Bombay high court upholds professor, clerk’s dismissal, says hearsay evidence acceptable in departmental inquiryUpdated: May 22, 2020 17:03 IST
There is no prohibition on using “reliable and acceptable” hearsay as evidence in departmental proceedings against erring employees, the Bombay high court (HC) said on Tuesday, while upholding the dismissal of a professor and a library clerk of a Dombivli college.
The professor and the clerk had moved HC after the University and College Tribunal, Mumbai, on January 27, 2016, upheld their dismissal from service in July 2013. They were dismissed after the inquiry officer found them guilty of insubordination, dereliction of duty, and suspected intimate relations between the two.
However, the petitioners contended that they were actively raising grievances of the employees of the college, which did not go down well with the institute’s management. They further claimed that the action taken against them was out of the vindictive attitude of the college management and had also challenged the departmental action against them as well as the order of the University and College Tribunal on various grounds.
Justice CV Bhadang, however, found no substance in their challenge, and said their dismissal was based on certain technical issues of a peripheral nature and that there was no serious challenge to the findings of fact recorded by the inquiry officer.
The judge also rejected their arguments that a report prepared by a private detective – employed by the clerk’s husband – could not have been used as evidence against them in the departmental proceedings. They also claimed that the report was nothing but hearsay, as the author of the report – the private detective – was not examined as a witness against them.
Justice Bhadang said it is now well settled that strict rules of evidence do not apply to a departmental inquiry and there is no prohibition even on acting on hearsay evidence in a given case, if it is found to be reliable and acceptable.