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Allahabad High Court orders re-hearing on withheld increment

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The Allahabad High Court has passed an order for a re-hearing on the withheld increment of salary of one Saurabh, an employee posted as Junior Assistant Naib Nazir in Hathras Tehsil Saidabad.

A single-judge bench of Justice Jaspreet Singh passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Saurabh.

By means of the petition, the petitioner assails the punishment order dated 03.09.2022, whereby major penalty has been imposed on the petitioner.

The submission of the counsel for the petitioner is that there is no compliance of Rule-7 of the UP Government Servant (Appeals and Disciplinary) Rules, 1999.

The Court observed it is in this view of the matter, the Court had required the standing counsel to seek instructions regarding compliance of Rule-7 of the Rules of 1999. On the basis of the instructions, a copy of which has been provided to the Court for perusal and it is taken on record, it has been stated that opportunity was granted to the petitioner to file his reply and he did not cooperate in hearing of the proceedings. On the contrary, the petitioner had moved an application for change of the Inquiry Officer, and it is submitted that though ample opportunity was granted to the petitioner, yet he did not participate and the impugned order has been passed.

Taking note of the aforesaid, the fact still remains that there is nothing with clarity as mentioned in the said instructions as to whether the charges, which were leveled against the petitioner, were proved. There is also nothing to indicate that there was any attempt made by the authority to convey the date, time and place of the inquiry and as such the authority concerned proposed to proceed ex-parte in case the petitioner did not participate, accordingly, in view of the aforesaid, prima-facie the submission of the counsel for the petitioner has force.

The Court further observed that upon considering the material available on record also finds that in the impugned order, it is recorded that the delinquent employee i.e the petitioner had not submitted his reply, whereas from the impugned order itself it also records that in respect of the charges there is no consideration of the alleged reply sent by the petitioner. Taking note of the aforesaid and considering the material on record including the instructions submitted by the Additional Chief Standing Counsel, there is clear indication that the delinquent employee was not given proper notice of the date, time and place of the inquiry. Neither the documents upon which the inquiry officer has relied upon has been mentioned nor there is any material to indicate that the said documents/evidence which was relied upon by the Inquiry Officer was proved.

There is discrepancy in the impugned order and the version in the written instructions, as the impugned order states and refers to the reply of the employee while in the instructions it is mentioned that no reply was filed by the employee.

In view of the aforesaid as well as in light of the decisions of the Apex Court in Deputy General Manager v Ajai Kumar Srivastava (2021) 2 SCC 612 as well as the Court in Radhy Shyam Singh v State of U.P, 2018 (8) ADJ 82 [LB], the Court has no hesitation to hold that the order dated 03.09.2022 passed by the respondent No 3 is against the settled legal principles and against the principles of natural justice and is accordingly set aside.

“The matter is remanded to the Inquiry Officer, who after affording full opportunity of hearing to the petitioner by providing all documents, opportunity to lead evidence and by making due compliance of Rule-7 of the Rules of 1999 shall proceed with the inquiry and conclude the same preferably within a period of four months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this place is placed before the authority concerned. Needless to say that the petitioner shall also cooperate in early hearing,” the order reads.

With the aforesaid, the Court allowed the petition.

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