Decided on May 06,1967



- (1.) THE petitioner in this case seeks a writ of certlorari for quashing an order passed by the Government on 21st December 1965 withholding "with cumulative effect" one increment in his scale of pay as the Assistant Conservator of Forests.
(2.) ON 27th January 1954, when the applicant was holding the post of Range Officer, he was charged for negligence in the discharge of his duties in that he failed to inspect a coupe between 13th May 1952 and 22nd February 1953, which alleged failure resulted in illicit extraction and removal of material from the coupe by a Forest Contractor. By the chargesheet served on the applicant, he was also asked to show cause why he should not be dismissed from service or awarded one of the punishments detailed in Rule (1) Para 3 of Part 1. Serial No. 13 of the Book Circular of the Madhya Pradesh Government. The petitioner gave his reply on 4th March 1954 denying the allegation of negligence. Nnthing happened thereafter till 15th April 1963. In the intervening period of over nine years from 27th January 1954, the petitioner was promoted in 1956 to the post of Assistant Conservator of Forests in the grade of Rs. 250-25-400-EB-30-680. After his promotion, he continued to get his increments in the pay-scale of Assistant Conservator of Fores is and was allowed to cross the Efficiency Bar from 4th February 1961. The petitioner says that he was also confirmed in the post of Assistant Conservator of Forests from 1st April 1958. In the return filed by the State, nothing has been said with regard to the confirmation of the petitioner in the post of Assistant Conservator of Forests. On 15th April 1963, a notice was again issued to the petitioner by the Government asking him to show cause why his two increments in his scale of pay as Assistant Conservator of Forests should not be withheld for the very negligence which formed the subject-matter of the notice issued to him on 27th January 1954. The applicant gave his explanation, and thereafter the impugned order was passed on 21st December 1965.
(3.) SHRI G. P. Singh, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner. assailed the order of the Government withholding the petitioner's incremenl contending that when despite the alleged negligence which formed the subject-matter of the charge-sheet dated the 27th January 1954, no action was taken against the applicant for nearly nine vears and that when, on the other hand, he was promoted as Assistant Conservator of Forests, allowed the annual increments, and was also permitted to cross the Efficiency Bar, it must be taken that the Government condoned the negligence alleged against the petitioner, namely, that between 13th May 1952 and 22nd February 1953 he failed to inspect the coupe in question; and that the negligence having been thus condoned could not subsequently be made a ground for imposing on the petitioner the punishment of the withholding of one increment. It was also urged that the petitioner was pot given an effective opportunity to which he was entitled under Rule 55-A of the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Classification. Control and Appeal) Rules, which were in force till 13th August 1966, and/or under Rule 13 (1) (a) of the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965, of showing cause against the proposed Punishment of the withholding of increments. It was said that an enquiry was held in 1954 by an officer of the Forest Department in regard to the charge of negligence against the petitioner mentioned in the notice dated the 27th January 1954 and a report was submitted to the Government; that the petitioner asked for a copy of this report when he received the notice dated the 15th April 1963 but the same was not supplied to him; and that thus the petitioner was at no time in possession of the material on the basis of which the charge of alleged negligence was based, and in the absence of this material he was not in a position either to controvert the charge or to show that he did not merit the proposed punishment of "withholding of his increments.;

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