1. B. Martin - the Petitioner - was a Grade III Plane table in the Department of Survey of India. In a departmental enquiry, he has been reverted to Grade IV Plane table. He assails in this writ petition the validity of his reversion.
2. In 1963-64 he was working as a Plane table at Inchampalli Reservoir, Sirpur Taluk, Adilabad District in Andhra Pradesh. He was required to do Air Survey Compilation work at camp Headquarters. The Director of Southern Circle, Survey of India. when he visited the, work spot, found the petitioner not maintaining the required standard of his grade. He noticed some omissions and commissions alleged to have been committed by the petitioner in the performance of his duty. On 15th May, 1964, the Director intimated the petitioner that an enquiry would be held against him under Rule 15 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1957. He also furnished the petitioner a memorandum of charge in the following terms along with the particulars of the allegations:
'That the said Sri B. Martin, while working as a Plane table in No. 17 party (S. C.) during 1963-64 failed to maintain the required standard of his grade.'
The petitioner in his reply, denied the said charge and other allegations. On 21st July 1964, the petitioner was asked to appeal before the Director by a memo stating thus:
'You may come and put your case before me in my office at 10 a. m. on 24-7-1964.
For O. C. No. 17 Party. I would also Like You to be Present, Please.
Sd/- J. C. Ross,
As per the said memo, the petitioner appeared on 24th July, 1964. In the enquiry there was no presentation of the case nor any examination of the witnesses, except the recording of the statement of the petitioner. Several questions were put to the petitioner by the Director and answers were elicited. With the recording of that statement, the enquiry was closed. On 1st August, 1964, the Director called upon the petitioner to show cause why he should not be compulsorily retired. A copy of the record of hearing of the petitioner was also furnished to him. The Petitioner submitted his reply raising several contentions, including the irregularities in holding the enquiry and denial of rules of natural justice. On 27th October, 1964, the Director after considering the reply made an order reducing the Petitioner from Grade III to Grade IV Plane table.
Against the said order, the petitioner appealed to the. Surveyor General of India. The appeal was summarily dismissed. Challenging the above orders, the petitioner approached this Court in W. P. 1802 of 1966 (Mys). On 20th March 1969, the said writ petition was allowed, quashing the appellate order only, with a direction to re-hear the appeal and dispose of the same in accordance with the rules. This Court found that the appellate authority did not consider any one of the contentions raised by the petitioner. Pursuant to the direction of this Court, the appellate authority considered the appeal and again dismissed the same. The petitioner thereupon turned to this Court for relief in W. P. 3904 of 1969 (Mys). On 20th October 1972, the said writ petition was also allowed but with a similar direction as made in the previous petition. The Court again quashed the appellate order only, directing the reconsideration of the appeal in accordance with law. Pursuant thereto, the appeal was reconsidered, but dismissed by order dated 15th January 1973. The petitioner, perhaps, with unlimited Patience, has approached this Court for the third time.
3. Out of the several contentions raised on behalf of the petitioner, I will refer to only one of them, since, in my view, that by itself is sufficient to dispose of the writ petition.
The charge against the petitioner related to maintenance of the required standard or his inefficiency as a Plane table. It was urged that the decision to revert him was taken first, and the enquiry for the purpose was held next, and therefore, the enquiry was contrary to the rules of fair play. That contention, in my view, is wall founded and must prevail. The Director, during the course of his inspection, found that the petitioner has failed to maintain the required standard in performing his duty. He formed an opinion to revert him from Grade III to Grade IV Plane table. On 8th May, 1964, he called for a meeting of the Trade Testing Board of which he was the Chairman. The Board passed the following resolution:
'The Board agreed unanimously in recommending the down-grade of Sri B.Martin, Plane table of 17 Party (S. C.) to Plane table Grade IV due to his failure to maintain the required standard.'
The above resolution shows that the Director was firmly set against the petitioner. It was only thereafter the charge was framed against the petitioner and enquiry was held. The charge was framed on 15th May,1964 and enquiry was held on 24th July, 1964. As stated earlier, the enquiry consisted of only recording the statement of the petitioner by the Director himself. Apart from the several infirmities in holding the enquiry as pointed out by counsel for the petitioner, it seems to me that the entire enquiry was a farce, and was intended only to follow the rituals. The Petitioner could not have obtained an impartial order from the Director who had prejudged the whole issue, and who was very much biased against the petitioner. The bias he carried was fatal to his own decision and infringement of the constitutional rights guaranteed to the petitioner Article 311(2) of the Constitution. The clause has two-fold protection, one of which is to cover several stages in the fact-finding process with opportunity to a civil servant, to show cause against the allegations made against him, and the other conferring a right on him to present the case before an impartial and, unbiased disciplinary authority. These two protections become real only when the Enquiry Officer and the disciplinary authority remain like the Presiding Deity. With a radiant outlook and penetrating mind, they should give genuine consideration wit h an impartial attitude to every aspect of the matter that is brought be fore them. If I may put it in other words, the enquiry held by a person with fore closed mind, with pre-determined notions and pre-judging the issue should not form the basis of any Penal order.
4. In From United Breweries Co. v. Bath Justices, (1926 AC 586), the House of Lords held that the refusal to renew a licence by the compensation authority was bad because three of the Justices who sat and voted as members of the authority, had been parties to a resolution of the licensing Justice authorising a solicitor to appear on their behalf to oppose the renewal. A similar rule was applied by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in K. V. Narayana Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (AIR 1958 Andh Pra 636) in which the dismissal orders of some employees in the Road Transport Department were set aside on the, ground that one of the members of the Committee which took a final decision was a member of the earlier committee in which the decision was taken to dismiss the Petitioners.
5. It is not necessary to multiply the decisions on the point. The cases do speak with one voice on this matter. The Courts have often quashed decisions even on the strength of the reasonable suspicions of the party aggrieved, without having made any finding that a real likelihood, of the bias in fact existed. In the instant case, however, there is no difficulty to determine the existence of a real bias. The Director who was a party to the resolution of the Trade Testing Board deciding to down-grade the petitioner, could not, and in fact did not remain without bias. This was evident from his attitude reflected from the record of enquiry. While recording the statement of the Petitioner, and also considering the reply statement to the show cause notice, the Director sought to contradict the statements of the petitioner by importing his personal knowledge and self serving demonstration in the matter. A casual reference to the enquiry report confirms this view. That only shows that he foreclosed mind, being a Party to the resolution of the Trade Testing Board. I therefore hold that that the enquiry held and the penalty imposed on the petitioner was contrary to all canon of fair Play.
6. In the result, this petition is allowed, the impugned order of reversion and the order of the appellate authority are hereby quashed.
7.The Petitioner is entitled to his costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100/-.
8. Petition allowed.