Nirmal Singh, J.
1. Petitioner has prayed for issuance of a writ of Certiorari quashing the order dated 19.10.1983, Annexure P-9 for holding enquiry against the petitioner for his absence w.e.f. 11.7.1967 to 20.5.1970.
2. Petitioner was working as Basic Health Worker at Primary Health Centre, Shutrana. He was transferred from P.H.C. Shutrana to Bhunerheri block in June, 1967. Petitioner did not comply with the orders of the transfer and instead absented himself from duty since July, 1967. On the allegation that petitioner became absent from duty he was charge-sheeted.
3. Petitioner filed reply to the charge-sheet. After examining the reply submitted by the petitioner, Director Health and Family Planning, Punjab vide order dated 6.10.1971, Annexure P-2 ordered stoppage of two annual increments with cumulative effect.
4. The petitioner filed appeal before the Secretary to Government Punjab, Department of Health praying that punishment was un-warranted against the established facts on the record and the order dated 6.10.1971 is against the principles of natural justice. Petitioner was summoned for personal hearing by the Secretary, Government of Punjab on 10.1.1975. Petitioner appeared before the Under Secretary, Health Punjab and explained the entire position. The decision of the appeal filed by the petitioner was communicated to the Director, Health and Family Planning, Punjab. The Director, Health and Family Planning, Punjab communicated to the Civil Surgeon, Sangrur vide letter dated 24.2.1976 that the order stopping two increment with cumulative effect was withdrawn by the disciplinary authority.
5. Petitioner has pleaded that he was again summoned by the Deputy Director, Health and Family
Planning, Punjab vide letter dated 11.1.1977 and petitioner was required to attend the office of Deputy Director on 7.2.1977. Petitioner appeared before the Deputy Director and came to know that the earlier departmental proceedings in which charge-sheet has been served upon the petitioner and were withdrawn subsequently, it has been ordered that a fresh enquiry be conducted on the same allegations.
6. The petitioner aggrieved by the impugned proceedings on the ground that de novo enquiry is against the rule of natural justice as well as under Article 20(2) and 311(2) of the Constitution of India.
7. Respondents filed reply to the petition and pleaded that the petitioner absented himself from duty since July, 1967 wilfully, which tantamount to mis-behaviour. The respondents, on the ground whether De-novo enquiry can be held or not has pleaded that on this point no comment can be given as being legal.
8. I have heard Shri V.K. Jindal, counsel for the petitioner and Shri H.S. Gill, Deputy Advocate General, Punjab and perused the record.
9. It is admitted case of the parties that petitioner was once charge-sheeted on the ground that he absented himself from duty w.e.f. 11.7.1967 to 20.5.1970. Petitioner filed reply to the charge-sheet and his two annual increments were stopped with cumulative effect. Petitioner filed an appeal before the Secretary, Government of Punjab, Department of Health. The Director, Health and Family (Welfare) informed the Civil Surgeon vide order 24.2.1976 that order of stopping two annual increments with cumulative effect has been withdrawn and petitioner be informed accordingly.
10. The sole point for determination remains as to whether respondent- authorities are competent to hold De-novo enquiry against the petitioner into the same charge, for which he had already been punished. Once a delinquent official has been punished for a charge, after giving him the charge-sheet, he cannot be punished for the second time nor any enquiry can be held into the same charge. This proposition has been settled by the Division Bench of this Court in case of Parkash Nath Saidha v. The Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Punjab, 1972 S.L.K, 601, In para 7 of the Judgment, it has been held as under :-
“7. There is authority for the proposition that the fundamental principle viz that no one shall be punished or put in peril twice for the same matter, is applicable even to orders passed on departmental enquiries. In S.V.G. Iyengar’s case (ibid), the petitioner was a Deputy Chief Engineer in the service of the State of Mysore. On March 25, 1959, the Government of Mysore put him under suspension pending enquiry into four charges framed against him. Earlier on March 16, 1955, a notice was issued to him to show cause why he should not be proceeded against in respect of four charges which were enumerated in the enclosure to that notice. After an enquiry into those charges, it was decided by the Government of the
State under which he was then working, that three of the four charges had not been established and that action should be taken in respect of only fourth charge. But no final orders were made by that Government before the State Government ceased to exist by reason of re-organisation of that State. After a fresh enquiry into four charges including those three of which he had been exonerated earlier, the Government of Mysore decided that the petitioner should be compulsorily retired. One of the contentions raised before the Division Bench in that case was that the fresh inquiry could not be properly held into those charges, of which the writ petitioner had been exonerated earlier. This contention was accepted. Som Nath Iyer, J. speaking for the Bench observed :-
“I have not the slightest hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the enquiry which was commenced against the petitioner in respect of the three charges which have now been dropped was beyond their competence since in respect of those charges, the Government had exonerated him by its order dated October 14, 1958. That being so, the commencement of an enquiry into those three charges along with the fourth charge was plainly in excess of jurisdiction.”
11. Similar view has been taken in case of R. Rama Rao v. A.P. State Agro Industries Development Corporation Limited, 1998(1) SCT 650 by holding that once enquiry is completed, de-novo enquiry into the same charges cannot be initiated. Disciplinary authority cannot order for de-novo enquiry on the same charges when the rules do not provide for them.
12. In the instant case, when the petitioner had already been punished, then he again cannot put to de-novo trial.
13. For the reasons above, writ petition is allowed and impugned order dated 19.10.1983, Annexure P-9 is quashed.
14. Petition allowed.