Disciplinary Proceedings Concluded after Two Years of Retirement

Disciplinary Proceedings Concluded after Two Years of Retirement Case Laws Constitutional Law Disciplinary Proceedings Knowledge - Constitutional Law Lahore High Court Litigation & Arbitration PEEDA Act Public & Admin Law Solutions - Constitutional Law Mr. Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh in his judgment has decided the issue regarding disciplinary proceedings concluded after two years of retirement in Writ Petition No. 39142 of 2015.

1. This constitutional petition is directed against the order dated 09.02.2015 passed by respondent No.1 whereby major penalty u/s 4(1)(b)(i) of Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act, 2006 (“PEEDA”) was imposed and order dated 26.10.2015 passed by respondent No.2 whereby departmental appeal of the petitioner was dismissed.

2. Brief facts are that petitioner was performing his duties with Punjab Local Government Board (“Board”) as Tehsil Municipal Officer (“TMO”) and was compulsorily retired on 05.01.2013. After his retirement, petitioner was served with a charge sheet dated 28.01.2013 under provisions of PEEDA. The said charge sheet was replied in which allegations were denied, however, after inquiry and show cause notice, major penalty was finally imposed upon the petitioner on 09.02.2015 for recovery of equal share out of total loss of Rs.3,21,90,809/- u/s 4(1)(b)(i) of PEEDA. The appeal filed by the petitioner was also dismissed on 26.10.2015, hence this constitutional petition.

3. Learned counsel for the petitioner argued that petitioner is employee of the Board and was proceeded under PEEDA, therefore, in view of law laid down by august Supreme Court in Muhammad Amin and another vs. Government of Punjab and others (2015 PLC (CS) 1082), this constitutional petition is maintainable. He further argued that petitioner stood retired on 05.01.2013 and was charge sheeted after his retirement on 28.01.2013 and the impugned major penalty was imposed after expiry of two years of his retirement on 09.02.2015. He submits that under proviso to section 21 of PEEDA, the proceedings were to be finalized within two years of retirement and after two years, the proceedings stood abated and the competent authority also became functus officio, therefore, no order could be passed against the petitioner under PEEDA.

On merits, he argued that none of the allegations against the petitioner were proved and the petitioner was only found negligent by the inquiry officer, however, the major penalty was imposed on the petitioner for recovery of equal share of total loss of Rs.3,21,90,809/-. He submits that even otherwise, the loss calculated was not actual loss suffered by department but was based on presumptions and guess work to the effect that this much amount would have been recovered from the cattle market, therefore, the said recovery being based on presumptions and surmises could not be imposed on the petitioner, especially after his retirement and lapse of statutory period prescribed u/s 21 of PEEDA. He further contends that impugned order dated 09.02.2015 was passed u/s 4(1)(b)(i) of PEEDA which is only applicable to in-service employees and regarding retired employees, the provision applicable was section 4(1)(c) of PEEDA which was never invoked against the petitioner. He concluded that petitioner has also been treated discriminately as the inquiry officer held both the petitioner (TMO) and then Administrator being negligent but no action whatsoever has been taken against the Administrator whereas major penalty has been imposed on the petitioner.

4. Learned counsel for respondent No.3 does not deny that petitioner being employee of Board is not a civil servant, therefore, this constitutional petition is maintainable. He however contends that there were serious allegations against the petitioner which also stood proved in inquiry proceedings, therefore, major penalty was lawfully imposed on the petitioner. On the question of limitation prescribed u/s 21 of PEEDA, he submits that after compulsory retirement on 05.01.2013, the inquiry proceedings were initiated on 28.01.2013, which were though finally concluded on 09.02.2015 after lapse of two years from the date of petitioner’s retirement, however, the delay was only of few days which was also not attributable to the department. He further submits that the time limit prescribed u/s 21 of PEEDA being directory and not mandatory, impugned orders are valid and legal.

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