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“Sufficiency of evidence” was not within the realm of judicial review : SC

THE STATE OF BIHAR & ORS.VS. PHULPARI KUMARI., CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8782 OF 2019 ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.21197 OF 2019. – 6 DECEMBER 2019.

The bench encompassing Justice L. NAGESWARA RAO and Justice HEMANT GUPTA collectively pronounced judgment on sufficiency of evidence was not within the realm of judicial review. The Respondent was appointed as a Child Development Officer and Sh. Jitendra Rajak filed a complaint against the Respondent to the Vigilance Bureau of Investigation alleging demand of illegal gratification. The same conducted a raid and the Respondent was caught red-handed while accepting an amount of Rs.40, 000. Disciplinary proceedings were commenced and she was placed under suspension. An inquiry was held in which three charges were framed. A resolution was passed to select Smt. Suman Kumar, the wife of the complainant. The Respondent was also present in the general meeting. Smt. Suman obtained 62.4 per cent marks. As per the complaint, the Respondent demanded a sum of Rs.1,50,000/- for the appointment of the complainant’s wife, Smt. Suman Kumar. The amount was then reduced to Rs.50,000/-.

The Inquiry Officer concluded that there was sufficient evidence to hold that the Respondent was guilty of the first charge framed against her. The charge of demanding and accepting illegal gratification was proved against her. The other charges were also needed to be proved. The respondent was dismissed from service.  She challenged the order of dismissal by filing a Writ Petition in the High Court, which was allowed. A learned Single Judge of the High Court did not believe the version of the complainant as the complainant nor his wife was examined in the disciplinary proceedings. The learned Single Judge concluded that the charge of demand and acceptance of the illegal gratification by the Respondent was not proved. The Division Bench of the High Court affirmed the judgment of the learned Single Judge in the Writ Petition and dismissed the Appeal filed by the Appellant.

The criminal trial against the Respondent is still pending consideration by a competent criminal Court. The Inquiry Officer examined the evidence and concluded that the charge of demand and acceptance of illegal gratification by the Respondent was proved.

The Court observed the following:

  1. The learned Single Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court committed an error in reappreciating the evidence and coming to a conclusion that the evidence on record was not sufficient to point to the guilt of the Respondent.


It was settled law that interference with the orders passed pursuant to a departmental inquiry can be only in case of ‘no evidence’.

Sufficiency of evidence was not within the realm of judicial review.

Strict rules of evidence are to be followed by the criminal Court where the guilt of the accused had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Preponderance of probabilities was the test adopted in finding the delinquent guilty of the charge.

Thereby, it pronounced the following:

“In view of the above, the judgment of the High Court is set aside and the order of dismissal of the Respondent is upheld. The Appeal is accordingly allowed.”

–  Jumanah Kader

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