Decided on October 27,1967

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


- (1.) THIS writ application has been filed by Lekhram Saini under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and it arises out of the following circumstances.
(2.) THE petitioner at the relevant time, that is, on 11 December 1960. was posted at Abu Road and he was incharge of the special squad of the travelling ticket examiners (T. T. Es.) which was working directlyerintendent. It is alleged that a marriage party of the son of one Murarilal, who was a sweet-vendor at Abu Road station, took 32 Down Janta Express from Abu Road to Delhi, and the petitioner Lekhram also took that train for checking purposes along with two other scheduled travelling ticket examiners. The petitioner checked two members of the marriage party at Sirohi Road who did not hold any tickets but it was found that they had boarded the train after informing the guard and, therefore, the petitioner prepared two excess fare tickets for these persons from Abu Road to Delhi and collected Rs. 44. 50 from them. At Ajmer station the petitioner deposited that collection and he had a mind to drop down there, but, according to his version, he overheard somebody saying that they were joining the marriage party from there but they could not purchase the tickets. This prompted the petitioner to board the train once again for checking purposes and he succeeded to find out at the Kishangarh railway station ten persons going without tickets. He charged them and recovered Rs. 109. 75 from them. Sri K. P. Bhattacharya, the scheduled travelling ticket examiner, was also detailed on that train for checking purposes but it is said that he did not make any recovery from that train up to Delhi. After Phulera the petitioner again detected one child travelling without ticket. He, therefore, charged Rs. 5 from the parents of that child who happened to be the members of the marriage party. Thereafter, the petitioner did not check the train any further and went to sleep in one of the compartments of that train. As a result of telephonic message received by the Deputy Minister, Railways, that the petitioner as a member of the special squad of the travelling ticket examiners was carrying a marriage party from Abu Road to Delhi, the train was checked by the staff of the Northern Railway at Delhi Junction and it was found that 25 persons belonging to the marriage party were not holding any tickets. They were consequently charged excess fare and three travelling ticket examiners of the Northern Railway collected Rs. 698 from the incharge of the marriage party. Thereafter, the Senior Commercial Officer (General) (for the sake of brevity to be referred hereinafter as the S. C. O. G.) issued a chargesheet dated 26 March 1962, with a statement of allegations to the petitioner. The petitioner in response to the said chargesheet wrote to the S. C. O. G. that before issuing the chargesheet the department got five enquiries done in this matter and, therefore, he should toe supplied the copies of the reports of the officers who conducted those enquiries in order to enable him to prepare his defence. This letter is Ex. 2 on the file. The S. C. O. G. , thereupon, informed the petitioner that he cannot be supplied with the copies of the reports demanded by him as they have not been made the basis for framing the charge, nor have they been referred to in the chargesheet. The petitioner again wrote to the said officer that under Rule 1711 of the Discipline and Appeal Rules (D. A. R.) he should be supplied with the copies of the findings of the preliminary enquiries held by various authorities, or at least he should be allowed an inspection of those documents and permitted to take extracts thereof for his defence purposes, but it so appears that the department did not give any reply to the petitioner about this demand. Thereafter, an enquiry officer was appointed who conducted the enquiry and submitted his report to the S. C. O. G. , which is Ex. 10 on the file. According to this report, the petitioner was found negligent in the performance of his duties in checking the 32 Down Janta Express on the night between 11 and 12 December 1960, but as there was no direct evidence to establish that the petitioner had deliberately undercharged the members of the marriage party of Murarilal, he was exonerated by the enquiry officer of the second charge of deliberately undercharging the marriage party. On receipt of this report, the S. C. O. G. issued second notice to the petitioner on 24 October 1964 to show cause why increments for two years with recruiting effect may not be stopped for the charge of negligence and thereafter it is said that the S. C. O. G. imposed this minor penalty on the petitioner. When the matter came to the notice of the General Manager, Western Railway, he did not agree with the findings of the enquiry officer and, therefore, on 19 February 1965, the petitioner received a memorandum from the office of the General Manager, purported to have been issued under Rule 1736 R. I. , whereby the petitioner was informed that he was not adequately punished, as in the opinion of the General Manager the evidence on the record was sufficient to establish both the charges levelled against him. The petitioner was also informed by the said notice that the punishing authority committed an error in awarding him a minor penalty for the charges which, in the judgment of the General Manager, were of grave nature and entailed a major penalty, and, therefore. General Manager served the petitioner with the said notice requiring him to face a fresh enquiry. It was, however, made clear in that notice that the petitioner will get an opportunity to lead additional evidence, with particular reference to the documents that were not made available to him at the previous enquiry and he was also allowed to further cross-examine the witnesses already examined at the previous enquiry. The report of the second enquiry officer after holding a full-fledged enquiry was submitted to the General Manager on 1 September 1965. The finding recorded by the enquiry officer in this report was that the charge of neglect of duty was fully established against the petitioner but regarding the second charge of deliberately undercharging the marriage party it was observed that in the absence of any direct evidence it was difficult for him to hold the petitioner guilty of that charge. The General Manager, Western Railway, however, did not agree with the findings of the enquiry officer and after considering the evidence on the record, he came to a definite conclusion that both the charges were established against the petitioner and therefore he issued a second notice to the petitioner under the provisions of Article 311 of the Constitution to show cause why he should not be removed from the service for the charges proved against him. The petitioner submitted his representation in compliance with the said notice dated 17 November 1955 (Ex. 17 ). The General Manager, after considering the representation of the petitioner, issued an order on 15 January 1966 removing the petitioner from service on the charge of deliberately undercharging the marriage party and being negligent in his duties. It is this order that has been challenged by the petitioner by means of this writ application, after the appeal of the petitioner was rejected by the Railway Board.
(3.) A long reply has been filed on behalf of the respondents and along with it various documents relating to the enquiry have been filed by them in order to show that the enquiry has been conducted in accordance with the provisions of the rules relating to the D. A. R. (Discipline and Appeal Rules) and that the penalty imposed by the General Manager was in accordance with the provisions of the rules made under Article 310 of the Constitution.;

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