MP HC clarifies whether Departmental Enquiry & Criminal Case with Identical Charge can proceed simultaneously

Madhya Pradesh high court Law Insider

Mitali Palnitkar

Published On: February 10, 2022 at 16:28 IST

A Departmental Enquiry against an employee in relation to a Charge which was similar to the one for which he was under Trial in a Criminal Case, was prohibited by the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Justice Atul Sridharan mentioned two reasons for prohibiting the Enquiry. First, complicated questions of fact and Law were involved in the Charge against the employee under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Second, same set of Witnesses were involved in both Proceedings which could lead to disclosure of Accused’s Defence, and might hamper fair Trial.

The Court was hearing a Writ Petition, wherein the Petitioner was aggrieved because of the Departmental Proceedings initiated against him on similar Charges by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). According to the Prosecution, the Petitioner was caught red-handed while taking Bribe for clearance of bills of Complainant.

The Petitioner argued that he was under Trial for the Allegation of Illegal gratification that was demanded and received from the Complainant, which was identical to Article 1 of the Departmental Enquiry.

He also contended that the Departmental Chargesheet was prepared on a Vigilance Report’s basis, where the Investigation was carried out by those junior in rank, which was not permitted under Law. He also cited the Supreme Court Judgment in Capt M Paul Anthony v Bharat Gold Mines Ltd and Anr.

The Court perused the Supreme Court Judgment and observed that the Departmental Proceedings and Proceedings of Criminal Case can proceed simultaneously.

Also, if both the Proceedings are based on identical set of facts and the Charge is of grave nature, involving complicated questions of fact and Law then it is desirable to put a Stay on Departmental Proceedings until the conclusion of Criminal Case.

The Court noted that the Petitioner was charged under Section 120 B read with Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It observed that under Section 7, demand for Bribe shall be proved, acceptance of Bribe shall be established, tape recording of demand shall be proved, the article seized from the Accused shall be confirmed and it shall be established that the Accused had the power and position to favour the Complainant while discharging his official function.

The Court concluded that the Law in Capt M Paul Anthony Case was applicable to the Case and the Departmental Proceedings were prohibited with respect to Article 1 of the Departmental Chargesheet. However, liberty was granted to the Department to proceed with Article 2 of the Chargesheet.

Also read: Anti Corruption Laws in India

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