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Dismissal, the only punishment for corruption: SC

The Supreme Court has held that dismissal is the only form of punishment for those involved in corruption and misappropriation of public money, even if the embezzled amount is meagre.



New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that
dismissal is the only form of punishment for those involved in
corruption and misappropriation of public money, even if the
embezzled amount is meagre.

The apex court said that though punishment should be
proportionate to the crime, in cases of corruption, dismissal
is the only punishment that could be imposed on a government
employee.

"We do not find any force in the submissions made by
Dr J N Dubey, learned senior counsel for the employee, that
for embezzlement of such a petty amount, punishment of
dismissal could not be justified for the reason that it is not
the amount embezzled by a delinquent employee but the mens
rea (guilty intention) to misappropriate the public money," a
bench of Justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar said in
their verdict.

The apex court gave the judgement while upholding
the dismissal of a bus conductor Suresh Chandra Sharma of the
UP State Road Transport Corporation. Sharma was dismissed from
service by the Corporation after a departmental inquiry held
him guilty of collecting fares from about 25 passengers but
not remitting them to the official exchequer.

The Uttaranchal High Court, however, had quashed the
dismissal on the ground that the inquiry was vitiated as the
authorities did not examine the passengers and ordered
Sharma`s reinstatement, but without any back wages.

Aggrieved by the order, both the Corporation and the
employee filed appeals in the apex court.

Upholding the Corporation`s appeal, the apex court
citing its 1996 judgement in the Municipal Committee,
Bahadurgarh Vs Krishnan Bihari case said, "In cases
involving corruption - there cannot be any other punishment
than dismissal.

"Any sympathy shown in such cases is totally uncalled
for and opposed to public interest. The amount misappropriated
may be small or large; it is the act of misappropriation that
is relevant."

The apex court further cited the Vinod Kumar Vs UPSRTC
case (2008) that "the punishment should always be
proportionate to the gravity of the misconduct. However, in a
case of corruption/misappropriation, the only punishment is
dismissal."

The bench said that in a domestic inquiry, complicated
principles and procedures laid down in the Code of Civil
Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act need not be strictly
adhered to.

"The only right of a delinquent employee is that he
must be informed as to what are the charges against him and he
must be given full opportunity to defend himself on the said
charges.

"More so, the High Court is under an obligation to
give not only the reasons but cogent reasons while reversing
the findings of fact recorded by a domestic tribunal. In case
the judgment and order of the High Court is found not duly
supported by reasons, the judgment itself stands vitiated,"
the apex court added.

PTI

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