Read Order:T.Saravanan Vs. The Inspector General of Police (Railways) And Ors

Tulip Kanth

Chennai, June 16, 2022: While dismissing a Railway Constable’s petition questioning the validity of the order of punishment and also the appellate order confirming the punishment imposed by the Original Authority, the Madras High Court has observed that even in case of acquittal in a criminal case, the Department is empowered to continue the disciplinary proceedings and impose punishment as contemplated under the Discipline and Appeal Rules.

Affirming the view that in case of conviction in a criminal case, subsequent proceedings can be initiated in accordance with the Rules in force, the Bench of Justice S.M. Subramaniam said, “It is the settled principle that pendency of criminal case is not a bar for the continuance of the departmental disciplinary proceedings. Even during the pendency of the criminal case if the Disciplinary Authority is having materials on record to proceed with the enquiry, then there is no impediment and the authority is well within its power to proceed with the enquiry, conclude the disciplinary proceedings and pass appropriate final orders.”

Herein, a criminal case was registered against the writ petitioner who was working in Railway Police as Constable alleging that instead of handing over the seized Ganja bundles in the train to the Railway Police Station, the petitioner sold the seized Ganja bundles to a seller and utilised the said money for his personal purpose. Departmental disciplinary proceedings were initiated and the petitioner was placed under suspension. For his involvement in a criminal case, two charge memos were issued under Rule 3(b) of the Tamil Nadu Police Subordinate Services Discipline and Appeal Rules. The writ petitioner filed a writ petition challenging the charge memo but the same was dismissed and the criminal case registered against the writ petitioner ended with an order of acquittal. Thus, the order of suspension was revoked. However, based on the departmental enquiry proceedings, the third respondent issued the order of punishment of stoppage of increment for two years without cumulative effect. The petitioner preferred an appeal before the second respondent and the said appeal was also rejected. Further, the review was also rejected. Thus, this petition was filed.

Clarifying that the Authority is empowered to continue with disciplinary proceedings even in cases of acquittal in a criminal case, the Bench held that in the present cases, two set of charges were framed. The said charges were not only with reference to the allegations in the criminal case, but also relating to the other misconducts. Therefore, the very ground raised by the petitioner was untenable.

Affirming the stand of the respondent in imposing a minor penalty of stoppage of increment for two years without cumulative effect, the Court held that the authorities had applied their mind and also considered the proved charges of misconduct in the departmental disciplinary proceedings. Such punishment cannot be set aside merely on the ground that the writ petitioner was acquitted in the criminal case with reference to the charges framed in the criminal case, asserted the Bench.Therefore, without finding any infirmity in the orders, the Bench dismissed the Petition.

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