SOMAJI VIRAJI Vs. REGISTRAR HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
REGISTRAR,HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
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(1.) Amidst the debris of crumbling values the Judicial institution has remained steadfast and has been able to hold its head erect because it speaks the same language regardless of the identity or the personality of the authority Whose order is impugned. It speaks the same language even when its own order on the administrative side is questioned.
(2.) An illiterate peon employed on the staff of the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad was dismissed from service as per the impugned order at Annexure A dated April 24 1979 on the ground that illicit liquor was found from his residential premises when the same were raided by the police authorities on October 21 1977 which according to the competent authority constituted misconduct on his part. An appeal was preferred to the learned Chief Justice on the administrative side. The learned Chief Justice by his impugned order at Annexure B dated August 7 1979 confirmed the order of dismissal passed by the learned Registrar and dismissed the appeal. Thereupon the peon concerned who is said to have put in about 13 years of service has invoked the Jurisdiction of this Court under article 226 of the Constitution of India
The impugned order is challenged on the following grounds : (1) The finding of guilt recorded against the petitioner is vitiated being based on no evidence inasmuch as no evidence whatsoever was adduced at the enquiry to show that what was supposed to have been seized from the house of the petitioner was prohibited liquor (the Criminal Court had acquitted the petitioner of the said charge)
(2) The disciplinary authority has misconstrued the report at Annexure C made by the petitioner at the time of reporting for duty on October 24 1977 (3 days after the raid was carried out on his premises) and has read into the report a non existent confessional statement.
(3) The disciplinary authority has acted on the alleged confessional statement notwithstanding the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever to show that the aforesaid statement was made by the petitioner.
(4) The disciplinary authority has recorded a finding of guilt notwithstanding the fact that there is not the slightest evidence to show that the petitioner was in conscious possession of any incriminating article.
(5) The disciplinary authority has seriously erred in proceeding on the assumption that possession of illicit liquor for the purposes of personal consumption assuming that it is proved constitutes misconduct being an offence involving moral turpitude.
(3.) The facts must be outlined at the outset. The premises occupied by the petitioner were raided by Police Officers on October 21 1977 at about 7-00 p m. A vessel containing liquid which was alleged to be prohibited liquor was attached under a panchnama. The petitioner was prosecuted for an offence under sec. 66 (1) (b) in connection with the aforesaid seizure. He was tried by the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Summary Case No. 379/78. By his judgment and order dated June 21 1978 the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate acquitted the petitioner. The matter might well have rested there in view of the fact that a competent Court had recorded a judicial finding to the effect that the prosecution had failed to establish its case beyond reasonable doubt. The Registrar of the Gujarat High Court however appears to have considered it expedient to take up the matter at the administrative level by way of a disciplinary proceeding. On September 19/21 1978 the petitioner was served with a charge sheet. A charge of misconduct was leveled against him on the ground that prohibited liquor had been seized from his premises during the course of the raid carried out by the Police Officers on October 21 1977 and that the petitioner had admitted that prohibited liquor had been so seized from his premises in the course of the joining report (Annexure C) dated October 24 1977 The petitioner in response to the show cause notice denied that prohibited liquor had been seized from his premises. According to him the police department had concocted a false case and had falsely implicated him as it had an animus against him. He denied that he had made any such admission in the joining report. He was an illiterate person who did not know how to write. He had appended his signature on a piece of paper on which a writing was already made by Shri P. G. Shah an officer of the Court. In the wake of this explanation a departmental enquiry was conducted by the disciplinary authority. On behalf of the presenting officer only two witnesses were examined namely (1) P. S. I. Gohel who stated that he had carried out a raid and seized certain articles from the premises of the petitioner on October 21 1977 and (2) Vasantbhai Shankerbhai Shankhwar a Court official who produced the joining report submitted by the petitioner on 24-10-77. No other witness was examined. It is the case of the disciplinary authority that the text of the joining report was in the handwriting of one Shamji Naran. However the said Shamji Naran was not examined as a witness. Nor was any witness examined on behalf of the presenting officer to establish that what was seized from the petitioners premises was prohibited liquor. The presenting officer rested his case on the aforesaid material. On behalf of the petitioner two witnesses were examined as defence witnesses namely (1) Shamji Naran who had prepared the joining report in his band and (2) P. G. Shah who stated that as the petitioner aid not know how to write he had asked Shamji to prepare the joining report. He however did not support the petitioner on the point that the joining report had been dictated by him (P. G Shah) to Shamji. This was all the evidence that was adduced at the departmental enquiry.;
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