Acquittal In A Criminal Trial Has No Bearing Or Relevance On The Disciplinary Proceedings: Supreme Court

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Acquittal In A Criminal Trial Has No Bearing Or Relevance On The Disciplinary Proceedings

Case: Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation vs Dilip Uttam Jayabhay

Coram: Justices M R Shah and BV Nagarathna

Case no.: CA 7403 OF 2021

Court Observation: “Therefore, at the best even if it is assumed that even driver of the jeep was also negligent, it can be said to be a case of contributory negligence. That does not mean that the respondent – workman was not at all negligent. Hence, it does not absolve him of the misconduct.”

“Even from the judgment and order passed by the criminal court it appears that the criminal court acquitted the respondent based on the hostility of the witnesses; the evidence led by the interested witnesses; lacuna in examination of the investigating officer; panch for the spot panchnama of the incident, etc. Therefore, criminal court held that the prosecution has failed to prove the case against the respondent beyond reasonable doubt. On the contrary in the departmental proceedings the misconduct of driving the vehicle rashly and negligently which caused accident and due to which four persons died has been established and proved. 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. Therefore, the Industrial Court has erred in giving much stress on the acquittal of the respondent 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 enquiry, and has interfered with the punishment of dismissal solely on the ground that same is shockingly disproportionate and therefore can be said to be an unfair labour practice as per clause No.1(g) of Schedule­ IV of the MRTU & PULP Act, 1971.”

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