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Nanjundappa (B.N.) Vs. State of Mysore - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition No. 2388 of 1963
Judge
Reported in(1966)ILLJ260Kant; (1965)1MysLJ347
ActsMysore Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1957; Mysore Government Servants' Conduct Rules - Rule 20; Mysore Motor Vehicles Act, 1959 - Sections 42; Constitution of India - Article 226; Motor Vehicles Act, 1939
AppellantNanjundappa (B.N.)
RespondentState of Mysore
Excerpt:
.....petitioner, were pleased to appoint the director, anti-corruption and technical audit (p. ' 2. the enquiry officer recommended to the government that the next increment of the petitioner may be stopped for a period of two years and extra tax of rs. b in this writ petition, discloses that the allegations against the petitioner were enquired into by the police inspector attached to the directorate of anti-corruption and inspection and that investigation disclosed a prima facie case against the petitioner, and the government having been satisfied that there was a prima facie case, they were pleased to appoint the director of anti-corruption and technical audit, in their order, dated 4 february, 1963, to frame charges and to conduct an enquiry against the petitioner. these are well-settled..........the provisions of the mysore civil services (classification, control and appeal) rules, 1957. the enquiry officer accordingly framed charges against the petitioner and held an enquiry. of the five charges, charges ii and iv were alone held proved against the petitioner. the said charges were : 'charge ii. - that the accused government officer sri nanjundappa lent his private car bearing no. mye 3637 for hire between 18 and 22 december, 1961 for the journey of the 'paramount ruler of malaya and party' from bangalore to mysore, bandipur and other places and back knowing it to be an illegal act and by creating false evidence, drew hire charges of rs. 291.47 for himself and thus contravened rule 20 of the mysore government servants' conduct rules and s. 42 of the mysore motor vehicles act,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This writ petition, preferred under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India, is directed against the orders passed by the respondent (State of Mysore) in G.O. No. GAD 311 SMC 62, dated 22 July, 1963 (Ex. C) and G.O. No. GAD 311 SMC 62, dated 14 November, 1963 (Ex. F), by which the petitioner, officiating in the Mysore Administrative Service, senior scale, and holding the post of Deputy Commissioner for Land Records, was ordered to be reverted to the lower time-scale of Rs. 350-25-650-30-800 for a period of five years, in consequence of the findings recorded against him in a departmental enquiry holding him guilty of misconduct in the discharge of his duties. At the time the alleged misconduct is said to have taken place, the petitioner was an Under Secretary, General Administration (General), in Bangalore. While he was working in that capacity, the allegations of misconduct against the petitioner were enquired into by the police inspector attached to the Directorate of Anti-corruption and Inspection, Bangalore. The investigation disclosed a prima facie case that the petitioner had violated the provisions of the Mysore Government Servants' Conduct Rules, with a view to gain pecuniary advantage for himself. Government, having been satisfied that there was a prima facie case against the petitioner, were pleased to appoint the Director, Anti-corruption and Technical Audit (P.W.D), in their No. GAD 311 SMC 62, dated 4 February, 1963, to frame charges and conduct an enquiry in accordance with the provisions of the Mysore Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1957. The enquiry officer accordingly framed charges against the petitioner and held an enquiry. Of the five charges, charges II and IV were alone held proved against the petitioner. The said charges were :

'Charge II. - That the accused Government officer Sri Nanjundappa lent his private car bearing No. MYE 3637 for hire between 18 and 22 December, 1961 for the journey of the 'Paramount Ruler of Malaya and Party' from Bangalore to Mysore, Bandipur and other places and back knowing it to be an illegal act and by creating false evidence, drew hire charges of Rs. 291.47 for himself and thus contravened rule 20 of the Mysore Government Servants' Conduct Rules and S. 42 of the Mysore Motor Vehicles Act, 1959.

Charge IV. - That the accused Government officer made false record in the conveyance bill dated 25 January, 1962 that A. David is the owner of the car No. MYE 3637 although the accused Government officer himself was the owner and knew that A. David was not the owner.'

2. The enquiry officer recommended to the Government that the next increment of the petitioner may be stopped for a period of two years and extra tax of Rs. 12 payable by him may be recovered. The Government in their order No. GAD 311 SMC 62, dated 22 July, 1963, recorded their findings on the charges levelled against the petitioner, and a second show-cause notice was issued to the petitioner to show cause as to why he should not be reverted permanently to the lower time-scale of Rs. 350-25-650-30-800. The petitioner submitted his representations against the proposed action, and after considering the same, the Government passed their order dated 14 November, 1963, imposing punishment of reversion to the lower time-scale of Rs. 350-25-650-30-800 for a period of five years. Aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner has approached this Court for relief under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India.

3. Though the petitioner has challenged the findings of the Government on the enquiry report submitted by the enquiry officer, and the order of punishment imposed on the petitioner on a number of grounds, his learned counsel at the hearing urged only two grounds, viz. :

(i) that the findings of the enquiry officer are vitiated by personal bias; and

(ii) that the order of the enquiry officer suffers from error apparent on the face of the record, and that on the material on record, no reasonable person could have come to the conclusion which the enquiry officer has arrived at.

Regarding ground (i). - The ground of personal bias alleged against the enquiry officer was that he had held preliminary investigation in which he had come to the conclusion that a prima facie case had been made out against the petitioner in respect of the charges levelled against him, and the enquiry officer did not and could not have come with an open mind since he had already pre-judged the case against the petitioner. Petitioner's learned counsel did not place any material before us in support of his contention that the Director of Anti-corruption and Technical Audit (P.W.D.) who was the enquiry officer appointed by the Government had held a preliminary investigation in which he had come to the conclusion that a prima facie case had been made out against the petitioner in respect of the charges levelled against him. Such a contention was raised for the first time in this Court. The report of the enquiry officer, marked Ex. B in this writ petition, discloses that the allegations against the petitioner were enquired into by the police inspector attached to the Directorate of Anti-corruption and Inspection and that investigation disclosed a prima facie case against the petitioner, and the Government having been satisfied that there was a prima facie case, they were pleased to appoint the Director of Anti-corruption and Technical Audit, in their order, dated 4 February, 1963, to frame charges and to conduct an enquiry against the petitioner. Learned Government Pleader also drew our attention to the evidence of P. Ws. 9 and 10 wherein the witnesses have stated that they were examined by the police inspector of the Anti-corruption Department in connexion with the enquiry against the petitioner. In his representation to the Government against the findings of the enquiry officer, the petitioner did not allege of any personal bias against the enquiry officer.

4. The principles governing the doctrine of bias applicable to judicial tribunals are also applicable to quasi-judicial tribunals. These are well-settled and they are :

(i) No man shall be a judge in his own cause.

(ii) Justice should no only be done but mainfestly and undoubtedly seem to be done.

5. Pecuniary bias however shall and will disqualify a person from acting as a judge. The position, however, is different when personal bias is alleged. It is not necessary to show that his judgment has been affected by personal bias; the test is whether there is a reasonable ground for assuming the possibility of bias, whether it is likely to produce in the minds of the litigant or the public reasonable doubt about the fairness of adjudication. Personal bias, however, must be established. In the instant case, the plea of personal bias against the enquiry officer has not been established.

6. There is also one more ground for rejecting the plea of personal bias against the enquiry officer. If the petitioner had any apprehension of bias on the part of the enquiry officer, he would not have failed to make representation to that effect to the Government so that they may appoint some other officer to hold the enquiry. Even in his representations made against the findings of the enquiry officer, no allegations of personal bias were raised. We have perused the report of the enquiry officer carefully, and we find no basis for the plea of any personal bias alleged. Of the five charges, only two were held against the petitioner and the rest were held not proved. The punishment recommended by the enquiry officer was that the next increment of the petitioner may be stopped for a period of two years, and the extra tax of Rs. 12 payable by him may be recovered. The petitioner took a chance to obtain a favourable report from the enquiry officer and when it subsequently turned out, that the report had gone against him, and the Government while agreeing with the findings of the enquiry officer proposed a heavier punishment, he had raised this plea of personal bias before this Court for the first time. The alleged bias in the enquiry officer does not render the proceedings invalid if it is shown that the objection against his holding an enquiry had not been taken by the petitioner even though he had an opportunity to do so. Waiver or acquiescence in such circumstances can be inferred from the conduct of the petitioner. Where a party alleging personal bias against the member of the tribunal did not choose to raise his objection to the constitution of the tribunal at the stage of the enquiry, knowing full well of the disability of the member of the tribunal, the Supreme Court in Manak Lal v. Dr. Premchand [1957 S.C.R. 575] held that the objection to the constitution of the tribunal can be waived, and waiver can be inferred if it is shown that he was aware of the material facts and his right to object to the constitution of the tribunal. In the instant case on his own plea the petitioner was aware of the material facts and he must be deemed to have been conscious of his legal rights in that matter and therefore his deliberate failure to raise the objection to the constitution of the tribunal at the earlier stage of the proceedings created a bar of waiver against him from raising it before this Court.

7. Regarding ground (ii). - The petitioner's learned counsel did not show us any error of law apparent on the face of the report of the enquiry officer. All that the petitioner has alleged under this ground is that there are some obvious mistakes when the enquiry officer refers to the number of the P. Ws. This is what the petitioner has alleged in Para. 10 of his affidavit :

'While dealing with the fourth charge the enquiry officer notices that P.W. 7 had stated that David was asked to sign the bill as 'proprietor' as I had instructed him, i.e., P.W. 7, to get the signature of David to the bill. A perusal of the evidence of P.W. 7 makes it clear that he has nowhere stated to the effect as noticed by the enquiry officer. The enquiry officer further notices that P.W. 10 had stated that he instructed the driver to sign the bill (Ex. P. 4) under my instructions and failed to notice that even the driver did not state that it was P.W. 10 that asked him to sign the bill. He definitely says that it was Pillappa, P.W. 9, that asked him to sign the bill. By this misreading of the evidence by the enquiry officer putting into the mouth of the witness statements which he has never made, he has come to the findings that charges have been proved against me. There is thus an error apparent on the face of the record vitiating the whole proceedings and conclusions arrived at.'

8. The reference by the enquiry officer to P.W. 7 to the effect that he had stated that David was asked to sign the bill as proprietor and that the petitioner had instructed him (P.W. 7) to get the signature of David to the bill is an obvious mistake. The reference ought to be to P.W. 10. P.W. 10 was the manager of the Residency Guest House, Bangalore, during the relevant period. He has stated in his deposition that he had engaged David to drive the car MYE 3637 owned by the petitioner under his instructions and as directed by the petitioner; and P.W. 10 had asked David to sign the bill, Ex. P. 4. The petitioner did not contend in the course of the disciplinary proceedings that he was not the owner of the car MYE 3637, that the said car was given without his consent for the use of the Malayan Ruler's party between 18 and 22 December, 1961 for their tour in the Mysore State and that the bill, Ex. P. 4, was not prepared showing that David, an ex-employee in the Residency, was the owner of the car. The bill showed the hire charges for the car for the period of use by the Malayan Ruler's party. It was initialled by the petitioner. These facts were undisputed by the petitioner. His explanation was that when the Malayan Ruler's party were about to start from the Residency on their tour of the State, one of the cars engaged went out of order, when P.W. 10, the manager of the Residency, brought this matter to the notice of the petitioner and that the petitioner in order to see that prestige of the Government was maintained by causing no inconvenience to the State guests, on a suggestion made by P.W. 10, offered his car for the use of the State guests and not for hire, and that the bill, Ex. P. 4, was prepared as per the suggestion of P.W. 10 to reimburse the damages to the car and not by way of hire. The question for decision of the disciplinary authority was as to which of the versions was probable. The Government, after considering the report of the enquiry officer and the entire records in the case, recorded their finding in the following words :

'Considering the other two charges, so far as charge II is concerned, Nanjundappa has admitted that car, bearing No. MYE 3637, used to convey the Malayan Ruler's party to Mysore and other places, belongs to him. His contention, however, is that it was not let out for hire but was made available with a view to avoid embarrassment to Government as there was acute shortage of vehicles at that time in Bangalore and that no hire charges were collected but only certain charges for the damages sustained by the car were received. It is seen from the relevant conveyance bill dated 25 January, 1962 (Ex. P. 4) that what was claimed and collected was hire charges at the rate of 75 nP per mile from 19 to 21 December, 1961, and daily hire at the rate of Rs. 35 per day plus cost of petrol for two days 18 and 22 December, 1961, on the ground that the car was used in Bangalore. Deducting Rs. 82.68 being the cost of petrol supplied by Government, a sum of Rs. 291.47 has been paid. The bill is passed by Nanjundappa himself in his capacity as Under Secretary to Government, which post he held at that time. The version that there was acute shortage of vehicles in Bangalore at that time and Nanjundappa was, therefore, obliged to make available his car and that what was collected was only the damages actually sustained is not made out. No acceptable evidence is adduced in this behalf. While in his first written statement Nanjundappa did not specify the nature of the damage sustained by the car but was merely content to say that it was damages sustained by the car, during evidence and in the second written statement a varied version is given to the effect that as a result of the journey in question it became necessary to replace the tyres of the car, that in fact tyres were purchased from D.W. 5 and what was received was only the price of these tyres. The witnesses examined in this behalf are interested, and as pointed out by the enquiry officer in his report, the evidence is discrepant, artificial and unacceptable. Further, the conveyance bill (Ex. P. 4) belies Nanjundappa's version. The bill is made out in the name of David and he is shown as the owner of the car, though Nanjundappa is the owner. The evidence of the transport clerk of the Residency Guest House proves that this bill was prepared at the instance of Nanjundappa. If Nanjundappa's version is true, the bill would be prepared in his own name and not in the name of David and that only the cost of damage or cost of tyres said to be replaced would be claimed. In these circumstances, Nanjundappa's contentions are not tenable. It is thus seen that Nanjundappa, being a Government servant, has gained pecuniary advantage for himself by putting his own car into service and the said car being a private car and has been plied for hire, he has thereby contravened the provisions of the Mysore Government Servants' Conduct Rules and the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. Charge II is made out and Government agrees with the enquiry officer and records its finding that charge II is proved. As regards charge IV, from what has been stated above while considering charge II, it is clear that even though Nanjundappa was admittedly the owner of the car, in the bill (Ex. P. 4) David is shown at his instance as the owner. From the evidence of David and other witnesses examined in the case, it is clear that this bill was prepared at the instance of Nanjundappa himself. It is also seen that Nanjundappa has himself passed the bill and it cannot be said so without knowing its actual contents. It is therefore, made out that a false record was made. Charge IV is, therefore, proved and Government records its finding accordingly.'

9. In the findings recorded by the Government, we are unable to see any error of law. It is purely a question of appreciation of the evidence on record. We are not sitting in appeal over the finding of the Government in disciplinary proceedings. Our duty is to watch that the tribunals do not transgress their jurisdiction or act illegally within the exercise of their jurisdiction. Therefore, the question is whether the proceedings are regular on their face. On questions of fact, the statutory authorities have their final voice since they are on their allotted ground. Unless it is shown that there are any jurisdictional errors arising on an erroneous view of the law or on issues concerning jurisdictional facts or that the conclusion is based on no evidence at all, this Court will not interfere with the orders made by statutory authorities in exercise of their jurisdiction. Learned counsel for the petitioner has not succeeded in showing any such errors.

10. For the above reasons, this writ petition fails and dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.


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