STATE OF PUNJAB Vs. NACHHATTAR SINGH
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: PUNJAB & HARYANA)
STATE OF PUNJAB
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(1.)His appeal of the State of Punjab by special leave arises out of a suit filed by the respondent, Nachhattar Singh. The plaintiff-respondent was serving the State Police as a constable when an incident took place on 17/02/1971, which led to the prosecution of the plaintiff along with the Head Constable Kahan Singh and the Subinspector Baldev Singh. The charge made against the plaintiff was that he physically assaulted and detained one Gurdial Singh. The accused were tried and Baldev Singh was acquitted. So far the plaintiff and Kahan Singh were concerned, they were found guilty under S. 325 read with S. 34 of the Indian Penal Code and several other sections, and were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for six months each. The conviction was maintained up to the Supreme court stage. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Patiala, thereafter dismissed the plaintiff on 20/04/1976. This order of dismissal was challenged as illegal in the present suit which was instituted on 6/11/1982.
(2.)Besides taking several technical objections, the suit was defended on merits, as well as on the ground of limitation. From the judgment of the trial court it appears that only two questions were pressed by the parties, namely, whether the suit was barred by limitation and whether the order of dismissal was illegal on the ground that the plaintiff was not served with a show cause notice before the impugned order was passed. Both the issues were decided by the learned Subordinate Judge against the plaintiff and the suit was accordingly dismissed.
(3.)The plaintiff appealed against the decision. It appears that before the Additional District Judge, who heard the appeal, it was contended on behalf of the plaintiff that the other accused constable Kahan Singh, who was also convicted with the plaintiff, had also filed a separate suit against his dismissal from service, which was decreed with an observation that it was open to the competent authorities to pass fresh order of punishment in accordance with law, but while no further punishment was awarded to Kahan Singh, the respondents service stands terminated. A plea of discrimination was taken on this basis which was accepted by the first appellate court and the suit was decreed. On the question of limitation thecourt after a very brief discussion in the judgment held that the impugned order of dismissal was void on the ground of arbitrariness and, therefore, the bar of limitation would not apply. It was further observed that this decision would not preclude the authority to award a minor punishment, provided such a punishment has been awarded to the other police officials tried and convicted along with him. The authority was also permitted to take a decision in regard to the pay and allowance for the period the plaintiff remained out of service because of his being in jail.
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