BHAGAT SINGH Vs. STATE OF PUNJAB
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: PUNJAB & HARYANA)
STATE OF PUNJAB
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Wanchoo, J. -
(1.)This is an appeal by special leave against the judgment of the Punjab High Court in a service matter. The brief facts necessary for present purposes are that the appellant was appointed as a foot-constable in 1931 in the Punjab Police and was dismissed on January 25, 1944. Shortly before he was acting as an Assistant Sub-Inspector and actually working as a Police Censor. The charge against him was that while he was working as Police Censor, he detained certain letters illegally and had copies and photographs made of them and later used these copies and photographs for blackmail. He was consequently reverted to his substantive post of head constable on January 14, 1944. Thereafter on January 21, 1944, an enquiry was started against him by the Superintendent of Police and he was eventually dismissed. He went in appeal to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, which was dismissed. He then went in revision to the Inspector General of Police which also failed. Finally he made several representations and memorials to the Punjab Government but without avail. Consequently the present suit was filed by the appellant in February 1949. The plaint as originally filed, after narrating the facts relating to the appellant's service, merely stated that the charge of misconduct was brought against the appellant on account of enmity and that the departmental enquiry made by the Superintendent of Police was arbitrary and not according to law, rules and regulations prescribed for the same. Besides this vague general allegation, the only specific grievance made out by the appellant in the plaint was that the Superintendent of Police had dismissed him without recording his defence evidence and without giving him an opportunity to produce the same. The appellant amended the plaint later and added one more grievance, namely, that he had been appointed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police and could only have been dismissed by him and not by the Superintendent of Police. As to the Departmental enquiry, certain further defects therein were pointed out besides the allegation already made that his defence had not been taken and that he had not been given an opportunity to produce it. Those further defects were (i) that he was not permitted to engage counsel, (ii) that he was not allowed full opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses, and (iii) that he was not asked by the enquiry officer to state what he had to say in answer to the charge against him and was not permitted to file a written-statement explaining the alleged incriminating circumstances against him.
(2.)The suit was opposed on behalf of the Punjab Government and among others their main defence was that the enquiry was in accordance with the Regulations and was not arbitrary. It was also denied that no opportunity had been given to the appellant to lead defence evidence or to cross examine prosecution witnesses or to make his own statement in answer to the charge. It was admitted that permission was refused to engage a counsel; but it was finally averred that taking the enquiry as a whole there was no such defect in its conduct as to invalidate it or call for interference by the courts.
(3.)Three issues, all of a general nature, were framed by the trial court, namely -
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
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