January 25, 2022

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Criminal trial has no bearing or relevance on disciplinary proceedings: SC

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Criminal trial has no bearing or relevance on disciplinary proceedings: SC
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Criminal trial has no bearing or relevance on disciplinary proceedings: SC
Criminal trial has no bearing or relevance on disciplinary proceedings: SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday set aside an order of the Industrial Tribunal in Maharashtra which directed the reinstatement of a bus driver held guilty of rash driving and observed that an acquittal in a criminal trial has no bearing or relevance on disciplinary proceedings.
A bench comprising justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said the standard of proof in both the cases are different.
“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 as both the cases are different and the proceedings operate in different fields and with different objectives,” the bench said.
The apex court said the Industrial Tribunal has erred in giving much stress on the acquittal of the driver by the criminal court.
“Even otherwise it is required to be noted that the Industrial Court has not interfered with the findings recorded by the disciplinary authority holding charge and misconduct proved in the departmental inquiry, and has interfered with the punishment of dismissal solely on the ground that same is shockingly disproportionate,” the bench said.
In this case, the Industrial Tribunal had directed the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation to reinstate a driver whose services were terminated by it after holding disciplinary proceedings against him.
Disciplinary proceedings was initiated against the bus driver as the bus he was driving met with an accident with a jeep which resulted in death of four passengers.
After the inquiry, it was found that there was negligence on the part of driver and he was dismissed from service.
The Industrial Tribunal, after considering the acquittal of the driver in criminal proceedings, observed that the drivers of both the vehicles were negligent (contributory negligence) and held that the order of dismissal is disproportionate to the misconduct proved.
The Industrial Tribunal directed reinstatement of driver without back wages but with continuity of service.
Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation challenged the order passed by the Industrial Tribunal before Bombay high court which was dismissed.

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