1. I.A. II filed by the respondent requesting the appeal be heard early has been listed for orders today. This appeal is taken up for hearing with the consent of the advocates.
2. Sri C. S. Kothavale has appeared on behalf of the appellant.
3. Respondent filed a suit for declaration that the order of dismissal passed by the Superintendent of Police, Dharwad under his No. EST-6PR-95-76 dated 15th April, 1977 is null and void and for grant of consequential relief.
4. The facts found by the trail Court are that the plaintiff was working as a Police Constable. Various charges were leveled against him. A Departmental Enquiry was held. He was kept under suspension during the departmental enquiry. The Circle Inspector of Police was appointed as the Enquiry Officer. He submitted his report to the Disciplinary authority viz., the Superintendent of Police. The Superintendent of Police passed the order impugned Plaintiff filed an appeal before the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Plaintiff failed. He filed a Revision Petitioner before the Government and there also he failed. Thereafter he has filed this suit.
5. The contentions of the plaintiff were that he was not given any reasonable opportunity of being heard in the Departmental Enquiry (Issue No. 1); his previous record was good (Issue No. 2); the Disciplinary Authority had not given him reasonable opportunity of making representation or not (Issue No. 3); and the Police Officer, who disposed of his appeal was merely holding charge of the post of D.I.G. of Police, North Range, but was not the Deputy Inspector General of Police when his appeal was disposed of incompetently (Issue No. 4).
6. The trial Court has found against the plaintiff on Issue Nos. 1 and 3. It was also held that the plaintiff had proved that there was absence of previous bad record against him (Issue No. 2). In regard to issue No. 4 it has held that the Police Officer holding the post as Incharge Deputy Inspector General of Police, North Range, Belgaum, had no competence to decide the appeal and therefore, the dismissal was bad in law. The trial Court further held that the order of suspension was bad and therefore the departmental enquiry was also bad as the same was based on the order of suspension which was bad in law. It may be stated at this reasoning is perverse.
7. The State went up in appeal against the judgment and decree of the trial Court. It is seen from the judgment of the lower appellate Court that only one point was canvassed before it and that matter is the subject of issue No. 4.
8. The lower Appellate Court has placed reliance on the decisions in D. S. Nanjappa v. State of Mysore reported in 1971 (1) Karnataka Law Journal page 519, and S. Inayathulla v. Dy. Conservator of Forests - 1982(2) K.L.C. Page 335 and held that a Police Officer in charge of the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police was not competent to decide the appeal preferred by the plaintiff.
9. Sri L. S. Chikkanagoudar, appearing on behalf of the plaintiff pointed out that though the disciplinary authority does not appear to have taken the past record of the plaintiff into consideration while imposing the penalty of dismissal, the appellate authority has at the end of the order passed by it adverted to it and therefore, the material which has not been established has been taken into consideration. In this very connection he argued that it can be inferred from the show cause notice issued by the disciplinary authority that the disciplinary authority also appears to have been influenced by this aspect.
10. I am clear in my mind that these aspects are not to be considered by the Civil Courts in matters of this nature. What is to be considered by the Civil Court is whether the enquiry was held according to the Rules governing the same.
The Civil Court cannot enter into the quantum of penalty imposed on the appellant-plaintiff, as the Civil Court has no power to interfere with the quantum of penalty.
11. In view of the foregoing the only question that falls for consideration is : Whether the Police Officer, who was in charge of the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, North Range, was competent in law to deal with the appeal and pass an order as the appellate authority The two Courts below and particularly the lower appellate Court have failed to consider S. 167 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963. It reads as follows :
'Officers holding charge of, or succeeding to, vacancies competent to exercise powers :-
Whenever in consequence of the office of a Commissioner, or Police Officer becoming vacant, any officer holds charge or additional charge of the post of such Commissioner, or Police Officer or succeeds, either temporarily or permanently to hi office, such officer shall be competent to exercises all the powers and perform all the duties respectively conferred and imposed by this Act on such Commissioner of Police Officer, as the case may be.'
Section 2(16) of the Act defines 'Police Officer' as follows :-
'Police Officer' means any members of the police force appointed or deemed to be appointed under this Act and includes a special or an additional Police Officer appointed under S. 19 or 20;'
Section 6 of the Act provides for appointment of Inspector-General and Deputy Inspector-General of Police. The State Government has to do it. It is clear on a reading of S. 2(16) and S. 6 of the Act, that the Inspector General and the Deputy Inspector General of Police are 'Police Officers' within the meaning of S. 2(16) of the Act. When that is so, the word 'Police Officer' occurring in S. 167 of the act will have to be understood in that manner.
12. It was argued that the word 'Police Officer' occurs after the word 'Commissioner' in S. 167 of the Act, and therefore, the 'Police Officer' advertised to in S. 167 of the Act, means necessarily those below the rank of the Commissioner. This reasoning forgets that the Rule of harmonious construction would be violated in view of the definition of the word 'Police Officer' provided by S. 2(16) of the Act. At the most it can be said that the word 'Commissioner' occurring in S. 167 of the Act might appear to be redundant. Therefore, I do not see any substance in this argument.
13. In view of the foregoing, I allow the appeal set aside the judgment and decrees passed by the two courts below and dismiss the suit of the plaintiff. There will be no orders as to cost in this appeal having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case.