Decided on September 14,1983

Chunilal D Patel Respondents


N.H.BHATT - (1.) This Letters Patent Appeal under clause 15 of the Letters Patent has been filed by the original respondent No. 2 of the Special Civil Application No. 602 of 1981 which was filed in this High Court by the present respondent-the original petitioner Mr. C. D Patel whose petition had come to be allowed by our esteemed Brother B. K. Mehta J. by his judgment dated 23 81 ordering that the impugned order of penalty of removal from service of this public Corporation namely the Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd. herein- after referred to as the IPCL for brevitys sake was bad in law and void since the inquiry was vitiated on its being violative of the principles of natural justice and fair play on the grounds upheld by him in his judgment and also because the charge had not been brought home to the petitioner-delinquent in as much as there was no evidence direct or circumstantial to find that there was want of integrity as alleged and specified and also because the charge which could be sustained did not amount to misconduct as defined in the Rules. The learned Judge had consequently issued a writ of mandamus directing the respondent-IPCL to treat the petitioner as if he was all along in service and therefore entitled to all the benefits of back wages as were admissible and payable to him. Being aggrieved by the aforesaid decision of the learned Single Judge the original respondent No. 2-IPCL have preferred the present appeal.
(2.) In order to understand the controversies which were raised before us in the course of the hearing stretched over sufficiently long period a few facts are required to be closely noted. The petitioner a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering was appointed as a Purchase Officer in the employment of the IPCL in May 1972 initially on probation but confirmed subsequently. In May 1975 the petitioner was promoted to the post of the Senior Purchases Officer and that post came to be redesignated as the post of Senior Materials Officer. At the relevant time of the enquiry the petitioner was acting as such. In that capacity it was inter alia his duty to purchase items coming under the admiNistrative Rules pertaining to his section which was known as 06 section of the Purchase Department of the IPCL. His main duties were to ensure procurement of materials coming under the said section such as tools spare parts machineries etc. There was a well-1aid procedure to be followed before purchases were made. Indents were to be received by his office either from the general stores department or from the concerned sections of the factory of IPCL. The petitioner had a limited power of issuing orders. Upto the purchases worth Rs. 10 0 he was authorised to make purchases on his own. If the things to be purchased were more than worth Rs. 10 0 and upto Rs. 20 0 he could place the orders subject to the concurrence of the Finance Department and in case the value of the goods to be purchased exceeded Rs. 25 0 it could be finalised only by the superior authorities on the basis of the Purchase Committees recommendations. In the middle of the year 1978 about July 5 thereof the petitioner was suspended by one Mr. Parshuraman the Materials Managers who prohibited him from entering the precincts of the premises by his letter dated 14-7-78. Because of the delay in initiating the proceedings he had moved this High Court by filing the Special Civil Application No. 773 of 1979 which was rejected by the court with a direction that the enquiry should be completed as expeditiously as possible. Before that date namely 20 the petitioner was already also served with a chargesheet dated 5-3-79. The charges against the petitioner were in substance as follow: The petitioner while functioning as the Senior Materials Officer of the Material Department of the IPCL had committed gross misconduct in the course of his duties during the period between July 197 7/03/1978 and had failed to maintain integrity and devotion to duty in so far as he in contravention of the established rules and procedures had issued four purchase orders in favour of M/s. Central Machine Tools Co. Bombay at a very high prices and much above the prices paid earlier for the same or similar items and much above the prices prevalent in the market at the relevant time. In Annexures 1 & 2 that accompanied the Memorandum of charges Annexure E to the petition it was made clear what those orders were when they were placed to what extent higher prices were mentioned in those orders as against the prevailing market rates and it was clarified that these purchase orders were made without there being any indents received from the Stores Department or the concerned sections of the factory and without getting the approval of the Finance Department or the highest Committee as per the time-honoured procedure laid down for the functioning of the IPCL. It was alleged that four different orders respectively dated 6-12-77 16 9 and 23-2-78 were thus placed surreptitiously and as against the price of Rs. 30 105 which was the worth of the goods ordered for the orders that were placed were valued at Rs. 2 28 835 in all. Annexure 3 appended to the petition set out the various documents on the proof of which the charge levelled against the petitioner was expected to be sustained. Annexure IV contained names of various witnesses 25 in number including one Mr. Sanghvi of the Bombay Company with whom allegedly the bogus orders were placed.
(3.) 3 On being served with the chargesheet the petitioner submitted his statement of defence on 20-3-79. It is at page 281 of our file. In that detailed statement the petitioner categorically denied all these articles of charge and alleged that they were created and/or fabricated against him with a prejudicial mind mainly by Mr. Parshuraman the Materials Manager (who appears to be his immediate head in the office). In clauses 12 and 13 of the said reply the petitioner has stated as follows: "12 I reserve may right for taking inspection of listed documents before regular hearing of the inquiry; 13 I also reserve my rights for asking for inspection of other documents purchase files etc. which are relevant and material for giving my reply of Defence Statement from time to time". Then the petitioner had addressed one letter dated 23-3-79 to the Chairman and Managing Director of IPCL who was the disciplinary authority. It is at page 89 of our file. By that letter he requested the Chairman that he be given statements of witnesses recorded in the course of (a) a preliminary enquiry conducted by the department; (b) investigation made by C. B. I. Before this last-mentioned letter dated 23 was answered the Chairman had solicited the services of a Commissioner for departmental enquiries from the Central Vigilance Commission. This appointment had come to be made on 11-4-79. As a matter of fact the petitioner himself had made a request as per his letter dated 21-3-79 at page 101 of our compilation exhorting the Chairman and Managing Director of the IPCL to get the departmental enquiry proposed against him conducted by the Commissioner attached to the Vigilance Commission and it seems that his request was acceded to by the Chairman. The words of his letter are ........ I have to state that the departmental inquiry to be held is full of prejudice and no officer of IPCL will give me justice. The C. B. I. inquiry was caused to be made in order to harass me and to debar me from future promotion. I therefore request that the Commissioner for departmental Inquiries of the Central Vigilance Commission of the Govt. of India may be appointed to hold the inquiry to give me all reasonable opportunities to defend my case and to give me justice.. In that letter he had also stated that he should be given inspection of additional documents the lists of which will be submitted by him on hearing from the Chairman. This was then followed by the above-mentioned letter dated 23-3-1979. ;

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