Can prosecution under P.C. Act continue if the officer is exonerated in Departmental Proceedings?
The prosecution is dependent on the case's findings. The case may proceed if the officer is exonerated on technical grounds. The proceeding does not need to continue if the claim against the delinquent officer is proven to be without substance and the officer is fully innocent.
The first thing we must recognise is that the standards of civil and criminal proceedings and law are vastly different. In comparison to civil law, the standard of proof in criminal law is much higher. Aside from that, the sentence is also distinct from each other.
As a result, the proceedings will differ from one another. In the case of Ashoo Surendranath Tewari v. CBI (2020), the court decided that the officer was negligent but not guilty of criminal activity. Taking the Radheshyam Kejriwal case as an example, the court ruled that if the accused was exonerated by the CVC, the criminal court would be less likely to condemn him.
In Radheshyam Kejriwal v. State of West Bengal, the court held that while there is no need to continue the case if the exoneration is based on merit, the case may be continued if it is based on technical grounds.
The Supreme Court reprimanded the Enforcement Directorate in the same case, saying that if the Adjudication Authority is satisfied that there has been no infringement of the act, what is the necessity for a criminal conviction.
Therefore, we can conclude that if a delinquent officer is exonerated in a departmental investigation, the odds of prosecuting him or her for a criminal offence are minimal. The case will be continued only if there is still any question or if the officer has been exonerated on technical grounds.