Kumar Vs. Union of India and Ors.  INSC 1665 (21 October 2009)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL No. 3811 OF
2005 SURENDER KUMAR ... Appellant(s) Versus UNION OF INDIA AND ORS. ...
This appeal is at the instance of an employee who was working as
Assistant Supervisor, Military Farm. He was served with charge sheet wherein it
was alleged firstly that he had misappropriated about 320 Kg. of Soda-bi-carbonate;
secondly, that he had failed to feed the animals in his charge with the said
Soda-bi-carbonate as a result of which he had jeopardized the health of the
animals and thirdly, that he had willfully disobeyed the lawful orders of his
superior officer. The Officer In-charge ordered him to hand over all the charge
of cattle yard section to Mr. Birbal Sharma which he failed to do. Regular
departmental inquiry was conducted wherein the delinquent officer was given all
the opportunities to defend himself as also all the necessary documents were
supplied to him and after hearing him in full, he was found guilty on all the
three counts. -2- He was awarded the punishment of compulsory retirement. An
appeal was filed by the delinquent officer against the said penalty which was
dismissed. Hence the delinquent officer moved the Central Administrative
Tribunal. The Central Administrative Tribunal also agreed with the findings as
also the punishment awarded by the department. Further a writ petition was filed
before the Bombay High Court.
that writ petition was also dismissed.
Mr. P. N. Misra, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the
delinquent officer firstly urged that there is some factual mistake in the
judgment of the High Court inasmuch as it is mentioned that the aforementioned
320 Kg. of Soda-bi-carbonate was found in his "quarter" whereas in
fact the said material was not found in his quarter but was found in the UPI
room. We have seen the orders of the High Court as well as the authorities
below. It is true that there is a factual error in the High Court's judgment
inasmuch as it is mentioned that the aforementioned material was found in his
quarter. It is also true that the material was not found in his quarter but in
the place of which he alone was In-charge. Learned counsel further argued that
there was no question of any misappropriation inasmuch as the said material was
actually not found in his quarter.
it could not be said that he misappropriated the material. It is clear from the
record that the concerned -3- officer took this material on day-today basis to
feed to the animals on the military farm and instead of feeding the material to
the animals, he stored it in the UPI room which was exclusively in his possession
and under his lock and key as per the evidence. This would certainly amount to
misappropriation as the said material was meant for the consumption of the
animals on the military farm on day-today basis and the animals were not given
the said material for their consumption. There could be no explanation on the
part of the delinquent officer why the huge quantity of 320 Kg. of
Soda-bi-carbonate was kept in the premises which was exclusively in his
possession. Therefore, we are not impressed with the contention raised that
there was no misappropriation.
Learned counsel further contended that it may amount to negligence
on the part of the appellant and therefore the punishment of compulsory
retirement would be harsh punishment. Soda-bi-carbonate was meant for the poor
animals and those animals suffered because of the fact that the
Soda-bi-carbonate was not fed to them and 3 animals are reported to have died.
Hence the charge No. 2 also stood fully proved. There can be no dispute about
third charge also which was rightly held established. If that is so the
punishment of compulsory retirement cannot be termed as "harsh"
considering the serious misconduct. We are fully convinced that the
departmental inquiry was conducted -4- keeping in view the norms of the natural
justice and the fair play. There is nothing on record to suggest that the
appellant herein was refused any opportunity to represent himself effectively
before the Inquiry Officer or the Appellate Authority. In fact the only scope
in such cases is to examine the manner in which the departmental enquiry is
conducted. We are satisfied with the enquiry in this case.
We do not
find any merit in this appeal, which is accordingly dismissed.
....................J. (DEEPAK VERMA)
October 21, 2009.