PUNJAB STATE Vs. BHAGAT SINGH WATTAN SINGH
HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
BHAGAT SINGH WATTAN SINGH
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Kapur, J. -
(1.) This is an appeal brought by the Punjab State against an appellate decree of District Judge, J. S. Bedi, confirming the decree of the trial Court decreeing the plaintiff's suit for a declaration that his dismissal by the Superintendent of Police of Simla, dated 25-1-1944 was void, illegal and inoperative.
(2.) The plaintiff Bhagat Singh joined the Police on 15-8-1931 as a Foot Constable and became a Head Constable and was officiating as an Assistant Sub-Inspector. During the War he was working in the Censor Department and it is alleged that he extracted and kept certain letters sent by one Rai Bahadur Mitra employed in the Government of India to a young girl and tried to blackmail the girl. A trap was laid and he was caught and an enquiry was then set on foot by the Superintendent of Police of Simla who dismissed the petitioner on 25-1-1944, The offence is stated to have been committed on the 5th January. The enquiry by the Superintendent of police was on the 21st January and the dismissal was on 25-1-1944, An appeal was taken to the Deputy Inspector General of Police but it was dismissed on 19-51944 and a revision against this order was dismissed by the Inspector General of Police on 5-6-1944.
(3.) The petitioner has brought the present suit for a declaration that the order of dismissal is void, illegal and inoperative alleging that the charge of misconduct brought against him was due to enmity, the departmental enquiry was arbitrary and was not conducted in accordance with the law and rules prescribed under the Police Act and that no defence was recorded and therefore his dismissal was inoperative. The defence was that the matter could not be agitated in Courts as the plaintiffs was a servant of the Crown and he could be dismissed at the pleasure of the Crowri and he was dismissed by a competent authority. The allegations with regard to enmity and arbitrary nature of the enquiry were denied. It was also pleaded that the petitioner was guilty of gross misconduct in that he abused his position as a police censor, detained letters illegally and using photos and copies of the letters tried to blackmail certain persons. The allegations with regard to hot recording of the defence are also denied. The subordinate Judge Mr. Jagdish Narain Kapur framed the following issues-
"1. Whether the plaintiff's dismissal is void, illegal, inoperative and wrongful and what is its effect? 2. Whether the civil Courts have jurisdiction to entertain the suit or to go into the question of the validity of the departmental enquiry? 3. Whether the suit for a declaration lies and is competent and why?" The subordinate Judge decided the issues in favour of the plaintiff and decreed the suit. The learned District Judge affirmed the decree of the trial court and held that as there was a contravention of Section 240(3), Government of India Act, 1935, the dismissal of the plaintiff was illegal. He also found that the refusal of the Inquiring Officer for a legal practitioner to appear on behalf of the plaintiff was not a proper exercsie of discretion and under Chap. 16, Punjab Police Rules, the Inquiring Officer was bound to require the plaintiff to state his answer to the charge framed and to allow him a week's time to make an oral statement explaining the alleged incriminating circumstances and that had not been done. He also held that the plaintiff could be dismissed by the Superintendent of-Police because although he was an acting Assistant Sub Inspector he had on 21-1-1944 been reverted to his substantive post of Head Constable who could under the Rules be dismissed by the Superintendent of Police. The State has come up in appeal to this Court.;
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