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Landmark Decisions: W.P.(C) 891/2013- MANJU KHANNA Vs. DELHI HIGH COURT

Facts in Brief 
  • The order was passed by Delhi High Court on 09.05.2015 in Writ Petition (C) No. 891/2013
  • The petitioner Manju Khanna was working as a Dealing Assistant in
    the Criminal Branch, it transpired that Trial Court Record of a few
    criminal cases was misplaced/lost. On July 15, 2010 she was served with
    a charge memo under Rule 14 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965
  • The loss of the files was not disputed by the petitioner. Her defence was that due to inadequate space judicial files and records were kept in the open in the branches and thereby accessible to one and all. She took the stand that due to excessive work load the Dealing Assistants, on transfer from one seat to the other, simply hand over the seat without completing the formality of handing over and taking over the record. The petitioner drew attention to the fact that the Registrar Incharge of the Branch had penned a note when the loss/misplacement of the files was detected as under:-
    The cupboards provided are ones meant for administrative files and had not been customized for keeping the records of heavy judicial files. The cupboards are not suitable inasmuch as they do not have adequate depth, self sheets are too weak to bear the burden of heavy files with the result that the sliding doors of the cupboards remained jammed, unlocked and un-functional. Consequently the records of the criminal branch onshifting to the new place could not be properly stacked which may have also caused to the confusion and loss of record.
  • The Inquiry Officer listed following mitigating circumstances:
  1. No proper handing/taking over was done by her predecessor, Mr.Subhash Chand Sharma.
  2. The judicial files and records are lying in open in branches and anyone have easy access thereto.
  3. Overburden of the seat. At the given time she was dealing with 4500 cases which as per the report of work study, relating to appellate side, the Hon?ble Committee recommended 1000-1200 files to be placed in the custody of a dealing assistant, assisted by a clerk for day to day dealing with the cases.
  4. Reconstruction of records has already been done.
  5. She has already suffered humiliation as she has got reversion from the post of Court Master to the Sr.Judicial Assistant on 4th June, 2010.
  6. Her due promotion has not yet been given and put under sealed cover for the last about two years.
  • That in the year 1995 a work study report by a Committee comprising three Hon'ble Judges of this Court had noted that due to insufficient staff it was difficult for the Dealing Assistants to effectively manage their seats and keep track of the files entrusted to them. On February 28, 2008 the then Hon'ble Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court had suggested that a dealing seat should not have more than 500 files. It assumes importance to note that the inquiry report has taken note of the fact that at the given time the petitioner was dealing with 4500 files.
  • Under the circumstances the writ petition is allowed. The penalty levied upon the petitioner is quashed. She would be entitled to the benefit of the two withheld increments and for which we direct arrears to be paid to her within 12 weeks from today.

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