Decided on July 16,1974

VINCENT Appellant


SUBRAMONIAN POTI,J. - (1.) THE Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board is a statutory corporation established under the provisions of the Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board Act,1957(hereinafter called the Act ).It is the duty of the Board to organise,develop and regulate Khadi and Village Industries and perform such functions as the Government may pres­cribe from time to time.It is its duty to prepare and forward to the Government the programme of work in each year on or before such date as may be fixed by the Govern­ment.The Government may approve and sanction the programme as a whole or with such modification as they deem fit.The Board shall have its own fund and all receipts of the Board shall be credited thereto and all payments by the Board shall be met therefrom.All property,fund and other assets of the Board is to be held and applied by it subject to the provisions of and for the purposes of the Act.In the discharge of its functions under the Act the Board is to be bound by such directions as may be given to it by the Government.Members of the Board and members of the staff of the Board are to be deemed,when acting or pur­porting to act in pursuance of any of the provisions of the Act,to be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code.Rule making power is conferred on the Government by section 33 to make rules for the pur­pose of carrying out the objects of the Act.Accordingly the Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board Rules,1960 have been framed.
(2.) THE petitioner was appointed as a Lower Division Clerk in the office of the Khadi and Village Industries Board,Trivandrum(hereinafter called the Board ).In 1964 he was posted as Lower Division Accountant in the office of the Village Industries Officer,Quilon.According to the Office Order issued,with effect from 6th October 1964,in the Quilon Village Industries Office,the Lower Division Accountant in the office was directed to attend all matters relating to cash and accounts in addition to some other items of work specified in the order.The petitioner was hence attending to such work.But this order was superseded by Ext.P -2 order passed by one Shri Abdul Samad when he assumed charge as Industries Officer,Quilon.According to the petitioner thereafter he had no responsibility for the cash.It is said that Ext.P -2 order was again superseded by Ext.P -3 order.This order provided that the Lower Division Accountant was to deal only with papers relating to accounts and other financial matters so much so,according to the petitioner,even thereafter he had no responsibility for the cash. During the middle of the year 1969 certain com­plaints arose regarding the funds of the Quilon Office.There was a charge of misappropriation of an amount of Rs.4,300 received by the officer by crossed -cheque and endorsed by him for encashment in favour of the Peon attached to the office.Some other cases of temporary misappropriation are also said to have been found out at that time.The police,after investigation charge -sheeted the petitioner as well as the Peon of the office and Sessions Case No.65 of 1969 was tried in the Sessions Court,Quilon.In the meanwhile the petitioner,the Peon as well as the Village Industries Officer has been suspended.Ultimately the petitioner as well as the Peon were acquitted.According to the petitioner,Shri Abdul Samad,the Village Industries Officer examined as P.W.14 in the Sessions Case was responsible for the mis­appropriation.In the meanwhile Shri Abdul Samad had been reinstated in service and the Peon also had been rein­stated.The Board initiated disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner.Formal charges were framed and an enquiry was ordered.The enquiry officer was the Secretary of the Board.According to the petitioner the second respondent,the said Secretary,was highly prejudiced against him.He was,in fact,the prosecutor in the earlier criminal pro­ceedings.He gave the first information leading to the trial against the petitioner.He was the first witness in the Sessions Case.The petitioner's complaint is that it was such a person that was appointed to hold an enquiry against him and therefore the enquiry was vitiated.The second res­pondent is said to have been highly biased in favour of Abdul Samad and therefore,it is said,he wanted to exone­rate the latter from the charges.An enquiry report was furnished to the Board by the second respondent holding that the charges against the petitioner had been proved and this ultimately resulted in the removal of the petitioner from service by Ext.P -6 order.Against this the petitioner repre­sented to the Board.But the Board rejected the representa­tion by Ext.P -7 order.In the Original Petition these orders Exts.P -6 and P -7 are sought to be quashed.
(3.) AS I said earlier,according to the petitioner he was not responsible for the custody of the cash and therefore the charges against him ought not to have been found.I do not think it is the province of this court to go into this matter.But there is another plea taken which deserves notice of this court.It is said that the Board acted merely upon the report by the second respondent,which report ought not to have been called for,in view of the fact that the second respondent was highly biased against the petitioner.As I said earlier the circumstance that he was figuring as the real prosecutor in the criminal proceedings taken against the petitioner and the Peon are pointed out as relevant and as disqualifying the second respondent from acting as the enquiry officer.It is said that in the earlier proceedings he functioned as the real prosecutor and he has taken the role of a judge in the subsequent enquiry.It is said that there­fore the punishment should be found to be bad for the reason that it is in violation of all civilized canons of natural jus­tice and for that reason the orders Exts.P -6 and P -7 are challenged;;

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