Domestic Enquiry & Criminal Trial:
“Breach of duty is considered in Domestic enquiry is of private character; whereas public duty is cast in criminal trial.”
Standard of proof in criminal trial and Departmental enquires are different.
Court has to consider whether Departmental Enquiry could cause prejudice to delinquent in his defence at trial in criminal case.
“Disciplinary proceedings and enquiry cannot be and should not be delayed unduly and stay should not be granted as a matter of course and that proceeding should be concluded expeditiously.
State of Rajastan v. BK Meena and others, 1996 (2) LLN 1269
The objective in the criminal proceedings and the disciplinary proceedings is altogether distinct and different.
In the disciplinary proceedings — the question is whether the respondent is guilty of such conduct as would merit his removal from service or a lesser punishment.
Whereas in the criminal proceedings the question is whether the offences registered against him under the IPC (or the Prevention of Corruption Act) if any are established, and if established what sentence should be imposed upon him.
The criminal prosecution is launched for an offence in violation of a duty the offender owes to the society or for breach of which law has provided that the offender shall make satisfaction to the public.
So, crime is an act of commission in violation of law or of commission of public duty.
The departmental enquiry is to maintain discipline in the service and efficiency of public service. It would therefore, be expedient that the disciplinary proceedings are conducted and completed as expeditiously as possible.
There would be no bar to proceed simultaneously with the departmental enquiry and trial of criminal case unless the charge in the criminal trial is of grave nature involving complicated questions of law, and fact.
Offence generally implies infringement of public, as distinguished from mere private rights punishable under criminal law.
When trial for criminal offence is conducted it should be in accordance with proof of the offence as per the evidence defined under the provisions of the Evidence Act. Converse is the case of departmental enquiry. The enquiry in a departmental proceeding relates to conduct and breach of duty of the delinquent officer to punish him for his misconduct defined under the relevant statutory rules or law. That strict standard of proof or applicability of Evidence Act stands excluded is a settled legal position.
(Excerpts from the case of Prema Simon v. Union Bank of India, 1997 (3) CTC 43)