Decided on December 16,1968



- (1.) THIS is an appeal from the judgment of a learned single Judge of this Court in Original Petition No. 3358 of 1966, by the Board of Revenue (Taxes), Kerala State, and the State of Kerala who were respondents in that case. The original petition was filed by the respondents in this appeal to quash an order, Ex. P. 18, dated 6 August 1963, passed by appellant 1 imposing penalty on the respondent under Rule 11 (1) (iii) of the Kerala Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1960, and an order, Ex. P. 20, dated 30 May 1965, passed by appellant 2 dismissing the respondent's appeal from Ex. P. 18. The learned single Judge quashed the aforesaid orders on the ground that the respondent was not given a reasonable opportunity to show cause against the punishment proposed to be imposed on him as per notice, Ex. P. 14, dated 25 September 1963, and direct that the respondent's explanation should be obtained afresh after giving him a reasonable opportunity, in case disciplinary proceeding against him was proposed to be continued. The appellants have taken objection to the quashing of the aforesaid orders, while respondent has objected to the direction of the learned Judge for permitting the appellants to proceed with the disciplinary proceedings if so desired.
(2.) EXHIBIT P. 4 was issued by appellant 1 to the respondent to show cause why the respondent should not be removed from service in the face of the finding against him in the disciplinary enquiry. The respondent by his letter, Ex. P. 15, dated 3 October 1962, requested that he may be permitted to go through the entire records of the enquiry and he may also be given copies of the depositions of the four witnesses examined at the enquiry. The respondent's request to go through the records of the enquiry was refused in the public interest. Copies of the depositions of the witnesses were also not given to him stating that they had already been given to him by the enquiry officer. Now it is admitted that what was given to the respondent was the statements from these witnesses, at the preliminary investigation, which preceded the disciplinary proceedings, and not copies of their depositions. The respondent however, submitted his explanation without having the copies of the depositions of the witnesses. He contended in the appeal before appellant 2 that Ex. P. 18 was violative of natural justice, as he did not get a reasonable opportunity to show cause against the proposed punishment, for want of copies of depositions of the witnesses. The objection was overruled by appellant 2. The learned single Judge accepted the above contention and quashed Exs. P. 18 and P. 20.
(3.) IT is well-established that the opportunity available to the delinquent officer under Article 311 of the Constitution to show cause against the proposed punishment is an opportunity to show cause against the finding against him and also against the proposed punishment, and that he would not be having a proper opportunity to show cause, unless all the records of the enquiry are made available to him. The depositions of the witnesses were not made available for the respondent's perusal, nor were the copies thereof given to him. The learned Government Pleader contended that no prejudice was actually caused to the respondent by not obtaining copies of the depositions. We are unable to agree with that contention. The right to get a reasonable opportunity to show cause against the proposed punishment is a constitutional right. That right has been violated. It is also not possible to say whether prejudice has been caused or not by the said violation. What representation the respondent would have made, if all the necessary records of the enquiry were made available, and what decision the disciplinary authority would have taken on that representation, is not something which can be postulated. Violation of natural justice is by itself sufficient to vitiate the proceeding.;

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