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The Supreme Court has held that corruption case against a government employee cannot be quashed on the basis of clean chit given by the department after holding an inquiry against him.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said the standard of proof in departmental proceedings is lower than that in the criminal prosecution and the employee cannot be discharged on the basis of findings of the inquiry done by the government department.

“It is well-settled that the standard of proof in the departmental proceeding is lower than that in criminal prosecution. It is equally well-settled that the departmental proceeding or for that matter criminal cases have to be decided only on the basis of evidence adduced therein,” the bench also comprising justices C K Prasad and S J Mukhopadhaya said.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by a junior engineer of the Delhi Jal Board who is facing criminal prosecution for taking a bribe of Rs 1,000 from a person for clearing a file for water connection of his home.

He pleaded that the criminal proceeding should be quashed as the inquiry, done by the department, gave him clean chit.

The bench, however, refused to give credence to the findings of the departmental inquiry for deciding criminal case against him and dismissed his plea.

“Truthfulness of the evidence in the criminal case can be judged only after the evidence is adduced therein and the criminal case cannot be rejected on the basis of the evidence in the departmental proceeding or the report of the inquiry officer based on those evidence,” the bench said.

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