Action where an employee convicted by a Court files an appeal in a higher court
In many cases, Government servants who have been found guilty by lower courts and have filed appeals in higher courts represent for reinstatement/setting aside the penalty imposed under Rule 19 (i) of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965. In such cases, the following observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in KC Sareen v CBI, Chandigarh [2001(6) SCC 584] are to be kept in view:
When a public servant was found guilty of corruption after a judicial adjudicatory process conducted by a court of law, judiciousness demands that he should be treated as corrupt until he is exonerated by a superior court. The mere fact that an appellate or revisional forum has decided to entertain his challenge and to go into the issues and findings made against such public servants once again should not even temporarily absolve him from such findings. If such a public servant becomes entitled to hold public office and to continue to do official acts until he is judicially absolved from such findings by reason of suspension of the order of conviction, it is public interest which suffers and sometimes even irreparably. When a public servant who is convicted of corruption is allowed to continue to hold public office, it impairs the morale of the other persons manning such office, and consequently that would erode the already shrunk confidence of the people in such public institutions besides demoralizing the other honest public servants who would either be the colleagues or subordinates of the convicted person. If honest public servants are compelled to take orders from proclaimed corrupt officers on account of the suspension of the conviction the fall-out would be one of shaking the system itself.
Thus action against a convicted Government servant should be taken straightaway under Rule 19 (1).
An appeal against the conviction or even a stay on the sentence will have no effect unless the conviction itself is stayed.
In view of the law laid down in various judgments, including the ones quoted above, in cases of serious charges of misconduct, particularly involving moral turpitude, the Ministries/ Departments should keep the following points in view to take prompt action:
(i) All incriminating documents should be seized promptly to avoid their tampering or destruction of evidence.
(ii) Particular care needs to be taken for retention of copies of such documents while handing over the same to an investigating agency. These documents may be attested after comparison with the originals.
(iii) In case the documents have been filed in a court, certified copies of documents may be obtained.
(iv) Documents and other evidence must be examined to see whether any misconduct, including favour, harassment, negligence or violation of rules / instructions has been committed. If there is a prima facie evidence of misconduct, charge-sheet under the appropriate rule must be issued.
(v) Court judgments should be promptly acted upon:
(a) In cases of conviction, action is to be taken under Rule 19 (i) of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965;
(b) In cases of acquittal also, if the Court has not acquitted the accused honourably, charge-sheet may be issued;
(c) An acquittal on technical grounds or where a benefit of doubt has been given to the accused will have no effect on a penalty imposed under CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, as while in a criminal trial the charge has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, in the departmental inquiry, the standard of evidence is preponderance of probability.
(vi) An appeal by the accused against conviction, but where the conviction has not been overturned/stayed, will have no effect on action taken under Rule 19 (i) of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, even if the Court has directed stay/suspension of the sentence. ■