A Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) bus driver, who was dismissed on charges of stealing Rs 810 though a trial court had acquitted him, is all set to get back his job after 14 years thanks to the intervention of the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench).
In January 1998, the driver K Pichaimani was accused of stealing the day’s ticket collection to the tune of Rs 810 when the TNSTC Pudukottai Division bus had halted at Sayalkudi near Mudukulathur. Following a departmental inquiry, he was dismissed on September 23, 1998.
In the meantime, a Judicial Magistrate had acquitted him of the charges holding that the same was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Armed with the acquittal, he challenged his dismissal from service before the Labour Court. However, the Labour Court upheld the decision to the TNSTC management to dismiss him.
Aggrieved, he moved the High Court arguing that the Labour Court had failed to thoroughly examine the evidence on hand. Petitioner submitted that “the findings of the Judicial Magistrate have got a bearing on the departmental proceedings, and though the degree of proof may differ, the department cannot carry on a singular examination without showing strong reasons and situations to deviate from the finding of the criminal court.”
Holding that the TNSTC management had failed to prove the case against the driver before the trial court, Justice K Ravichandra Babu pointed out that the petitioner was dismissed by means of ex-parte proceedings. “Even if the driver has admitted to have stolen the money before the police, such admission cannot be taken as a conclusive proof,” the judge held and directed the TNSTC to reinstate Pichaimani into service.