At, Central Administrative Tribunal Chandigarh Bench
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE L.N. MITTAL
By, MEMBER (J) & THE HONOURABLE MRS. RAJWANT SANDHU
By, MEMBER (A)
For the Applicant: Jagdeep Jaswal, Advocate. For the Respondents: -------
L.N. Mittal, Member, J.
1. By filing this Original Application under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, applicant Tejinder Singh has assailed order dated 31.8.2007 (Annexure A-1) passed by the Disciplinary Authority, order dated 15.6.2016 (Annexure A- 2) passed by the Appellate Authority and reply dated 08.01.2016 (Annexure A-7) to legal notice dated 15.12.2015 (Annexure A-6) got served by the applicant for his reinstatement alongwith all service benefits including promotion etc. By order (Annexure A-1), punishment of removal from service was imposed on the applicant by the Disciplinary Authority. By order (Annexure A-2), the Appellate Authority has rejected as time barred appeal dated 29.3.2016 (Annexure A-8) filed by the applicant against punishment order (Annexure A-1). By reply (Annexure A-7), claim of the applicant made in legal notice (Annexure A-6) for reinstatement in service with all service benefits has been rejected.
2. The applaint was GDS Branch Postmaster. He was served with charge sheet for major penalty vide Memo. dated 17.8.2006 (Annexure A-3) containing two Articles of charges. According to Article I of the charge, the applicant had received money order on 16.5.2005 from Rajpura Head Office for Rs. 2500/- but failed to arrange payment thereof to the payee till 31.5.2005 inspite of sufficient cash. Article II of the charge is that he retained excess cash amount with him during the period from 2.5.2005 to 28.5.2005 and deposited the excess cash amount of Rs. 21,497.20 on 30.05.2005 only with Rajpura Head Office and showed its remittance made to HO on 28.5.2005. Inquiry Officer submitted inquiry report dated 21.5.2007 (Annexure A-4) holding the charges against the applicant to be proved as also admitted by the applicant during the inquiry proceedings. The said inquiry report was forwarded to the applicant vide forwarding letter dated 23.5.2007 giving him opportunity to make representation against the same. Reminder was also issued vide letter dated 9.7.2007, but no representation was made by the applicant against the inquiry report. Thereupon the impugned order of removal (Annexure A-1) was passed by the Disciplinary Authority.
3. Case of the applicant is that FIR No. 10 dated 24.1.2007 was also got registered by Assistant Superintendent of Post Offices in Police station Sadar Rajpura under Section 409 IPC on the same facts and evidence. In the said criminal case, the applicant stands acquitted by learned Judicial Magistrate vide judgment dated 15.9.2015 (Annexure A-5). Thereupon, the applicant got served legal notice dated 15.12.2015 (Annexure A-6) for reinstatement in service with all service benefits, but it was rejected vide reply dated 8.1.2016 (Annexure A-7). Then the applicant filed appeal dated 29.3.2016 (Annexure A-8) which has been rejected by the Appellate Authority as time barred vide order(Annexure A-2). Hence this O.A.
4. The applicant has assailed the impugned orders on the ground that he has been acquitted in the criminal case on the same facts and evidence and, therefore, he is entitled to be reinstated in service with all service benefits. Reliance has been placed on judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in 1999 (2) SLR 338 Capt. M. Paul Anthony Vs. Bharat Gold Mines Limited followed in 2006 (5) SCC 446 G.M. Tank Vs. State of Gujarat. Reliance has also been placed on judgment dated 13.1.2012 of Principal Bench of the Tribunal in O.A. NO. 128/2010 Surinder Singh Vs. UOI & Ors. (copy of judgment not produced).
5. We have heard counsel for the applicant on the question of admission of the O.A. and perused the case file.
6. Counsel for the applicant reiterated that in view of acquittal of the applicant on the same set of facts and evidence, impugned removal order of applicant from service is liable to be set aside and he is entitled to be reinstated in service with all service benefits. It was also submitted that the applicant could not prefer statutory appeal against the impugned removal order earlier due to pendency of criminal case against him. Counsel for the applicant referred to the judgments as mentioned in the O.A. as stated above.
7. We have carefully considered the matter. The whole contention of the applicant is completely misconceived and untenable. Perusal of inquiry report (Annexure A-4) reveals that the applicant admitted the charges during the inquiry proceedings. Consequently, the charges were rightly held proved against the applicant. In view thereof, the applicant has been rightly removed from service. There is no infirmity in the impugned removal order (Annexure A-1). No defect in the inquiry proceedings has been alleged or pointed out by the applicant.
8. Impugned removal order cannot be set aside merely because the applicant subsequently stands acquitted in the criminal case. Perusal of judgment of acquittal (Annexure A-5) reveals that even the complainant did not appear as witness in the criminal case to substantiate the prosecution version. Consequently, it cannot be said that the applicant has been acquitted in the criminal case on the same set of evidence. Judgment in the case of Capt. M. Paul Anthony (supra) is not applicable to the facts of instant case because in that case, charge against the appellant related to raid conducted at his residence and recovery of incriminatory articles therefrom. Criminal case was also lodged on the basis of same facts and evidence. Same witnesses appeared in the departmental inquiry and in criminal case. It was held in criminal case that no search was conducted nor was any recovery made from the residence of the appellant. Whole case of the prosecution was thrown out in that case. It is not so in the instant case. Besides it, in the case of Capt. M. Paul Anthony (Supra), departmental inquiry was ex-parte. On the other hand, in the instant case, the applicant joined the departmental inquiry and admitted the Articles of charge. In view of his admission of the charges during the inquiry in the instant case, the applicant cannot be granted any relief.
9. The ap
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plicant did not prefer statutory appeal within three months of the removal order dated 31.8.2007. He rather filed appeal dated 29.3.2016 (Annexure A-8) i.e. after more than eight and half years of the removal order. The same has rightly been dismissed as time barred. The appeal was preferred more than 6 months even after the judgment of acquittal dated 15.9.2015. In any event, there is no scope for interference in exercise of power of judicial review, particularly in view of admission of the charges by the applicant himself during the inquiry. 10. For the reasons aforesaid, we find no ground to entertain the instant O.A. which is accordingly dismissed in limine.