Cooperative Federation Ltd. & Ors Vs. L.P. Rai  Insc 765 (24 July 2007)
G.P. Mathur & P.K. Balasubramanyan
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3218 OF 2007 (@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.21963 of
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3222 OF 2007 (@ SLP (C) No.21964 of 2003) G.P. Mathur, J.
2. These appeals, by special leave, have been preferred against the judgment
and order dated 1.4.2003 of Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court, by which two
writ petitions filed by the respondent L.P.
Rai were disposed of.
3. The respondent L.P. Rai was posted as Senior Manager, VINCO, in July
1989. He was issued a charge sheet on 2.11.1989 containing 8 charges. He
submitted a reply to the charges levelled against him. The enquiry officer,
after consideration of the material on record, submitted his report to the
disciplinary authority. A show cause notice was then issued to the respondent
The disciplinary authority by his order dated 8.2.1991 held the respondent
guilty of certain charges and imposed punishment of recovery of Rs. 42,214.57
from his salary, stoppage of one increment with cumulative effect and an
adverse entry in his character roll. It was further directed that during the
period of his suspension, the respondent would only be entitled to the
suspension allowance which had already been paid to him.
4. The respondent filed Writ Petitions No.2748 (SB) of 1993 challenging the
order of punishment. He had also filed Writ Petition No.4517 (SB) of 1998
seeking his promotion. The writ petitions were contested by the appellant
herein, U.P. Cooperative Federation Ltd. The High Court after consideration of
the material on record came to the conclusion that no opportunity of hearing
was given to the respondent during the course of enquiry inasmuch as he was not
given any opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses who were examined on
behalf of the employer nor was he given any opportunity to lead evidence in his
defence. On these findings, it was held that as no proper enquiry was held, the
charges levelled against the respondent cannot be said to have been proved. The
order of punishment dated 8.2.1991 was accordingly set aside. The operative
portion of the order passed by the High Court reads as under :- "As a
consequence of quashing of the punishment orders, the petitioner shall also be
entitled to all the monetary and such other consequential benefits to which he
would have been entitled in case the aforesaid punishment orders had not been
passed. The petitioner, thus, would be given all such benefits, within a period
of three months from the date a certified copy of this order is produced before
the authority concerned.
Both the writ petitions thus, disposed of finally."
5. Ms. Rachana Srivastava, learned counsel for the appellant, has submitted
that the High Court having come to a finding that no proper enquiry was held as
the respondent was not given opportunity to defend himself and the enquiry
suffered from procedural irregularities, should have given liberty to the
appellant to hold a fresh enquiry against the respondent in accordance with
law. However, by the impugned order, the right of the appellant to hold a fresh
enquiry has been foreclosed. Learned counsel for the respondent has submitted
that L.P. Rai (respondent) has since retired from service and it will not be
proper at this stage to hold a fresh enquiry against him.
Having considered the submissions made by learned counsel for the parties,
we are of the opinion that the charges levelled against the employee are not of
a minor or trivial nature and, therefore, it will not be proper to foreclose
the right of the employer to hold a fresh enquiry only on the ground that the
employee has since retired from service.
In this view of the matter, the order passed by the High Court requires to
be modified. It is accordingly clarified that it will be open to the
appellant-employer to hold a fresh enquiry against L.P. Rai (respondent) in
accordance with rules. Having regard to the fact that the respondent has
already retired from service, it is directed that if the appellant chooses to
hold a fresh enquiry, it must do so expeditiously, preferably within a period
of four months from the date on which a certified copy of this judgment is
issued by the office. A decision on the question of promotion of the respondent
employee shall be taken after the conclusion of the enquiry.
6. The appeals are accordingly disposed of. The parties to bear their own