accordingly set aside.
order dated 24.6.2004 passed by the Competent Authority in the Review Appeal is
This appeal is allowed. The Writ Petition filed by the respondent stands
dismissed. Parties are asked to bear their own costs.