Decided on November 12,1965



- (1.)THIS is a petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution and arises out of the following circumstances. Opposite party 1, Kishori Lal Sharma, was in the service of the petitioner-company as a permanent cotton clerk. The company had made a claim against the railways in respect of freight of 360 Californian cotton bales on the ground that it had been overcharged. According to the petitioner the bales were full-pressed while the company had been charged on the basis of the bales being half-pressed. This contention was accepted by the station-master, Rampur, who issued a certificate to the petitioner on 8 April, 1961. On 29 April, 1961 an inspector of the Northern Railway came to Rampur for verification of the claim and inspection of the bales in the mills of the company. The inspector met Sri C. S. Misra, the scrutinizing officer and incharge of the cotton section of the mills. Sri Misra directed Kishori Lal Sharma to show the bales in question to the inspector and also to allow him to measure the bales. While a confidential document, opposite party 1 gave to the inspector the weight list of the bales maintained by the company. According to the petitioner the weight list was a confidential document and opposite party 1 was not authorized to give it to the inspector without the previous permission of Sri C. S. Misra or other superior officers. Kishori Lal Sharma did not inform Sri C. S. Misra that he had handed the weight list to the inspector until the morning of 1 May, 1961. On the morning of 1 May, 1961 the general superintendent of the company called Sri C. S. Misra and told him that he had come to learn that the railway inspector had obtained a copy of the weight list and wanted to know whether the information was correct and whether Sri C. S. Misra had given the weight list to the inspector. Sri C. S. Misra replied in the negative and said that he would make necessary enquired in the matter. Sri C. S. Misra, then, asked Kishori Lal Sharma and it was, then, that opposite party 1, at 11 a.m., on 1 May, 1961 told Sri C. S. Misra that he had handed over a copy of the weight list to the railway inspector. On the matter being referred to the General Superintendent, an enquiry into the matter was ordered by him.
(2.)THEREAFTER on 3 May, 1961 a chargesheet was served on opposite party 1 under standing order 23(n) for clerks. Kishori Lal Sharma was asked to appear before the enquiry officer on 5 May, 1961 and to furnish an explanation why he should not be punished under the provisions of the standing order. Standing order 23 (n) for clerks is as follows:
"The following acts of omissions shall be treated as misconduct: (n) Disclosure or divulgence of any confidential information or business, or other secrets of the company."
Kishori Lal Sharma furnished his explanation on 10 May, 1961. According to the explanation the inspector had asked Kishori Lal Sharma about the weight of the bales. To this Kishori Lal Sharma replied that weight can be ascertained from the weight list. Then the inspector asked to him to give him a copy of the weight list to which opposite party 1 was not prepared and asked the inspector to take the permission of Sri C. S. Misra. Sri C. S. Misra was not on the spot at the time and hence the inspector asked Kishori Lal to give him the weight list and told him that he will inform Sri Misra about it. Again Kishori Lal hesitated but ultimately he handed over the weight list to the inspector. He further said in the explanation that when he came to know that his action had displeased the authorities he instantly want to the railway inspector to get back the weight list. In his explanation Kishori Lal made no allegations of mala fide motives against the management, nor did he allege any case of victimization because of his trade union activities.
Subsequently a domestic enquiry was initiated against Kishori Lal. Kishori Lal appeared before the enquiry officer and examined himself and three witnesses. On behalf the management also three witnesses were examined. In his statement before the enquiry officer Kishori Lal stated that he was not a member of any trade union and was not interested in the labour cases pending at the time. Sri C. S. Misra, in his statement, stated that the weight list was a confidential document and that Kishori Lal was not authorized to give the weight list to the inspector. The action of Kishori Lal had led the management to lose its confidence in his integrity. The enquiry officer submitted his report on 24 May, 1961 and held that the weight list was of a confidential nature. The report further stated that this fact was admitted by Kishori Lal when he stated that he was extremely hesitant in disclosing the information to the railway inspector. The enquiry officer, therefore, recommended that Kishori Lal should be dismissed from service forthwith.

(3.)THE report of the enquiry officer was placed before the general superintendent of the mills who was convinced that Kishori Lal was guilty of the offence with which he was charged and it was not in the interests of the company that his services should be retained and, therefore, ordered that his services should be terminated under standing order 20 for clerks. Standing order 20 for clerks runs as follows:
"The employment of any permanent clerk may be terminated by one month's pay in lieu of notice unless otherwise provided in specific agreement. The reasons for the termination of service shall be recorded in writing and shall be communicated to the clerk, if he so desires, at the time of the discharge unless such communication, in the opinion of the manager, may, directly or indirectly, lay the company and the manager or the person signing the communication, open to criminal or civil proceedings at the instance of the clerk."


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