The High Court has directed the state government and its agencies, instrumentalities to adhere to the timeline fixed for the inquiry proceedings against a delinquent employee.
Quashing the Mysore Urban Development Authority’s (MUDA) order for a de novo enquiry after 13 years of the filing of the charge sheet, the court directed MUDA to release all post-retirement benefits to the official.
Justice M Nagaprasanna pointed out that the inquiry proceedings are required to be completed within nine months from issuance of the charge sheet as per the official memorandum (Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms) dated November 9, 2020.
“Therefore, it has become imperative to issue a direction to the State and its instrumentalities to adhere to the timeline stipulated in the aforesaid official memoranda in its letter and spirit and not place the same in cold storage,” the court said.
The court also said that the timeline stipulated applies even to the inquiries entrusted to the Lokayukta by the government. “Any deviation from the timeline stipulated can only be for reasons to be recorded in writing, failing which, there would be mushrooming of cases of the nature of the one that is at hand,” the court said.
The petitioner B S Ramaswamy was appointed as a First Division Assistant (FDA) in MUDA in 1996. A disciplinary proceeding was initiated against him and a charge sheet was filed in April 2005. The inquiry officer, appointed in 2009, closed the enquiry in March 2018 holding the official not guilty. The MUDA initiated de novo enquiry in June 2018. Meanwhile, the official retired from service in 2012 and on the ground that the proceedings were pending, none of the terminal benefits was settled.
The court said that not accepting the disciplinary authority report is not a ground for completely setting aside the inquiry report and ordering a second enquiry. It would be unjust and unfair to let the employee go through the proceedings all over again, the court said.
Quashing the de novo enquiry, the court directed MUDA to pay Rs 25,000 as costs to the petitioner. It also said the petitioner is entitled to notional promotion, if any, withheld on account of pendency of the proceedings.