Somnath Ayyar, J.
1. The petitioner who was an assistant station-master at Malur in the Southern Railway, was removed from his post by an order made on 24 September, 1963. This was a punishment imposed on him in a disciplinary proceeding in which the charge which was levelled against him was that he received a passenger train on the main line in contravention of station working instructions. The other concomitant part of the charge was that there was a failure by him to reckon the distance between the two stopping trains and that there was thus disobedience to Para. 4(j) of the accident rules. The enquiry commenced on 19 July, 1963 and concluded on next day.
2. The punishment imposed on the petitioner is challenged on more than one ground. But, it is not necessary for us to discuss all the complaints made in this writ petition which succeeds on a much shorter ground.
3. When the disciplinary enquiry was commenced against the petitioner, all that was done by the concerned authority was to communicate to him a charge which was as brief as it could be. That charge was not accompanied by a statement of the allegations on which the charge was based, although rule 1709 of the Railway Discipline and Appeal Rules regulating the conduct of disciplinary enquiries for railway servants other than those employed in the railway protection force, made it incumbent upon the authority to make available to the petitioner along with the charge that statement of allegations.
4. In Khem Chand v. Union of India and others [1959-I L.L.J. 167], the Supreme Court made the enunciation that an opportunity to deny the guilt and to establish innocence could be said to have been made available to the Government servant only when in addition to the charges levelled against him, the allegations on which those charges are based are also made available to him. Since the statement of allegations was not supplied to the petitioner in the case before us, it is clear that the opportunity to which he is entitled under Art. 311 of the Constitution was not made available to him, and so, the punishment has to be quashed on that ground.
5. The other ground on which we quash the punishment is that when on 27 June, 1963, the petitioner made a request to the concerned authority for copies of proceedings and the findings recorded in the preliminary enquiry which preceded the disciplinary proceeding, he was informed on 29 June, 1963, that those copies could not be supplied. That such refusal vitiated the punishment which was imposed on the petitioner is clear from the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Chintaman [A.I.R. 1961 S.C. 1623] in which it was explained that the Government servant against whom charges are framed is as of right entitled to copies of the prior statements of the witnesses examined during the disciplinary proceeding and that if those statements were not supplied, there was a deprivation of the reasonable opportunity of which Art. 311 of the constitution speaks, and, in that context, the Supreme Court said this at p. 1627 :
'Thus, it was of very great importance for the defence to cross examine these two witnesses, and for that purpose the respondent wanted copies of their prior statements recorded by Sri Ghatwal in his preliminary enquiry. It is difficult to understand how these statements could be regarded as secret papers, for that alone is the reason given for not supplying their copies to the respondent. Failure to supply the said copies to the respondent made it almost impossible for the respondent to submit the said two witnesses to an effective cross-examination; and that in substance deprived the respondent of a reasonable opportunity to meet the charge.'
6. In the view we take, it is not necessary for us to embark upon a discussion of the question whether there was no disobedience to the relevant rules by the petitioner and that such disobedience was only on the part of the pointsman.
7. We quash the impugned punishment. In consequence, the petitioner will be reinstated to his post and will be entitled to all the benefits and advantages flowing from such reinstatement and this judgment.
8. We make no order as to costs.