Decided on December 01,1978

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


- (1.) Petitioner is a Telegraph Traffic Supervisor, Class III, employed under the Supervisory Control of the General Manager, Telecommunication. According to him, he was entitled to cross the efficiency bar on 19-9-1969 but no appropriate orders were passed when the event became due and subsequent to the date, he was subjected to a disciplinary proceeding in which he along with one Satyananda Nayak appointed as Zamadar-cum-Farash-cum-Waterman got implicated. On the plea that there was a disciplinary proceeding pending against the petitioner, petitioner's representation to permit hirn to cross the efficiency bar was rejected. This writ application has been filed for a direction to the appropriate authorities to allow the petitioner to cross the efficiency bar and and give him consequential service benefits.
(2.) The charge, a copy of which has now been made available to us, in the disciplinary proceeding ran thus :- "Shri Anil Kumar Mitra and Satyananda Naya while functioning as the Telegraph Master-in-charge and Zamadar-cum-Farash-cum-Waterman respectively in the Central Telegraph Office, Bhubaneswar, New Capital, during the month of March, 1962 committed grave misconduct inasmuch as both of them connived together and managed to obtain a false certificate purporting to have been issued by late L. N. Mishra, the then Deputy Speaker of Orissa Legislative Assembly showing therein that Shri Satyananda Nayak had read up to 7th standard and belonged to Scheduled Caste (Bauri) and used the same as genuine for absorbing him in the post of Zamadar-cum-Farash-cum-Waterman in that office, which was reserved for a Scheduled Caste candidate. Shri Mitraknowing fully well about his antecedents accepted the false certificate and showed undue official favour to Shri Nayak by providing the above appointment, reserved only for a SC candidate. He recorded false information in all the connected records. Thereby both the officials failed to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty as is laid down in rule 3 of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964." The aforesaid proceeding was initiated on 12-8-1970, and there was a regular enquiry. During the pendency of the proceeding, on 30-10-1975, petitioner was prematurely retired. On 29-4-1977, final orders were passed in the disciplinary proceeding. On 1-2-1978, petitioner was reinstated to service. When he pressed for appropriate service benefits, steps were taken to revive the disciplinary proceeding against him. Petitioner contends that the disciplinary proceeding had already terminated by order dated 29-4-1977, and it is not open to the authorities to reopen the matter and continue the disciplinary proceeding against the petitioner.
(3.) The short question for consideration in this application is as to whether proceeding had come to an end under Annexure-4. There is no dispute that the General Manager of Telecommunication is the disciplinary authority. After considering the enquiry report and several materials collected in course of the enquiry, the disciplinary authority came to hold :- "These were the administrative lapses on the part of Shri A. K. Mitra. Now the question arises as to why these lapses were committed by Shri A. K. Mitra. I feel that this was done only to show official favour to Shri S. N. Nayak as Shri Nayak was doing some private work in the residence of T. M. L/C. even before Shri Mitra took over charge of the office. From the above facts the undersigned has come to the conclusion that Shri Mitra showed some official favour in appointing Shri S. N. Nayak for doing, which he committed some administrative lapses. Except for the alleged production of the certificate about caste and educational qualification, from late Shri L. Misra. MLA and Dy. Speaker, Orissa Legistive Assembly for establishment of which fact also there is nothing on record, Shri S. N. Nayak cannot be said to have connived with Shri A. K. Mitra to secure the appointment for him and when he had already got the appointment as an O/C candidate, it is not expected that he thought it expedient to be consistent in his mis-representation to avoid future contradiction and embarrassment and, therefore, pursued it to its logical conclusion in producing a caste and qualification certificate from the then Deputy Speaker of the Orissa Legislative Assembly, as argued by Shri Mitra. The undersigned, therefore, agree with the findings of the Inquiry Officer and exonerate Sri S. N. Nayak of the charge framed against him." 'There is no dispute that by the time the aforesaid order was made, petitioner was not in service he having already been prematurely retired. From what has been extracted above, it is also clear that though serious allegations had been made against the petitioner, the disciplinary authority ultimately concluded that petitioner had showed some official favour in appointing Shri S. N. Nayak and thereby had committed some administrative lapses. There was no indication in the final order in the disciplinary proceeding that, so far as the petitioner is concerned, the matter was kept alive or that though the disciplinary authority intended to impose some punishment on the findings recorded, it had not actually been imposed on account of the fact that petitioner was not by then in service. If there was indication in the final order that punishment was intended to be imposed but had not actually been imposed on account of the aforesaid ground, we would have accepted the contention of learned Standing Counsel for the Central Government that the proceeding had not actually been finalised so far as petitioner is concerned, and in that event, the matter could be raked up again. We are not, however, prepared to assume that the intention of inflicting punishment was implicit in the order made and, therefore, the moment the petitioner returned to service the disciplinary proceeding could be continued so far he is concerned. The disciplinary proceeding is a penal matter and orders made therein should be strictly construed. It is conceded by learned Standing Counsel for the Central Government that it is open to the disciplinary authority in a given case not to impose any punishment even if some guilt is found.;

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