Decided on April 07,1983

J.S.ARORA Respondents

Cited Judgements :-



S.B.Wad,J. - (1.)The petitioner was working as an Income Tax Officer at Amritsar, when on 2nd June, 1981, he was served with the statement of imputations of misconduct for commencing a proceeding under Rule 16 of the C.C.S. (C.C.A) Rules 1965. It was alleged that from 14-12-1978 to 18-12-1978, while on tour, he alongwith Jagdish Mittar, I.T.O. used Car No. 7112-JK.P. belonging to M/s. Jammu General Stores, Jammu, with its Driver. The said firm was being assessed by him at that time. The charge was that he failed to maintain absolute devotion to duty thereby contravening the provisions of Rule 3(l)(i) of the Central Civil Services Conduct Rules, 1964. On 30-10-1981 a D.P.C. for promotion to the post of Assistant Commissioner considered him for promotion but the result was kept in a sealed cover. The petitioner's contention is that he was actually selected by the D.P.C. On 20th January, 1982 he filed a Writ Petition in this Court as large number of I.T.Os. junior to him were being promoted. In his writ petition he prayed for the quashing of the proceedings and the Memo. dated 2-6-1981. He also challenged validity of O.M. No. 39/3/56-Ests. dated 31st August, 1960, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs providing for the procedure of the sealed cover. According to the petitioner his explanation was accepted by the department and the respondents dropped the departmental proceedings in March, 1982, but it was not formally communicated to him. On 31-3-1982 the counsel for the Respondents asked for the second extension of time for filing a reply to the stay applicKation (C.M. 274/82), on the ground that the matter was being considered by the Department. The petitioner filed C.M. No. 17/82 as he found that the promotions were being made while the Government was taking time to file the reply. The Court passed an interim order restraining the Government from making further promotions. The petitioner moved a second application being C.M. No. 1767/82 requesting the Court to decide his two stay applications mentioned above early, because some more promotions were in the offing. On 10-5-1982, Goswamy J. passed the following order :
''The Memorandum Annexure 'B' to the writ petition was issued as far back as 2nd June, 1981. It is not disputed that many junior officers to the petitioner have already been promoted. The Department may produce the file in this Court to indicate what steps have been taken from 2nd June, 1981 till date to finalise the proceedings. Let the relevant file be produced on 14th May, 1982".
On seeing the file Goswamy, J. passed a further order on May 14, 1982 :
"I have heard the learned counsel for the parties. I am of the opinion that the only order which can be passed at this stage is that the promotions, if any, made would be subject to the result of this writ petition. Mr. Wadhwa has further stated that in case the petitioner succeeds in this petition or is exonerated in the disciplinary proceedings he will be entitled to his promotion with all the consequential benefits with retrospective effect i.e. from the date he was entitled to be promoted. I would also like to observe that the departmental proceedings have been hanging fire for the last about 2 years and in this situation the department would complete the proceedings within three months from today. In the circumstances, this writ petition should be set down for hearing high up in the list on 16-8-1982. The interim stay, already granted, stands vacated."

(2.)After the said order of the Court on 14-5-1982 the petitioner was served with a fresh chargesheet on the same charges, for an enquiry under Rule 16(l)(b) of the C.C.S. (C.C.A.) Rules, 1965 on the advice of the Central Vigilence Commission. The statement of imputations of misconduct was also supplied to him alongwith the chargesheet. Some more imputations of the conduct of the petitioner during 14-12-1978 to 17-12-1978 were also stated. It was said that at Kishatwar he asked the people to become members of the Lions Club, that he did not work at Bhadarwa, that he consumed liquor with Jagdish Mittar, that he interfered with the official work of Shri Mittar and misbehaved with one Advocate, V. Grover, that he went on tour after handing over of the charge on 1-12-1978. It may be noted that the first enquiry was a summary enquiry being one involving minor penalties. But the second enquiry was to be conducted according to the detailed procedure of Rule 14 of the said Rules, although it was also for minor penalties. This Court had earlier directed to complete the enquiry within three months from May 14, 1982. But in between the second chargesheet was served and the enquiry was continued. The petitioner requested for certain clarifications, in order to enable him to give his statement in defence to the second charge sheet. He pointed out the discrepancy between the first charge-sheet and the second charge-sheet. He also pointed out that the statement of imputations with the second charge-sheet mentioned additional allegations against him. He, therefore, wanted to know against which charges he was to furnish his defence statement. According to the petitioner he could not file the statement of defence as no clarification was received. An enquiry Officer was appointed and also a Presenting Officer. He was informed of the same on 10-9-1982 and was directed to be present for an enquiry. On 20-9-1982, 6-10-1982 and on 5-11-1982 the Presenting Officer was not present, nor the enquiry papers were submitted to the Enquiry Officer in spite of his reminders. The Enquiry Officer, therefore, closed the file and sent it back.
(3.)The counsel for the petitioner submits that both the enquiry proceedings are bad in law and are illegal. It is claimed by the Respondents that the second proceeding under Rule 16(l)(b) is in continuation of the first proceeding under Rule 16(l)(a). It is also claimed by the Respondents that the second proceedings were initiated on the direction of the Central Vigilance Commission. The counsel submits that once a statutory enquiry is started-under Rule 16 the C.V.C. has no legal competence, to interfere with or to give directions. C.V.C. is only an administrative body created by the Cabinet decision) and the administrative directions given by such a body cannot act contrary to the statutory function of the Disciplinary Authority. Moreover, the enquiry proceedings under Rule 16 are quasi-judicial proceedings. An administrative agency cannot give any direction as to how the uasi judicial proceedings should be conducted. The counsel then submits that in March, 1982, after receiving the reply of the petitioner to the statement of imputations dated 2-6-1981, the Disciplinary Authority was satisfied and had dropped the proceedings. The Disciplinary Authority, could not in law act on the direction of the C.V.C. and start a fresh proceeding on the same charges. Counsel for the Respondents counters this submission and submits that the Disciplinary Authority was legally competent to continue the original proceedings but with a new procedure under Rule 16(l)(b). The C.V.C. had not interfered with the quasi judicial function. After the Disciplinary Authority came to a tentative conclusion that the proceedings should be dropped, a reference was made to the C.V.C. as required by the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs. After going through the petitioner's explanation and its own information, the C.V.C. was of the opinion that the recor ling of the evidence would be necessary to bring home the charge. The Disciplinary Authority agreed with the opinion of the C.V.C. and ordered proceedings under Rule 16(l)(b), enabling itself to record detailed evidence under Rule 14. The procedure had not caused any prejudice to the petitioner since he will have better right, of being heard, including cross-examination of prosecution witnesses and leading his own evidence in defence.

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