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Standard of proof to hold person guilty by criminal court is totally different from enquiry conducted by way of disciplinary proceedings. : Calcutta High Court

As we have already indicated, in the absence of any provision in the service rules for reinstatement, if an employee is honourably acquitted by a criminal court, no right is conferred on the employee to claim any benefit including reinstatement.” Said Hon’ble Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Hon’ble Justice Aniruddha Roy of Calcutta High Court. In the matter of Jagdish Chandra Mondal versus State of West Bengal and Others [ W.P.S.T. 414 of 2013 ]

This decision was given under the facts of the writ petition which was filed in response to the order (for short, the impugned order) issued by the West Bengal Administrative Tribunal, Kolkata (for short, the Tribunal) in OA 1423 of 2012 (Jagadish Chandra Mondal vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors.) [the Original Application]. The Original Application was dismissed, and the order of dismissal of the petitioner from service on the basis of a criminal conviction was upheld. The petitioner was a constable with the Howrah District Police Force. He was then charged with gross indiscipline and dereliction of duty. The petitioner was arrested in P.S. Case No. 4 dated January 22, 1987, and Barrackpore, P.S. Case No. 10 W.P.S.T. 414 OF 2013 and 11 dated August 28, 1987, under Sections 429, 468, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code (for short, IPC) for forging railway warrants in the names of both fictitious and genuine persons in his official capacity during 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1987. He was detained until May of 1987. Charge sheets were issued. The petitioner was also involved in Titagarh, P.S. Case No. 297, dated October 27, 1989, under Sections 498A and 306 of the Indian Penal Code because his wife was forced to commit suicide. On October 27, 1989, he was arrested in this criminal case and remained in custody until January 25, 1990. The necessary charge sheet was submitted. He was convicted by the learned Second Additional District and Sessions Judge of Barasat, North 24 Parganas, and was imprisoned from September 24, 1992, to November 23, 1992.

On the basis of the said enquiry report, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the petitioner, and a final order was issued by the disciplinary authority on January 31, 2011, in which the petitioner was dismissed from service with immediate effect in accordance with Regulation 864 of the Police Regulations of Bengal, 1943, and consequential directions were also issued. 

The petitioner preferred the departmental appeal because he was dissatisfied with the final order. The appellate authority rejected the appeal and upheld the final order in an order dated September 27, 2012. The said appellate order was challenged in the Original Application that resulted in the impugned order.

Ms Bhattacharya, the Learned State Counsel, then stated that the petitioner had not received an honourable acquittal because the criminal appeal from the order of conviction and sentence was still pending. The mere grant of bail to the petitioner in the criminal appeal does not imply an honourable acquittal by the Appellate Court.

Following the hearing of the parties’ learned counsel and a review of the materials before this Court, it appears that the petitioner, as the charged employee of the Police Force, was given an adequate opportunity to participate in the inquiry proceeding as well as the disciplinary proceeding conducted by his employer and before the appellate authority. It is also clear that the criminal charges levelled against the petitioner are extremely heinous and grave, and are not of minor importance. Despite being a member of the Police Force, the petitioner lacks the moral turpitude required to be a member of the Police Force.

The delinquent employee was found guilty of all charges in the domestic investigation. The disciplinary authority accepted the investigation report, and there is no grievance on behalf of the respondent workman that statutory provisions/principles of natural justice were not followed while conducting the investigation.

As previously stated, in the absence of any provision in the service rules for reinstatement, if an employee is honourably acquitted by a criminal court, no right to any benefit, including reinstatement, is conferred on the employee. 

Based on our ongoing discussions and the reasons stated, this Court is convinced that the Tribunal, in issuing the impugned order W.P.S.T. 414 OF 2013, acted within the permissible limits of its jurisdiction and correctly considered the applicable law. As a result, the contested order is upheld. 

The current writ petition, W.P.S.T. 414 of 2013, is dismissed.

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