(1.)Invoking clause (b) of the second proviso to Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India and Rule 16.1(2) of the Punjab Police Rules, the Assistant Inspector General, Government Railway Police, Patiala, passed the impugned order dated April 7, 1981 dismissing the petitioner from service with immediate effect. The reasons assigned for dispensing with the departmental enquiry contemplated by Article 311(2) of the Constitution are set out in paragraph 3 of the impugned order, which reads as under:
"And whereas it has been reported that he has thrown threats that he with the help of other police employees will not allow holding of any departmental enquiry against him and he and his associates will not hesitate to cause physical injury to the witnesses as well as the enquiry officer."
The dismissal order is based on the allegation that the appellant was instigating his fellow police officials to cause indiscipline, show insubordination and exhibit disloyalty; that he was meeting other police officials and inducing them to stand against the senior officers and was thus spreading discontentment, hatred and dissatisfaction amongst his fellow policemen towards the superiors and that he betrayed lack of sense of discipline which was highly unbecoming of a member of the police force expected to maintain law and order. The appellant, feeling aggrieved by this order, preferred an appeal but of no avail. He, therefore, filed a Writ Petition No. 932 of 1982 in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana challenging the impugned order on diverse grounds. The said Writ Petition was dismissed in limine on August 11, 1982. Feeling aggrieved by the summary dismissal of his Writ Petition he has preferred the present appeal by special leave. In order to understand his grievance it may be necessary to notice a few facts.
(2.)The appellant was placed under suspension on April 19, 1978 on the ground that he had absented himself from duty to attend the Annual Nirankari Samagam held on April 13, 1978. The allegation was enquired into through the concerned Assistant Superintendent of Police. As nothing objectionable was found he was exonerated and was ordered to be taken back in service with effect from the date of his suspension. Thereafter, two departmental enquiries were initiated against him. The outcome of the first inquiry was his reversion to the lower post of Constable; the second inquiry resulted in his dismissal from service. Both these orders of April 27, 1979 and October 12, 1979, respectively, passed by ASP/ GRP, Patiala were challenged by two separate appeals. Both these appeals were dismissed by the third respondent by his orders dated March 18 and 19, 1980. The appellant preferred two separate Revision Applications to the Inspector General of Police, Punjab which were allowed' on October 13, 1980 and both the cases were remanded with a direction to reconsider the inquiry report and pass fresh orders.. The ASP/ GRP was directed to reinstate the appellant and then issue fresh show cause notices. After the above orders were passed the appellant rejoined duties as Head Constable on March 5, 1981. The third respondent, however, placed him under suspension forthwith. Thereafter, the appellant sought an interview with the Director General/ Inspector General of Police, Punjab by his two letters dated March 23 and 27, 1981 addressed to respondent No. 3. Since respondent No. 3 refused permission the appellant claims to have written a letter dated March 24, 1981 to the DG/ IGP informing him about the objectionable activities of respondent No. 3. The receipt of this letter by the office of DG/ IGP is, however, disputed although the appellant has produced an acknowledgement dated March 27, 1981 evidencing the receipt thereof. Be that as it may, the fact remains that after the remand orders were passed in the appellant's two Revision Applications, the third respondent issued two separate notices, both dated April 4, 1981, calling upon the appellant to show cause within 10 days from the receipt thereof why he should not be dismissed from service. Before the service of these show cause notices an incident occurred at about 11.00 a.m. on April 6, 1981 in GRP Lines, Patiala, where the appellant resided. The allegation is that on that date at the said time and place S.I., Niranjan Singh, A.S.I., Harmel Singh and A.S.I., Ram Prakash were in the verandah of barrack No. 8. In their full view the appellant appeared in the verandah with a knife in his left hand and tried to plunge the same into his chest with a view to committing suicide. S.I., Niranjan Singh, acting on impulse, gave a push to the appellant's left hand but in the process the blade of the knife caused an injury to the appellant on his right arm and his shirt was blood-stained. The appellant was chargesheeted under S. 309, I.P.C. and was sent to the hospital for treatment, It is alleged that while he was in hospital the two show cause notices were served on him on April 6, 1981 at about 10.00 p.m. Even though 10 days time was allowed to him to show cause, the third respondent who was biased against him passed the impugned order of dismissal on April 7, 1981. The appellant contends that the third respondent's action was clearly mala fide and actuated by ulterior motives. The appellant further contends that there was no justification for dispensing with the enquiry contemplated by Article 311(2) and the ground given in paragraph 3 of the impugned order is wholly imaginary. He further contends that the impugned order of April 7, 1981 was not actually served on him but his signature was obtained on some piece of paper while he was in hospital. According to him, after he was discharged from the hospital he applied for a copy of the impugned order but the third respondent failed to furnish the same to him. Similar applications were also addressed to the DG/ IGP from time to time but he did not receive any reply to his letters and reminders. Since the period of limitation for filing an appeal was likely to expire he preferred his appeal without being aware of the contents of the impugned order. This appeal was dismissed by the DG/IGP by his order dated January 29, 1982. He then filed a Civil Suit in the Court of the learned Senior Sub-Judge, Patiala, wherein he applies for production of documents and secured an order for the production of a copy of the impugned dismissal order dated April 7,1981. After a copy of the impugned order was produced he preferred another departmental appeal but that too was dismissed on, February 5, 1982. After he failed to pursuade the Appellate Authority to look into his grievances he filed the Writ Petition which has given rise to this appeal. The department's case found in the counter is that on the night of April 5/ 6, 1981, the Lines Officer had gone to check the presence of the appellant in his quarter when the latter bolted the door from inside and threatened the Lines Officer and then filed a false case that the Lines Officer had broken his window panes and had thrown stones in his room. On inquiry the complaint was found to be baseless. Thereafter, on April 6, 1981, at about 11..00 a.m. the appellant attempted to commit suicide.
(3.)Before we deal with the challenge to the impugned order of dismissal it may be stated that the appellant was convicted under Section 309, I.P.C. by the learned Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Patiala, by his order dated March 15, 1985. The appellant preferred an appeal being Criminal Appeal No. 27 of 1985, in the Court of the learned Sessions Judge, Patiala, which was allowed. The learned Sessions Judge found several flaws in the prosecution version regarding the incident and opined that the two eye-witnesses S.I., Niranjan Singh and A. S.I., Harmel Singh had betrayed special bias against the appellant whose relations with his superiors were strained. The learned Sessions Judge also felt that evidence regarding his radiological examination was suppressed and no effort was made to measure the depth of his injury which would have thrown considerable light. While, dealing with the prosecution evidence against the appellant, the learned Sessions Judge observed as under:
"Against this background, 1 find no difficulty to deduce the inference that the accused was considered by him (respondent No. 3) a thorn in flesh. S. 1. Niranjan Singh was also inimically disposed towards the accused. In these circumstances evidence of the eye-witnesses has to be approached with a pinch of salt."
He reached the conclusion of acquittal in paragraph 8 of his judgment in the following words:
"In the light of the above discussion, it is permissible to conclude that for certain reasons not disclosed on the file, the accused had incurred wrath of his superiors including Shri S. S. Mann (respondent No.3), the appointing and dismissing authority of the accused. Before the present occurrence, the authorities had passed very drastic orders against the accused. Against this background, in the absence of any independent and reliable evidence, the possibility of the accused having been falsely implicated in this case cannot be ruled out."
It will thus be seen from the learned Sessions Judge's order that the appellant's defence was that he was wrongly framed at the behest of respondent No. 3 by S.I., Niranjan Singh and A.S.I., Harmel Singh who had posed as eyewitnesses to the incident. According to him there was actually an attempt to take his life. The prosecution admittedly did not pursue the matter any further and allowed the order of acquittal to become final. From the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge two things become abundantly clear, namely, (i) that the incident had taken place on ' the morning of April 6, 1981 at the GRP Lines, Patiala in which the appellant had sustained a knife injury on his right upper arm; and (ii) that he was in hospital on April 6 and 7, 1981 when the two show cause notices and the impugned order of dismissal were served upon him. The story that an attempt was made to serve the notices on April 6, 1981 early in the morning cannot be believed. It is in the backdrop of these facts that we must consider the appellant's allegation that the dismissal order was passed in hot haste by the third respondent who was inimical towards him as he had become a threat to his prejudicial activities.