of U.P. Vs. Shatrughan Lal & Anr 
INSC 371 (30 July 1998)
Ahmad, G.B. Pattanaik S. Saghir Ahmad, J.
who was a Lekhpal in the service of the State Government, was dismissed from
service after a regular departmental inquiry. The order of dismissal was
challenged before the U.P. Public Services Tribunal which, by its judgment
dated 13.3.81, allowed the claim petition with the findings that the
departmental proceedings conducted against the respondent as also the order
dated 28.2.77 by which he was removed from service were illegal and void. The
State of U.P. then filed a writ petition in the
High Court which was dismissed summarily on 4.2.82.
have heard learned counsel for the parties. The Tribunal has found as a fact
that copies of the documents which were proposed in the charge-sheet to be
produced in the department proceedings as proof in support of articles of
charges were not supplied to the respondent. This finding was based on the own
admission of the appellant in the written statement that the copies of the
documents mentioned in the charge-sheet were not supplied to the respondent
which could be inspected by him at any time. The Tribunal further found that
the copies of the statement recorded during the preliminary inquiry on the
basis of which the charges were subsequently framed against the respondent were
also not supplied to him. It was, on these two grounds that it was held by the
Tribunal that the inquiry proceedings were bad in law.
findings are assailed before us by the counsel for the State of U.P.
one of the principles of natural justice is that a person against whom an
action is proposed to be taken has to be given an opportunity of hearting. this
opportunity has to be an effective opportunity and not a mere pretence. In
departmental proceedings where charge-sheet is issued and the documents which
are proposed to be utilised against that person are indicated in the charge
sheet but copies thereof are not supplied to him in spite of his request, and
he is, at the same time, called upon to submit his reply, it cannot be said
that an effective opportunity to defend was provided to him. (see: Chandrama Tewari
vs. Union of India 1987 (Supp.) SCC 518 = AIR 1988 Sc 177; Kashinath Dikshita
vs. Union of India & Ors. 1986 (3) SCC 229 = AIR 1986 SC 2118; State of
Uttar Pradesh vs. Mohd. Sharif (1982) 2 SCC 376 = AIR 1982 SC 937).
High Court of Punjab & Haryana vs. Amrik Singh 1995 (Supp.) 1 SCC 321, it
was indicated that the delinquent officer must be supplied copies of documents
relied upon in support of the charges. It was further indicated that if the
documents are voluminous and copies cannot be supplied, then such officer must
be given an opportunity to inspect the same, or else, the principles of natural
justice would be violated.
inquiry which is conducted invariably on the back of the delinquent employee
may, often, constitute the whole basis of the charge-sheet. Before a person is,
therefore, called upon to submit his reply to the charge sheet, he must, on a
request made by him in that behalf, be supplied the copies of the statements of
witnesses recorded during the preliminary enquiry particularly if those
witnesses are proposed to be examined at the departmental trial. This principle
was reiterated in Kashinath Dikshita vs. Union of India & Ors. (1986) 3 SCC
229 (supra), wherein it was also laid down that this lapse would vitiate the
departmental proceedings unless it was shown and established as a fact that
non-supply of copies of those document in his defence.
the above principles to the instant case, it will be seen that the copies of
the documents which were indicated in the charge sheet to be relied upon as
proof in support of articles of charges were not supplied to the respondent nor
was any offer made to him to inspect those documents.
counsel appearing for the appellant has contended that the opportunity to
inspect the documents was, as a matter of fact, provided to him as set out in
Paragraph 10 of the written statement filed before the Tribunal, in which, it
was, inter alia, indicated as under:
petitioner was required to reply to the charge within a period of 15 days from
the date of receipt of charge sheet and not from the date of order as alleged
in the petition. it is no doubt correct that the copies of the documents
mentioned in the charge sheet purporting to substantiate a particular charge,
were not supplied to the petitioner because it was not necessary and the
petitioner had every right to inspect them at any time. It is, therefore, wrong
to say that the petitioner was greatly handicapped for want of the copies of
the documents mentioned above." This paragraph of the written statement
contains an admission of the appellant that copies of the documents specified
in the charge sheet were not supplied to the respondent as the respondent had
every right to inspect them at any time. This assertion clearly indicates that
although it is admitted that the copies of the documents were not supplied to
the respondent and although he had the right to inspect those documents,
neither were the copies given to him nor were the records made available to him
for inspection. If the appellant did not intend to give copies of the documents
to the respondent, it should have been indicated to the respondent in writing
that he may inspect those documents. Merely saying that the respondent could
have inspected the documents at any time is not enough. he has to be informed
that the documents, of which the copies were asked for by him may be inspected.
The access to record must be assured to him.
also been found that during the course of the preliminary enquiry, a number of
witnesses were examined against the respondent in his absence, and rightly so,
as the delinquents are not associated in the preliminary enquiry, and
thereafter the charge sheet was drawn up. The copies of those statements,
though asked for by the respondent, were not supplied to him. Since there was a
failure on the part of the appellant in this regard too, the principles of
natural justice were violated and the respondent was not afforded an effective
opportunity of hearing, particularly as the appellant failed to establish that
non-supply of the copies of statements recorded during preliminary enquiry had
not caused any prejudice to the respondent in defending himself.
the reasons stated above, the appeal has no merits and i;, therefore,
dismissed, but without any order as to costs.