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If petitioner was in jail for so many years, he could not have participated in the inquiry proceedings: High Court of J&K and Ladakh

When the petitioner is in jail for so many years, then how could he be expected to participate in the inquiry proceedings or join the service nor he might be in the knowledge of all these things being going on. Thus, admittedly, the petitioner had not been afforded with an adequate opportunity of being heard as held by the Hon’ble Court of J&K through a learned bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan in the case of Pritam Bhattacharya Vs Union of India & ors. [CM No.4001/2020]

The facts-in-brief as averred in the writ petition are that the petitioner came to be appointed as Charge Mechanic in Border Road Organization on 24.08.2002. Thereafter the petitioner was promoted to the post of Junior Engineer E&M and was posted at 1052 Field Workshop, C/O 56 APO Rajouri. It was averred that on 10.06.2011 the petitioner was granted 10 days leave and after the expiry of leave period he could not join the unit because of sudden heavy flood in the home district of petitioner due to heavy rain. In the meantime the relations between the petitioner and his wife became strained and on her complaint FIR No.305 dated 12.03.2012 came to be registered against the petitioner at Police Station Berhampore and the petitioner was kept in jail for number of years and came to be released from jail on 05.07.2016. It was averred in the petition that after release from jail the petitioner reported for duty at Headquarter 31 BRTF but was not allowed to join. It is averred that the petitioner also made a representation, but of no avail. Hence, the present petition was filed.

The Hon’ble Court after a perusal of the facts on record observed that in terms of Rule 14(4) of CCS Rules, the disciplinary authority was required to deliver or cause to be delivered to the petitioner a copy of the articles of charge, the statement of the imputations of misconduct or misbehavior and a list of documents and witnesses by which each article of charge is proposed to be sustained and shall require the petitioner to submit, within such time as may be specified, a written statement of his defence and state whether he desires to be heard in person. Although, it seems the petitioner was in jail, yet the record reveals that neither any show cause notice was caused to be served upon him nor any inquiry was conducted in terms of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965 (for short, CCS Rules) so as to show the cause of his absence before removing him from service.

Therefore the court stated that “Since the petitioner was in jail for so many years, then how could he be expected to participate in the inquiry proceedings or join the service nor he might be in the knowledge of all these things being going on. Thus, admittedly, the petitioner had not been afforded with an adequate opportunity of being heard. The action of respondents, therefore, is in violation of Articles 14 & 16 of the Constitution of India and also against the principles of natural justice. Further, in paragraph-2 of parawise reply to the objections, the respondents have specifically averred that during the service tenure of petitioner, nothing adverse came in the notice of respondents; meaning thereby the respondents have admitted that the petitioner had a clean service record.”

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Judgment Reviewed by – Aryan Bajaj

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