A chargesheet filed in departmental proceeding cannot be quashed by courts unless it adversely affects the rights of the aggrieved employee, the Supreme Court has held.
“In fact, chargesheet does not infringe the right of a party. It is only when a final order imposing the punishment or otherwise adversely affecting a party is passed, it may have a grievance and cause of action.
“Thus, a chargesheet or show cause notice in disciplinary proceedings should not ordinarily be quashed by the court,” said a bench of justices B.S. Chauhan and Dipak Misra, in an order.
The bench passed the order while disposing of an appeal by the ministry of defence challenging a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order quashing the chargesheet against one Prabhash Chandra Mirdha in a two-decade old bribery case.
“Law does not permit quashing of chargesheet in a routine manner. In case the delinquent employee has any grievance in respect of the chargesheet, he must raise the issue by filing a representation and wait for the decision of the disciplinary authority thereon.
“In case the chargesheet is challenged before a court/tribunal on the ground of delay in initiation of disciplinary proceedings or delay in concluding the proceedings, the court/tribunal may quash the chargesheet after considering the gravity of the charge and all relevant factors involved in the case after weighing all the facts, both for and against the delinquent employee, and must reach the conclusion which is just and proper in the circumstance,” the bench said.
The bench said chargesheet cannot generally be a subject matter of challenge as it does not adversely affect the rights of the delinquent unless it is established that the same has been issued by an authority not competent to initiate the disciplinary proceedings.