(Shital Prasad Sharma vs State Of Raj) Rajasthan HC 14th June Judgment Article Featured Image - POSHequili

The IC Inquiry Must Be Impartial And Follow Established Protocols. The Defense Should Be Given A Fair Chance During Disciplinary Procedures: Rajasthan HC


An investigation report dated November 27, 2017, was contested by the petitioner, who was previously the Director of the State Institute of Agriculture Management (SIAM) in Jaipur. In this report, the Working Women Exploitation Prevention Committee’s Chairperson determined him to have violated the 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act and guilty. He was subsequently removed from service on March 12, 2018, following the issuance of a show cause notice on January 5, 2018. The report and the disciplinary action that followed were both contested by the petitioner.

Facts Of the Case

The petitioner began working for the government in 1987 as a District Soil Conservation Officer and advanced to the position of Additional Director (Agriculture) by 2011–12. In October 2014, he was named Director of SIAM. He was removed from his SIAM duties on September 8, 2017, and instructed to report to the Commissioner of the Agriculture Department. He challenged this decision in court, and in exchange he was given a temporary stay that was eventually overturned, and he was put on waiting orders to be posted. He received notice of allegations of sexual harassment on November 2, 2017. On November 10, 2017, he made an appearance before the Committee and turned in his defense. On November 29, 2017, after hearing about the negative report through the media, he requested the report through an RTI. Following the state’s release of the report, he filed a fresh petition to challenge the inquiry process.

Petitioner’s Arguments

According to the petitioner, the 2013 Act was broken because the concerns were not submitted to the Committee immediately. He claimed that there were inadequacies in the procedure, such as not allowing cross-examination or access to all inquiry materials. The petitioner argued that the Committee’s chairperson, a Deputy Director who was beneath him, did not meet the senior-level official criterion. He further claimed that because of their previous run-ins, the Principal Secretary’s prejudice affected the negative report. Further contentions included allegations of an incorrect Committee composition, a violation of Section 16 secrecy, insufficient proof, complaints that were filed after the deadline, and an unduly harsh dismissal from the position.

Respondent’s Arguments

According to the respondents, the investigation was carried out correctly, and the petitioner was given enough time to present his case. They said the Committee had a legal makeup and had handled issues of a similar nature on a regular basis. The severity of the accusations and the petitioner’s prior misbehavior towards female employees were underscored by the responders. They pointed out that the petitioner only raised issues with the Committee’s formation and operation following the unfavorable report, not when it was still in process. They contended that the petitioner had violated confidentiality and clarified the Committee’s jurisdiction to consider complaints that are received after the deadline.

Court’s Observations

The Rajasthan Civil Services Rules and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 were examined by the court. It pointed out that the investigation contained procedural flaws, including the petitioner’s inability to cross-examine the complainants. The inquiry’s disregard for the CCA Rules, 1958 was brought to the attention of the court, which stressed the importance of upholding the concepts of natural justice and fair procedure. The court also cited prior rulings that emphasize the value of procedural justice and the boundaries of the court’s review authority when it comes to disciplinary proceedings.

Court’s Decision

The court found that the investigation must be impartial and follow established protocols, noting procedural errors and natural justice violations that rendered the investigation illegal. It was emphasized once more that the goal of judicial review is to guarantee procedural integrity and fairness, not to replace the Committee’s conclusions with the court’s judgment. As a result, the court decided in the petitioner’s favor, highlighting the importance of giving the defense a fair chance during disciplinary procedures.

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