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Suspension Not Unjustified Where Acquittal Based On Mere Benefit Of Doubt: Ravindra Prasad Munneshwar Prasad Vs Union Of India

Gautam Badlani ,
  09 April 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
High Court of Bombay at Goa
Brief :

Citation :
WRIT PETITION NO.1917 OF 2021

Date of judgement:
March 31, 2022

Bench:
A. S. CHANDURKAR and G. A. SANAP

Parties:
Plaintiffs – Ravindra Prasad Munneshwar Prasad
Defendants – Union of India

Subject

The High Court in this case, while upholding the judgment of the Tribunal, held that where an accused has been acquitted merely on technical grounds and the acquittal is not honourable and is rather based on benefit of doubt, then the suspension of the accused during the period of trial would not be unjustified.

OVERVIEW

  • An offense under Section 419, read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code was registered against the petitioner while he was holding the post of DBW (HS)-II.
  • When the offense was registered, the petitioner was suspended from service.
  • Subsequently, upon Trial, the Magistrate acquitted the petitioner and the petitioner communicated this to the General Manager of his factory requesting the revokal of his suspension.
  • His suspension was subsequently revoked and he further requested for treating the the period of suspension as the period on duty
  • However, the Manager stated that the acquittal of the petitioner was based on benefit and doubt and was not honourable.
  • Thus, the period of suspension was treated as a period not spent on duty. The petitioner appealed before the Central Administrative Tribunal against this decision.
  • The Tribunal held that the suspension was justified and hence it dismissed the application.
  • The petitioner appealed against the judgment of the Tribunal before the High Court.
  • The petitioner contended that his acquittal was based on the lack of evidence produced by the petitioner and was honourable.
  • The petitioner relied on several cases such as Mohinder Singh vs. BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (2014) 2 CLR 321 and submitted that since no disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against the petitioner, there were no valid grounds to deprive him of his salary and allowances.
  • The respondent on the other hand contended that the suspension was justified as the acquittal was merely based on technical ground.

ISSUES RAISED

  • Whether the judgment of the Tribunal called for any interference?

RELEVANT PROVISIONS

Indian Penal Code

  • Section 419: Punishment for cheating by personation

JUDGMENT ANALYSIS

  • The Court noted that during the trial, the Investigating Officer remained absent and the case of the prosecution was not supported by the eye-witnesses.
  • Resultantly, the allegation against the accused could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
  • The Court noted that the terms “honourable acquittal”, “fully exonerated”, “acquitted of blame” have been coined by judicial pronouncements.
  • The acquittal of the petitioner was merely based on the benefit of doubt and such acquittal cannot be termed to be honourable.
  • The Court held that the judgment of the Tribunal did not require any interference.

CONCLUSION

The High Court rightly held that the suspension was not unjustified since the allegations related to an offense commissioned during the course of employment and since the acquittal was based merely on technical grounds. Merely because disciplinary proceedings were not initiated is no reason to hold the accused entitled to salary and allowances relating to the period of suspension.

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