State of Haryana v. Balwant Singh


COURT: Supreme Court of India


REFERENCE: Appeal (civil) 5124 of 2001


Petitioner: State of Haryana

Respondents: Balwant Singh


The 2003 judgement deals with “Double Jeopardy” under article 20(2) of the Constitution. In this case, the question before the bench was whether Mr. Balwant Singh,the respondent was punished twice for the same offence by the Haryana Roadways Department.


The respondent was driving bus of the Haryana Roadways. A mishap was caused as a result of the rash and careless driving of the respondent. In the said mishap, one individual passed on and other individual endured wounds. In the case request recorded before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, an order was passed which brought about the loss of Rs. 1,12,950/ – to the Transport Department of the State. In the wake of this award of the Tribunal a punishment was forced on the respondent lessening the compensation to the minimum of timescale of Driver for a time of four years by the request dated 12.3.1990. Because of causing the same mishap, a criminal case was likewise enrolled against the respondent for the offences under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 304-A IPC. He was sentenced by the court after trial in the said criminal case. In view of this conviction, the General Manager of Haryana Roadways passed another order dated 17.9.1992 ending the service of the respondent. After he was discharged from prison in January 1993, he presented a joining report in the Haryana Roadways. Rather than accepting the joining report, the termination letter was given over to him. He filed an case against the order for termination of his services on the ground that he was not liable to be tried twice for the same offense.


Constitution of India:

  • Article 20(2) No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once
Indian Penal Code, 1860:
  • Section 304A: Causing death by negligence- Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Haryana Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1987

(Hereinafter Rules):

  • Rule 7(1): No order of imposing a major penalty shall be passed against a person to whom these rules are applicable unless he has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the action proposed to be taken in regard to him.
  • Rule 7(2): Whenever the punishing authority is of the opinion that there are grounds for inquiring into the truth of any imputation of misconduct or misbehaviour against a Government employee, it may itself inquire into, or appoint under this rule or under the provisions of the Public Servants (Inquiries) Act. 1850, as the case may be, an authority to inquire into the truth thereof
  • Rule 7(2)(b): The inquiry officer shall give clear findings on each of the charges so that the Government employee shall know from the findings on what ground he has been found guilty. Each finding shall be supported by evidence and reasons thereof. The findings are in the nature of a report to the competent authority to enable it to pass final orders. Such findings are to assist but do not bind him. He himself alone has to come to a final decision. Moreover, the inquiry officer shall not in any case recommend or propose any penalty.

1) Whether the respondent suffered double jeopardy at the hands of the Haryana Roadways Department?


A crime may be a lawful wrong for which a wrongdoer is obligated to be prosecuted and punished but only once for such a wrongdoing. In other words, an guilty party cannot be punished twice for the same offense. This is often demand of justice and public policy supports it. This rule is epitomized within the well-known maxim nemo debet bis vexari, (si constat curiae quod sit) master una et eadem causa meaning no one need to be vexed twice in case it shows up to the court that it is for one and the same cause. Doctrine of double jeopardy could be a assurance against prosecution twice for the same offence. Offenses such as criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, cheating, criticism etc., may allow rise to prosecution on criminal side conjointly for activity in civil court/other forum for recovery of cash by way of damages etc., unless there’s a bar made by law.

Contentions raised by the respondents:
  1. The most contention was recorded against the order of termination of his services on the ground that he ould not be tried twice for the same offence.
  2. Subsequent dispute was that no appropriate opportunity was given to him and no enquiry was held but the termination order was passed as it were on the premise of the judgment passed by the learned Sessions Judge maintaining his conviction.
Contentions raised by the appellant:
  1. The appealing party contested that due to carelessness of the respondent, the appealing party endured misfortune of Rs.1,12,950/- as he was careless on his duty.
  2. The arrange of termination of his services was appropriately passed and there was no need to conduct an enquiry under Rule 7(2) of the Rules when the said order was passed on the premise of the conviction and sentence passed against him.
Decision and Reasoning:

Punishment was forced on him diminishing the pay to the least of time scale for a period of four years based on the Rule 7 of Haryana Civil Services (Discipline and Request) Rules,1987. The arrange of end comes from there on after the conviction of the respondent under section 304A of the IPC. As per these circumstances, there was no question of the respondent enduring a double jeopardy. The help of Article 20(2) of the Constitution of India was wrongly taken. Article 20(2) of the Constitution of India does not get pulled in to the realities of the present case.


Double jeopardy is a procedural guard that anticipates a charged person from being tried once more on the same (or similar) charges and on the same facts, following a valid acquittal or conviction. Only certain sorts of criminal cases qualify for double jeopardy protection. In the event that a specific proceeding does not put a person in peril, then consequent proceedings against that person for the same conduct are not prohibited.