Corporation & ANR Vs. Kailash Chandra Ahuja  INSC 1054 (8 July 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4222 OF 2008 ARISING OUT
OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 5950 OF 2007 HARYANA FINANCIAL
CORPORATION & ANR. ... APPELLANTS VERSUS
C.K. THAKKER, J.
Haryana Financial Corporation (hereinafter referred to as `the
Corporation'), being aggrieved by the decision of the High Court of Punjab
& Haryana dated November 6, 2006 in Civil Writ Petition No. 8299 of
2005 has approached this Court. According to the appellant, the order
passed by the High Court is not in consonance with law laid down by this
2 Court in several cases, particularly, a decision of the Constitution
Bench of this Court in Managing Director, ECIL, Hyderabad & Ors. V. B.
Karunakar & Ors., (1993) 4 SCC 727.
appreciate the grievance voiced by the Corporation, few relevant facts may
respondent herein (writ petitioner before the High Court) Kailash Chandra
Ahuja was appointed as Technical Officer in the Corporation in June, 1979.
According to the appellant-Corporation, he was given `warning' in 1984. In
1993, he was working as Deputy General Manager. In 1997, he was
On August 17, 1999,
he was working as Branch Manager at Branch Office, Rewari. The Corporation
initiated proceedings against the writ-petitioner in accordance with Regulation
41 (1) and (2) of Punjab Financial Corporation (Staff) Regulations, 1961
(hereinafter referred to as `the Regulations') on the allegations enumerated in
the Statement of Charges. The statement related to commission and omission on
the part of the writ-petitioner. The writ- petitioner submitted a reply on
December 14, 1999. An Inquiry Officer was appointed who submitted his report on
December 15, 2000 and exonerated the writ-petitioner of all the charges.
According to the Corporation, however, the report of the Inquiry Officer
suffered from certain deficiencies. Hence, the Managing Director of the
Corporation asked the Inquiry Officer vide a communication dated June 19, 2001
and sought clarification. The matter was remanded to the Inquiry Officer with
the advice to clarify the points within 15 days. The Inquiry Officer called the
delinquent to appear before him on August 7, 2001. The delinquent appeared and
participated in the proceedings without any protest. The Inquiry Officer then
submitted his findings vide his report dated September 5, 2001 holding the
delinquent guilty. A notice was thereafter issued by the Managing Director of
the Corporation to the delinquent on December 18/20, 2001 to show cause why he
should not be dismissed from service under Regulation 41 (1) (e) of the
Regulations. The delinquent filed his reply on February 8, 2002. He was granted
personal hearing and was dismissed from service by a speaking order dated April
4, 2002. The delinquent preferred an appeal before the Board of Directors of
the Corporation under the Regulations but the said appeal was also dismissed by
the Board by an order dated January 27, 2005. The delinquent, therefore, filed
a writ petition in the High Court of Punjab & Haryana which, as stated
above, was allowed by the High Court setting aside the order dated April 4,
2002 passed by the Corporation. It is this order which is challenged by the
Corporation in the present appeal.
was issued by this Court on April 9, 2007. The respondent-writ petitioner
appeared through an advocate and waived service of notice upon him. Time
was granted to file affidavit-in-reply as well as rejoinder.
Meanwhile, the order
passed by the High Court impugned in the present appeal was also stayed.
On January 10, 2008,
the Registry was directed to place the matter for final hearing on a non-
miscellaneous day. The matter thus has been placed for final disposal before
have heard learned counsel for the parties.
learned counsel for the Corporation submitted that as is clear from the
order passed by the High Court, the respondent- writ petitioner had raised
a "short issue" before the Court. It was contended that the
Disciplinary Authority i.e. Managing Director did not furnish a copy of
the inquiry report before recording a finding that he had accepted the
finding of guilt recorded by the Inquiry Officer in his inquiry report
dated September 5, 2001. According to the learned counsel, supply of
inquiry report after the respondent had been found guilty by the Inquiry
Officer was mandatory, in view of the fact that the writ-petitioner had
been exonerated by the Inquiry Officer earlier vide his report dated
December 15, 2000. Reliance in this connection was placed by the learned
counsel for the writ- petitioner on B. Karunakar, as on also two decisions
of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana in M.S. Sandhu v. Haryana Vidyut
Parsaran Nigam Ltd., (2005) 4 SCT 628 and Ramesh Kumar v. State of Haryana
& Ors., (2006) 3 SCT 799.
behalf of the Corporation, the learned counsel contended that there was no
whisper in the writ petition that any prejudice had been caused to the
case of the writ petitioner which was required to be shown as per the
ratio laid down in B. Karunakar cited by the counsel for the
writ-petitioner. It was urged that it is only in those cases where a Court
or Tribunal comes to the conclusion that non-supply of the report of the
Inquiry Officer had caused prejudice to the delinquent that it would
vitiate the action. If, on the other hand, non-supply of report would have
made `no difference' to the ultimate finding and punishment imposed, the
order of punishment could not be interfered with.
High Court held that supply of report of the Inquiry Officer was an
`essential requirement' and non-supply thereof resulted in violation of
principles of natural justice. It, therefore, set aside the order of dismissal.
According to the counsel for the Corporation, the High Court was wholly
wrong in taking the above view which is contrary to the decision of the
Constitution Bench of this Court in B. Karunakar and the appeal deserves
to be allowed.
learned counsel for the writ- petitioner, on the other hand, supported the
order passed by the High Court. He contended that the High Court was right
in relying upon various decisions referred to therein and in setting aside
the order of punishment by granting liberty to the Corporation to take
appropriate proceedings in accordance with law. No interference,
therefore, is called for against the said order in exercise of
discretionary jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution.
heard learned counsel for the parties and having considered the rival
contentions, in our opinion, the appeal deserves to be allowed.
only one question had been raised before the High Court as well as before
us, we may clarify at the outset that we are not entering into merits of
the matter and allegations and counter allegations by the parties. A
limited controversy before us is whether the High Court was right in
setting aside the order of punishment merely on the ground of non-supply
of report of the Inquiry Officer to the delinquent.
held by this Court in Union of India & Ors. V. Mohd. Ramzan Khan,
(1991) 1 SCC 9 588, when Inquiring Authority and Disciplinary Authority
is not one and the same and the Disciplinary Authority appoints an
Inquiring Authority to inquire into charges levelled against a
delinquent-officer who holds inquiry, finds him guilty and submits a
report to that effect to the Disciplinary Authority, a copy of such report
is required to be supplied by the Disciplinary Authority to the
delinquent- employee before an order of punishment is imposed on him. It
was also held that non- supply of report of the Inquiry Officer to a
delinquent employee would be violative of principles of natural justice.
The Court observed that after the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976,
second opportunity contemplated by Article 311(2) of the Constitution had
been abolished, but principles of natural justice and fair play required
supply of adverse material to the delinquent who was likely to be affected
by such material.
Non-supply of report
of Inquiry Officer to the delinquent would constitute infringement of doctrine
of natural justice. In B. Karunakar, a three Judge Bench of this Court was
called upon to consider the effect of non-supply of Inquiry Officer's report to
the delinquent. The attention of the Court was invited to certain decisions
wherein a different note had been struck by this Court. Reference was made in
this regard to a three Judge Bench decision of this Court in Kailash Chander
Asthana v. State of U.P., (1988) 3 SCC 600, wherein it was held that non-supply
of the report would not `ipso facto' vitiate the order of punishment in absence
of prejudice to the delinquent. Though Mohd. Ramzan Khan was decided
subsequently, Kailash Chander Asthana was not brought to the notice of the
Court. The Bench, therefore, felt that the matter should be placed before a
larger Bench and accordingly the Registry was directed to place the papers
before Hon'ble Chief Justice of India so that an appropriate action can be taken
[vide Managing Director, ECIL v. B. Karunakar, (1992) 1 SCC 709].
mater was placed before the Constitution Bench.
Constitution Bench observed that the basic question of law which arose in
the matters was whether the report of the Inquiry Officer appointed by the
Disciplinary Authority to hold an inquiry into the charges against the
delinquent employee was required to be furnished to the employee to enable
him to make representation to the Disciplinary Authority before such
authority arrives at its own finding with regard to the guilt or otherwise
of the employee and the punishment, if any, to be awarded to him. On the
basis of the above fundamental issue, certain other incidental questions
were also raised by the Constitution Bench which included the effect of
non-supply of Inquiry Officer's report.
far as the supply of report of the Inquiry Officer is concerned, it was
held by the Constitution Bench that the delinquent employee had a right to
receive the Inquiry Officer's report and a denial thereof would constitute
breach of natural justice.
for the majority, Sawant J. stated:
"Hence it has to
be held that when the enquiry officer is not the disciplinary authority, the
delinquent employee has a right to receive a copy of the enquiry officer's
report before the disciplinary authority arrives at its conclusions with regard
to the guilt or innocence of the employee with regard to the charges levelled
against him. That right is a part of the employee's right to defend himself
against the charges levelled against him. A denial of the enquiry officer's
report before the disciplinary authority takes its decision on the charges, is
a denial of reasonable opportunity to the employee to prove his innocence and
is a breach of the principles of natural justice".
Court then considered the effect of non-supply of Inquiry Officer's report
on the delinquent.
question to be answered is what is the effect on the order of punishment when
the report of the enquiry officer is not furnished to the employee and what
relief should be granted to him in such cases. The answer to this question has
to be relative to the punishment awarded.
When the employee is
dismissed or removed from service and the inquiry is set aside because the
report is not furnished to him, in some cases the non-furnishing of the report
may have prejudiced him gravely while in other cases it may have made no
difference to the ultimate punishment awarded to him. Hence to direct
reinstatement of the employee with back-wages in all cases is to reduce the
rules of justice to a mechanical ritual. The theory of reasonable opportunity
and the principles of natural justice have been evolved to uphold the rule of
law and to assist the individual to vindicate his just rights. They are not
incantations to be invoked nor rites to be performed on all and sundry
occasions. Whether in fact, prejudice has been caused to the employee or not on
account of the denial to him of the report, has to be considered on the facts
and circumstances of each case. Where, therefore, even after the furnishing of
the report, no different consequence would have followed, it would be a
perversion of justice to permit the employee to resume duty and to get all the
It amounts to
rewarding the dishonest and the guilty and thus to stretching the concept of
justice to illogical and exasperating limits. It amounts to an `unnatural
expansion of natural justice' which in itself is antithetical to justice".
that it was incumbent on the delinquent employee to show prejudice, the
majority held that non-supply of report of the Inquiry Officer to the
delinquent employee would not by itself make the order of punishment null
and void or non est.
"Hence, in all
cases where the enquiry officer's report is not furnished to the delinquent
employee in the disciplinary proceedings, the Courts and Tribunals should cause
the copy of the report to be furnished to the aggrieved employee if he has not
already secured it before coming to the Court/Tribunal and give the employee an
opportunity to show how his or her case was prejudiced because of the
non-supply of the report. If after hearing the parties, the Court/Tribunal
comes to the conclusion that the non-supply of the report would have made no
difference to the ultimate findings and the punishment given, the
Court/Tribunal should not interfere with the order of punishment. The
Court/Tribunal should not mechanically set aside the order 15 of punishment on
the ground that the report was not furnished as is regrettably being done at
present. The courts should avoid resorting to short cuts. Since it is the
Courts/Tribunals which will apply their judicial mind to the question and give
their reasons for setting aside or not setting aside the order of punishment,
(and not any internal appellate or revisional authority), there would be
neither a breach of the principles of natural justice nor a denial of the reasonable
opportunity. It is only if the Court/Tribunal finds that the furnishing of the
report would have made a difference to the result in the case that it should
set aside the order of punishment".
21. From the ratio laid down in B. Karunakar, it is explicitly clear that the
doctrine of natural justice requires supply of a copy of the Inquiry Officer's
report to the delinquent if such Inquiry Officer is other than the Disciplinary
Authority. It is also clear that non-supply of report of Inquiry Officer is in
the breach of natural justice.
But it is equally
clear that failure to supply a report of Inquiry Officer to the delinquent
employee would not ipso facto result in proceedings being declared null and
void and order of punishment non est and ineffective. It is for the
delinquent-employee to plead and prove that non-supply of such report had
caused prejudice and resulted in miscarriage of justice. If he is unable to
satisfy the Court on that point, the order of punishment cannot automatically
be set aside.
the instant case, it is not in dispute by and between the parties either
before the High Court or before us that a copy of the report of Inquiry
Officer was not supplied to the delinquent-writ-petitioner. While the
contention of the writ petitioner is that since failure to supply Inquiry
Officer's report had resulted in violation of natural justice and the
order was, therefore, liable to be quashed, the submission on behalf of
the Corporation is that no material whatsoever has been placed nor a
finding is recorded by the High Court that failure to supply Inquiry
Officer's report had resulted in prejudice to the delinquent and the order
of punishment was, therefore, liable to be quashed.
High Court, unfortunately, failed to appreciate and apply in its proper
perspective the ratio laid down in B. Karunakar, though the High Court was
conscious of the controversy before it. The Court also noted the
submission of the Corporation that there was `no whisper' in the writ
petition showing any prejudice to the delinquent as required by B.
Karunakar, but allowed the writ petition and set aside the order of
punishment observing that in such cases, prejudice is `writ large'.
our considered view, the High Court was wrong in making the above
observation and virtually in ignoring the ratio of B. Karunakar that
prejudice should be shown by the delinquent. To repeat, in B. Karunakar,
this Court stated;
fact, prejudice has been caused to the employee or not on account of the denial
to him of the report, has to be considered on the facts and circumstances of
is settled law that principles of natural justice have to be complied
with. One of the principles of natural justice is audi alteram partem
("Hear the other side"). But it is equally well settled that the
concept `natural justice' is not a fixed one. It has meant many things to
many writers, lawyers, jurists and systems of law. It has many colours,
shades, shapes and forms. Rules of natural justice are not embodied rules
and they cannot be imprisoned within the strait-jacket of a rigid formula.
about six decades, in Russel v. Duke of Norfolk, (1949) 1 AllER 109 : 65
TLR 225, Tucker, L.J. stated:
"There are, in
my view, no words which are of universal application to every kind of inquiry
and every kind of domestic tribunal. The requirements of natural justice must
depend on the circumstances of the case, the nature of the inquiry, the rules
under which the tribunal is acting, the subject- matter that is being dealt
with, and so forth".
the oft-quoted passage from Byrne v. Kinematograph Renters Society, (1958)
2 AllER 579, Lord Harman enunciated;
"What, then, are
the requirements of natural justice in a case of this kind? First, I think that
the person accused should know the nature of the accusation made; secondly,
that he should be given an opportunity to state his case; and thirdly, of
course, that the tribunal should act in good faith. I do not think that there
really is anything more".
Court has also taken similar view. In Union of India v. P.K. Roy, AIR 1968
SC 850 : (1968) 2 SCR 196, speaking for the Court, Ramaswami, J. observed:
and application of the doctrine of natural justice cannot be imprisoned within
the strait jacket of a rigid formula. The application of the doctrine depends
upon the nature of the jurisdiction conferred on the administrative authority,
upon the character of the rights of the persons affected, the scheme and policy
of the statute and other relevant circumstances disclosed in the particular
the leading case of A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India, (1969) 2 SCC 262,
rule of natural justice should apply to a given case must depend to a great extent
on the facts and circumstances of that case, the framework of the law under
which the enquiry is held and the constitution of the Tribunal or body of
persons appointed for that purpose.
Whenever a complaint
is made before a court that some principle of natural justice had been
contravened the court has to decide whether the observance of that rule was
necessary for a just decision on the facts of that case".
in R.S. Dass v. Union of India, 1986 Supp SCC 617, this Court said;
"It is well
established that rules of natural justice are not rigid rules;
they are flexible and
their application depends upon the setting and the background of statutory
provision, nature of the right which may be affected and the consequences which
may entail, its application depends upon the facts and circumstances of each
the same time, however, effect of violation of rule of audi alteram partem
has to be considered. Even if hearing is not afforded to the person who is
sought to be affected or penalized, can it not be argued that notice would
have served no purpose" or "hearing could not have made
difference" or "the person could not have offered any defence
this connection, it is interesting to note that under the English Law, it
was held before few years that non-compliance with principles of natural
justice would make the order null and void and no further inquiry was
the celebrated decision of Ridge v. Baldwin, 1964 AC 40 : (1963) 2 AllER
66, it was contended that an opportunity of hearing to the delinquent
would have served no purpose.
contention, however, Lord Reid stated;
"It may be
convenient at this point to deal with an argument that, even if as a general
rule a watch committee must hear a constable in his own defence before
dismissing him, this case was so clear that nothing that the appellant could
have said could have made any difference. It is at least very doubtful whether
that could be accepted as an excuse".
and Forsyth in their classic work, Administrative Law, (9th Edn.) pp. 506-
509 also stated that if such argument is upheld, the Judges may be tempted
to refuse relief on the ground that a fair hearing could have made no
difference to the result. "But in principle it is vital that the
procedure and the merits should be kept strictly apart, since 23
otherwise the merits may be prejudiced unfairly". (emphasis supplied)
35. This Court expressed the same opinion.
In Board of High
School v. Kumari Chitra, (1970) 1 SCC 121, the Board cancelled the examination
of the petitioner who had actually appeared at the examination on the ground
that there was shortage in attendance at lectures.
Admittedly, no notice
was given to her before taking the action. On behalf of the Board it was
contended that the facts were not in dispute and therefore, `no useful purpose
would have been served' by giving a show cause notice to the petitioner. This
Court, however, set aside the decision of the Board, holding that the Board was
acting in a quasi-judicial capacity and, therefore, it ought to have observed
the principles of natural justice.
In S.L. Kapoor v. Jagmohan, (1980) 4 SCC 379, rejecting the argument that
observance 24 of natural justice would have made no difference, this
non-observance of natural justice is itself prejudice to any man and proof of
prejudice independently of proof of denial of natural justice is unnecessary.
It 'll comes from a person who has denied justice that the person who has been
denied justice is not prejudiced". (emphasis supplied)
The recent trend, however, is of `prejudice'. Even in those cases where
procedural requirements have not been complied with, the action has not
been held ipso facto illegal, unlawful or void unless it is shown that
non-observance had prejudicially affected the applicant.
In Malloch v. Aberdeen Corporation, (1971) 2 AllER 1278, Lord Reid said;
"(I)t was argued
that to have afforded a hearing to the appellant before dismissing him would
have been a useless formality because whatever he might have said could have
made no difference. If that could be clearly demonstrated it might be a good
answer". (emphasis supplied)
Guest agreed with the above statement, went further and stated;
"A great many
arguments might have been put forward but if none of them had any chance of
success then I can see no good reason why the respondents should have given the
appellant a hearing, nor can I see that he was prejudiced in any way".
Jankinath v. State of Orissa, (1969) 3 SCC 392, it was contended that
natural justice was violated inasmuch as the petitioner was not allowed to
lead evidence and the material gathered behind his back was used in
determining his guilt. Dealing with the contention, the Court stated;
"We have to look
to what actual prejudice has been caused to a person by the supposed denial to
him of a particular right". (emphasis supplied)
B. Karunakar, this Court considered several cases and held that it was
only if the 26 Court/Tribunal finds that the furnishing of the report
"would have made a difference" to the result in the case that it
should set aside the order of punishment. The law laid down in B.
Karunakar was reiterated and followed in subsequent cases also [vide State
Bank of Patiala v. S.K. Sharma, (1996) 3 SCC 363; M.C. Mehta v. nion of
India, (1999) 6 SCC 237].
Aligarh Muslim University v. Mansoor Ali Khan, (2000) 7 SCC 529, the
relevant rule provided automatic termination of service of an employee on
unauthorized absence for certain period. M remained absent for more than
five years and, hence, the post was deemed to have been vacated by him. M
challenged the order being violative of natural justice as no opportunity
of hearing was afforded before taking the action.
the Court held that the rules of natural justice were violated, it refused
to set aside the order on the ground that no prejudice was caused to M.
Referring to several cases, considering theory of `useless' or `empty'
formality and noting "admitted or undisputed" facts, the Court
held that the only conclusion which could be drawn was that had M been
given a notice, it "would not have made any difference" and,
hence, no prejudice had been caused to M.
Ajit Kumar Nag v. General Manager (PJ), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Haldia
& Ors., (2005) 7 SCC 764, speaking for a three Judge Bench, one of us
(C.K. Thakker, J.) stated:
"We are aware of
the normal rule that a person must have a fair trial and a fair appeal and he
cannot be asked to be satisfied with an unfair trial and a fair appeal. We are
also conscious of the general principle that pre- decisional hearing is better
and should always be preferred to post- decisional hearing. We are further
aware that it has been stated that apart from Laws of Men, Laws of God also
observe the rule of audi alteram partem. It has been stated that the first
hearing in human history was given in the Garden of Eden. God did not pass
sentence upon Adam and Eve before giving an opportunity to show cause as to why
they had eaten the forbidden fruit. [See R. v. University of Cambridge, (1723)
1 Str 557] But we are also aware that the principles of natural justice are not
rigid or immutable and hence they cannot be imprisoned in a straitjacket. They
must yield to and change with exigencies of situations. They must be confined
within their limits and cannot be allowed to run wild. It has been stated:
" `To do a great right' after all, it is permissible sometimes `to do a
little wrong'." [Per Mukharji, C.J. in Charan Lal Sahu v. Union of India,
(1990) 1 SCC 613 (Bhopal Gas Disaster), SCC p. 705,para 124.] While
interpreting legal provisions, a court of law cannot be unmindful of the hard
realities of life. In our opinion, the approach of the Court in dealing with
such cases should be pragmatic rather than pedantic, realistic rather than
doctrinaire, functional rather than formal and practical rather than
precedential". (emphasis supplied)
in P.D. Agrawal v. State Bank of India & Ors., (2006) 8 SCC 776, this
Court restated the principles of natural justice and indicated that they
are flexible and in the recent times, they had undergone a `sea change'.
If there is no prejudice to the employee, an action cannot be set aside
merely on the ground that no hearing was afforded before taking a decision
by the authority.
Ranjit Singh v. Union of India, (2006) 4 SCC 153, referring to the
relevant case-law, this Court said;
view of the aforementioned decisions of this Court, it is now well settled
that the principles of natural justice were required to be complied with
by the disciplinary authority. He was also required to apply his mind to
the materials on record. The enquiry officer arrived at findings which
were in favour of the appellant. Such findings were required (sic sought)
to be overturned by the disciplinary authority. It is in that view of the
matter, the power sought to be exercised by the disciplinary authority,
although not as that of an Appellate Authority, but is akin thereto. The inquiry
report was in favour of the appellant but the disciplinary authority
proposed to differ with such conclusions and, thus, apart from complying
with the principles of natural justice it was obligatory on his part, in
the absence of any show-cause filed by the appellant, to analyse the
materials on record afresh. It was all the more necessary because even
CBI, after a thorough investigation in the matter, did not find any case
against the appellant and thus, filed a closure report. It is, therefore, not
a case where the appellant was exonerated by a criminal court after a
full-fledged trial by giving benefit of doubt. It was also not a case
where the appellant could be held guilty in the disciplinary proceedings
applying the standard of proof as preponderance of the probability as
contrasted with the standard of proof in a criminal trial i.e. proof
beyond all reasonable doubt. When a final form was filed in favour of the
appellant, CBI even did not find a prima facie case against him. The
disciplinary authority in the aforementioned peculiar situation was
obligated to apply its mind on the materials brought on record by the
parties in the light of the findings arrived at by the inquiry officer. It
should not have relied only on the reasons disclosed by him in his
show-cause notice which, it will bear repetition to state, was only
tentative in nature. As the Appellate Authority in arriving at its
finding, laid emphasis on the fact that the appellant has not filed any
objection to the show- cause notice; ordinarily, this Court would not have
exercised its power of judicial review in such a matter, but the case in
hand appears to be an exceptional one as the appellant was exonerated by
the inquiry officer. He filed a show-cause but, albeit after some time the
said cause was available with the disciplinary authority before he issued
the order of dismissal. Even if he had prepared the order of dismissal,
he could have considered the show-cause as he did not leave his office by
then. The expression "communication" in respect of an order of
dismissal or removal from service would mean that the same is served upon
the delinquent officer".
(See State of Punjab
v. Amar Singh Harika, AIR 1966 SC 1313)
the aforesaid decisions, it is clear that though supply of report of
Inquiry Officer is part and parcel of natural justice and must be
furnished to the delinquent- employee, failure to do so would not
automatically result in quashing or setting aside of the order or the
order being declared null and void. For that, the delinquent employee has
to show `prejudice'. Unless he is able to show that non-supply of report
of the Inquiry Officer has resulted in prejudice or miscarriage of
justice, an order of punishment cannot be held to be vitiated. And whether
prejudice had been caused to the delinquent- employee depends upon the
facts and circumstances of each case and no rule of universal application
can be laid down.
the instant case, no finding has been recorded by the High Court that
prejudice had been caused to the delinquent-employee- writ-petitioner.
According to the High Court, such prejudice is `writ large'. In our view,
the above observation and conclusion is not in consonance with the
decisions referred to above, including a decision of the Constitution Bench
in B. Karunakar. The view of the High Court, hence, cannot be upheld. The
impugned order, therefore, deserves to be set aside and is accordingly set
the High Court has not considered the second question, namely, whether
failure to supply the report of the Inquiry Officer had or had not
resulted in prejudice to the delinquent employee, ends of justice would be
met with if we remit the matter to the High Court to decide the said
the foregoing reasons, the appeal deserves to be allowed and is
accordingly allowed with the above observations. On the facts and in the
circumstances of the case, however, there shall be no order as to costs.