The Supreme Court has held principles of “natural justice” is a Constitutional requirement that has to be observed by government while taking disciplinary action against him or her. The apex court said the inquiry officer must act as a quasi-judicial authority and not as a representative of government while inquiry into the charges of misconduct against them.
“Apart from the above by virtue of Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India, the departmental inquiry has to be conducted in accordance with rules of natural justice. It is a basic requirement of rules of natural justice that an employee be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in any proceeding which may culminate in a punishment being imposed on the employee.
“When a departmental inquiry is conducted against the government servant it cannot be treated as a casual exercise. The inquiry proceedings also cannot be conducted with a closed mind.
The inquiry officer has to be wholly unbiased. The object of rules of natural justice is to ensure that a government servant is treated fairly in proceedings which may culminate in imposition of punishment including dismissal/removal from service,” the apex court said in a judgement.
The apex court made the remarks while dismissing an appeal filed by Uttar Pradesh government challenging the Allahabad High Court”s judgement directing reinstatement of an employee Saroj Kumar Sinha.