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Charge must be specific and clear: Jharkhand HC set aside dismissal order


Recently, a writ application was preferred before Jharkhand HC for quashing a dismissal order from service on account of dereliction of duty. The court in this case observed that even in a domestic enquiry, the charges must be clear, definite and specific as it would be difficult for any delinquent to meet the vague charges.

The brief facts of the case are that the petitioner was appointed on compassionate ground as Constable as his father died in the year 2000 in encounter with the extremist in Tundi. While the petitioner was posted at Dhanbad, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Dhanbad reported to Superintendent of Police for taking strong disciplinary action against the petitioner for dereliction of duty.

Pursuant to that, charges were drawn against this petitioner as to why he proceeded on leave without information and also threatened the Hawaldar for killing him due to intoxication resulting in dereliction of duty; the petitioner was put under suspension.

The Inquiry Officer proved the charges levelled against this petitioner. Thereafter, the disciplinary authority after passed the impugned order of termination. The petitioner further challenged the impugned order of termination before the appellate and revisional Authority.

However, both the superior Authorities rejected the claim of the petitioner for reinstatement. Mr. Amritansh Vats, learned counsel for the petitioner has assailed the impugned order on following grounds:

  • The charges are vague, inasmuch as, no specific date has been mentioned as to when the petitioner had taken intoxication and when he threatened the superior officer.
  • Only one part of the charge has been proved in the departmental proceeding i.e. the    petitioner was on leave for two days and for which the punishment of termination is highly excessive and non-commensurate with the charges.
  • To prove any charge of intoxication, there must be a medical examination.

Counsel contended that charges were general in nature and the petitioner was only absent for a couple of days; as such the termination order must be quashed and petitioner should be reinstated in service .

The last part of the charge is that after taking liquor he frequently threatens the superior officer; is also vague, inasmuch as, there is no date or the name of the officer to whom the petitioner has ever assaulted under the influence of liquor. Thus, this part of the charge-sheet is also vague in nature.

The law is well settled that even in a domestic enquiry, the charges must be clear, definite and specific as it would be difficult for any delinquent to meet the vague charges. Evidence adduced should not be obligatory even if the delinquent does not take the defence or make a protest that the charges are vague; that does not save the enquiry from being vitiated for the reason that there must be fair play in action, particularly, in respect of an order involving adverse or penal consequences.

Reference in this regard may be made to the decisions of Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. Vs. S. Sree Rama Rao reported in AIR (1963) SC 1723 and also the decision rendered in Sawai Singh vs. State of Rajasthan reported in (1986) 3 SCC 454. In yet another judgment in the case of Anil Gilurker vs. Bilaspur Raipur Kshetriya Gramin Bank & Anr. reported in (2011) 14 SCC 379 .

By going through the aforesaid judgments of the Hon’ble Apex Court it clearly transpires that the charge must be specific, clear which is absent in the instant case.At the cost of repetition, only one part of the charge has been proved that the petitioner was absent for a couple of days.

The court observed that in the view of the aforesaid discussions and the judicial pronouncement, the impugned order of termination are hereby, quashed and set aside. Court ordered that the petitioner shall be reinstated in service.

The matter was remitted back to The Superintendent of Police, Dhanbad, P.O & P.S:-Dhanbad, Dist. Dhanbad (respondent No.6) to pass a fresh order only on the quantum of punishment because admittedly; the petitioner was absent for two days without any permission and without any sanction which is not permissible since the petitioner is working in Jharkhand Police where discipline is most important.

With the aforesaid directions, the writ application was partly allowed.

Reach out to Mr. Amritansh Vats for legal assistance.

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