Disciplinary Proceedings – Supreme Court Judgments

disciplinary proceedings

Disciplinary Proceedings

What is the need of disciplinary proceedings against employee in any Organization. 

Without disciplinary proceedings no employer can maintain discipline in his department. 

Every Organization has own standing orders and conduct rules to initiate disciplinary proceedings against employee. 

Commencement of Disciplinary proceeding

A departmental proceeding is ordinarily said to be initiated only when a charge-sheet is issued.

Case Reference

(i) Coal India Ltd. Vs. Ananta Saha, (2011) 5 SCC 142.
(ii) Union of India Vs. K.V. Jankiraman, (1991) 4 SCC 109
(iii) UCO Bank Vs. Rajinder Lal Capoor, (2007) 6 SCC 694
(iv) Union of India Vs. Anil Kumar Sarkar, (2013) 4 SCC 161

Misconduct and its Meaning

(a)  Any act or wrongful omission is misconduct, if the same is contrary to the conduct rules or statutory Act and Rules.

Case Reference :

Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India & others Vs. Council of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India & others, AIR 2007 SC 2091

(b)  Misconduct like drunkenness, fighting, indecent or disorderly behavior at the work place or in the vicinity of the work place can be punished but not  beyond such work place. 

Case Reference :

Ms. Glaxo Laboratories (i) Ltd. Vs. Presiding Officer, AIR 1984 SC 505 

Departmental Proceedings is Quashi Judicial Proceedings 

Departmental Proceedings, Recoding finding of guilt against any delinquent and imposing punishment for same is a quasi-judicial function and not administrative function.

Hence, Disciplinary Authorities have to strictly adhere to statutory rules while imposing punishment. 

Case Reference

(i) Vijay Singh Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & others (2012) 5 SCC 242
(ii) State of UP and Coal India Ltd. Vs. Ananta Saha, (2011) 5 SCC 142
(iii) Mohd. Yunus Khan Vs. State of UP, (2010) 10 SCC 539
(iv) Union of India & Others Vs. Mohd. Ramzan Khan, (1991) 1 SCC 588

Criminal Proceedings Vs Disciplinary Proceedings

The Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the scope of disciplinary proceedings and criminal proceedings are quite distinct. 

The scope is also exclusive and independent of each other because standard of proof in the two proceedings are completely different.

The purpose of departmental enquiry and of prosecution are two different and distinct aspects.

Departmental Enquiry is to maintain discipline in the service and efficiency of public service.

Crime is an act of commission in violation of law or of omission of public duty.

The enquiry in a departmental proceeding relates to the conduct or breach of duty by the delinquent officer to punish him for his misconduct defined under the relevant statutory rules or law.

It is the settled legal position that the strict standard of proof or applicability of the Evidence Act stands excluded in a departmental proceeding.

Criminal Proceedings and the departmental proceeding under enquiry can go on simultaneously.

Case Reference :

(i)  T.N.C.S. Corporation Ltd. Vs. K. Meerabai, (2006) 2 SCC 255

(ii)  Depot Manager, APSRTC Vs. Mohd. Yousuf Miya, (1997) 2 SCC 699

Effect of Acquittal in Criminal Proceedings

The effect of acquittal in criminal proceedings is that the disciplinary proceedings pending against the delinquent would be dropped.

Case Reference

(i) Sulekh Chandra Vs. Commissioner of Police, 1994 Suppl. (3) SCC 674.
(ii) M. Paul Anthony Vs. Bharat Gold Mines Ltd., 1999 JT 456 (SC)

Show Cause Notice on Conviction by Criminal Court 

On conviction, show cause notice to the convicted employee necessary before his dismissal.

Case Reference:

Deputy Director of Collegiate Education (Administration), Madras Vs. S. Nagoor Meera, AIR 1995 SC 1364

Framing of Articles of Charges in Charge Sheet

Generally speaking, it is not necessary that charge should be framed by the authority competent to award the proposed penalty or that the inquiry should be conducted by such authority.

Case Reference :

Inspector General of Police & another Vs. Thavasiappan, AIR 1996 SC 1318

Admission of Charges and its Effects

Minor procedural lapse would be immaterial where the delinquent himself has admitted the charges and the enquiry officer also prove the charge.

Case Reference :

Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Coal India Ltd. Vs. Mukul Kumar Choudhuri, AIR 2010 SC 75

Mandate of Principle of Natural Justice

Even where the rules require action without notice or opportunity of explanation and defense to the delinquent, the principles of natural justice must be read into the rules.

Case Reference :

(i) Maneka Gandhi Vs. Union of India, (1978) SCC 248 (Section 10 passports Act-rule
of natural justice may be followed by giving post decisional opportunity) AIR 1978
SC 579(1), (Seven-Judge Bench).
(ii) Vinay Kumar Tripathi Vs. State of UP 1995 Suppl (1) SCC 552 (Censure-Rule 55B
of erstwhile CCA Rules; rule 6(2)(a) of the U.P. Subordinate Courts Staff
(Punishment and Appeal Rules, 1976)

Validity and Legality of Ex-Parte Enquiry

If the delinquent does not participate or cooperate in enquiry, Ex-Parte enquiry would be valid.

Case Reference :

Coal India Ltd. Vs. Ananta Saha, (2011) 5 SCC 142.

Revocation of Suspension if Charge-Sheet not severed within three months

If the charge sheet is not provided to the delinquent officer within a period of three months from the date of his suspension, then such suspension order cannot be allowed to remain in force any further.

Case Reference :

Civil Appeal No. 1912/2015, Ajay Kumar Choudhary Vs Union of India (SC)

Termination of Employee only by Appointing Authority

A Government Employee cannot be terminated by the authority junior to his Appointing Authority.

Case Reference

Om Prakash Gupta Swadheen Vs. State of UP, AIR 1975 SC 1265

Preliminary Enquiry not Sufficient for Imposing Penalty

Disciplinary Authority should not punish Government servant only on the findings of a preliminary enquiry.

Case Reference : Cf. Amalendu Ghosh Vs. N.E. Rly. District Traffic Superintendent AIR 1960 SC 992.

Evidence in Preliminary Enquiry not to be used in regular Departmental Enquiry

The evidence recorded in preliminary inquiry cannot be used in regular departmental in enquiry as the delinquent is not associated with it, and opportunity to cross examine the persons examined in such inquiry is not given.

Using such evidence would be violative of the principles of natural justice.

Case Reference : Nirmala J. Jhala Vs. State of Gujarat & Another, AIR 2013 SC 1513

Read More : Suspension Order under CCS (CCA) Rules