New Delhi: An employee held guilty of
criminal misconduct in departmental proceedings cannot be
directed to be reinstated even if acquitted by a court, as the
accused has lost confidence of the employer, the Supreme Court
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and T S Thakur in a
judgement said that departmental proceedings and criminal
trials can be held parallel and can in no way be termed as
Under the doctrine of double jeopardy a person cannot be
subjected to punishment twice on the same case.
"Acquittal of the employee in criminal case cannot be the
basis of taking away the effect of departmental proceedings.
"Nor can such an action of the department be termed as
"Once the employer has lost the confidence in the
employee and the bona fide loss of confidence is affirmed, the
order of punishment must be considered to be immune from
challenge, for the reason that discharging the office of trust
and confidence requires absolute integrity, and in a case of
loss of confidence, reinstatement cannot be directed," Justice
Chauhan writing the judgement said.
The apex court passed the judgement while disposing off
the appeal filed by Karnataka State Road Transport
Corporation(KSRTC) challenging a direction of the Karnataka
Division Bench to reinstate M G Vittal Rao an employee
dismissed him in February 1997, for committing theft in the
The high court had held that he was entitled to
reinstatement since he was acquitted by the criminal
The apex court said question of considering reinstatement
after acquittal or discharge by a competent criminal Court
arises only if the dismissal was based on conviction by the
"In a case where enquiry has been held independently of
the criminal proceedings, acquittal in a criminal Court is of
no help. The law is otherwise. Even if a person stood
acquitted by a criminal Court, domestic enquiry can be held,
the reason being that the standard of proof required in a
domestic enquiry and that in a criminal case are altogether
"In a criminal case, standard of proof required is beyond
reasonable doubt while in a domestic enquiry it is the
preponderance of probabilities that constitutes the test to be
applied," the apex court said.
Hence it set aside the division bench`s order.