Each delay in conducting a disciplinary enquiry does not, ipso facto, lead to the enquiry being vitiated, the Supreme Court observed.
The bench of Judges D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli watched that the partiality caused by the delay must be illustrated to have been caused and cannot be a matter of surmise
In this case, a departmental request was started against a police officer who purportedly constituted, administered and worked a gunda squad, after it was uncovered that a few individuals of such a squad captured an individual who afterward kicked the bucket in police custody. A magisterial enquiry was conducted into the custodial passing and a report was submitted on 10 October 2014. On 8 June 2016, a departmental enquiry was assembled against the officer and a charge-sheet was issued. Central Administrative Tribunal, on his application, subdued the chargesheet on the ground that there was a delay of about two years which the charges were ambiguous, “It does not take off the beneficiary in a degree of question or equivocalness over the nature of the case he is required to reply within the disciplinary enquiry. The finding that the charge is unclear is discerninble in mistake, the bench said.
The court said that the Tribunal would have been defended in coordinating the speedy conclusion of the enquiry, but instep, it continued to suppress the enquiry in its entirety.
“This, in our see, was clearly impermissible. Each delay in conducting a disciplinary enquiry does not, ipso facto, lead to the enquiry being vitiated. Whether partiality is caused to the officer who is being enquired into may be a matter which has got to be chosen on the premise of the circumstances of each case Bias must be illustrated to have been caused and cannot be a matter of surmise. Apart from submitting that the primary respondent was incapable to continue on assignment or to look for advancement, there’s no premise on which it may be concluded that his right to protect himself stands prejudicially influenced by a delay of two years in concluding the enquiry, the court said.
Allowing the offer, the court said that since chargesheet was issued to the officer whereas he was in benefit, the disciplinary enquiry can continue to its coherent conclusion. It ought to be concluded speedily, ideally by 31 July 2022, the bench said.
Case: State of Madhya Pradesh vs Akhilesh Jha, CA 5153 of 2021
Citation: LL 2021 SC 436
Coram: Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli Counsel: Deputy AG Ankita Chaudhary for state, Adv Braj K Mishra for respondent