(1.) WE think, the Court below was right and that no interference is called for in this appeal, preferred by the Union of India and the Commanding Officer, Naval Base, Cochin, against the judgment of the Sub-Court, Cochin, decreeing the plaintiff's suit to declare the termination of his service illegal and for reinstatement with arrears of pay, or alternatively for compensation for wrongful termination of service. The Court below declared the termination of service illegal and granted a decree for Rs. 25,000 as compensation with interest at 6% per annum.
(2.) THE plaintiff-respondent was a welder, Grade II. in the Civilian Defence Forces, at the Naval Base, Cochin. His service was terminated by Ext. A1 order of the Government of India, Ministry of Defence, dated 25-10-1968, without assigning any reason whatsoever. The plaintiff at the time of termination of service, was aged only 41, and would be normally entitled to continue in service till sixty years of age. The defence was that the plaintiff's tenure was one under the pleasure of the President, and was, therefore, liable to termination, without assigning any reasons. It was found by the Court below that the termination offended the provisions of the Central Civil Service (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules 1965, and was, therefore, illegal. It was on this ground that damages were decreed in favour of the plaintiff.
(3.) THERE was no controversy that the Rules applied to the plaintiff; nor was it denied that there had been no compliance with the Rules. What was argued was that the termination being at the pleasure of the President, under Article 310 of the Constitution, the same would override Article 309, or the Rules framed thereunder. It would be convenient to read Articles 309, 310 and 311 of the Constitution. 309. Recruitment and conditions of service of persons serving the Union or a State. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Acts of the appropriate Legislature may regulate the recruitment, and conditions of service of persons appointed, to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State: Provided that it shall be competent for the President or such person as he may direct in the case of services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union, and for the Governor of a State or such person as he may direct in the case of services and posts in connection with the affairs of the State, to make rules regulating the recruitment, and the conditions of service of persons appointed, to such services and posts until provision in that behalf is made by or under an Act of the appropriate Legislature under this article, and any rules so made shall have effect subject to the provisions of any such Act. 310. Tenure of office of persons serving the Union or a State. (1) Except as expressly provided by this Constitution, every person who is a member of a defence service or of a civil service of the Union or of an all-India service or holds any post connected with defence or any civil post under the Union, holds office during the pleasure of the President, and every person who is a member of a civil service of a State or holds any civil post under a State holds office during the pleasure of the Governor of the State. (2) Notwithstanding that a person holding a civil post under the Union or a State holds office during the pleasure of the President or, as the case may be, of the Governor of the State, any contract under which a person, not being a member of a defence service or of an all India service or of a civil service of the Union or a State, is appointed under this Constitution to hold such a post may, if the President or the Governor as the case may be, deems it necessary in order to secure the services of a person having special qualifications, provide for the payment to him of compensation, if before the expiration of an agreed period that post is abolished or he is, for reasons not connected with any misconduct on his part, required to vacate that post. 311. Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.- (i) No person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all-India service or a civil service of a State or holds a civil post under the Union or a State shall be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed. (2) No such person as aforesaid shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges and where it is proposed, after such inquiry, to impose on him any such penalty, until he has been given a reasonable opportunity of making representation on the penalty proposed, but only on the basis of the evidence adduced during such inquiry: Provided that this clause shall not apply- (a) where a person is dismissed or removed or reduced in rank on the ground of conduct which has led to his conviction on a criminal charge; or (b) where the authority empowered to dismiss or remove a person or to reduce him in rank is satisfied that for some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry ; or (c) where the President or the Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the State it is not expedient to hold such inquiry. (3) If, in respect of any such person as aforesaid, a question arises whether it is reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry A. I. R. ferred to in Clause (2), the decision thereon of the authority empowered to dismiss or remove such person or to reduce him in rank shall be final. It will be seen that the Rules regulating the conditions of service of persons appointed to public services under Article 309, are "subject to the provisions of the Constitution", and, therefore, of Article 310. It is well-settled, and it was not disputed, that "conditions of service" include matters regarding termination of service. Article 310 is again "subject to the exceptions expressly provided by the Constitution. " These exceptions have been covered by Article 124, 148, 218 and 324. Article 311 has also been held to constitute an exception to Article 310. ;