Jagdish Singh Vs.
Punjab Engineering College & Ors.  INSC 1070 (14 May 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.3565 OF 2009 (Arising out
of SLP(C) No. 16527 of 2008) Jagdish Singh ..........Appellant Versus Punjab
Engineering College & Ors. .... ...Respondents
condoned. Leave granted.
is an appeal by special leave against the judgment and order of the High Court
of Punjab and Haryana in Civil Writ Petition No.1993 of 2006 dated 28.08.2007,
wherein and whereunder, the High Court has dismissed the writ petition by
affirming the order passed by the disciplinary authority of the respondent
facts in brief are as under:- The appellant was working as a Sweeper in the
Respondent-Punjab Engineering College. He remained absent unauthorizedly for
the period 1 from 11.02.2004 to 13.02.2004, 17.02.2004 to 20.02.2004,
05.03.2004 to 09.03.2004 and 23.03.2004 to 26.03.2004. The departmental enquiry
was initiated by the disciplinary authority of the college by issuing a charge
memo containing the allegation of unauthorized absence and an inquiry officer
was appointed to enquire into the charges alleged. In reply to the charge memo
and also before the inquiry officer, the plea of the workman was that in order
to save matrimonial life of his daughter due to indifferent attitude of her
in-laws, he had no other go but to absent himself on different dates during the
month of February and March, 2004 and further he could not take prior
permission from the employer due to mental agony, anguish, and the anxiety that
he was undergoing during the relevant time.
inquiry officer after holding the enquiry has submitted his enquiry report
wherein, he has opined, that, the workman is guilty of the charges alleged in
the charge memo. The disciplinary authority of the respondent-college, after
receipt of the report of the inquiry officer has accepted the report and has
passed an order dated 30.09.2004, imposing a major penalty of dismissal from
appellant had called in question the correctness or otherwise of the order
passed by disciplinary authority of the respondent-college by filing 2 civil
writ petition before the High Court. The Court by its order dated 28.08.2007
has dismissed the writ petition.
the time of hearing of the appeal, the only contention canvassed before us by
the learned counsel for the appellant was that, the punishment imposed by the
disciplinary authority is disproportionate to the gravity of the charges
alleged against the appellant, especially, in view of the explanation offered
by the appellant for his unauthorized absence for a few days in the month of
February and March 2004 and lesser punishment would meet the ends of justice.
contra, learned counsel for the respondent, submitted, that, unauthorized
absence is a serious misconduct and the said charge being proved against the
employee, the disciplinary authority was justified in imposing a major penalty
of dismissal from service.
Courts and the Tribunals can interfere with the decision of the disciplinary
authority, only when they are satisfied that the punishment imposed by the
disciplinary authority is shockingly disproportionate to the gravity of the
charges alleged and proved against a delinquent employee and not otherwise.
Reference can be made to the decision of SCC 338, wherein it is stated:
3 "The common
thread running through in all these decisions is that the court should not
interfere with the administrator's decision unless it was illogical or suffers
from procedural impropriety or was shocking to the conscience of the Court, in
the sense that it was in defiance of logic or moral standards. In view of what
has been stated in Wednesbury case the court would not go into the correctness
of the choice made by the administrator open to him and the court should not
substitute its decision for that of the administrator. The scope of judicial
review is limited to the deficiency in decision-making process and not the
To put it differently
unless the punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority or the Appellate
Authority shocks the conscience of the court/Tribunal, there is no scope for
Further to shorten
litigations it may, in exceptional and rare cases, impose appropriate
punishment by recording cogent reasons in support thereof. In a normal course,
if the punishment imposed is shockingly disproportionate it would be
appropriate to direct the disciplinary authority or the Appellate Authority to
reconsider the penalty imposed."
other principle that requires to be kept in view, is the observation
Unnikrishnan and Anr. (1994 (1) SCALE 631, wherein it is stated:
times, there is an increasing evidence of this, perhaps well meant but wholly
unsustainable tendency towards a denudation of the legitimacy of judicial
reasoning and process. The reliefs granted by the courts must be seen to be
logical and tenable within the framework of the law and should not incur and
justify the criticism that the jurisdiction of the courts tends to degenerate
into misplaced sympathy, generosity and private benevolence. It is essential to
maintain the 4 integrity of legal reasoning and the legitimacy of the
conclusions. They must emanate logically from the legal findings and the
judicial results must be seen to be principled and supportable on those
findings. Expansive judicial mood of mistaken and misplaced compassion at the
expense of the legitimacy of the process will eventually lead to mutually
irreconcilable situations and denude the judicial process of its dignity,
authority, predictability and respectability."
instant case is not a case of habitual absenteeism. The appellant seems to have
a good track record from the date he joined service as a sweeper. In his long
career of service, he remained absent for 15 days on four occasions in the
month of February and March 2004. This was primarily due to sort out the
problem of his daughter with her in-laws.
The filial bondage
and the emotional attachment might have come in his way to apply and obtain
leave from the employer. The misconduct that is alleged, in our view, would
definitely amounts to violation of discipline that is expected of an employee
to maintain in the establishment, but may not fit into the category of gross
violation of discipline. We hasten to add if it were to be habitual
absenteeism, we would not have ventured to entertain this appeal.
the result, we allow the appeal and set aside the order passed by the
disciplinary authority dated 30.09.2004 and affirmed by the High Court vide its
order dated 28.08.2007. Taking the totality of the facts and circumstances of
the case and having due regard to unblemished record 5 of the appellant, and
the reasons for which he remained absent without obtaining permission, the ends
of justice would be met, if punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority is
modified to that of stoppage of two increments with cumulative effect and
further declare that he would not entitled for any monetary benefits during the
period he was out of service and that period would be counted only for the
purpose of his service benefits. We direct the disciplinary authority to issue
appropriate orders in this regard within one month from the date of production
of certified copy of this Court's order by either of the parties.
appeal is accordingly disposed of. However, there will be no order as to costs.
[ H.L. DATTU ]