S.K. Dutta, C.J.
1. The petitioner, Girish Chandra Goswami, was an assistant co-operative officer from 1960 till 28 February 1965. His case is as follows. On 13 August 1963, departmental proceedings were drawn up against him by Sri A. K. Roy, Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Assam, Shillong, on various charges. On 9 January 1964, Sri A. Ali, Joint Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Assam, who was appointed as the enquiring officer, informed the petitioner that the evidence of about eleven persons would be taken on 22, 23 and 24 January 1964 and the petitioner was asked to be personally present at 10-30 a.m. at Hajo Inspection Bangalow on those days. The petitioner informed the enquiring officer on 20 January 1964 that as he was suffering from dysentery, it would not be possible for him to appear before the enquiring officer on 22 January 1964. This letter was duly received by the enquiring officer. The petitioner was again informed on 23 January 1964 that evidence of four persons would be taken on 4 and 5 February at 10-30 p.m. in the office of the Assistant Registrar of Co operative Societies. This notice did not include the names of the witnesses. The petitioner who was still ill again wrote that it would not be possible for him to appear before the enquiring officer as he was still suffering from dysentery. After that the petitioner did not receive any intimation about the inquiry but subsequently he came to learn that the enquiry was held on 14 and 15 March 1964.
2. The petitioner did not receive any intimation regarding this inquiry and could not be present at it. But from the enquiry report the petitioner learnt that a letter dated 27 February 1984 was sent to him through a peon, Ajit Chandra Haloi, but as he was at Gauhati from 28 February to 14 March 1964, this letter was never delivered to him, nor was it hung up on the house of the petitioner as alleged by the peon. This peon was not examined by the enquiring officer, but his report was accepted by him. It further transpired from the enquiry report that another peon, Bipin Chandra Kalita, was sent to the petitioner's house on 13 March 1964 in his absence and this peon was alleged to have given the letter dated 11 March 1964 to a minor boy, namely, P. Goswami, in the absence of the petitioner. The petitioner was informed by P. Goswami only on 19 March 1964 about this letter. Consequently, the hearing by the enquiring officer on 14 and 15 March 1964 was ex parte in the absence of the petitioner and the petitioner was thus deprived of his valuable right to defend himself and cross-examine the witnesses. On 17 June 1964, Sri A.K. Roy, Registrar of Co-operative Societies, sent to the petitioner a copy of the inquiry report and the petitioner was asked to show cause by 1 July 1984 why he should not be dismissed from service.
3. On receipt of the report the petitioner requested the Registrar to furnish him copies of the depositions of the witnesses examined by the enquiring officer to enable him to show cause. The depositions were taken at the back of the petitioner. On 19 September the Registrar, Co operative Societies, informed the petitioner that such copies could not be given. On the other hand, the petitioner was asked to submit his explanation by 5 October 1984. The petitioner applied for extension of time and he was given extension and on 11 October the petitioner submitted his explanation without the advantage of going through the depositions. Subsequently again on 16 February 1965 he submitted a rejoinder to his explanation and it wag duly received. But in spite of all this on 8 March 1965 an order was issued by the Registrar, Co-operative Societies, holding that the charges against the petitioner had been satisfactorily proved and dismissing the petitioner from service with effect from 1 March 1965. It is against this order of dismissal that the petitioner has come before us under Article 226 of the Constitution.
4. Firstly, it may be noted that the petitioner did not get an opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses who were examined on 14 and 15 March 1964. It appears that the contention of the petitioner is that he did not receive the letters informing him of the inquiry on those days. On the other hand, in the affidavit submitted on behalf of the department it is said that the petitioner deliberately refused to accept the letters. I do not see why the letters could not be sent to the petitioner by registered post. In any event the fact remains that the petitioner did not get an opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses examined on those days. It is said in the affidavit of the department that the petitioner failed to appear before the enquiring officer on 22 January 1964. Bat the contention of the petitioner is that he was ill on that day. An appeal is provided for in the service rules framed under Article 309 of the Constitution. Therefore, such an appeal is statutory. But the appeal of the petitioner before the Government was summarily rejected without any opportunity being given to him of a personal hearing. This is also not legal. It appears that the petitioner submitted a review petition, which was also rejected summarily.
5. In the order of dismissal it is said that the petitioner tried to explain as much as he could by verbal pleadings. It was further said that he could not improve on what he stated in writings. Therefore. it was held that there was no good cause to grant him time further as it would delay matters. It appears from this that the petitioner asked for time for a personal hearing and this was refused on the ground that the petitioner could not possibly improve matters by any verbal pleadings. This is an arbitrary order refusing adjournment.
6. In view of all these circumstances, it must be held that the petitioner did not get reasonable opportunity of showing cause against his removal, and that his appeal was disposed of arbitrarily. In a statutory appeal, the parties must be given a hearing and the order passed must be a speaking order. In this case the appellate order is a cryptic one and the appeal was disposed of summarily. The dismissal of the petitioner cannot, therefore, be sustained and the dismissal order dated 1/8 March 1965, passed by the Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Assam, Shillong, is set aside. The petition is accordingly allowed and the rule is made absolute, but there will be no order as to costs.
M.C. Patak, J.
7. I agree.