SC: Acquittal by a Criminal Court does not preclude a Departmental Inquiry

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 16th September 2019, in the matter of Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited, Represented by Managing Director (Admin. and HR)  vs. Sri C. Nagaraju & Anr. pronounced that a Disciplinary Authority is not bound by the judgment of the Criminal Court if the evidence that is produced in the Departmental Inquiry is different from that produced during the criminal trial.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

Acquittal by a criminal court would not debar an employer from exercising the power to conduct departmental proceedings in accordance with the rules and regulations. (Para 9)

The two proceedings, criminal and departmental, are entirely different. They operate in different fields and have different objectives. In the disciplinary proceedings, the question is whether the Respondent is guilty of such conduct as would merit his removal from service or a lesser punishment, as the case may be, whereas in the criminal proceedings, the question is whether the offences registered against him are established, and if established, what sentence should be imposed upon him. The standard of proof, the mode of inquiry and the rules governing inquiry and trial in both the cases are significantly distinct and different. (Para 9)

Acquittal by a Criminal Court does not preclude a Departmental Inquiry against the delinquent officer. (Para 13)

The Disciplinary Authority is not bound by the judgment of the Criminal Court if the evidence that is produced in the Departmental Inquiry is different from that produced during the criminal trial. (Para 13)

The object of a Departmental Inquiry is to find out whether the delinquent is guilty of misconduct under the conduct rules for the purpose of determining whether he should be continued in service. The standard of proof in a Departmental Inquiry is not strictly based on the rules of evidence. (Para 13)

Copy of judgement:Judgement_16-Sep-2019

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

2 thoughts on “SC: Acquittal by a Criminal Court does not preclude a Departmental Inquiry”

  1. Domestic enquiries are normally biased against defense and EO takes hostile stand more often than not. Even when it is proved that prosecution presented tampered records EO defended presenting officer stating that due to long time gap between the incident and now, documents were misplaced as many officers handled them.
    Is this not derailing due process of Law and giving unfair advantage to employer to get the charged officer removed by unfair means?
    It happened in my case.

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