January 20, 2022

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Acquittal does not mean one can’t be sacked: SC

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Acquittal does not mean one can’t be sacked: SC
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Acquittal does not mean one can’t be sacked: SC
Acquittal does not mean one can’t be sacked: SC

NEW DELHI: In an important ruling, the Supreme Court on Monday said an employee can be dismissed from service on the basis of findings of a disciplinary proceedings for misconduct even though he has been acquitted of the charges by a court of law citing lack of clinching evidence.
The fortunes of the employee, a driver with Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, went through a roller coaster after the bus he was driving met with an accident in October 1992 in which four persons died. In a disciplinary proceeding, he was found guilty of negligent driving. MSRTC took into account his service record and dismissed him. The labour court upheld the dismissal despite acquittal in the criminal case by the trial court. The industrial court reversed it and ordered his reinstatement. The Bombay HC went a step further and directed payment of back wages. MSRTC appealed in the SC.
Upholding the dismissal, a bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna said, “As per the cardinal principle of law, an acquittal in a criminal trial has no bearing or relevance on the disciplinary proceedings as the standard of proof in both the cases are different and the proceedings operate in different fields and with different objectives.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Shah said, “The workman has been held to be guilty for a particular charge and particular misconduct. As per MSRTC the workman was in service for three years and during three years’ service tenure he was punished four times. Therefore, it cannot be said that the order of dismissal was without having any regard to the past record of the service of the workman.”

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