Question: I want to know whether reinstatement after the acquittal in a criminal case is possible. Some imported clothings was seized during the search operation. Those goods were kept in the godown operating under the control of the state government. After a few days all that goods were stolen and a criminal case was filed against me. Thereafter, a disciplinary proceeding was started against me and eventually I was terminated from the service. The trial court has acquitted me because the prosecution failed to prove the charges. What should I do for reinstatement after the judgement of the trial court?
Asked from: Andhra Pradesh
The standard of proof in criminal and disciplinary proceedings are entirely different. If the decision of departmental inquiry (DI) has no impediment then you cannot challenge it. When the findings of DI are based upon clinching evidence and without any patent defect, you cannot claim reinstatement only because of acquittal in the criminal case.
The Supreme Court in Govind Das v. State of Bihar, (1997) 11 SCC 361 has held that “Since the standard of proof required to prove a charge of misconduct in departmental proceedings is not the same as that required to prove a criminal charge, the acquittal of the appellant in the criminal case, in these circumstances, could not, in our opinion, be made the basis for setting aside the order for termination of the services of the appellant passed in the disciplinary proceedings.”
The Supreme Court in A.P. SRTC v. Mohd. Yousuf Miya, (1997) 2 SCC 699 has held that “The enquiry in a departmental proceedings relates to conduct or breach of duty of the delinquent officer to punish him for his misconduct defined under the relevant statutory rules or law.”
You have been found guilty in the disciplinary proceeding thereafter terminated from service, hence, you must claim reinstatement on the ground of illegality in the termination order. That illegality has nowhere connected with the findings of the criminal case. Thus, acquittal shall not form the basis of reinstatement.
If there is apparent error in the departmental proceeding then you can seek quashing of the termination order. These are the basic grounds to challenge the veracity of disciplinary proceeding:
- Termination order is unreasoned.
- Opportunity of hearing was not afforded.
- Evidence was wrongly admitted.
- Proceeding is held in the violation of principles of natural justice.
- Charge sheet was not duly served.
- The date and time of inquiry is not mentioned in the inquiry report.
When the finding of the departmental inquiry is erroneous then you should move a writ petition in the High Court under Article 226 of Constitution. The High Court after quashing the punishment order i.e. order of termination, shall reinstate you along with all consequential benefits.