In Chamoli District Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. Raghunath Singh Rana, (2016) 12 SCC 204, it was held as under:
“(i) The enquiries must be conducted bona fide and care must be taken to see that the enquiries do not become empty formalities.
(ii) If an officer is a witness to any of the incidents which is the subject matter of the enquiry or if the enquiry was initiated on a report of an officer, then in all fairness he should not be the Enquiry Officer. If the said position becomes known after the appointment of the Enquiry Officer, during the enquiry, steps should be taken to see that the task of holding an enquiry is assigned to some other officer.
(iii) In an enquiry, the employer/department should take steps first to lead evidence against the workman/delinquent charged and give an opportunity to him to cross examine the witnesses of the employer. Only thereafter, the workman/delinquent be asked whether he wants to lead any evidence and asked to give any explanation about the evidence led against him.
(iv) On receipt of the enquiry report, before proceeding further, it is incumbent on the part of the disciplinary/punishing authority to supply a copy of the enquiry report and all connected materials relied on by the enquiry officer to enable him to offer his views, if any.”
The principal of law that emanates is that initial burden is on the department to prove the charges. In case where enquiry is initiated with a view to inflict major penalty, department must prove charges by adducing evidence by holding oral enquiry. State of U.P. v. Aditya Prasad Srivastava, (2017) 2 UPLBEC 901.
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The law is fairly well settled. Acquittal by a criminal court would not debar an employer from exercising power in accordance with the Rules and Regulations in force. The two proceedings, criminal and departmental, are entirely different. They operate in different fields and have different objectives. Whereas the object of criminal trial is to inflict appropriate punishment on the offender, the purpose of enquiry proceedings is to deal with the delinquent departmentally and to impose penalty in accordance with the service rules. In a criminal trial, incriminating statement made by the accused in certain circumstances or before certain officers is totally inadmissible in evidence. Such strict rules of evidence and procedure would not apply to departmental proceedings. The degree of proof which is necessary to order a conviction is different from the degree of proof necessary to record the commission of delionquency. The rule relating to appreciation of evidence in the two proceedings is also not similar. In criminal law, burden of proof is on the prosecution and unless the prosecution is able to prove the guilt of the accused “beyond reasonable doubt”, he cannot be convicted by a court of law. In a departmental enquiry, on the other hand, penalty can be imposed on the delinquent officer on a finding recorded on the basis of “preponderance of probability”. Acquittal by the Trial Court, therefore, does not ipso facto, absolve the employee from the liability under the disciplinary jurisdiction. Om Prakash Singh v. State Bank of India, 2016 (150) FLR 939.
The pre-condition for leading secondary evidence are that such original documents could not be produced by the party relied such documents in spite of best efforts, unable to produce the same which is beyond their control. The party sought to produce secondary evidence must establish for the non-production of primary evidence. Unless, it is established that the original document is lost or destroyed or is being deliberately withheld by the party in respect of that document sought to be used, secondary evidence in respect of that document cannot be accepted. Rakesh Mohindra v. Anita Beri, 2016 (114) ALR 253.
The rule regarding issue estoppel relates to admissibility of evidence in subsequent proceedings which is designed to upset a finding of fact recorded on the previous occasion and mandates that the finding so rendered on earlier occasion must operate as issue estoppel in subsequent proceedings. It makes it impermissible to lead any such evidence at a subsequent stage or occasion. The law on the point was succinctly stated in Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, (2012) 7 SCC 621:
“The court has time and again explained the principle of issue estoppel in a criminal trial observing that where an issue of fact has been tried by a competent court on an earlier occasion and a finding has been recorded in favour of the accused, such a finding would constitute an estoppels or res judicata against the prosecution, not as a bar to the trial and conviction of the accused for a different or distinct offence, but as precluding the acceptance/reception of evidence to disturb the finding of fact when the accused is tried subsequently for a different offence. This rule is distinct from the doctrine of double jeopardy as it does not prevent the trial of any offence but only precludes the evidence being led to prove a fact in issue as regards which evidence has already been led and a specific finding has been recorded at an earlier criminal trial. Thus, the rule relates only to the admissibility of evidence which is designed to upset a finding of fact recorded by a competent court in a previous trial on a factual issue. Ashwani Kumar v. State of Punjab, (2015) 6 SCC 308.
Section 145(1) of the Negotiable Instruments Act gives complete freedom to the complainant either to give his evidence by way of affidavit or by way of oral evidence. The court has to accept the same even if it is given by way of an affidavit. The second part of Section 145(1) provides that the complainant’s statement on affidavit may, subject to all just exceptions, be read in evidence in any enquiry, trial or other proceedings. Section 145 is a rule of procedure which lays down the manner in which the evidence of the complainant may be recorded and once the court issues summons and the presence of the accused is secured, an option be given to the accused whether, at that stage, he would be willing to pay the amount due along with reasonable interest and if the accused is not willing to pay, the court may fix up the case at an early date and ensure day-to-day trial. Indian Bank Association v. Union of India, (2014) 5 SCC 590.
According to Tomlin’s Law Dictionary, Evidence is “the means from which an inference may logically be drawn as to the existence of a fact. It consists of proof by testimony of witnesses, on oath; or by writing or records.” Bentham defines ‘evidence’ as “any matter of fact, the effect, tendency or design of which presented to mind, is to produce in the mind a persuasion concerning the existence of some other matter of fact – a persuasion either affirmative or disaffirmative of it’s existence. Of the two facts so connected, the latter may be distinguished as the principal fact, and the former as the evidentiary fact.” According to Wigmore on Evidence, evidence represents “any knowable fact or group of facts, not a legal or a logical principle, considered with a view to its being offered before a Legal Tribunal for the purpose of producing a persuasion, positive or negative, on the part of the Tribunal, as to the truth of a proposition, not of law, or of logic, on which the determination of the Tribunal is to be asked.” Hardeep Singh v. State of Punjab, 2014 (85) ACC 313.