Manjula Das, Judicial Member:
1. This applicant has been filed by applicant i.e. Smt. Krishna Sonowal under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 with the following main reliefs:
'(A) Quash and/or set aside the impugned disciplinary proceeding and its findings holding that the article of charges levelled against the applicant is proved;
(B) Quash and/or set aside the order dated 05.06.2014 issued by the Director, Postal Services, Arunachal Pradesh Division (respondent No. 2) removing the applicant from service with immediate effect; and
(C) Pass an order directing the respondent authority to reinstate the applicant with back wages.'
2. Mr. N. K. Kalita, learned counsel for the applicant submitted that on 27.12.1991, the applicant joined Indian Postal Service as Postal Assistant on being selected on merit basis. While the applicant was posted at Naharlagun S.O. as treasurer, an allegation was brought against the applicant regarding misappropriation of an amount of Rs. 5,38,000/- and placed her under suspension vide order dated 18.02.2010. Accordingly, a memorandum of charges containing 5 nos’ of article of charges were served upon her to which the applicant denied all the allegations. Subsequently, a disciplinary proceeding was initiated against her. According to learned counsel, during disciplinary proceeding, the respondent authority exerted enormous mental pressure upon the applicant to admit the charges leveled against her.
3. Learned counsel further submitted that the respondent authority induced her that if the applicant admits the charges and make good the loss sustained by the authority, they will consider the applicant leniently and the authority will not impose any major punishment upon the applicant. According to learned counsel, the authority also threatened the applicant that if she does not admit the charges, they will freeze her entire movable and immovable properties and they will file criminal case against her. Being frightened, the applicant admitted all the charges leveled against her and paid an amount of Rs. 1,00,000/- and an amount of Rs. 15,000/- per month to make good the loss.
4. Mr. Kalita further submitted that the Inquiry authority on the basis of the said admission submitted its findings on 26.09.2013 holding the applicant guilty. According to learned counsel, the applicant paid an amount of Rs. 2,05,000/- till the month of November 2013. Thereupon, the respondent authority vide letter dated 02.12.2013 asked the applicant to pay the remaining amount within 15 days. However, the applicant could not repay such a huge amount of money within such a short period of 15 days. Hence, the disciplinary authority being dissatisfied with the applicant and completely relying upon the findings of the Inquiry Officer, removed the applicant from service with immediate effect vide order dated 05.06.2014. Applicant filed an appeal before the CPMG, N.E. Circle, Shillong on 01.07.2014 challenging the said order of removal. But the respondent authority has not disposed of the said appeal for the reasons best known to them. The respondent authority has not provided any defence assistance to the applicant during the disciplinary proceeding and during the disciplinary proceeding, the respondent authority entered into a compromise with the applicant by executing an oral agreement.
5. Learned counsel fairly argued that the punishment imposed on the applicant vide order dated 05.06.2014 is excessive and disproportionate. The respondent authority failed to consider the fact that one cannot be forced to adduce evidence against him/her as provided in Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. According to learned counsel, in criminal jurisprudence also one cannot be convicted solely on the basis of his/her own statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. and statement made under Section 164 Cr.P.C. is also not a substantive evidence to convict somebody. The disciplinary authority failed to appreciate the fact that the enquiry officer is not empowered to record admission of guilt by the Govt. Servant if the same has not been in the written statement of defence.
Learned counsel undertakes to personally hand over the copy of this Tribunal to the appellate authority.
6. We have the learned counsel for the applicant, perused the pleadings and material placed before us. Applicant who joined Indian Penal Service as Postal Service as Postal Assistant on 27.12.1991, was placed under suspension vide order dated 18.02.2010 due to misappropriation of an amount of Rs. 5,38,000/-. A memorandum of charges containing 5 (five) Articles of Charges were served upon the applicant where the applicant denied all the charges.
7. It is also noted from the perusal of records that applicant had paid an amount of Rs. 1,00,000/- and an amount of Rs. 15,000/- per month to make good the loss. It is also revealed that applicant paid an amount of Rs. 2,05,000/- till the month of November 2013. Enquiry Officer was appointed where the Enquiry Officer submitted its findings on 26.09.2013 holding the applicant guilty. Thereafter, the respondent authority vide letter dated 02.12.2013 asked the applicant to pay the remaining amount within fifteen days which was not repaid by the applicant within the stipulated short period of fifteen days. Accordingly, being dissatisfied with the applicant, the disciplinary authority issued an order dated 05.06.2014 by removing the applicant from service with immediate effect.
8. Being aggrieved, applicant filed an appeal before the C.P.M.G., N.E. Circle, Shillong on 01.07.2014. However, the authority has not disposed of the said appeal as yet. As the appeal dated 01.07.2014 is pending with the authority, at best, let the department first d
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ispose of the said appeal inasmuch as no order has been passed on the said appeal till now. Accordingly, we direct the respondent authority more particularly respondent No. 3 i.e. the Chief Post Master General, N.E. Circle, Shilling to dispose of the pending appeal dated 01.07.2014 within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. However, as undertakes, applicant’s counsel is directed to communicate the copy of this order to the appellate authority by hand. 9. With the above observation and direction, O.A. stands disposed of accordingly at the admission stage. There shall be no order as to costs.