1. The above First Appeal was filed by the plaintiff, who instituted on July 3, 1967 Special Civil Suit No, 215 of 1967 in the Court of the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Poona, for a declaration that the order of his suspension and the order of his dismissal were illegal, null and void and that he was entitled to get his pay and the allowances.
2. The plaintiff was suspended and an inquiry was held by the commandant of the State Reserve Police Force Group in which he was working as a head constable (Grade I).
3. The learned Civil Judge, after considering the oral and documentary evidence in the case, found that full and fair opportunity was given to the plaintiff in the course of the departmental inquiry to meet the charge levelled against him that with respect to the training of members of the State Reserve Police Force, who were trained in September 1961 for the District Drill Inspector's Course and who were in charge of the plaintiff for training, as the mark-sheets were getting ready to these trainees and were finally approved by the Commandant on September 28, 1961, he demanded from some of the trainees Rs. 30 each for informing them whether they had passed, and this came to the knowledge of his superiors as a letter addressed to him was intercepted.
4. The learned Civil Judge found no substance in any of the technical contentions raised on behalf of the plaintiff and dismissed the plaintiff's suit with costs on September 30, 1970. The said decision is challenged in the above first appeal.
5. The first point, which was urged by Mr. Bhimrao Naik, was that the commandant of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force constituted under the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951 was not competent to hold an inquiry, inasmuch as he was not a departmental head within the meaning of the Bombay Civil Services Rules and there was no provision in the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951 or the Rules made thereunder which authorised him to hold the departmental inquiry against his subordinate head constable.
6. The above argument of Mr. Bhimrao Naik ignores the total scheme of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951 and the constitution of the State Police Force. It is unnecessary to refer to all the sections, but it is clear that this Act must be read along with the Bombay Police Act, 1951, to understand the nature of the departmental inquiry to be held in the State Reserve Police Force, inasmuch as the Inspector General of Police is the Head of even the Bombay State Reserve Police Force, and Section 3 of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951 declares that in addition to the police force constituted under the Bombay Police Act, 1951, the State Government may establish and maintain armed reserve police force known as the State Reserve Police Force.
7. Sub-section (3) of Section 3 further says that subject to the provisions of the Act, the pay, pension and other conditions of service of members of the State Reserve Police Force shall be such as may be determined by the State Government, provided that nothing in Section 3 shall apply to the pay, pension and other conditions of service of the members of the Indian Police or the Indian Police Service who may be transferred to the State Reserve Police Force.
8. Sub-section (4) of Section 3 says that the State Reserve Police Force shall be divided into groups and each group shall be further sub-divided into battalions, and each battalion into companies, and each company into platoons.
9. Section 4 lays down that the superintendence of and control over the State Reserve Police Force shall vest in the State Government; and the State Reserve Police Force shall be administered by the State Government in accordance with the provisions of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act and of any rules made thereunder, through such officers as the State Government may from time to time appoint in this behalf.
10. Section 5 provides that the State Government may appoint for each group a commandant who shall be a person eligible to hold the post of a district superintendent and an assistant commandant and an adjutant who shall be person eligible to hold the post of an assistant or a deputy superintendent, and Sub-section (2) further lays down that notwithstanding anything contained therein, the State Government may appoint such Military Officer as it deems fit to be a commandant or assistant commandant, or adjutant. Sub-section (5) of the Section 5 lays down that the commandant, the assistant commandant, the adjutant and every other officer so appointed shall have and may exercise such powers and authority as may be provided by or under the Act.
11. Section 6 lays down that before any person appointed to be a reserve police officer joins his appointment, a declaration in the form in schedule A shall be read out and shall be signed by him in token of his having undertaken to abide by the conditions prescribed therein.
12. Section 8 lays down that a Company Commander, Commander of Head Quarters Wing or Platoon Commander shall on appointment, receive from the Inspector-General of Police a certificate of appointment containing particulars of his name, age, religion, and his previous service, if any, and Sub-section (2) of Section 8 further lays down that every reserve police officer below the rank of a platoon commander shall, on appointment, receive a certificate in the form of Schedule B, which shall be issued under the seal of the commandant. Schedule B is as follows :
(See section B.)
Form of Certificate for a State Reserve Police Officer below the rank of a Platoon Commander,
Seal of the
A. B. has been appointed to the State Reserve Police Force in the State of Maharashtra and is vested with the powers, functions and privileges of a Reserve Police Officer under the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951 (Bom. XXXVIII of 1951).
State Reserve Police Force,
13. It, is, therefore, clear that the head constable is appointed by the commandant and the commandant has, therefore, power to hold an inquiry against him. This is made very clear in Section 9 of the Bombay Reserve Police Force Act, 1951, which runs as follows :
9. The Commandant shall, subject to the orders of the Inspector-General of Police, direct and regulate all matters of arms, drill, exercise, mutual relations, distribution of duties, and all the matters of executive detail in the fulfilment of their duties by the members of the group in his charge.
14. In my opinion, the words 'all the matters of executive detail' roust include the departmental inquiry also, which is incidental and consequential to the running of the department and there can be no doubt whatsoever that by virtue of Section 9 of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951, it is the commandant who is also the appointing authority who can hold an inquiry against his subordinate.
15. This is made further clear by Section 19 of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951, which lays down :
19. Except as specifically provided in the foregoing sections of this Act, every reserve police officer shall for all purposes be deemed to be a police officer as defined in the Bombay Police Act, 1951, and the provisions of that Act shall, except in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, apply to every such reserve police officer.
16. In other words, the provisions of the Bombay Police Act, 1951, in so far as they are not inconsistent with the provisions of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951, will apply to the members of the State Reserve Police Force.
17. Section 25(2)(a) of the Bombay Police Act, 1951 empowers a superintendent, who is of the equal rank of a commandant, to punish any members of the subordinate ranks and that provision will also apply with the necessary mutatis mutandis to the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951.
18. Mr. Naik submitted that whereas the Police Manual and the Bombay Civil Services Rules specifically provide for the holding of an inquiry by a superintendent in respect of a head constable, there is no such provision in respect of a head constable in the State Reserve Police Force.
19. The above argument has to be rejected, having regard to the provisions of Sections 9 and 19 of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951 discussed above.
20. Mr. Naik submitted that the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Rules, 1959 specifically and expressly provide for an inquiry to be held by the commandant in respect of offences under Sections 14 and 15 of the Act and not with regard to any other offences; and, therefore, it would not be proper to read into Section 9 the power to hold an inquiry in respect of a charge, as in the present case, which falls outside the province of Sections 14 and 15 of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951.
21. It is well-settled that the Rule cannot override or detract from the general powers conferred under the Act. The rule makers must not have made any specific provisions in view of the general provision contained in Section 9 of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951, which has placed commandant in full charge of all matters of executive detail, which must include descipline, and only as a matter of abundant caution, they seem to have made the rule in respect of Sections 14 and 15, which cannot be said to be exhaustive of the breaches of discipline which the members of the State Reserve Police Force may commit in the course of the working of the Force.
22. I am, therefore, of the opinion that, having regard to the general provisions contained in Sections 9 and 19 of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951, the commandant of the group had full power to hold the inquiry into the indiscipline of the plaintiff.
23. Mr. Naik is right in the submission that the learned Civil Judge was not justified in taking recourse to Rule 47 which applies only in respect of offences under Sections 14 and 15, but that does not mean that his conclusion was wrong, having regard to the provision of Sections 9 and 19 of the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act discussed above.
24. Mr. Naik submitted that the view that I am taking is inconsistent with the view in the The State v. Bhimrao Vithal  77 Bom. L.R. 593 a case under the Bombay Police Manual and the Bombay Civil Services Rules read with the Bombay Police Act. In my opinion, the case is distinguishable, because here we are concerned with the special provisions contained in the Bombay State Reserve Police Force Act, 1951, which have been already discussed above.
25. It was then argued by Mr. Naik that the charge made against the plaintiff was false and unfounded. No letter written by the plaintiff to the trainees was produced by any of the trainees and even the learned Judge had observed that it was not right on the part of the police to have intercepted the letter addressed to the plaintiff; and, therefore, the plaintiff was punished without any evidence against him.
26. Whether the evidence in the departmental inquiry is sufficient or not is for the departmental persons, who are concerned with the departmental inquiry, to decide. All material witnesses were examined and permitted to be cross-examined by the plaintiff. The inquiry officer relied on the unshaken evidence of the witnesses. The Court cannot run all departments of State or hold supplementary disciplinary inquiries in this country and such a function is not expected of the civil Court either under the Constitution or under any Act or enactment. The Court, in my opinion, has to observe its own limits.
27. The learned Civil Judge was, perhaps, not justified in taking objection to the interception of the letter addressed to the plaintiff head constable, because if indisciplined corrupt head constables' man the State Reserve Police Force, there could be no security in this country and no proper discipline or training of the Force ; and the State machinery must be competent enough to deal with such people and one of the ways in which it can deal with such people is to keep a watch on the contacts they try to have through correspondence and other means.
28. The security of the country and the maintenance of law and order and discipline of the department, therefore, justified the interception of the letter addressed to the plaintiff in this case, particularly because it was clear that the results of the trainees were not declared and the letter showed that the plaintiff had informed the results already to the trainees and had demanded money.
29. It was for the commandant who hold the departmental inquiry and his superiors before whom the appeals lay to consider the merits of the matter, and since they have come to the conclusion that the plaintiff was liable to be punished after a full opportunity was given to him, the civil Court cannot sit in judgment over the appreciation of the evidence or the quantity of the evidence in the departmental inquiry proceedings.
30. In the result, the judgment and decree passed by the learned Civil Judge, Senior Division, Poona, on September 30, 1970 are affirmed and the above first appeal is dismissed with costs.