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Damodar Shantaram Nadkarni Vs. S.E. Sukhtankar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.C.J. Appeal No. 92 of 1969 and M.P. No. 309 of 1965
Judge
Reported in(1973)IILLJ558Bom; 1974MhLJ83
ActsBombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 - Sections 83 and 83(2); Sangamner Municipality Rules - Rule 177; Bombay District Municipal Act, 1901 - Sections 46; Indian Contract Act; Specific Relief Act; Municipal Corporation Act, 1882 - Sections 191 and 191(4); Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 21; District Board Act; Constitution of India - Articles 12, 14, 15, 16, 226, 310, 311 and 311(2)
AppellantDamodar Shantaram Nadkarni
RespondentS.E. Sukhtankar
Excerpt:
(i) labour and industrial - principles of natural justice - section 83 of bombay municipal corporation act, 1983 - petitioner dismissed from service on charges of certain irregularities - judge dismissed appeal as petitioner found guilty of charge no. 4 - charges no. 1, 2 and 3 could not be proved satisfactorily - petitioner contended that departmental enquiry against him violated principles of natural justice - firstly report of enquiry officer not supplied - secondly enquiry officer comments not furnished to him before dismissal - thirdly enquiry statements not furnished to him - section 83 of act imposes mandatory obligation upon dismissing authority to comply with principles of natural justice - held, order of dismissal quashed as null and void. (ii) competent authority - section 64.....kantawala, c.j.1. damodar shantaram, nadkarni, the petitioner, has filed this appeal against the judgment and order of vimadalal, j., dated july 3, 1969, whereby he dismissed the petition that was filed by the petitioner. at the material time the petitioner was employed as a tutor in chemical pathology in the department of pathology and bacteriology of the topiwala national medical college and he worked in that capacity until he was dismissed from service in october, 1964. in the month of july, 1963 certain irregularities were suspected in the affairs of the stores department of the pathology department and investigation was started and, in the course of the investigation, certain statements were recorded including that of the petitioner. after completion of the preliminary enquiry on.....
Judgment:

Kantawala, C.J.

1. Damodar Shantaram, Nadkarni, the petitioner, has filed this appeal against the judgment and order of Vimadalal, J., dated July 3, 1969, whereby he dismissed the petition that was filed by the petitioner. At the material time the petitioner was employed as a tutor in Chemical Pathology in the Department of Pathology and Bacteriology of the Topiwala National Medical College and he worked in that capacity until he was dismissed from service in October, 1964. In the month of July, 1963 certain irregularities were suspected in the affairs of the Stores Department of the Pathology Department and investigation was started and, in the course of the investigation, certain statements were recorded including that of the petitioner. After completion of the preliminary enquiry on December 28, 1963, G. W. Shiveshwarkar, Officer on Special Duty, was appointed as Enquiry Officer to hold a departmental enquiry. On January 4, 1964, the petitioner was suspended. On or after February 4, 1964, a charge-sheet was served by the Enquiry Officer upon the petitioner. Under this charge sheet four charges were levelled against him. The first charge related to certain requisition slips which ultimately enable one Kotwal the then laboratory technician and one Datar, stores clerk, to manipulate the stores account of the Pathological Department. The second charge related to indents being made in excess of the normal requirements of the items referred to in the statement of allegations. The third charge related to favour being shown to the contractors Messrs. Vasant Brothers in getting an order for supply of heating mantle for the Pathological Department and the fourth charge was as under :

'4. that you sold at an exhorbitant price of Rs. 4,930 one Klett Summerson Colorimeter (serial No. 21963) purchased by you for your wife, through the agency of Shri V. N. Kotwal, the then Lab. Technician of the Pathology Dept. of the T.N.M. College who was improperly dealing in the name and style of M/s Vasant Bros. and using the fictitious name of Vasant M. Kerkar, to the Clinical Pathology Dept. of T.N.M. College where you were working till suspension. Thus you have taken undue interest in the business of your wife, which amounts to breach of Rule No. 23 of Municipal Servants' Conduct and Discipline Rules; also entered into a conspiracy with the said Shri Kotwal to trade unauthorisedly with the T.N.M. College and attempting to derive high profits which amounts to gross misconduct.'

Along with the charge-sheet a statement of allegations and statement of evidence were furnished to the petitioner. On February 13, 1964, the petitioner wrote to the Enquiry Officer requesting him to furnish him with copies of statements of Kotwal and Datar as he had learnt that the fourth change regarding Colorimeter was based upon their statements. On or about February 18, 1964 the petitioner filed his written statement in answer to the charge-sheet and pleaded that he was innocent. He also stated in this written statement that in case the Enquiry Officer was not satisfied about his explanation, he should be given a hearing in person and/or through his legal adviser. In this written statements he made a special request for early examination of one witness by name Bhandarkar as he was likely to go out of Bombay. Apart from Bhandarkar he also expressed a desire to examine V. N. Kotwal as one of his witnesses. Thereafter enquiry started and evidence was recorded by the Enquiry Officer. On March 23, 1964 the petitioner submitted to the Enquiry Officer his final explanation of the written statement. On the same day he also write a letter to the Enquiry Officer drawing his attention to certain behaviour of Dr. C. K. Deshpande in the course of the enquiry. In this letter he ultimately stated that the enquiry was conducted purely in the spirit of disinterested pursuit of truth. On June 24, 1964 the Enquiry Officer submitted his report and on June 22, 1964, V. Joshi, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Labour) served a notice upon the petitioner, inter alia, informing him that he had carefully considered the replies filed by the petitioner, the evidence on record and the report of the Enquiry Officer in the matter and that he had accepted the findings of the Enquiry Officer that all the charges levelled against him were proved beyond reasonable doubt. By this notice the petitioner was called upon to show cause why he should not be dismissed from municipal service for the charges that were held as proved against him. A copy of the report of the Enquiry Officer so far as it pertained to the enquiry against the petitioner (omitting therefrom the portion containing recommendation about punishment) was also furnished to the petitioner. On or about July 13, 1964, the petitioner submitted his final explanation in answer to the show cause notice, to the Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Labour) and pleaded that the findings of the Enquiry Officer be quashed and that he may be absolved of the charges levelled against him. It appears that this explanation of the petitioner dated July 13, 1964, was forwarded to the Enquiry Officer for his comments. On or about August 13, 1964 the Enquiry Officer inter alia summarised the points emerging from the final explanation of the petitioner and gave his own comments thereon. He concluded his comments by recommending that the punishment of dismissal from service may be confirmed against the petitioner and others. On or about September 24, 1964, the Municipal Commissioner gave his approval to a draft letter that was put up before him inter alia in relation to the petitioner. On October 28, 1964 an order signed by V. Joshi, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Labour), was served upon the petitioner wherein after reciting the steps taken it was mentioned that after considering the petitioner's reply dated July 13, 1964 to the show cause notice, the Municipal Commissioner passed orders with the prior approval of the Standing Committee that the petitioner be dismissed from municipal service. By this order the petitioner was dismissed from municipal service for the charges proved against him with effect from the date of service of the order. On or about December 24, 1964, against the order of dismissal the petitioner preferred an appeal to the Municipal Commissioner. By his order dated April 9, 1965, he Municipal Commissioner inter alia rejected the appeal that was filed by the petitioner. Intimation about the rejection of the appeal was given by the Personal Assistant to the Municipal Commissioner to the petitioner by his letter dated May 5, 1965. On May 13, 1965 the petitioner made a request for a copy of the order of the Municipal Commissioner dismissing him from municipal service. Even before receiving copy of that order, on July 2, 1965, the petitioner filed a petition in this Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution challenging the validity of the entire proceedings and the order of dismissal and the order passed in appeal upon the various grounds stated in the petition. By the petition he prayed that these proceedings and the order of dismissal and the order passed in appeal should be quashed by a writ of certiorari; that a writ of mandamus should be issued against the respondents calling upon them to reinstate the petitioner in the original post. By prayer (c) he prayed for a writ of mandamus or other appropriate writ or direction calling upon the respondents to pay the petitioner's salary from January 4, 1964 upto the date of his reinstatement in service as if he had all along continued in service.

2. It appears that on or about July 27, 1965, after the petition was filed, the petitioner was furnished with a copy of the order of dismissal as well as of the order passed rejecting the appeal. It was thereafter that he amended the petition by incorporating therein paras 13A to 13D.

3. There are two respondents in this petition, namely, the then Municipal Commissioner for Greater Bombay and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay. On behalf of the respondents, two affidavits in reply were filed by S. N. Ghosalpar, an Assistant Administrative Officer (Enquiries) in the Municipal Corporation and they were affirmed on October 25, 1966 and June 25, 1968. On July 8, 1968, an affidavit in confirmation was filed by the Enquiry Officer G. W. Shiveshwarkar. By this affidavit he substantially reiterated and confirmed the statements, submissions and contentions made by Ghosalkar in his affidavit dated October 25, 1966 in so far as they concerned him, his conduct of the said enquiry or what transpired during the same.

4. Before the learned Judge, Mr. Setalvad, the learned counsel for the respondents stated that so far as charge No. 3 levelled against the petitioner was concerned he could not sustain the validity of the finding in respect of the same. So far as charges Nos. 1 and 2 are concerned, the learned Judge took the view that at the highest there was some material to create suspicion against the petitioner, but that would be no evidence of guilt. He came to the conclusion that no reasonable person could have found the petitioner guilty in respect of charges Nos. 1 and 2. So far as non-supply of statements of Kotwal to the petitioner was concerned, he took the view that such non-supply, though unjustified, had not caused any prejudice whatsoever to the petitioner. The learned Judge rejected the contention of the petitioner that the finding of the Enquiry Officer in respect of charge No. 4 was arbitrary, unreasonable and perverse. He took the view that he had no doubt in his mind that it was the Deputy Municipal Commissioner who had passed the order of dismissal and that what was sought to be stated was merely that the Municipal Commissioner had secured prior approval of the standing committee as required by S. 83(2)(a) of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 (Bombay Act No. III of 1888),(hereinafter referred to as the Act). As regards the contention of the petitioner on the binding nature of the Rules, he took the view that it was not shown that they have statutory force. He took the view that as the initial order of dismissal was passed by the Deputy Municipal Commissioner, the Municipal Commissioner was a competent authority to hear and decide the appeal preferred by the petitioner. On consideration of the entire material before him he took the view that it was reasonably certain that even if the Enquiry Officer had found charges Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to have failed against the petitioner, but had found the petitioner guilty in respect of charge No. 4, the Deputy Municipal Commissioner would have passed the order of dismissal which he has in fact passed against him and the Municipal Commissioner would have confirmed the same in appeal as he has done. In view of these findings the petition was dismissed with costs by the learned Judge.

5. Aggrieved by the judgment and order of the learned Judge the petitioner has presented this appeal to this Court.

6. During the hearing of this appeal, the counsel on behalf of the petitioner made a further application for amendment of the petition by adding grounds (Z5) and (Z6) in para 13 of the petition. These grounds incorporated his further contentions as regards violation of principles of natural justice before the order of dismissal was passed. The two grounds were urged by this amendment. Firstly, it was stated that the portion of the Enquiry Officer's report containing recommendation as regards the punishment to be imposed against the petitioner was deleted from the copy of the report when it was submitted to him along with the show cause notice. Secondly, he submitted that after the petitioner submitted his final explanation in answer to the show cause notice, the same was forwarded to the Enquiry Officer for his comment; that these comments were prejudicial to the petitioner; and that they were taken into account before the order of dismissal was passed without his attention being drawn thereto or he being given any opportunity to meet the same.

7. Mr. Singhvi, the learned counsel on behalf of the petitioner, has urged the following contentions before us.

8. Firstly, he submitted that the departmental enquiry conducted against the petitioner is vitiated by reason of violation of the principles of natural justice. Three reasons or grounds were canvassed for supporting this plea of violation of the principles of natural justice. It was stated that a complete copy of the Enquiry Officer's report pertaining to the petitioner including the portion thereof containing recommendation about the penalty proposed, was not furnished to the petitioner, and that the portion of the report containing recommendation about the penalty proposed was deleted from the copy when it was furnished to him. It is further stated that after the final explanation in answer to the show cause notice was submitted by the petitioner, the same was forwarded to the Enquiry Officer for his comments; that these comments were prejudicial to the petitioner; that the same were taken into account before the order of dismissal was passed, but, however, neither the copies of these comments were given to the petitioner nor the comments thereof were communicated to him nor was he given any opportunity to meet the same. The third ground or reason assigned for violation of the principles of natural justice is that the Enquiry Officer while submitting his report has treated the statements of Kotwal recorded on October 11 and October 25, 1963 as evidence in the departmental enquiry; that the same were specifically referred to in relation to the finding in respect of charge No. 4; that at no stage in spite of request being made by him copies of these statements were furnished to him nor the contents thereof were disclosed to him either in the course of the enquiry proceedings or at any other stage. Secondly, it is submitted that the above three grounds or reasons are also in violation of statutory rules framed by the Municipal Commissioner and they affect the validity of the final order of dismissal passed against him. Thirdly, he submitted that there is no order of dismissal passed against him by a competent authority. His submission is that having regard to the provisions of the Act the Municipal Commissioner is the only competent authority to pass the order of dismissal against the petitioner, but that has not been done in the present case. In the alternative he submitted that if it is held that the order of dismissal was passed by the Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Labour), then he was not a competent authority to do so. Fourthly, it is submitted that neither the order of dismissal nor the order passed rejecting his appeal are speaking orders and are, therefore, liable to be quashed. Lastly, the submission is that all facts alleged in relation to charge No. 4 do not constitute misconduct on the part of the petitioner and there is no legal evidence to sustain the finding of the Enquiry Officer or of the competent authority in respect of this charge. It will be necessary to consider each one of these contentions separately.

9. It is not disputed that at the relevant time the petitioner was a tutor in Chemical Pathology in the Department of Pathology and Bacteriology of the Topiwala National Medical College until October 26, 1964 and that his monthly salary was between Rs. 400 and Rs. 500. There are various provisions in the Act in relation to removal or dismissal of various specified officers whose emoluments have been mentioned in the Act. The power to suspend, punish and dismiss other municipal officers and servants is contained in S. 83 of the Act. It provides as under :

'83. (1) Every municipal officer and servant may be fined, reduced, suspended or dismissed for any breach of departmental rules or discipline or for carelessness, unfitness, neglect of duty or other misconduct, by the authority by whom such officer or servant is appointed :

(2) Provided that -

(a) no officer whose monthly emoluments exceed rupees four hundred shall be dismissed by the Commissioner, without the previous approval of the standing committee or in the case of an officer appointed for the purposes of clause (q) of S. 61 of the Education Committee; ...'

There are further provisos (b) to (d) in this sub-section but they are not relevant for the present purpose. A plain reading of S. 83 shows that it empowers punishment to be imposed against a municipal officer or a servant including that of dismissal only for a clause. When such is the provision, there is always an obligation to comply with principles of natural justice. What type of enquiry should be conducted against a municipal officer or servant before an order of punishment including that of dismissal could be passed, is concluded by a decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Manekji v. Municipal Commissioner of Bombay, (1929) 32 Bom. L.R. 463. The ratio of the case is laid down in the head-note as under :

'Under S. 83 of the City of Bombay Municipal Act, 1888, the Standing Committee of the Corporation is constituted the domestic Tribunal to which the right to appoint or dismiss its servants is delegated, and the Act does not retain the ordinary law regulating the dismissal of a servant by his master. The matter is not left open to be reviewed in a Court of law. But there are limitations on the exercise of the statutory powers of the domestic judge, viz.,

(1) there must be evidence before the domestic judge on which he can reasonably find that the ground of dismissal stated in the statute is in fact proved before him;

(2) the enquiry before the domestic judge must be conducted in accordance with the principles of natural justice and in particular the accused must be given an opportunity of being heard in his own defence and of cross examining the opposing witnesses and also of calling his own evidence;

(3) the decision must not be based on purely capricious grounds.'

It is further held that

'No express power of appeal to the Courts is given from an order of dismissal under S. 83 the City of Bombay Municipal Act, and no such power can be implied on the true construction of the Act, provided the above limitations are complied with.'

At page 468 Marten, C.J., points out :

'.. On the other hand, common sense would rather point to the conclusion that where a statute creates what has been described in the arguments as a domestic Tribunal by expressly delegating to a particular committee or to a particular officer the right to appoint and the right to dismiss, then speaking generally, that committee or officer is so appointed as a quasi Judge in the matter, subject to certain safeguards in law which I will presently indicate.'

A little later he observes :

'... In the result I would hold that the true view in law is that in such cases as the present the Standing Committee is constituted by the statute to be the domestic Tribunal and that it was never intended by the statute to retain the ordinary law regulating the dismissal of a servant by his master ...

But the decided cases I think also establish this important limitation on the exercise of the statutory powers of what I may call the domestic judge, namely, first, that there must be evidence before the domestic judge on which he can reasonably find that the ground of dismissal stated in the statute is in fact proved before him and secondly, that any enquiry before the domestic judge must be conducted in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and that in particular the accused must be given an opportunity of being heard in his own defence and of cross-examining the opposing witnesses and also of calling his own evidence. Thirdly, on the authorities,- though personally I regard it as a branch of the first condition,- the decision must not be based on purely capricious grounds.'

In a concurring judgment Blackwell, J. points out :

'... Accordingly, in my opinion, the authority empowered to dismiss by S. 83 was intended by the Legislature to be the judge of the ground of dismissal. That being the view which I take of the section, I think, for the reasons which I have given, that that decision could only be reviewed in a Court of law either if there was no evidence to support it, or if the decision arrived at was contrary to the principles of natural justice.'

10. This being a decision of a Court of co-ordinate jurisdiction is binding on us and unless the later decisions go to show that this should not be regarded as laying down the correct position in law we must proceed on the footing that the scope and ambit of the power to be exercised under S. 83 of the Act has been properly considered in this case.

11. The question then arises, are principles of natural justice violated before the order of dismissal was passed against the petitioner On behalf of the petitioner it is stated that the principles of natural justice are violated in a three-fold manner. Firstly, the argument is that the petitioner was not supplied with a complete copy of the report of the Enquiry Officer; that the portion of the Enquiry Officer's report containing recommendation about the penalty proposed was omitted therefrom when the copy thereof was furnished to him. The argument is that when the recommendations of Enquiry Officer about the proposed penalty are not disclosed to the delinquent officer, no reasonable opportunity has been given to him to meet the case. The second breach of the principles of natural justice alleged on behalf of the petitioner is that he submitted on July 13, 1964 his final explanation to show cause notice, the said explanation was forwarded to the Enquiry Officer for his comments; that the Enquiry Officer made comments which were prejudicial to the petitioner; that the same were taken into account before the order of dismissal was passed without the petitioner being furnished with a copy thereof or without the contents thereof being disclosed to him or otherwise he being given any opportunity to meet the same. The third breach of the principles of natural justice alleged on behalf of the petitioner is that during the course of the preliminary enquiry statements of Kotwal were recorded inter alia on October 11 and October 25, 1963; that in spite of request copies of these statements were not furnished by the Enquiry Officer to the petitioner; that the contents of these statements were not only relied upon by the Enquiry Officer, but his report shows that he actually treated them as evidence in the case without the petitioner having any opportunity to meet the same. The argument on behalf of the petitioner is that by reason of these breaches of principles of natural justice, ample prejudice is caused to the petitioner and the ultimate order of dismissal is liable to be declared null and void and to be quashed.

12. On the other hand, on behalf of the respondents, it is contended that under the rules, orders and instructions issued by the Municipal Commissioner in exercise of the statutory powers, the recommendations of the Enquiry Officer about the punishment proposed are not required to be furnished to the delinquent officer or servant; that no doubt the remarks of the Enquiry Officer in relation to the final explanation of the petitioner in answer to the show cause notice were not furnished to him, but there has been no prejudice whatsoever caused to the petitioner by reason of non-supply of these remarks. So far as the non-supply of copies of the two statements of Kotwal is concerned, the argument on behalf of the respondents is that these two statements substantially contained the same material as formed part of the evidence of Kotwal that was taken during the course of the departmental enquiry in the presence of the petitioner and that no prejudice is caused to him. It is further stated that rules of natural justice are not embodied rules. It is urged that what is the requirement of natural justice and whether there is a breach of the natural justice would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case; that there is no violation of the principles of natural justice where no prejudice is caused to the delinquent officer and when there is no denial of justice.

[His Lordship after considering these contentions, proceeded].

13. There can, therefore, be no doubt that by taking into account the comments of the Enquiry Officer dated August 13, 1964 upon the final explanation of the petitioner and by treating the statements of Kotwal recorded on October 11 and October 25, 1963 as part of record and as evidence in the departmental proceedings, the principles of natural justice are clearly violated.

14. What then is the effect of such violation of the principles of natural justice It is strenuously urged by Mr. Rana on behalf of the respondents that unless prejudice is caused the validity of the order of dismissal is not affected notwithstanding such violation of the principles or rules of natural justice. He relied upon three decisions of the Supreme Court in Firestone T. & R. Co. v. Workmen, : (1967)IILLJ714SC , Jankinath Sarangi v. State of Orissa, : (1970)ILLJ356SC , and Azizul Haque v. The State of U.P., : (1971)3SCC796 . In the Firestone T. & R. Co.'s case there was no question of violation of principles of natural justice. It was a case of an alleged procedural irregularity in the conduct of enquiry and the view taken by the Supreme Court was that the enquiry was properly conducted. In Jankinath's case reliance was placed upon the observations of the Supreme Court in para 5 where it is inter alia stated :

'.. There is no doubt that if the principles of natural justice are violated and there is a gross case ( ?) this Court would interfere by striking down the order of dismissal; but there are cases and cases. We have to look to what actual prejudice has been caused to a person by the supposed denial to him of a particular right.'

This was a case where the alleged breach of the principles of natural justice was purely technical one. In this case the replies of the Chief Engineer were received upon the answers given by the witnesses in the enquiry. These replies of the Chief Engineer were not placed in the hands of the delinquent officer, but he saw them at the time when he was making the representations and he even used them in his defence. The Supreme Court took the view that, in other words, they were not collected behind his back and could be used to his advantage and he had an opportunity of so using them in his defence. When such facts existed according to the Supreme Court no prejudice was caused to the officer. Actually upon appreciation of these facts the Supreme Court took the view that 'in these circumstances a fetish of the principles of natural justice is not necessary to be made. We do not think that a case is made out that the principles of natural justice are violated.' This case, therefore, clearly shows that though prejudice is one of the factors to be taken into account whenever there is an allegation of violation of the principles of natural justice, upon appreciation of facts the Supreme Court clearly came to the conclusion that in fact the principles of natural justice were not violated. In Azizul Haque's case (supra) the Supreme Court took the view that :

'... the rules of natural justice are not embodied rules. Before coming to the conclusion that any particular procedure adopted had contravened the principles of natural justice, the Court must be satisfied that the procedure adopted was not conducive to reach a just decision. A party is not entitled as of right to have his attention called to any material that may come before a quasi-judicial Tribunal unless the material in question is likely to prejudice his case either directly or indirectly.'

This was a case where a grievance was made about the comments of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer being taken into account by the State Government while the case was being considered. These comments were actually examined by the High Court at the stage of admission of the petition and were found to be innocuous as the Rent Control and Eviction Officer had not expressed any opinion in those comments. There can be no quarrel with the principles that has been laid down in this case. Even if it is applied to the facts of the present case, it is quite clear and apparent that there is immense prejudice to the petitioner by the comments of the Enquiry Officer upon his final explanation not being shown to him and upon the statements made by Kotwal on October 11 and October 25, 1963 being treated as part of evidence and copies thereof being not furnished to him. As we are of the view that there is clear prejudice caused to the petitioner by reason of the above violation of the principles of natural justice, it is unnecessary to refer to the various reported and unreported decisions cited by Mr. Singhvi in support of his contention that such breach of principles of natural justice has resulted in invalidity of the order. Suffice it for the present purpose if reference is made to two of the decisions, one a decision of the Calcutta High Court and the other a decision of their Lordships of the Privy Council. The decision of the Calcutta High Court is reported in Collector of Customs v. Md. H. Haque, [1972] LabIC 1505. In this case a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court has considered the effect of written arguments being considered behind the back of the other party. In para 11 it is pointed out :

'... Even assuming that the Enquiry officer did not rely on the written brief of the Presenting Officer in support of his finding on the charge against the respondent then also the true test is not whether he was influenced actually by the consideration of the written arguments but whether there was possibility of being influenced. Surely, in such cases it is difficult to ascertain whether or not the Enquiry Officer was influenced by the written arguments presented on behalf of the concerned authority.'

Even on facts they came to the conclusion that it cannot be said that in the absence of copy of the written brief the respondent could not be prejudiced at all.

15. The decision of the Privy Council is reported in Annamunthodo v. Oilfields Workers' T.U., [1961] 3 All E.R. 621 Lord Denning observes :

'Counsel for the respondent union did suggest that a man could not complain of a failure of natural justice unless he could show that he had been prejudiced by it. Their Lordships cannot accept this suggestion. If a domestic Tribunal fails to act in accordance with natural justice, the person affected by their decision can always seek redress in the Courts. It is a prejudice to any man to be denied justice. He will not, of course, be entitled to damages if he suffered none. But he can always ask for the decision against him to be set aside.'

As in the present case by reason of breach or violation of principles of natural justice grave prejudice is caused to the petitioner he is entitled to have the order of dismissal declared null and void and to have it set aside or quashed.

16. The argument of Mr. Rana was that when such breach of principles of natural justice occurs the order of dismissal is merely wrongful and the remedy of the aggrieved party is to file a suit for damages and that he is not entitled to have the order of dismissal declared null and void and get it quashed, nor is he entitled to be reinstated. In relation to this argument numerous authorities were cited on either side, but we do not consider it necessary to refer to each one of them. Suffice it for our present purpose if we refer to a few of them which deal with the dismissal of a municipal employee. Strong reliance was placed by Mr. Rana upon a Full Bench decision of this Court reported in Madhav v. Sangamner Municipality, (1971) 74 Bom.L.R. 483 . This decision related to the effect of a breach of a mere rule or regulation regarding an enquiry into the conduct of a municipal servant before his dismissal from employment. The Full Bench has taken the view that

'a breach of a mere rule or regulation regarding an enquiry into the conduct of a Municipal servant before his dismissal from employment does not entail the same consequence as a breach of the provisions of Art. 311 of the Constitution of India. The order of dismissal passed in such circumstances is merely wrongful and not null and void.'

It is further held that

'if a Municipal servant is dismissed in breach of such a rule or regulation, he is entitled to a declaration that the dismissal is wrongful and to salary for the period of notice but neither to reinstatement in service nor to arrears of salary on the basis that the dismissal is void and illegal'.

The view taken in this case is that R. 177 of the Sangamner Municipality Rules framed under S. 46(e) of the Bombay District Municipal Act, 1901, is a directory and not mandatory and if a municipal servant is dismissed in breach of the rule, he will be only entitled to a declaration that his dismissal is wrongful and to salary in lieu of the period of notice. At p. 488 it is pointed out :

'... The fundamental error of the decision in Keshavarao Annasaheb Bhansale v. S. V. Sultanpare, - Special Civil Application No. 1855 of 1958, decided by Chainani, C.J, and Badkas, J., on October 4, 1958 lies in equating the provisions of a rule, directory in character and alterable from time to time, with the constitutional safeguard contained in Art. 311(2). It was also wrong to treat the case of a Municipal servant on a footing different from that of a private employee. It is true that the Municipality is a statutory body but nevertheless the contract of service between it and its employees is essentially a contract between master and servant, governed by rules which are, in their nature, variable. Such rules are undoubtedly meant to be observed and we expect that public bodies, like the Municipalities, will act with a sense of fairness and responsibility and not flout with impunity the wholesome rules which are a reiteration of the principles of natural justice. But we are concerned in this appeal to determine the legal consequence which flows from a non-compliance with such rules. The consequence, as laid down in the Broach Municipality case, (1950) 53 BomLR 282, is only this, that the order of dismissal passed in violation of an administrative rule, directory in character, is wrongful but not void. All that the employee is entitled in such cases is a declaration that the dismissal is wrongful and to salary in lieu of the period of notice.'

The categories into which cases of dismissal of servants can be classified are discussed at pages 494 and 495 by the Full Bench as under :

'On an examination of the various decisions, cases of dismissal of servants would fall into four classes. There are, in the first instance, cases in which 'persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State are dismissed, removed or reduced in rank in violation of Art. 311(2) of the Constitution. Such cases stand apart and constitute an exception to the normal rule that no declaration to enforce a contract of personal service will be granted. Orders passed in violation of Art. 311(2) are null and void, not merely wrongful. The second category is of cases in which an industrial worker is dismissed in violation of the provisions of an industrial law. The Labour Court or the Industrial Tribunal is entitled, in appropriate cases, to order reinstatement of the worker. The category third comprises cases like the Vine's case, [1956] 3 All E.R. 939, and Bool Chand's case, : (1968)IILLJ135SC , where the person who is dismissed from service is entitled to an office or status under a statute and the order of dismissal affects that status. It is the fourth class of cases with which we are directly concerned in this appeal and those are cases in which a statutory body acts either in breach of the statute or in breach of the rules and regulations framed under the statute. Cases falling in this class depend for their decision on the consideration whether the order passed by the statutory body is in breach of a mandatory obligation imposed by the statute or whether the breach complained of is of a mere rule or regulation relating to the conditions of service. If the breach is of a mandatory obligation imposed by the statute, the order of dismissal would be null and void and not merely wrongful. As a consequence, the employee would be entitled to be reinstated in service and to past salary. On the other hand, if the breach complained of is of a mere rule or regulation, the employee would be entitled only to a declaration that the dismissal is wrongful and to damages by way of salary for the period of notice, even if the rule or regulation constitutes a term or condition of his service and even if it is worded in language of mandatory import. In the absence of a statutory provision showing that the master is under a restriction as to the kind of contract which he can make with his servant and in the absence of a provision showing that the statute obliges the master to comply with such a rule or regulation if he wants to dismiss a servant, the rule or regulation would be administrative in nature, not capable of being specifically enforced.'

17. The other decision on which strong reliance was placed by Mr. Rana is the decision of Vimadalal, J. in Idandas Phagunmal Asnani v. Sukthankar, 1972 II L.L.J. 534. Following the ratio of the Full Bench case above referred to, he took the view that if an employee of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay is dismissed in breach of the rules in regard to the conduct of municipal servants the remedy of the aggrieved employee will be to file a suit for damages if he is wrongfully dismissed, but he cannot ask for a writ of certiorari for quashing the order of dismissal.

18. These decisions undoubtedly support the contention of Mr. Rana, but we, however, find in a later decision of the Supreme Court in Sirsi Municipality v. Cecelia Kom Francis Tellis, : (1973)ILLJ226SC , that the Supreme Court has taken a view different from that taken by this Court in the Full Bench decision. Before the Supreme Court an order of dismissal of a midwife belonging to the staff of a hospital conducted and managed by the municipality was challenged and the only question that was canvassed before the Supreme Court related to the remedy to which an aggrieved employee will be entitled. It was contended on behalf of the municipality that the aggrieved employee was not entitled to any declaration but if the dismissal was wrongful the remedy lay in damages. The Supreme Court has thereafter discussed the cases of dismissal of a servant and it is pointed out that they fall under three broad heads. The first head relates to relationship of master and servant governed purely by contract of employment. Any breach of contract in such a case is enforced by a suit for wrongful dismissal and damages. Just as a contract of employment is not capable of specific performance similarly breach of contract of employment is not capable to finding a declaratory judgment of subsistence of employment. A declaration of unlawful termination and restoration to service in such a case of contract of employment would be indirectly an instance of specific performance of contract for personal services. Such a declaration is not permissible under the law of Specific Relief. The second type of cases of master and servant arises under Industrial law. Under that branch of law a servant who is wrongfully dismissed may be reinstated. This is a special provision under industrial law. This relief is a departure from the reliefs available under the Indian Contract Act and the Specific Relief Act which do not provide for reinstatement of a servant. The Supreme Court thereafter discusses the third category of cases of master and servant which is relevant for the present case. The third category of cases of master and servant is discussed by them in paras 17, 18 and 19 of the judgment delivered by Ray, J. It is there stated :

'17. The third category of cases of master and servant arises in regard to the servant in the employment of the State or of other public or local authorities or bodies created under statute.

18. Termination or dismissal of what is described as a pure contract of master and servant is not declared to be a nullity however wrongful or illegal it may be. The reason is that dismissal in breach of contract is remedied by damages. In the case of servant of the State or of local authorities or statutory bodies, Courts have declared in appropriate cases the dismissal to be invalid if the dismissal is contrary to rules of natural justice or if the dismissal is in violation of the provisions of the statute. Apart from the intervention of statute there would not be a declaration of nullity in the case of termination or dismissal of a servant of the State or of other local authorities or statutory bodies.

19. The Courts keep the State and the public authorities within the limits of their statutory powers. Where a State or a public authority dismisses an employee in violation of the mandatory procedural requirements or on grounds which are not sanctioned or supported by statute the Courts may exercise jurisdiction to declare the act of dismissal to be a nullity. Such implication of public employment is thus distinguished from private employment in pure cases of master and servant.'

It is thus held that even in respect of a servant of a public or local authority in appropriate cases the dismissal will be declared invalid if it is contrary to the rules of natural justice or if it is in violation of the provisions of the statute. As the later discussion in the judgment shows, the word statute here refers not merely to the provisions contained in the statute but also it is wide enough to include within its scope the statutory rules or regulations. In para 24 after referring to several decisions of the Supreme Court referred to therein, it is observed :

'... These decisions establish that the dismissal of a servant by statutory including local authorities or bodies in breach of the provisions of the statutes or orders or schemes made under the statute which regulate the exercise of their power is invalid or ultra vires and the principle of pure master and servant contractual relationship has no application to such cases.'

Thereafter in para 28 they refer to certain decisions of the Courts in England and in para 29 the ratio of these decisions is summed up as under :

'These decisions indicate that statutory provisions may limit the power of dismissal. Where such limitation is disregarded a dismissal may be held invalid. In this respect employment under statutory bodies differs from ordinary private employment. Where a public body is empowered to terminate employment on specified grounds or where a public body does not observe the procedure laid down by legislation, e.g., improperly delegates power of dismissal to another body, the Courts have declared such dismissal from public employment to be invalid.'

In the case before the Supreme Court the grievance of the dismissed employee was that her dismissal was in violation of Rule 143 which was similar to the one that was considered by the Full Bench in Sangamner Municipality's case (supra). While dealing with this contention in para 32 it is pointed out :

'32. In the present appeal, the pre-eminent question is whether the dismissal is in violation of Rule 143. Rule 143 imposes a mandatory obligation. The rules were made in exercise of power conferred on the municipality by statute. The rules are binding on the municipality. They cannot be amended without the assent of the State Government. The dismissal of the respondent was rightly found by the Hi Court to be in violation of Rule 143 which imposed a mandatory obligation. The respondent was dismissed without a reasonable opportunity of being heard in her defence. The dismissal by the municipality was without recording any written statement which might have been tendered. The dismissal by the municipality was without written order. The dismissal was ultra vires.'

The Supreme Court thus affirmed the decision of the High Court giving a declaration to the effect that the dismissal of the respondent was illegal and void. A concurrent judgment is also given by Beg, J. We will confine our attention only to the mode and conditions which relate to dismissal of officers and servants of bodies like the municipality and public and local authorities. In para 38 he points out :

'The mode and conditions of appointment, punishment, and dismissal of officers and servants of the Municipality were meant to be regulated by rules which have to be approved by the State Government in the case of the City Municipalities and by the Commissioner in other cases before they could become binding or be altered. Bye-laws could be made on certain specified subjects only after the previous sanction of the State Government or the Commissioner, as the case may be, given to them. Neither rules nor bye-laws of the Municipality could be made or altered unilaterally by it. Both operated as laws which bound the local authority. This was clear from the provisions of Ss. 46 and 48 of the Act.'

In para 41 he points out that 'the principles, which are applicable to the relation of a private master and a servant, unregulated by statute, could not apply similarly to the case of a public statutory body exercising powers of punishment fettered or limited by statute and relevant rules of procedure.' In para 42, he points out that 'an express statutory provision or guarantee is not the only basis of a mandatory duty or obligation. It can be imposed either by a rule made in exercise of statutory power or it may arise by implication when exercising a quasi-judicial function.' In para 43, he points out :

'Even where there was no specific rule on the subject, like Rule 143 ... this Court has held that violation of implied rules of natural justice, in exercise of a quasi-judicial statutory power, results in a legally void decision. It was so held because the obligation to observe rules of natural justice was imperative in such a situation.'

In para 46 he points out :

'The case before us undoubtedly falls within the category of cases where dismissal must be based upon a decision arrived at quasi-judicially about a wrong done by the servant. This elementary and basic procedural safeguard flows not merely from an implied rule of natural justice, but, in the case before us, it is actually embodied in a rule which we cannot interpret as anything other than a legal limitation or fetter on the power of the Municipal Authority to dismiss. It constitutes a condition precedent to a valid decision to dismiss whether contained in a resolution or an order of the local authority. As the local Government authority had failed to see that a mandatory duty, embodied in a basic rule, had been carried out, the resulting decision must necessarily be held to be void.'

In view of this decision of the Supreme Court in Sirsi Municipality's case, the ratio of the Full Bench decision to the extent to which it is inconsistent with this decision cannot be regarded as laying down correct law. The distinction that was made in the Full Bench case between violation of the mandatory statutory provision and a provision contained in the statutory rule has not been accepted by the Supreme Court. A breach of a mandatory statutory rule was regarded as sufficient to entitle an employee of a municipality to ask for a declaration that his dismissal is null and void. In the Sirsi Municipality's case there are no observations of the Supreme Court indicating that a midwife of a hospital conducted by a municipality held any office or status. In the present case S. 83 of the Act imposes an implied mandatory obligation upon the dismissing authority to comply with the principles of natural justice and where the principles of natural justice are violated, the petitioner as an employee of local authority will be entitled to have the order of dismissal declared null and avoid and to get it quashed.

19. The matter in the present case can also be looked at from a different aspect. For this purpose it will be necessary to refer to the decision of the House of Lords in Ridge v. Baldwin, [1964] A.C. 4. It was a case relating to dismissal of the chief constable who was alleged to be dismissed in violation of the provisions of S. 191 of the Municipal Corporation Act, 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c. 50) which provides as under :

'191. - (1) The watch committee shall from time to time appoint a sufficient number of fit men to be borough constables ....

(4) The watch committee ... may at any time suspend, and ... dismiss, any borough constable whom they think negligent in the discharge of his duty, or otherwise unit for the same.'

In that case the appellant who was a chief constable was acquitted in a criminal proceeding. After his acquittal he applied to be reinstated but in the month of March, 1958 the watch committee at a meeting decided that he had been negligent in the discharge of his duties as chief constable and in purported exercise of powers conferred on them by S. 191(4) of the Act of 1882, dismissed him from that office. No specific charge was formulated against him, either at that meeting or at another when the chief constable's solicitor addressed the committee, but the watch committee, in arriving at their decision, considered inter alia his own statements in evidence and the observations made by Donovan, J., on February and March 6. On the chief constable's appeal to the Home Secretary, the decision given was 'that there was sufficient material on which the watch committee could properly exercise their power of dismissal under S. 191(4) '. The chief constable thereafter brought an action against members of the watch committee for a declaration that his dismissal was illegal, ultra vires and void and for payment of salary or, alternatively, payment of pension from that date and damages. By a majority decision the House of Lords took the view that the decision of the watch committee to dismiss the chief constable was null and void. Lord Reid in his judgment points out that cases of dismissal appear to fall into three classes : dismissal of a servant by his master, dismissal from an office held during pleasure, and dismissal from an office where there must be something against a man to warrant his dismissal. As regards the first class, he points out that :

'The law regarding master and servant is not in doubt. There cannot be specific performance of a contract of service, and the master can terminate the contract with his servant at any time and for any reason or for none. But if he does so in a manner not warranted by the contract he must pay damages for breach of contract. So the question in a pure case of master and servant does not at all depend on whether the master has heard the servant in his own defence : it depends on whether the facts emerging at the trial prove breach of contract.'

Dealing with the second category of persons holding office at pleasure, it is held that such an officer has no right to be heard before he is dismissed. So far as the third class of cases is concerned, he points out that there is an unbroken line of authority to the effect that an officer cannot lawfully be dismissed without first telling him what is alleged against him and hearing his defence or explanation. Upon the construction of the power conferred by S. 191 he has taken the view that the power of dismissal in the Act of 1882 could not have been exercised and cannot now be exercised until the watch committee have informed the constable of the grounds on which they proposed to proceed and give him a proper opportunity to present his case in defence. While dealing with the question whether a wrongful decision of such a watch committee is void or merely voidable, he points out that a long line of decisions is to the effect that the decision given without regard to the principles of natural justice is void. He further points out that the body with the power to decide cannot lawfully proceed to make a decision until it has afforded to the person affected a proper opportunity to state his case. In the case before their Lordships the concerned employee did not press his prayer for reinstatement as chief constable. Under the circumstances a declaration was granted that the dismissal of the constable was null and void and the case was remitted for further procedure.

20. As in the third class of cases the word 'office' or 'officer' has been used, it is argued that the petitioner cannot have the order of dismissal declared null and void unless he held any office or status. In the Sirsi Municipality's case (supra), which we have just referred to, the Supreme Court has granted a declaration to a mere midwife of a hospital conducted by a municipality that her dismissal is null and void without even going into the question of office or status. However, if such examination is necessary we will like to consider the position of the petitioner in view of the provisions of the Act and the rules, regulations and other bye-laws in relation thereto. In this behalf the argument on behalf of the petitioner is that once the petitioner is appointed his rights and obligations are not governed by the contract of parties but are governed by the statute. After his appointment, legal relationship comes into existence as between an employer and an employee which is governed by the statute. If the scheme of the Act is examined, it is quite clear that in Chapter II of the Act there is reference to various municipal authorities. Section 54 provides for appointment of the Commissioner. Section 55 provides for appointment of Deputy Municipal Commissioner. Section 60A provides for appointment of General Manager of the B.E.S. & T. Undertaking. Section 74 provides for appointment of City Engineer, Executive Health Officer and Hydraulic Engineer. Section 76A provides for appointment of Education Officer. Section 77 provides for appointment of Municipal Secretary. Section 78A provides for appointment of Municipal Chief Auditor. Section 78C provides for appointment of Municipal Chief Accountant. These are some of the provisions which deal with appointment of specified officers. After S. 76C there are general provisions relating to 'other officers and servants.' The heading indicates that officers referred to under the provisions upto S. 78C are some of the officers while the remaining officers are dealt with in the subsequent provisions. Section 79 is a residuary provision regarding the appointment of other officers and servants and sub-s. (1) thereof provides that the Commissioner shall, from time to time, prepare and bring before the standing committee a schedule setting forth the designations and grades of the other officers and servants other than the officers and servants to be appointed for the purposes of clause (1) of S. 61, who should, in his opinion, be maintained, and the amount and nature of the salaries, fees and allowances which he proposes, should be paid to each. It was urged on behalf of the respondents that upto the provisions of S. 78C the word 'officer' was used as the holder of the particular office but in S. 79 the word 'officer' is not used in the same sense. In our opinion, there is nothing in the context to indicate that this word in the different provisions has been used in a different sense. On the other hand, the provisions of sub-s. (2) of S. 79 themselves negative such a contention. That sub-section provides that the Standing Committee or the Education Committee, as the case may be, shall sanction such schedule either as it stands or subject to such modifications they deem expedient, provided that no new office of which the aggregate emoluments exceed rupees five hundred per month shall be created without the sanction of the Corporation. The provisions of this sub-section, therefore, make it amply clear that the word 'officer' is used in S. 79 as holder of an office. These provisions along with other provisions also go to indicate that the scheme of the Act is that other officers and servants who are referred to in S. 79 are ordinarily treated on par except when specific and express provision is made either qua sanction to their appointment or qua dismissal or punishment or so on. Such a conclusion is reinforced if regard be had to the provisions of S. 80 which deal with restriction of employment of permanent officers and servants. The main part of that section provides that :

'No permanent officer or servant shall be entertained in any department of the municipal administration unless he has been appointed under sections 60A, 73A, 74, 76A, 76B, 77, 78, 78A, 78B or 78C or his office and emoluments are included in the schedule at the time in force prepared and sanctioned under the last preceding section :'

The provisions of this section also indicate that the word 'officer' is used here as a holder of office and such holders of offices are regarded as similar to those appointed under the specified sections referred to in this section. Section 80A designates the authority in whom the power of appointment is vested and S. 80B provides for the manner of making appointments to various posts. Section 83 contains uniform provisions applicable to every municipal officer and servant in relation to their suspension, punishment, dismissal, etc. Similar provisions are also contained as regards the officers specified in the earlier sections. These provisions themselves show that it is the scheme of the statute that all officers and servants are ordinarily regarded as on par so far as their status and office are concerned, but having regard to their salary or other considerations sometimes the same is sanctioned by some other authority in whom is vested the power either for appointment or for imposing penalty. The petitioner is undoubtedly a tutor drawing a salary per month between Rs. 400 and Rs. 500. In view of the provisions of S. 80A he can be appointed by the Municipal Commissioner and under S. 83 ordinarily he can be punished by the authority by whom he is appointed, but the various clauses contained in the proviso to sub-s. (2) indicate that so far as punishment like dismissal, suspension, fine, reduction, etc., are concerned, sometimes previous approval of the specified authorities is required as contained in the various provisos. Thus these statutory provisions themselves are sufficient to show that having regard to provisions of the Act and the scheme thereof, the petitioner is regarded as a holder of an office.

21. Such conclusion is reaffirmed if regard be had to the Municipal Service Regulations which are statutory regulations made in exercise of the power conferred by S. 81(1)(b), (c), (d) and (e) of the Act on the Standing Committee. The definition of the word 'lien' in Regulation 8(8) shows that it means the title of a municipal servant to return in a substantive capacity to a permanent post to which he has been appointed substantively. Thus a municipal servant has been reaffirmed a title by way of lien to the post to which he has been substantively appointed. Regulation 11 provides that two or more municipal servants cannot be appointed substantively to the same permanent post at the same time. It further provides that a municipal servant cannot be appointed substantively except as a temporary measure, to two or more permanent posts at the same time. This provision, therefore, contains a right or a lien in a municipal servant in a post to which he is substantively appointed. Regulation 10 provides that the service of a municipal employee as a whole time servant is at the disposal of the Municipal Corporation. Regulation 20 deals with fixation of pay of the various municipal servants, and it inter alia provides that such pay cannot be increase so as to exceed the pay sanctioned for his post without the sanction of an authority competent to create a post in the same cadre on a rate of pay equal to his pay when increased. Chapter VI-A of these Regulations provides for dismissal and suspension. Under Regulation 57 in this Chapter a dismissed municipal servant is not entitled to any pay and allowance and under Regulation 58 a municipal servant under suspension is only entitled to the subsistence allowance. Regulation 59 contains provisions for pay and allowance for the period of absence form duty upon reinstatement of a dismissed or suspended servant. Regulation 60 imposes a bar upon a municipal servant to avail of leave during the period of suspension. Chapter VI-B of these regulations provide for compulsory retirement. Under Regulation 67 ordinarily every municipal officer or servant including the honorary staff at the Municipal Medical Colleges and hospitals shall retire at the age of 58 years. It is unnecessary to refer to the other Regulations because in our opinion these Regulations by themselves are sufficient to show that an officer or servant who is appointed in exercise of the powers conferred by S. 79 holds various rights and is liable to suffer from various disabilities under several Municipal Service Regulations which are made in exercise of statutory powers. The very preamble part of these Regulations also shows that they are required to be framed by the Standing Committee and they are required to be confirmed by the Corporation. Thus an effective machinery is provided for even modification of such Regulations and unless they are modified or amended in a manner permitted by the various statutory provisions of the Act they cannot be altered or amended at the sweet will of any appointing authorities including the Municipal Commissioner.

22. If regard be had to the compilation containing important office circulars, orders and instructions for dealing with cases involving disciplinary, etc., matters, it is quite clear that there are various limitations put upon the rights of a municipal servant which normally cannot be imposed upon an ordinary employee whose relationship is governed as under common law between a master and servant. Suffice it for the present purpose if reference is made to paras 10 and 11 of Chapter II of this compilation dealing with Manual of Departmental Inquiries. Under para 10 a municipal servant under suspension for misconduct is not permitted to retire on reaching the age of compulsory retirement but he should be retained in service till the enquiry into the charges against him is completed and final orders are passed. Paragraph 11 provides that the resignation of a municipal servant under suspension should not be accepted during the pendency of a departmental enquiry against him. Paragraph 12 provides that a municipal servant under suspension continues to be governed by Municipal Service Regulations and Conduct and Discipline Rules and hence cannot engage himself in private business, trade or employment during suspension without the sanction of the competent authority. Ordinarily if rights are governed as at common law between a master and servant, such limitations are not to be found upon the rights of an ordinary employee or servant.

23. It will not be out of place to refer to the provisions of S. 521, because under that section the officers, authorities and servants mentioned therein are deemed to be public servants. That section lays down that

'The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, General Manager and every councillor and every municipal officer, or servant appointed under this Act shall be deemed to be a public servant within the meaning of S. 21 of the Indian Penal Code'.

This section, therefore, confers the status of a public servant upon every municipal officer and servant and if he is obstructed in the discharge of his duties then the person so obstructing is liable to be prosecuted under the various requisite provisions of the Indian Penal Code for causing obstruction to a public servant in the discharge of his official duties.

24. There is one other material to which reference should be made for the purpose of considering the question whether an officer or a servant employed by a statutory body like the Municipal Corporation can be regarded as holding any office or as having any status. Part II of the Constitution of India deals with fundamental rights and under Art. 12 thereof the word 'State' is defined so as to include within its scope not only the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and Legislature of each of the States but it is wide enough to include all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India. In view of this definition of the word 'State' in Art. 12 fundamental rights are guaranteed not only to servants of the Government, Central or State, but they are equally guaranteed to all local or other authorities within the territory of India. It has not been disputed and it cannot be disputed that a Municipal Corporation constituted under the Act is a local authority within the meaning of this Article. An officer or servant of a Municipal Corporation upon being guaranteed the fundamental rights under the said Article, is entitled to fundamental rights guaranteed under Arts. 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution. These provisions also show that a municipal officer or a servant has rights and privileges and has to suffer from certain disabilities which may be disregarded at common law when ordinarily the relationship is as between master and servant.

25. In this connection it will be apposite to refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in Roshan Lal v. Union of India, : (1968)ILLJ576SC . This case deals with the legal position of a Government servant and points out the reasons and circumstances why he can be regarded as a person having a status. At page 1894 it is pointed out :

'It is true that the origin of Government service is contractual. There is an offer and acceptance in every case. But once appointed to his post or office the Government servant acquires a status and his rights and obligations are no longer determined by consent of both parties, but by statute or statutory rules which may be framed and altered unilaterally by the Government. In other words the legal position of a Government servant is more one of status than of contract. The hall-mark of status is the attachment to a legal relation-ship of rights and duties imposed by the public law and not by mere agreement of the parties. The emolument of the Government servant and his terms of service are governed by statute or statutory rules which may be unilaterally altered by the Government without consent of the employee. It is true that Art. 311 imposes constitutional restrictions upon the power of removal granted to the President and the Governor under Art. 310. But it is obvious that the relationship between the Government and its servant is not like an ordinary contract of service between a master and servant. The legal relationship is something entirely different something in the nature of status. It is much more than a purely contractual relationship voluntarily entered into between the parties. The duties of status are fixed by the law and in the enforcement of these duties society has an interest. In the language of jurisprudence status is a condition of membership of a group of which powers and duties are exclusively determined by law and not by agreement between the parties concerned.'

Each one of the statements contained in the above passage, except reference to the provisions of Art. 311, is applicable to a municipal officer and a servant. Article 311 of the Constitution provides for a reasonable opportunity to be given to a person holding a civil post under the Central or State Government before an order of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank can be passed against him. As the provisions of that Article are only applicable to persons holding a civil post under the Government, Central or State, they cannot be availed of by a municipal office servant. However, similar-rights are conferred upon a municipal officer and servant by reason of the provisions of S. 83 of the Act and the circulars, orders and instructions issued by the Municipal Commissioner, which are compiled in a a Compilation. They can be fined, reduced, suspended or dismissed for a stated cause after not only following the rules of natural justice but after complying with the procedure regulated by the circulars orders and instructions issued by the Municipal Commissioner, which are compiled in the Compilation,

26. A question regarding the position or status of a Secretary of a Zilla Parishad arose for consideration of the Allahabad High Court in Sharat Chand v. State of U.P., (1971) 6 S.L.R. 624. In para 19 the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court points out :

'The position of a servant under the District Board Act is not very much different from that of a Government servant. Just as in the case of a permanent Government servant, Fundamental Rule 56 prescribes the age of superannuation, in the same way, in the rules framed under notification ... it has been provided that the age of retirement from service of all employees of the District Board shall be 58 years. This indicates that once a District Board servant is permanently appointed to a post he gets a right to hold the post till the age of superannuation, that is, 58 years and termination of his employment before he reaches that age would per se be punishment as it entails forfeiture of his rights. In such a case the regulation regarding dismissal, removal or reduction of officers and servants of the District Board, .. comes into operation. According to this Regulation no officer or servant can be dismissed or removed without reasonable opportunity being given to him for showing cause against the action proposed to be taken against him.'

The decision also shows that an officer of a Zilla Parishad is treated so far as his office or status is concerned on the same footing as a Government servant.

27. Upon consideration of all the circumstances it is quite apparent that if it is necessary to record any finding on the question whether the petitioner held any office or status, there can be no difficulty in holding that he held office or status whose rights, obligations, duties, liabilities, etc., are governed by the provisions of the Act, the various statutory regulations made and the various orders, circulars and instructions, issued in exercise of the statutory powers. That being the positions, his dismissal in contravention of the rules of natural justice will in any event entitle him to ask for a declaration that the order of his dismissal is a nullity.

28. The next contention of Mr. Singhvi on behalf of the petitioner was that the order of dismissal was passed against the petitioner in breach of statutory rules. For this purpose he referred to the same breaches which are discussed above in relation to breaches or acts in violation of the principles or rules of natural justice. The arguments is that where a dismissal is in breach of statutory rules, the Court is entitled to declare the order of dismissal as null and void, because such rules being statutory rules impose a mandatory obligation upon the concerned authority to comply therewith before an order of penalty can be passed. Functions of several municipal authorities are laid down in S. 64 of the Act. Sub-section (3) thereof provides for special functions of the Commissioner. It lays down :

'64. (3) Subject, whenever it is in this Act expressly so directed, to the approval or sanction of the corporation or the standing committee or the Improvements Committee or the Education Committee and subject also to all other restrictions, limitations and conditions imposed by this Act, the entire executive power for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act vests in the Commissioner, who shall also -

(a) perform all the duties and exercise all the power specifically imposed or conferred upon him by this Act;

(b) prescribe the duties of, and exercise supervision and control over, the acts and proceedings of all municipal officers and servants, other than the municipal secretary and municipal officers and servants immediately subordinate to him, and subject to the regulations for the time being in force under S. 81 dispose of all questions relating to the service of the said officers and servants and their pay, privileges and allowances;'

The effect of these provisions is that the entire residuary executive power for carrying out the provisions of the Act is vested in the Commissioner save and except where it is otherwise provided. He is clothed with a power to prescribe duties and exercise supervision and control over all municipal officers and servants and subject to the regulations for the time being in force under S. 81 to dispose of all questions relating to the service of the said officers and servants. The very reference to the Regulations made under S. 81 clearly indicates that the Municipal Service Regulations which are made in exercise of the powers conferred by S. 81 have statutory force and the power of the Municipal Commissioner is controlled by the said Regulations. The ambit of the powers conferred by S. 64(3) on the Commissioner is wide enough to clothe him with a power to issue circulars, orders and directions including instruction qua punishment of municipal officers and servants by imposing fine, suspending them or dismissing them. Thus reading S. 64 with S. 83 the Commissioner is clothed with ample statutory powers to issue circulars, orders, directions and instructions providing the manner in which a disciplinary enquiry should be conducted against a concerned municipal officer or servant before the punishment or penalty referred to in S. 83 is imposed against him. The compilation containing important office circulars, orders and instructions for dealing with cases involving disciplinary, etc., matters is prepared by the Municipal Commissioner in exercise of the powers conferred on him under S. 64(3) read with S. 83 of the Act. Chapter I of this compilation undoubtedly refers to the provisions of this section but no such reference is to be found thereto in Chapter II of this compilation dealing with Manual of Departmental Inquiries. Without such a preamble or introductory power there can be no doubt that such circulars, orders and instructions can be issued by the Commissioner only in exercise of his power under S. 64(3) read with S. 83 and they will normally be binding on them unless they are inconsistent with any other provision of the Act.

29. Our attention has been invited to a fairly good number of reported as well as unreported decisions on the binding effect of circulars orders, instructions, etc. We do not consider it necessary to refer to each one of them but reference to a few of them will suffice for the present purpose to come to the conclusion that such circulars, orders, directions and instructions issued by the Commissioner in exercise of his statutory powers under S. 64 read with S. 83 have binding effect as if they are statutory rules or orders. In the State of Maharashtra v. B. R. Patel, (O.C.J. Appeal No. 23 of 1960, decided by Chainani, C.J. and Mody, J., on August 10, 1961 (Unrep.)), the Court had occasion to consider the effect of a circular issued by the Government authority. The Court observed :

'... The circular affects conditions of service. It contains general directions which all Government servants under the control of the Government of Bombay had to follow. It was also issued by order of the Governor of Bombay, who was the authority competent to make rules in this behalf. No other formality was required for making a rule on this subject. Although, therefore, the circular was not issued in the form of a rule, as it affects conditions of service of all persons serving in connection with the affairs of the Bombay Province and as it was issued by the authority competent to make rules in this behalf, it can, in our opinion, be regarded as a rule.'

The principles laid down in this case will equally apply in the present case. All circulars, orders and instructions contained in Chapter II dealing with Manual of Departmental Inquiries are issued by a competent authority, namely, the Municipal Commissioner who is clothed with a statutory power to do so under S. 64(3) read with S. 83 of the Act.

30. The effect of instructions issued by the Government was considered in Sant Ram v. State of Rajasthan, : (1968)IILLJ830SC . At page 1914 it is observed :

'It is true that Government cannot amend or supersede statutory Rules by administrative instructions, but if the rules are silent on any particular point Government can fill up the gaps and supplement the rules and issue instructions not inconsistent with the rules already framed.'

In view of these observations of the Supreme Court, even if we regard the Municipal Servants' Conduct and Discipline Rules contained in Chapter I of the Compilation at statutory rules framed in exercise of the power under S. 64(3) read with S. 83 of the Act-and we do not regard the provisions contained in Chapter II of the Compilation dealing with Manual of Departmental Enquiries as such statutory rules-still even on the footing of administrative instruction they are framed to supplement the rules and will be binding on the concerned authority.

31. In Union of India v. K. P. Joseph, : [1973]2SCR752 , the Supreme Court had occasion to consider the rights created by administrative orders. It was held :

'... To say that an administrative order can never confer any right would be too wide a proposition. There are administrative orders which confer rights and impose duties. It is because an administrative order can abridge or take away rights that we have imported the principle of natural justice of audi alteram partem into this area.'

The order that was canvassed before them was regarded as providing for certain benefits to ex-military personnel on re-employment on the basis of their length of actual military service. Such an order was regarded ad conferring a right relating to conditions of service and the Court can enforce that right, if need be, by issuing a writ of mandamus.

32. The binding effect of instructions issued by the Municipal Commissioner in exercise of his powers under S. 64(3) of the Act was considered by a Division Bench of this Court in Municipal Corpn. v. Miss Dethe, (1970) 73 BomLR 738. At page 748 after referring to the provisions of S. 64(3) of the Act it is observed :

'... By virtue of these provisions, the Commissioner would be entitled to issue instructions to the municipal officers and servants and those instructions would bind on them. Such instruction must, undoubtedly, be within the framework of the rules and regulations made by the Corporation, but so long as the Commissioner acts within that framework the instructions issued by him would have binding authority.'

These decisions, in our opinion, are sufficient to support the view that we have taken as regards the binding effect of the rules contained in Chapter II dealing with Manual of Departmental Inquiries contained in the Compilation. In our opinion, a breach either of the provisions of S. 83, or even of any circular, order or instruction contained in Chapter II, dealing with Manual of Departmental Inquiries will furnish a concerned municipal officer or servant with a cause of action and if the rules of natural justice are violated, he will be entitled to come before this Court and any order of punishment passed in breach of such rules which regulate or codify the rules of natural justice so far as the municipal authorities are concerned, is null and void.

[The judgment after dealing with points not relevant to this report, proceeded.]

33. In the result, we set aside the order passed by the trial Court. We issue a writ of certiorari quashing the order of dismissal dated October 28, 1964 passed in appeal rejecting his appeal. We issue a writ of mandamus against the respondents directing them to reinstate the petitioner in his original post. This, however, will not affect the power of the respondents to take such action as they are entitled to take under law against the petitioner.

34. By prayer (c) the petitioner has asked for a writ of mandamus against the respondents directing them to pay the petitioner his salary from January 4, 1964, till the date of his reinstatement in service as if he had all along continued in service. During the course of the hearing of this appeal Mr. Singhvi informed us that the order of dismissal of the petitioner was passed, he participated in the business carried on by his wife. We do not consider it necessary to go into the question as to what is the effect of such participation in business on the part of the petitioner after the order of dismissal. So far as prayer (c) is concerned, we direct that the question whether the petitioner is entitled to relief therein asked for and to what extent, should be considered by the trial Court after the petitioner has filed an affidavit stating what work he did after the order of dismissal was passed and what sum or sums of money he earned thereafter. After such as affidavit is filed by the petitioner the respondents will be at liberty to either controvert the statements made in this affidavit or to put forward such material as may be proper for consideration of the Court in relation to his prayer for past salary. Such a course will not deprive the petitioner of his right to contend that notwithstanding his participation in the business of his wife he is entitled to the full amount of arrears of salary as prayed for in the petition. The trial Court will dispose of and pass appropriate order in respect of prayer (c) after giving an opportunity to both the parties to make their submissions.

35. The petitioner has substantially succeeded in this appeal and we direct that the respondents will pay the costs of the petition which are quantified at Rs. 350 and the costs of the appeal which are quantified at Rs. 3,000. In addition to these amounts, the respondents will be liable to pay the cost of the appeal paper books that have been supplied to their attorneys.


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