Dismissal from service - the same material has been placed both before the departmental authority as well as the criminal Court, inasmuch as the charge laid against the petitioner being substantially the same. When once a Sessions Court comes to the conclusion that the petitioner is not guilty, a contrary finding arrived at by the departmental agency, at any rate, deserves to be reconsidered. ?= only in the event that a criminal Court acquits a person honourably, would there arise any occasion calling for re-consideration of the entire matter, but not otherwise.
THE HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE NOOTY RAMAMOHANA RAO
WRIT PETITION No. 8016 OF 2013
O R D E R:
This Writ Petition is preferred by a former Attender of an Electricity Distribution Company at Vikarabad seeking a writ of mandamus for getting the order of dismissal passed on 18.10.2006 by the Superintending Engineer reviewed, on the strength and basis of the judgment rendered by the VI Additional Sessions Judge (FTC) at Vikarabad in Criminal Appeal No. 58 of 2009.
Heard Sri D. Linga Rao, learned counsel for the petitioner on 19.03.2013 and also today in extenso and Ms. Sridevi, learned counsel deputizing for Sri P. Lakshma Reddy, learned Standing Counsel for the respondents.
The writ petitioner was appointed by the respondents, on compassionate grounds, as an Attender as his father died leaving the family in harness. Very tragically, the brothers of the writ petitioner have complained that the writ petitioner has produced a bogus educational certificate vouching for the fact that he has passed Vth standard. The Divisional Engineer got the matter investigated. The Z.P. High School at Chityal, wherefrom the certificate has emanated, has pointed out that the certificate does not relate to the petitioner and, in fact, the admission number mentioned in the said certificate also does not correlate to that of the writ petitioner, whereas the admission number mentioned in the certificate relates to one Sri Anji Reddy, S/o Bheema Reddy and that there is no entry in the school records with regard to the admission as well as leaving of the school after completion of the Vth standard by the writ petitioner. In those set of circumstances, while a police complaint was also lodged against the petitioner, the respondents have simultaneously proceeded against him as a measure of discipline. An enquiry officer was appointed to conduct a detailed enquiry on 10.02.2004 and after conducting a detailed enquiry, he submitted a report on 02.02.2005 holding the petitioner guilty. A show cause notice was issued proposing to impose the punishment of dismissal from service for the proven misconduct against the petitioner. Though the writ petitioner has received the said show cause notice on 25.06.2005, he has not preferred to make any submissions in respect thereof. After taking into account and consideration the entire material gathered during the course of departmental enquiry, the Superintending Engineer passed final orders on 18.10.2006 imposing upon the petitioner the punishment of dismissal from service.
In the meantime, Criminal Case No. 185 of 2004 on the file of the Judicial Magistrate of I Class, Parigi, Ranga Reddy District has been concluded. The learned Judicial Magistrate of I Class convicted the writ petitioner, by his judgment dated 01.12.2009. Then the writ petitioner preferred an appeal by instituting Criminal Appeal No. 58 of 2009 on the file of the VIth Additional Sessions Judge (FTC) at Vikarabad. Though the evidence on record has prima facie disclosed that the petitioner has produced a bogus educational certificate, but nonetheless, the contention canvassed before the learned VIth Additional Sessions Judge that the trial Court has ignored to, first of all, ascertain as to who forged the document in question, has created a doubt in the mind of the learned Sessions Judge with regard to the offence punishable under Section 471 of the Indian Penal Code for which the petitioner was convicted by the trial Court. As a result of this doubt, the appellate Court acquitted the petitioner of the charge laid against him.
Sri Linga Rao, learned counsel for the petitioner would strenuously contend that the same material has been placed both before the departmental authority as well as the criminal Court, inasmuch as the charge laid against the petitioner being substantially the same. When once a Sessions Court comes to the conclusion that the petitioner is not guilty, a contrary finding arrived at by the departmental agency, at any rate, deserves to be reconsidered.
Per contra, Ms. Sridevi, learned counsel appearing for the respondents would submit that the finding recorded by the appellate Court is only with regard to the benefit of doubt that is liable to be extended in favour of the appellant before the said Court, whereas after a full-fledged enquiry, the material gathered before the departmental authority would reveal that the petitioner has produced a non-genuine and bogus educational certificate in support of his claim for appointment on compassionate grounds. According to the learned counsel for the respondents, but for the said certificate, the petitioner lacks basic eligibility to be appointed and consequently, he would not have been appointed at all.
It is one thing to say that a person has been acquitted by a criminal Court on merits and honourably. It would be altogether a different thing when a person gets acquitted by a criminal Court all because of a benefit of doubt is extended to him. The degree and standard of proof in a criminal Court is proof beyond doubt, whereas before the departmental authority, it is preponderance of probability. It is the petitioner, who has produced the educational certificate before the competent appointing authority in support of his claim for appointment, no doubt, on compassionate grounds. Therefore, burden lies heavily on him to dislodge the adverse material that has been gathered by the department, particularly from the school authorities. The school clearly disowned to have issued any such certificate. Further, the school authority has categorically stated that the admission number, which was made a mention of in the educational certificate produced by the petitioner, does, in fact, belong to one Sri Anji Reddy, S/o Bheema Reddy and it does not belong to the petitioner. Therefore, the burden is heavily on the petitioner to discharge. He failed to establish that the certificate produced by him was genuine. Therefore, in my opinion, inflicting the punishment of dismissal from service does not warrant any interference. I am of the firm opinion that only in the event that a criminal Court acquits a person honourably, would there arise any occasion calling for re-consideration of the entire matter, but not otherwise. In fact, this is the same principle, which has been enunciated by the Supreme Court in the judgment rendered in G.M. Tank v. State of Gujarat. I am therefore, of the opinion that there is no merit in this Writ Petition warranting re-consideration of the order of dismissal passed by the Superintending Engineer more than six years ago.
Therefore, I dismiss this Writ Petition at the admission stage itself. No costs.
Consequently, the miscellaneous applications, if any shall also stand dismissed.
NOOTY RAMAMOHANA RAO, J
26th March 2013