Departmental Enquiry on Vague Charges shall be Vitiated

Case name- Shri Anant R. Kulkarni v. Y.P. Education Society & Ors.

In this case, the Supreme Court made some key observations pertaining to disciplinary proceedings which enumerated below:

That once court sets aside an order of punishment on the ground that enquiry was not properly conducted, Court should not preclude employer from holding the enquiry in accordance with law. It must remit the case to disciplinary authority, to conduct enquiry from the point it stood vitiated, and to conclude the same in accordance with law. However, resorting to such a course depends upon gravity of delinquency involved.

Court/tribunal should not generally set aside departmental enquiry, and quash charges on the ground of delay in initiation of disciplinary proceedings, as such a power is de hors the limitation of judicial review. While setting aside a departmental enquiry, the Court must take into consideration all relevant facts, and balance and weigh the same, so as to determine, if it is in fact in the interest of clean and honest administration that proceedings are allowed to be terminated, only on the ground of a delay in their conclusion.

Departmental Enquiry on vague and unspecified charges – In this context, the Supreme Court held that a delinquent shall not be served a charge sheet, without providing him, a clear, specific and definite description of charge against him.

Departmental Enquiry against retired employee– In this case, the Court also enumerated the circumstances when departmental enquiry could be conducted against retired employee. The Court held that relevant rules governing the service conditions of an employee are determining factors as to whether and in what manner domestic enquiry can be held against an employee who stood retired after reaching the age of superannuation. Generally, if the enquiry has been initiated while the delinquent employee was in service, it would continue even after his retirement, but nature of punishment would change. The punishment of dismissal/removal from service would not be imposed.

The entire case can be accessed here