SAMARENDRA KUMAR GUPTA Vs. INSPECTING ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX, RANGE III
LAWS(CAL)-1970-12-23
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
Decided on December 03,1970

Samarendra Kumar Gupta Appellant
VERSUS
Inspecting Assistant Commissioner Of Income Tax, Range Iii Respondents

JUDGEMENT

Sabyasachi Mukherjee, J. - (1.) The Petitioner joined the Income -tax department in 1951 and was a permanent Government employee in that department. On May 20, 1966, the Petitioner was placed under suspension and was informed that 'a disciplinary proceeding' against him was contemplated and he was placed under suspension under sub - Rule (1) -of Rule 10 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965. The Petitioner was further informed that during the period of suspension he should not leave the headquarters without the previous permission of the Respondent No. 1. On July 25, 1966, the Petitioner received a memorandum issued by the Respondent No. 1 containing the charges against him. By the said memorandum it was proposed by the Respondent No. 1 to hold an enquiry under Rule 14 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965. There were six articles of charges. In the first article it was alleged that the Petitioner while acting as a lower division clerk in the Income -tax office showed misconduct, indiscipline and insubordination by entering the office room of the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner of Income -tax, Range IV, and also obstructed the said Inspecting Assistant Commissioner in the discharge of his duties. By the aforesaid conduct Petitioner was charged with having contravened Rule 3(1)(iii) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964. In the second article it was alleged that the Petitioner participated and led demonstrations prejudicial to the public order, decency and morality involving defamation and incitement to offences and raised slogans within the office premises during office hours and used derogatory language to his superior officers. The Petitioner was charged of thus having violated Rules 3(1)(iii) and, 7(i) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964. In the next article it was alleged that the Petitioner caused damage to and destruction of Government property while behaving in an unruly manner. The Petitioner was further charged with gross negligence and refusal to carry out orders of the superiors. The Petitioner was also charged for having left headquarters after the suspension order without prior permission of the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner and for having obstructed Sri B. C. Roy Mondal, another public servant in the discharge of his duties. Thereafter on August 4, 1966, the Petitioner applied for the attested copies of the documents mentioned in the charge -sheet. On August 5, 1966, the Respondent No. 1 by his reply intimated that the copies would not be supplied for the purpose of preparing the written statement and drew attention of the Petitioner to Rule 14 of the Central Civil Services Rules. The Petitioner thereafter on August 14, 1966, submitted his written statement. On August 22, 1966, the Respondent No. 1 appointed Sri M. L. C. D. Souza, Inspecting Assistant Commissioner of Income -tax, as the Enquiring Officer. The Enquiring Officer fixed October 11, 1966, as the date for the commencement of the hearing. On October 10, 1966, the Petitioner asked for adjournment on the ground that the copies of the documents had not been' supplied to him. On October 11, 1966, the Enquiring Officer passed an order under Sub -rule (11) of Rule 14 of the -Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965. The said order appears at p. 63 of the annexures to the petition. In the said order it had been stated that the plea taken by the Petitioner that there was an Annual General Meeting of the Bengal Income -tax Association was not correct and as the Government servant did not appear on the date fixed for the enquiry and no further time was allowed and, as such, the officer concerned made an order under Sub -rule (11) of Rule 14 of the Central' Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965, and gave directions for inspection of the documents. On October 18, 1966, the Petitioner reiterated that the Annual General Meeting of the Bengal Income -tax Association was actually held on October 11, 1966, and prayed for attested copies of the statements. Then on November 1, 1966, inspection of these documents mentioned in annex. Ill of the charge -sheet was completed. On November 2, 1966, the Petitioner gave a list of defence witnesses and the list of documents to be produced. This prayer of the Petitioner was objected to. It appears thereafter that during the period from November 2, 1966, to March 1, 1967, certain witnesses were examined and one Mr. P. K. Dhar was to be cross -examined. On March 2, 1967, Mr. P. K. Dhar was to be cross -examined and he wrote a letter to the Enquiring Officer stating that he was sick and he would not be able to appear. Thereafter it was alleged by the Petitioner that the Enquiring Officer suo motu adjourned the hearing, on the other hand, it was alleged by the Respondents that after the Prosecuting Authority mentioned about the illness of Mr. P. K. Dhar he wanted to examine one Mr. P.. D. Gupta. At that stage it was alleged by the Respondents that the Petitioner objected saying that was a gross miscarriage of justice and, as such, he was withdrawing from the enquiry. The Petitioner was informed that if he left the enquiry, there would be no other alternative but to continue the proceedings in his absence. It is alleged that the Petitioner left the room and thereafter the depositions of Sri P. D. Gupta, Sri G. B. Seth and Sri B. C. Roy Mondal were taken and that the said depositions were recorded. The Petitioner has been duly supplied the copies of the said depositions. The Enquiring Officer found the Petitioner guilty and made the report accordingly. On October 17, 1968, the Disciplinary Authority agreed with the findings of the Enquiring Officer and proposed the punishment of removal from service of the Petitioner and issued the second show cause notice. In this application under Article 226 of the Constitution the Petitioner has challenged the enquiry report and the second show cause notice.
(2.) Mr. Noni Coomar Chakraborty, learned Advocate for the Petitioner, urged before me several points in support of this petition. The first point urged by Mr. Chakraborty was that Rule 3(1)(iii) of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, with the violation of which the Petitioner had been charged, was ultra vires Article 19(1)(a)'& (b) of the Constitution. It is, therefore, necessary to set out the relevant part of the said Rule:
(3.) General - -(1) Every Government servant shall at all times (i) maintain absolute integrity; (ii) maintain devotion to duty; and (iii) do nothing which is unbecoming of a Government servant. Mr. Chakraborty contended that there was no indication in the aforesaid Rule as to what conduct was considered unbecoming of a Government servant and, as such, it was alleged that by this rule arbitrary power had been given to the Enquiring and Disciplinary Authorities without any guide -line and, as such, the said Rule had violated the fundamental rights of the Petitioner in respect of the freedom of association and of speech. It is true that there is no definition of what is becoming conduct of a Government servant in the said Rules. Indeed, it would be impossible to define with any amount of exactitude the concept of becoming conduct. It must in the necessary scheme of things be a changing idea. It is quite apparent to -day that what was unbecoming of a gentleman or a student in the beginning of this century perhaps is not considered by many to be unbecoming in the seventies of this twentieth century. Therefore, what is becoming cannot really be defined in any Rule or any Statute. It appears to me, however, that what is becoming of a Government servant must be judged in the context of a particular Rule or of a Statute as viewed by the enlightened conscience of the society at a, particular time with a robust common sense ; it is not possible to lay down in any Rule or Statute a list of permissible modes of conduct of an employee. Looking at the problem in this way it appears to me that there are in this case sufficient indications and guide -lines of what is becoming of a Government servant. Indeed, sub -Rules (i) and (ii) provide good deal of indication of what is expected of a Government servant. They state that they must maintain absolute integrity and maintain devotion to duty. If the expression 'do nothing that is unbecoming of a Government servant' is considered in the context of sub -cls. (i) and (ii) of Rule 3(1) and in the context of Rules 5 to 22 of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, I am of the opinion that sufficient guidelines can be found. Of course, this will have to be viewed with a certain amount of social awareness about the trends of the time. In this particular case there is hardly any difficulty, because to enter the room of a superior officer and to throw the paper -weight on the table and to shout inside the office abusive filthy slogans against the superior officer, in my opinion, even in this permissive age must be considered as unbecoming by all standards. Mr. 'Chakraborty placed strong reliance on the observations of Banerjee J. in the case of G. Mohiuddin v/s. State of West Bengal : 68 C.W.N. 215 (243 -44). There the learned Judge was concerned with Rule 4 of the West Bengal Government Servants' Conduct Rules, 1959. Rule 3 related to the discharge of the official duties and Rule 4 related to what was improper and unbecoming of a public servant. The learned Judge observed that the Rule was in a sense elliptic, in that it did not lay down a proper and a becoming standard of behaviour for public servants. It has to be noted, firstly, that the conduct alleged in the said case was entirely different from what is the case here. The conduct in respect of which the said. observations were made was the private conduct of a public servant. It has further to be noted that the said observations were obiter. The learned Judge did not on this ground set aside Rule 4. The learned Judge came to the conclusion that the Rule had not been given retrospective or retroactive operation and, as such, had no application to the facts of that case. Thirdly, it is to be noted that the provisions of the said Rules with which the learned Judge was concerned in that case were different from the provisions of the Rules in the instant case before us. In view of the aforesaid features of the said decision support cannot be had for the Petitioner from the said observations made in the. context of the aforesaid case. Reliance was also placed on the decision of the case of Krishna Chandra v/s. Chief Superintendent; Central Telegraphs, A.I.R. 1955 Gal. 76. There Sinha J. (as his Lordship was then) was concerned with Rule 2(i) of the Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1926, and held that it was entirely vague and uncertain to say that the Government servants could not say anything or write anything which was capable of 'embarrassing' the relation of the Government and its people or the Government of a foreign country or a -Ruler of a State. It has to be noted that the said Rule was also differently worded. There was a positive prohibition and there was a good deal of vagueness in the expressions used. In that view of the matter, I am of the opinion that Mr. Chakraborty's client cannot also get much support from the said decision referred to hereinbefore. The next decision upon which reliance was placed was the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Kamesiuar Prasad and Ors. v/s. The State of Bihar and Anr. : A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 1166. There the Court was concerned with Rule 4A of the Bihar Government's Conduct Rules, 1956, and if was held that as it prohibited any form of demonstration it violated Article 19(1)(a) & (b) but insofar as the Rule prohibited strike, it did not violate that Article because there was no fundamental right to strike. More, or less, same are the facts of the case of O.K. Ghose v/s. O. E. X. Joseph : A.I.R. 1963 S.C. 812 though it was concerned with Rule 4A and Rule 4B of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955. It was observed that the interest of public order to the restriction imposed should be shown to be rationally proximate and, as that was not shown, the restriction imposed by r, 4B was held to be unreasonable. In the case of Radhey Shyam v/s. R.M.G., Nagar : A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 311 it was held that there was no fundamental right to strike, guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution and as such Ss. 3, 4 and 5 of the Essential Services Maintenance Ordinance, 1960, did not violate the fundamental rights. I am of the opinion that the decisions referred to hereinbefore do not in any way militate against the view already expressed by me aforesaid. Mr. Sen for the Respondents contended that inasmuch as there was a provision for appeal, the provision of Rule 3(1)(iii) could not be considered to be arbitrary. He drew my attention to the observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Ch. Tika Ramji v/s. State of Uttar Pradesh : (1956) S.C.R. 393 (441). But it has to be remembered that the aforesaid observations of the Supreme Court were made in the context of Article 20 and in the present context, I do not think, the said decision has any relevancy. In the view, however, I have taken, as mentioned hereinbefore, the first ground taken by Mr. Chakraborty fails. 3. The second point Mr. "Chakra borty urged was that Rule 7(i) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, under which the Petitioner was charged, was not applicable in this case. He contended that the allegations indicated that the charges could only come under the expression 'public order'. Mr. Chakraborty urged that public order should be something to deal with the law and order situation in the country and public tranquillity. Violent demonstrations inside the office cannot, according to him, amount to any disturbance of public order. In the context of the facts of this case, I do not think that Mr. Chakra borty client is entitled to urge this point. It appears from the statement of allegations at pp. 43 -44 of the annexure that abusive slogans were uttered and abusive, derogatory and filthy languages were used and obstructions were caused. In that view of the matter and in view of the amplitude of the expressions used in Sub -rule (i) of Rule 7 of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, I am unable to accept Mr. Chakraborty's contention that in the facts of this case that Rule would have no application.;


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