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Prasanth Joseph, Assistant Section Officer, Malappuram v/s The Kerala Agricultural University, Rep. by Its Vice Chancellor, Thrissur & Others

    WP(C) No. 8478 of 2016

    Decided On, 27 July 2022

    At, High Court of Kerala


    For the Petitioner: P.J. Elvin Peter, K.R. Ganesh, T.G. Sunil Pranavam, Advocates. For the Respondents: Robson Paul, Advocate, M.V. Anandan, Sc.

Judgment Text

1. This is a text book example of a litigation where the doctrine of in re reipublicae ut sit finis litium would find most acceptance.

2. While the petitioner was working as an Assistant Section Officer in the services of the 1st respondent – Kerala Agricultural University, he was alleged to have committed certain misdemeanor, which led to Ext.P2 Memo of Charges issued against him. An enquiry was, thereafter, conducted and a report of the same was placed before the competent Disciplinary Authority. However, the said Authority, without either concurring with or differing from the Enquiry Report, issued Ext.P6 order dated 18.12.2015, virtually jettisoning it and ordering a fresh enquiry through a new Officer. The said order also says that the petitioner will be, as an interim measure, reinstated in service.

3. The petitioner challenges Ext.P6, conceding that he had preferred Ext.P7 representation against it before the Vice Chancellor of the University; but contending that a new enquiry is impermissible when the earlier Enquiry Report exonerates him. He thus prays that Ext.P6 be set aside.

4. I have heard Sri.Ganesh K.R – learned counsel for the petitioner and Sri.M.V.Anandan – learned Standing Counsel for the University.

5. Since the facts are not in dispute, I do not propose to speak any further on it.

6. The allegation against the petitioner, as is luculent from Ext.P2, is that his general behaviour was ‘arrogant and delinquent’ (sic) and that he had telephoned the Assistant Director of Research and two Section Officers and abused them over telephone on 16.02.2015. In addition to this, the statement of allegation imputes that an ‘Ambassador’ Car owned by the University was found damaged, as also a signboard of the office building and that a Crime has been registered against the petitioner in this regard, but without specifically saying therein that it was he who had done it.

7. That said, it is perspicuous from Ext.P9 that the Crime registered against the petitioner was numbered as Calendar Case No.2601/15 on the files of the Judicial First Class Magistrate- Court I, Hodsdurg, which, however, ended in his acquittal, finding that prosecution could not prove that the damage to the ‘Ambassador’ Car of the University or to the signboard at its office was done by him.

8. I have started this judgment with the afore preface because this matter has been pending before this Court for more than six years now. When Ext.P9 has concluded that the petitioner cannot be found guilty for having caused damage to the Car or to the sign board of the University, a disciplinary enquiry on those lines becomes impermissible since, even as per Ext.P2, there is no imputation that he did it, but solely that the Police had registered a Crime against him. Therefore, the only other surviving allegation against the petitioner is that he had been ‘generally arrogant’ in his disposition and that he had made two phone calls to the aforesaid Assistant Director of Research and Section Officers on 16.02.2015, to abuse or threaten them.

9. The passage of time, certainly, must have now healed the wounds; and am of the sure view that it will not be necessary to fester it through a fresh enquiry, which, in any case, may not result in any viable conclusion on account of the long lapse of time.

10. It is also relevant that the petitioner has been in service for the last six years and that there have been no new allegations against him – at least, no such have been placed before this Court.

11. I am, therefore, of the firm opinion that bygones must be bygones and that the matter must now end.

12. This is more so because, a fresh enquiry, as ordered through Ext.P6, cannot be permitted and the best this Court could have perhaps done is to allow the Disciplinary Authority to complete proceedings against the petitioner on the basis

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of the available Enquiry Report, which has, in any case, found the allegations against him to be not true. In the afore circumstances, I allow this writ petition and set aside Ext.P6; however, leaving full liberty to the University to initiate any action against the petitioner, should any further allegation or imputation be made against him in future; for which purpose, I clarify that my above observations will be no trammel.