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In view of sub-rule-1 of Rule-18 of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, a joint inquiry is permissible only when the employees belong to the same organization/department: Tripura High Court

Common proceeding is permissible only in a case where two or more government servants are involved and liable to be punished by a single competent authority as upheld by the Tripura High Court through the learned bench lead by Justice Arindam Lodh in the case of Parendra Debbarma v. The State of Tripura and Ors. (WP(C) No. 202 of 2020)

Brief facts of the case are that the petitioner was initially appointed as Forest Ranger under the Forest Department, Government of Tripura, in the year 1982. From 13.09.2006 to 27.07.2009, the petitioner was deputed as a Deputy Manager of Tripura Rehabilitation and Plantation Corporation Ltd. During his service on deputation under TRPC, one departmental proceeding was initiated against the petitioner alleging, inter alia, that he misappropriated a sum of Rs.18,16,134/-. Inquiry was conducted and ultimately, the Principal Secretary, Government of Tripura, General Administration (A & R) Department, imposed punishment. On the basis of the inquiry report and statements of witnesses, the disciplinary authority imposed punishment to the petitioner as well as Sri Bhabatosh Ch. Dey. Being aggrieved, the petitioner has filed the present writ petition challenging the inquiry report and the impugned order of punishment dated 10.01.2020 passed by the respondent No.2.

Mr. Datta, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that the departmental proceeding was not maintainable as the inquiry and the departmental proceeding was conducted jointly against two persons i.e., the petitioner and one Sri Bhabatosh Ch. Dey, who were the employees of different organizations. As per Sub-rule-1 of Rule-18 of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, joint departmental proceeding and inquiry is permissible only in a case where two or more Government servants are involved. But, in the present case, one employee was from the corporation and the other was an employee of the Government of Tripura and as such, in the instant case, joint departmental proceeding and inquiry thereof, is not maintainable.

Mr. Sarkar, learned counsel appearing for the respondents No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 has submitted that the disciplinary proceeding was initiated against the petitioner following the relevant provisions of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965. The petitioner being an employee of the Government of Tripura his disciplinary authority was the Principal Secretary, Government of Tripura. He further contended that the petitioner in connivance with another person, namely Sri Bhabatosh Ch. Dey, had defalcated the public money, which was sanctioned for providing beneficial services to the persons brought under the scheme.

After hearing the learned counsel for the respective parties at length, the Hon’ble Court held, “The joint inquiry against the petitioner as well as Sri Bhabatosh Ch. Dey, is un-authoritative and illegal vitiating the entire proceedings. Accordingly, the proceeding and the penalty imposed upon the petitioner are liable to be set aside. With the aforesaid observations and directions, the instant writ petition stands allowed and disposed.

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Judgment reviewed by Vandana Ragwani

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