Union of India and Others
Vs. Naman Singh Sekhawat  INSC 484 (14 March 2008)
S.B. Sinha & Harjit Singh
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 140 OF 2007 S.B. SINHA, J.
1. Respondent at all material times was working as a Sub-Inspector
(AICO-II). He was posted in the Intelligence Bureau. His principal function was
to identify and collect sources of information from the locality in regard to
anti national activities.
2. On or about 5th August, 1983, the respondent accompanied by the driver of
an official jeep bearing Registration No. RSN 939, went to a place known as
'Ramsar Gagaria Road' in the District of Barmer. There, he allegedly found a
large number of smuggled goods. While bringing the same in his jeep for their
delivery to the Customs Authorities it was intercepted by a Jonga Jeep, which
was being driven by one Bhoor Singh, a known smuggler, accompanied by the Head
Constable Bhori Das and Constable Kirta Ram of the concerned Police Station.
They were brought to the Police Station and arrested inter alia on the charge
that the respondent, in conspiracy with the smugglers had been taking the
smuggled goods in his official jeep.
3. Proceedings under the Customs Act were initiated on the basis of the
First Information Report lodged by the said Head Constable. A Criminal
proceeding was also initiated against him for the alleged commission of
offences under Sections 409, 120-B of the Indian Penal Code read with Section
13(2) of the Foreigners Act and Section 27 of the Arms Act as also under
Section 110 of the Customs Act.
4. In the proceeding under Section 112 of the Customs Act, the defence of
the respondent inter alia was that, finding some smuggled goods stranded and
abandoned while he was on a tour from near Village Gagaria, he loaded the same
in the said Jeep No. RSM-939 for necessary action in relation thereto by the
Customs Authorities. However, in the meantime, they were intercepted by the
5. The driver of the vehicle Mool Singh supported the said contention of the
respondent. The Additional Collector, Customs and Central Excise, upon
consideration of the materials on record by the parties thereto held :-
"15. ..In his statement dated 20.8.2083 recorded under Section 108 ibid,
Shri Mool Singh has corroborated the facts outlined by Naman Singh in his
statement dated 20.8.1983. No independent evidence has been brought on record
to show Shri Mool Singh's involvement in smuggling activities separately. Both
S/Shri Naman Singh and Mool Singh in their statements recorded under Section
108 have stated that they were intercepted by the Police Officers who were
sitting in a Jonga Jeep, being driven by one Bhoor Singh, a known smuggler on
the Indo-Pak Border. However, in the records of the case, there is no mention
about the particular Jeep in which the Police Offices were traveling and who
was driving the jeep. This aspect has not been clarified even in the show cause
notice. In view of this statement, the Jeep number in which the Police officers
were traveling should have been obtained by the Investigating Officers
particularly when an allegation has been made against the very officers who had
made the seizure that they were traveling in a Jonga Jeep belonging to a well
known smuggler of the area.
16. Thus there is no evidence on record to indicate that the goods under
seizure belong to either S/Shri Naman Singh or Mool Singh or Narain Singh, who
were present in the jeep when the goods were seized. There is no evidence also
that they had acquired goods through unauthorized route. Further, there is no
evidence against Shri Latif S/o. Bheru Musalman that he was in anyway concerned
with the goods under seizure. Thus, the theory given by the Police that the
I.B. Officers and Narain Singh (a private person) were indulging in smuggling
of goods in a Govt. Jeep does not hold any water, particularly when in their
statements S/Shri Naman Singh and Mool Singh have clearly indicated that the
Police Officers were traveling in Jonga Jeep belonging to Bhoor Singh, a well
known smuggler of the area and Investigations have not been made either by the
Police or the Customs authorities either to deny or to confirm this serious
allegation. In the circumstances, on the contrary there is no reason to
disbelieve that the I.B. Officers on tour found certain goods of foreign origin
which they loaded in their vehicle to be taken to the nearest Customs Offices
for necessary action and they were intercepted by the Police Officers, who were
sitting in a private Jonga Jeep being driven by a notorious smugger of the
area, a fact which has not been denied or disputed. I, therefore, hold that the
ownership of the goods under seizure cannot be attributed to S/Shri Naman
Singh, Mool Singh, Narain Singh and Latif to whom the show cause notice has
been issued. There is no evidence on record to indicate their involvement in
the smuggling of foreign origin goods from Pakistan into India."
On the basis of the aforesaid findings, whereas the goods of the foreign
origin were directed to be confiscated, the charges against the respondent,
Mool Singh and one Latif were dropped.
6. In the criminal proceeding against the respondent, the prosecution
examined a large number of witnesses including the informant Bhori Das, PW-6
and Constable Kirta Ram, PW-7. The charges were found to have not been proved.
It was inter alia held that no case under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code
had been made out as the respondent was not entrusted with the said goods. In
regard to the charge under Section 27 of the Arms Act, no offence was found to
have been committed by the respondent, as he was in possession of an Arm to
which he was entitled to. So far as the charge under Section 120-B of the
Indian Penal Code is concerned, a judgment of acquittal was recorded stating :-
"As elaborated earlier, when the basis of presenting prosecution has not
been considered reliable by Department of Custom and the statement of the
accused is considered to be more reliable, under such circumstances it cannot
be considered the accused has misappropriated in this matter as visit by the employees
of Intelligence Bureau on the border for discharging their duties does not
tantamount to misuse of the post or the property and no such evidence has been
presented that the accused Naman Singh did not have the authority to go on
border side for official work and even the department had not forbidden him
from going that place.
Due to want of above facts it can be presumed that he visited the place for
official work. As the misappropriation of the property is not proved,
therefore, the question of criminal conspiracy does not arise. Apart from this,
the crime of criminal conspiracy is an independent crime. No evidence from the
prosecution side for this has been submitted."
7. The State accepted the said judgment. No appeal was preferred
thereagainst. Long thereafter, namely on 1st May, 1982, for reasons best known
to the appellant, a disciplinary proceeding was initiated against the
respondent on two articles of charges which read as under :- (a) During his
posting at Barmer, Rajasthan in 1983, the Respondent had mis-utilized a
Government vehicle and revolver for an unauthorized tour of the border area
falling under PS Ramser outside the requirement of his official duties, without
the knowledge or permission of his superior officers.
(b) Unauthorisedly collected and carried smuggled articles in the Government
jeep which was an act unbecoming of an intelligence officer and constituted
gross professional misconduct.
8. In the said departmental proceeding the police officers concerned were
not examined. The Customs Officers were also not examined. No official on
behalf of the department was examined, except the aforesaid Mool Singh. Mool
Singh, in his evidence, fully supported the case of the respondent. He stated
that the predecessors of the respondent also used to carry on similar duties
and functions. He also disclosed that another officer, who had been requested
to accompany them, refused to do so. He also stated that in similar situations,
recovered smuggled goods had been handed over to the Customs Authorities. He
also referred to an instance in regard to a similar incident which took place
during the tenure of Shri D.L. Oza, CDIO.
9, Admittedly, Bhoor Singh who was driving the Jonga Jeep was in inebriated
condition. He is also said to be the owner of the vehicle. How responsible
police officers were traveling in the jeep of a well known smuggler defies all
9. Respondent intended to examine one witness in the departmental
proceedings, Jumma. He was not permitted to do so. During the course of the
disciplinary proceedings his Defence Assistant was not available. A request was
made to allow him to attend the enquiry proceedings. The said request was not
10. The Inquiry Officer, however, by his report dated 9th December, 1982,
found the respondent guilty of the charges of misconduct leveled against him.
11. The Disciplinary Authority passed an order of dismissal on 2nd February,
1993. The only reason assigned in support thereof reads as under:-
"Therefore, on due appreciation of the inquiry report furnished by the
Inquiry Officer and representation against it made by the charged officer, I
feel that the charges leveled against the delinquent government servant have
been duly established. I being the Disciplinary Authority, dismiss Shri N.S. Shekhawat,
ACIO-II (G) from the service with immediate effect, under Rule 11 (ix) of CCS
(CC&A) Rules, 1965."
12. An appeal was preferred thereagainst. The appellate authority dismissed
the said appeal by a detailed judgment dated 17th April, 2000, stating:- "6.
That I, JD, SIB, Jaipur being the Appellate Authority after carefully examining
the appeal preferred by Sh. N.S. Shekhawat, dismissed ACIO-II, the Inquiry
Report submitted by the Inquiry Officer (Shri Bhagirath Mina, the then
Assistant Director, Jodhpur), the order of the Disciplinary Authority (i.e.
Shri Ram Das, Assistant Director, SIB, Jaipur), and other relevant documents on
record have found :- (i) That Rule 14 (15) of the CCS (CCA) Rules , 1965
provides that the Inquiry Officer, in his discretion, can call for new evidence
in case he feels that there is an inherent lacuna in the evidence produced
before him and that production of such evidence is necessary in the interest of
justice. Accordingly, the Inquiry Officer was well within his rights to call
Shri Mool Singh, JIO-II (MT) for deposition.
(ii) That the request of Shri N.S. Shekhawat for engaging a legal practioner
as his defence assistant was rightly turned down, as the Presenting Officer was
not a legal practitioner nor were there any special circumstances under which
the delinquent could be allowed to engage a legal practitioner.
(iii) That it is also revealed from the records of the inquiry that proper
summons were issued to the defence assistant viz., Shri Madhukar Sharma, Spd.
(PREV), Customs and Central Excise, Ajmer and to his Controlling Officer viz.,
the Collector, Central Excise and Customs, Jaipur, requesting him to relieve
Shri Sharma for attending the disciplinary proceedings, but he did not turn up
at the enquiry.
(iv) That the request of the delinquent officer to produce one Jumma as his
defence witness was rightly turned down as there was no relevance in his
(v) That the C.O. was given full opportunity to defend himself.
(vi) That from the records of the departmental proceedings, it is
conclusively proved that the visit of Shri NS. Shekhawat top the border area
near Village Ramsar (District Barmer) on the night of August 5, 1983 was
unauthorized, during which he was detected and intercepted by the local police
for unauthorisedly carrying smuggled goods 530 electronic calculators, Made in
Japan, 19 Sanyo tape-cum-transistors, Made in Japan, 57 'thans' measuring 1767
mts. of synthetic fabric of 'Pak' origin; which were valued at Rs. 1 lakh 30
thousand at that time in the official governmental jeep of IB beyond any
conceivable call of his legitimate duties. In his deposition dated Oct. 22,
1992 before the I.O., Shri Shekhawat has admitted having visited the area near
Village Ramsar, District Barmer without the knowledge/authority of his Senior
Officers for undertaking such a tour which certainly required the permission of
the controlling officers at Jodhpur/Jaipur.
(vii) That there is nothing on record to indicate that the proceedings were
not conducted as per the procedure laid down under CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965."
13. Respondent preferred an Original Application before the Central
Administrative Tribunal, Jaipur Bench questioning the said order of the
disciplinary authority. By a judgment and order dated 23rd October, 2001, the Tribunal,
upon considering the material at some details, held :- "In the instant
case, there is no evidence to corroborate the charge against the applicant. The
case of applicant is solely or mainly depend on the statement of Shri Mool
Chand, (sic) who does not support the charges at all.
Criminal Court has already acquitted the accused on the basis of no
evidence. In support of the allegations against the applicant, no preliminary
enquiry was conducted in this case. Therefore, we are of the considered opinion
that there is no evidence on record to sustain the charges against the
applicant and it is a case of no evidence. Therefore, the finding of the
Inquiry Officer can be characterized as perverse."
Respondent, on the basis of the said findings, was directed to be reinstated
in service with all consequential benefits.
14. A Writ Petition preferred thereagainst has been dismissed by a Division
Bench of the Rajasthan High Court by reason of the impugned judgment.
13. Mr. Vikas Singh, learned Additional Solicitor General, appearing on
behalf of the appellant would submit that the Tribunal and the High Court
committed a serious error in passing the impugned judgments in so far as they
failed to take into consideration :- 1) it is permissible for the disciplinary
authority to initiate a departmental proceeding even after the judgment of
acquittal is recorded in a criminal case inasmuch as similar evidence can be
viewed differently by the criminal court and an inquiry officer having regard
to the standard of proof involved in the respective proceedings ;
2) the criminal court having acquitted the respondent only on benefit of
doubt, the departmental proceeding was maintainable;
3) in any event, the charges levelled against the respondent in the criminal
case and the departmental proceeding were different;
4) the High Court, although noticed the legal principles operating in the
field correctly, failed to apply the same to the facts of the present case;
5) the Tribunal committed a serious illegality in opining that a preliminary
inquiry was required to be conducted after the judgment of acquittal was
14. Mr. Sushil Kumar Jain, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respondent, on the other hand, urged :- 1) That the Customs Authorities as also
the learned Munsif- cum-Judicial Magistrate having held that the respondent was
not guilty of the charges, the impugned judgment is unassailable.
2) Respondent being the Officer Incharge of the Unit, was entitled to take
all such actions which were necessary to act as an Intelligence Officer. Jumma
who could have proved that the smugglers were the target of the respondent,
having not been examined, the Principle of Natural Justice was violated.
3) No Circular or Notification has been brought on records to show that any permission
from any higher authority was required before the respondent could take the
official jeep for carrying out his official duties.
4) As an Incharge of the office, the respondent indisputably was entitled to
use the government vehicle as also the arms.
5) In view of the fact that the respondent had not been found guilty both by
the Customs Authorities and the Criminal Court, any embarrassment on the part
of the department, on account of any action of the respondent did not and could
6) The only material brought on record being the orders of the Customs
Authorities, the judgment of the criminal court and the evidence of Mool Singh,
the finding recorded by the disciplinary authority was wholly perverse.
15. Respondent was a responsible officer. He was incharge of a unit. The
charge against the respondent was that he had been found at the International
Border, 100 kms. away from the place of posting, accompanied by a driver and a
private person, having not been authorized by his superiors to make the said
trip and the same was not in the course of his legitimate duties and that he
had hatched a conspiracy with the smugglers. He is also accused of conspiring
with the foreigners.
16. Initiation of the departmental proceeding must be viewed in the
background of his total exoneration by the Customs Authorities and the criminal
17. The alleged occurrence took place on 5th August, 1983. As he was
arrested in connection with the said matter, he must have been placed under
suspension. The proceeding under the Customs Act came to an end on 17th March,
1986. He was acquitted in the criminal case on 11th July, 1991. The Department
was aware of the said proceedings. They were aware of his defence. It has not
been denied or disputed that obtaining intelligence reports as regard anti
smuggling activities was one of his functions. It is one thing to say that in
discharge of the said function he was over enthusiastic but it is another thing
to say that he hatched a conspiracy to assist the smugglers in carrying out
18. Trans-border smuggling is a subject of federal function. We fail to
understand as to why no deeper probe was made in regard to his involvement, if
any, vis-a-vis the role of the officers of the concerned police station. Larger
public interest demanded such probe. If the contention of the appellant was
correct, the competent authority of the Central Government should have taken up
the matter with the State Government.
Such inaction on the part of the appellant is a matter of deep pubic
19. If the charges levelled against the respondent in the departmental
proceeding only related to administrative lapses on his part, it could have
been initiated long back. Why was it initiated after a period nine years has
not been explained. On a query made by us, the learned Additional Solicitor
General, submitted that the department must have been waiting for the outcome
of the criminal case. If that is so, it was expected that the evidence would
have been adduced in the criminal proceeding to establish that the misuse of
the jeep and the official revolver as also visiting the border area by the
respondent formed part of conspiracy.
The identity and the activity of the private person, who was found in the
company of the respondent, should have been investigated by the competent
authority, particularly when respondent was working in the Intelligence
20. Whether incidental or ancillary to the issue which arose in the
departmental proceeding, we must place on record that the Department of Customs
of the Union of India having examined the entire question, they found the
respondent innocent. As trans-border smuggling was the common theme both before
the said authority as also in the criminal court, the department concerned was
expected to keep a strict vigil thereover. The question of mis-utilisation of
jeep etc., was not brought to the notice of the Customs Authorities. Such a
question was also not raised in the criminal proceeding. It was necessary to do
so so as to prove the charges of conspiracy. The prosecution, thus, utterly
failed to prove such a charge.
21. In the departmental proceeding the appellant was bound to comply with
the principles of natural justice. Copies of some documents were not supplied.
Services of a legal practitioner, may not be a matter of right, but he was
atleast entitled to the effective assistance of the departmental
representative, Shri Madhukar Sharma. The same was also for all intent and
The Tribunal in this behalf opined :- " It is undisputed fact that Shri
Mool Singh was examined although his name was not in the list of witnesses. The
applicant's request to call Shri Jumma as defence witness was not allowed. Not
only this but in the absence of the departmental representative Shri Madhukar
Sharma, the applicant was compelled to cross- examine Shri Mool Singh who was
cited as main witness in this case. It is also not disputed that the Inquiry
Officer himself has cross-examined the applicant which was the duty of the
departmental representatives. It appears that the conduct of the Inquiry
Officer in this case has been throughout biased and it appears that he has
acted with predetermined notions which should have caused prejudice to the
We are in general agreement with the said observations.
22. Our attention has been drawn to the order passed by the appellate
authority dated 17th April, 2000. It is a long order, a portion whereof we have
23. We may at this juncture notice that the appellate authority did not
consider the legal question that the Inquiry Officer was bound to take recourse
to Rule 14 of the CCS (CCA) Rules particularly when, apart from the orders of
the Customs Authorities and the criminal case, no other evidence appears to
have been brought on record. No reason has been assigned as to why the request
of the respondent to call 'Jumma' as defence witness to prove the bonafide of
the respondent had been turned down.
The bias on the part of the Inquiry Officer is explicit from the record.
Why the Inquiry Officer cross-examined the respondent is beyond anybody's
comprehension. He was not the prosecutor. A Presenting Officer had been
appointed. The Inquiry Officer could not have taken over the job of the
Presenting Officer, particularly when he was a superior officer. Valid and
sufficient reasons have not been assigned by the Inquiry Officer in this
behalf. His finding that the respondent should have informed his superior who
was available at the close point, is contrary to the evidence of Mool Singh.
According to him, the practice followed by the officers similarly situated was
to take the goods found abandoned to the Customs Department and to the police
24. It has been suggested before us that the charges against the respondent
in the criminal case and the departmental proceeding were different.
However, we fail to understand what sort of public duty the respondent was
expected to perform when he was intercepted by the police in a jeep which was
driven by Bhoor Singh, a notorious smuggler who had been detained under MISA.
If the conduct of the respondent did not cause any embarrassment to the
department in the year 1983, how, after exoneration by the Customs Authorities
and acquittal by the criminal court, his acts embarrassed the department, so as
to form the basis of imputation of misconduct, is again beyond anybody's
comprehension. The Inquiry Officer and consequently the disciplinary authority
misdirected themselves in law as they posed unto themselves a wrong question.
The appellate authority's findings are noticed in paragraph 12 (supra) had not
been considered at all.
The disciplinary authority, therefore, for all intent and purport, differed
with the findings of the Customs Department as well as the criminal court, but
no basis therefore was disclosed. No such evidence was brought on record. No
witness was examined to prove the said fact. Even no documentary evidence was
produced. The entire basis of the said finding is the ipse dixit of the
Disciplinary Authority and the Appellate Authority.
It again goes to show that despite the findings of the Customs Authorities
and the Criminal Court, what was uppermost in the mind of the disciplinary
authority and the appellate authority was his alleged involvement in the
25. There cannot be any doubt whatsoever, as has been submitted by the
learned Additional Solicitor General, that initiation of departmental
proceeding is permissible even after the judgment of acquittal is recorded by
the criminal court. But the same would not mean that a proceeding would be
initiated only because it is lawful to do so. A departmental proceeding could
be initiated if the department intended to adduce any evidence which is in its
power and possession to prove the charges against the delinquent officer.
Such a proceeding must be initiated bona fide. The action of the authority
even in this behalf must be reasonable and fair.
26. Reliance has been placed on T.N.C.S. Corporation Ltd. and others vs.
K. Meerabai : (2006) 2 SCC 255 wherein this court opined :- "30. The
scope of disciplinary proceedings and the scope of criminal proceedings in a
Court of Criminal law are quite distinct, exclusive and independent of each
The prosecution proceedings launched against the respondent herein were in respect
of offences punishable under Sections 409 and 477-A I.P.C., whereas the
Departmental Proceedings as initiated against her were in respect of the
charges of misappropriation and other fraudulent practices such as deliberate
omission to bring into accounts the stock received showing bogus issues in the
records, falsification of accounts, submission of defective accounts, tampering
of records, manipulation of accounts and records etc. Thus, the respondent
herein was proceeded against for quite different charges and on different sets
of facts before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, on the one hand, and
before the Departmental Enquiry on the other."
It was, thus, a case where the charges were different.
27. In Ajit Kumar Nag vs. General Manager (PJ), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.,
Haldia and others : (2005) 7 SCC 764 this court opined that acquittal of a
delinquent by a criminal court would not preclude an employer from taking
action by the disciplinary authority, if it is otherwise permissible.
Such a departmental proceeding, however, cannot be initiated mala fide. It
must be conducted in accordance with law.
An acquittal of a delinquent ipso facto may not absolve him from undergoing
disciplinary inquiry. However, where the charges are absolutely identical,
ordinarily the same would not be taken resorted to.
We may notice that in Ajit Kumar Nag (supra) the order of dismissal was
found to have been legally proved despite the fact that the delinquent was
acquitted by the court of law.
If the Inquiry Officer is biased, no action could have been be taken on the
basis thereof. It renders the proceeding a nullity. Such an inherent defect in
the disciplinary proceeding cannot be cured by an order of the appellate
authority. An order which is void cannot be validated by the appellate
authority as the materials which were not brought on record could not be taken
into consideration by it.
In Ajit Kumar Nag (supra) it was held :- "44. 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 forbidden fruit. [See R.
v. University of Cambridge]. But we are also aware that principles of
natural justice are not rigid or immutable and hence they cannot be imprisoned
in a straight-jacket. They must yield to and change with exigencies of
situations. They must be confined within their limits and cannot be allowed to
It has been stated ; "To do a great right after all, it is permissible
sometimes to do a little wrong".
28. Reliance has also been placed on Commissioner of Police, New Delhi vs.
Narender Singh : (2006) 4 SCC 265 wherein this Court was dealing with a case of
a police constable, who was accused of committing theft of arms.
He made a confession of his involvement. It was found to be inadmissible in
the criminal proceeding. In that factual backdrop this Court held :- "12.
It is not in dispute that the standard of proof required in recording a finding
of conviction in a criminal case and in a departmental proceeding are distinct
and different. Whereas in a criminal case, it is essential to prove a charge
beyond all reasonable doubt, in a departmental proceeding preponderance of
probability would serve the purpose. [See Kamaladevi Agarwal v.
State of W.B.].
13. It is now well-settled by reason of a catena of decisions of this Court
that if an employee has been acquitted of a criminal charge, the same by itself
would not be a ground not to initiate a departmental proceeding against him or
to drop the same in the event an order of acquittal is passed. "
29. It is not a case where a mere benefit of doubt had been given to the
respondent in the criminal proceeding. The criminal court has given a positive
finding that the prosecution has not been able to prove that the accused had
misappropriated the goods. His visit to the border for discharging his duties
did not tantamount to misuse of the post or the authority. No evidence has been
presented that he did not have the authority to go to the border side on
official duties and even the department had not forbidden him from going to
It was held that as misappropriation of the property has not been proved,
the question of any criminal conspiracy did not arise.
No evidence had been adduced to bring home the charge of criminal conspiracy,
which is an independent crime.
30. Respondent was found to have been carrying the official revolver for his
safety. No evidence was also adduced to establish that when confronted by the
police party, he had tried to show or used the same or threatened them with the
same or used the official revolver with the intention of doing illegal work.
That the respondent was allotted a jeep and also allowed to carry with him
the official revolver, was accepted by the prosecution side in the criminal
case, and thus, he was found not guilty under Section 27 of the Arms Act.
31. In Sawai Singh vs. State of Rajasthan : (1986) 3 SCC 454 this Court
opined :- "16 . But in a departmental enquiry entailing consequences like
loss of job which now-a-days means loss of livelihood, there must be fair play
in action, in respect of an order involving adverse or penal consequences
against an employee, there must be investigations to the charges consistent
with the requirement of the situation in accordance with the principles of natural
justice in so far as these are applicable in a particular situation.
17. The application of those principles of natural justice must always be in
conformity with the scheme of the Act and the subject matter of the case. It is
not possible to lay down any rigid rules as to which principle of natural
justice is to be applied. There is no such thing as technical natural justice.
The requirements of natural justice depend upon the facts and circumstances of
the case, the nature of the enquiry, the rules under which the Tribunal is
acting, the subject matter to be dealt with and so on. Concept of fair play in
action which is the basis of natural justice must depend upon the particular
lis between the parties."
32. In Jasbir Singh vs. Punjab & Sind Bank and others : 2006 (11) SCALE
204 it was held :- "7 The learned counsel for the respondent contended
that the decision of this Court has no application. He may be right. But, it is
not necessary for us to delve deep into the matter as we are of the opinion
that the judgment in civil matter having attained finality, the same was
binding on Respondent-Bank."
33. In M.V. Bijlani vs. Union of India and others : (2006) 8 SCC 8 this
Court st ated the law in the following terms :- "25. .Although the charges
in a departmental proceedings are not required to be proved like a criminal
trial, i.e., beyond all reasonable doubts, we cannot lose sight of the fact
that the Enquiry Officer performs a quasi-judicial function, who upon analysing
the documents must arrive at a conclusion that there had been a preponderance
of probability to prove the charges on the basis of materials on record. While
doing so, he cannot take into consideration any irrelevant fact. He cannot
refuse to consider the relevant facts. He cannot shift the burden of proof. He
cannot reject the relevant testimony of the witnesses only on the basis of
surmises and conjectures. He cannot enquire into the allegations with which the
delinquent officer had not been charged with."
In this case, evidence of Mool Singh is totally against the department.
He was not cross-examined. It was not held that he had deposed falsely.
34. For the abovesaid reasons, there is no infirmity in the impugned
judgment. The appeal fails and is accordingly dismissed.
35. Before parting, we may, however, notice that the respondent was
reinstated in service. However, after the order of stay was granted by this
Court on 27th March, 2006, his services had again been terminated. He is,
therefore, directed to be reinstated forthwith with all consequential benefits.
The order of the Tribunal must be complied with in its entirety forthwith.
Respondent is entitled to costs of the appeal which is assessed at Rupees