D.N.SINHA, J. -
(1.)THE facts in this case are shortly as follows: In March 1962 the petitioner became the Additional Rehabilitation Officer, Jalpaigruri, where he worked until December 1957 when he was transferred to Malda at Additional Rehabilitation Officer on or about 20 October 1956, the petitioner was served with a charge -sheet issue by the Refugee Rehabilitation Commissioner. The charge -sheet contained five charges. It is unnecessary for me to set out all the charges excepting charge No. 1, which is as follows: - -
(1) Whereas on or about 17 October 1954 you made certain alterations in the jamabandi statement of Alipur Tahsil Office case No. XII/29 of 1954 -55 scoring through some of the entries and substituting fresh names therefore and also by removing some existing papers and replacing them by some others prepared by you without obtaining any previous written approval or subsequent attestation to the alterations from the proper authority and thereby you committed the offence of tampering with Government records.
(2.)TO the charge -sheet, the petitioner gave an explanation, dated 15 November 1956. With regard to charge No. 1, his defence was that he did make the alteration, but he did so with the full knowledge and approval of the Sub divisional Officer and the Deputy Commissioner, and since it was done with full concurrence of his higher officers, it did not constitute any offence of tampering with Government records. Thereafter the enquiry started. Obviously, the issue as to whether the alterations were done with or without the approval of the Sub divisional Officer or the Deputy Commissioner could not be decided without the evidence of these two officers. Curiously, however, Government would not call them. Thereupon, the petitioner wrote a letter, a copy whereof is annexure E to the petition, stating that he had cited Sri S.V. Krishnan, I.A.S., Sub -divisional Officer at the relevant time, as a witness but no steps were taken to summon Mm and a prayer was also made for calling this witness and taking his evidence. The authorities refused to accede to it and the matter was decided without any such evidence being called. I have before me the enquiry report which shows that the enquiring officer decided the matter without the evidence of the Sub divisional Officer or the Deputy Commissioner before him. The petitioner was found guilty of the first charge but he was exonerated of the third charge. The rest of the charges were stated not to have been proved. The recommendation was that the petitioner should be given 'a severe warning. Thereupon the matter went to the Refugee Rehabilitation Commissioner. He did not agree with the findings of the enquiring officer, and found the petitioner guilty of charges Nos. 1 and 3. On 19 February 1959 the second show -cause notice was issued asking the petitioner to show -cause why he should not be removed from service. After this second show -cause notice was given, the petitioner asked for inspection of several documents including depositions of witnesses. It was stated that copies of the depositions of witnesses could not be given but he was offered inspection at Calcutta. The petitioner had to come down from Malda to Calcutta, but even there, only partial inspection was given because no inspection was given of the exhibits mentioned in the depositions. Although he wished to see the higher officers in connexion with this inspection, nobody would see him. In the meantime, the authorities were pressing the petitioner for filing his objections and the date for filing his first objection was finally fixed on 27 November 1959. The petitioner sent a telegram stating that he was showing cause and that the explanation had been sent on that date under protest. It was sent by registered post with acknowledgment due and the acknowledgment receipt shows that it was received by the authorities on 27 November 1959. Curiously again, in the affidavit -in -opposition there is not a word about receiving this explanation. On the other hand, the entirety of the affidavit -in -opposition of Sri Ram Chandra Bacher, Deputy Director -General, Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the Government of West Bengal, is to the effect that in spite of repeated opportunities, the petitioner never filed his explanation and therefore the authorities were compelled to proceed ex parte. That, however, is not a fact. On 2 December 1959 the final order was made, by which the petitioner was dismissed from service. This order was made by Sri S.N. Banerjee, the then Refugee Rehabilitation Commissioner, West Bengal. Later on he became the Secretary of the Refugee Rehabilitation Department of the State of West Bengal and as such was the appellate authority. It was of course useless to prefer an appeal and therefore the petitioner came to this Court.
In my opinion, the departmental proceedings have not been conducted in accordance with law, With regard to the first charge, the petitioner was entitled to demand that the evidence of the Sub divisional Officer and of the Deputy Commissioner should be taken, The respondents were not entitled to refuse that reasonable demand. Indeed, in the absence of these officials, the issue could not be satisfactorily decided, and it must be held that the petitioner was not given sufficient opportunity of defending himself, and justice was not done. Then again, in spite of the fact that the petitioner's explanation was received, although somewhat belated, the final order was made without considering the explanation. The refusal to give inspection of the exhibits is also without sense, and such an incomplete inspection could not enable the petitioner to defend himself. In this respect also, justice was not done.
(3.)THE order, therefore, will be, that this rule is made absolute and the order of dismissal, dated 2 December 1959 is set aside and/or quashed by a writ in the nature of certiorari. The enquiry report is also quashed by a writ in the nature of certiorari. So far as the departmental proceedings are concerned, the charge -sheet already issued and the evidence on record need not be disturbed, in case the respondents are inclined to continue the departmental enquiry, The departmental enquiry will, however, proceed from that stage in accordance with law.