Can a charge-sheet be a substitute for a domestic enquiry?
No. A charge-sheet as issued to a workman cannot be a substitute for an ex parte enquiry. Even when a charge-sheeted workman fails to submit his explanation to the charge-sheet or the submission of a reply which flies off at tangent to the charges levelled against him and thus for all practical purposes tantamounts to a ‘no contest’ would not be sufficient or adequate proof of the guilt of the workman. In reply, the workman sought the inspection of certain documents. The employer directed the branch manager for compliance with a copy to the workman by registered post. The workman, however, managed to avoid the service thereof and the notice requiring explanation of the workman was published in a weekly Hindi newspaper but again there was no response from the workman. The employer, the District Administrative Committee, passed a resolution to the effect that the workman has failed to avail the opportunity afforded to him to contest the charge-sheet and rebut the charges hence he should be dismissed from service. The High Court while holding that charge-sheet cannot be a substitute for an enquiry reduced the rigour of its judgment in holding that it has all been opened to the employer to proceed further in respect of disciplinary proceedings from the stage where the case was before the said resolution was passed.1 However, in one case it has been held that merely that a charge-sheet has not been issued but the charges have been read out to the delinquent employee, it will not vitiate the enquiry in the absence of any allegation of prejudice caused to the delinquent employee.2
1. Sri Ram Verma v. Distt. Asstt. Registrar, 1987 (54) FLR 715.
2. High Range Estate Employees’ Association (CITU) v. Industrial Tribunal, 2008 LLR 475 (Ker HC).