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Pochamreddi Sundara Rami Reddi Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh Represented by the Secy. Revenue Dept., Hyderabad and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 1125 of 1964
Judge
Reported inAIR1966AP11
ActsMadras Hereditary Village Offices Act, 1895 - Sections 10; Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantPochamreddi Sundara Rami Reddi
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh Represented by the Secy. Revenue Dept., Hyderabad and ors.
Appellant AdvocateR. Venkata Subba Rao, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateO.A. Reddy, 3rd Govt. Pleader, ;V. Venkata Ramana Reddy, Adv.
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....offices act, 1895 and article 226 of constitution of india - petitioner ousted from his office of village munsif by respondent-government as per government order as it requires reinstatement of respondent as acting village munsif - petitioner sought to quash order passed by respondent-government - petitioner to be given an opportunity of being heard before an order in favour of acting village munsif passed - petitioner entitled to represent for showing that he is entitled to continue to act as village munsif -held, impugned order deserves to be quashed in view of fact that opportunity to represent not afforded. - motor vehicles act (59 of 1988)section 149 (2): [v. gopala gowda & jawad rahim, jj] insurers entitlement to defend the action joint appeal by insured and insurer - held,..........said g. o. the salient facts are as follows:2. the case relates to the appointment of an acting village munsif in the village of pudiparthi in nellore district. the permanent village munsif was one pattabhirami reddi, the deceased brother of the petitioner. he went on sick leave sometime in july 1955. thereupon the third respondent was appointed to act in that leave vacancy. the order of appointment stated that the third respondent was appointed for six months. it also stated that the permanent village munsif should produce a medical certificate of fitness before he joined his post. however the permanent village munsif extended his leave from time to time with the result that the third respondent continued to officiate in the leave vacancy. on 22-9-1957, the tahsildar (second.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Gopala Krishnan Nair, J.

1. The petitioner asks for an appropriate writ, order or direction to quash the order passed by the first respondent-Government in G. O. Ms. No. 526 Revenue dated 27-3-1964 and to direct the respondents not to enforce said G. O. The salient facts are as follows:

2. The case relates to the appointment of an acting village munsif in the village of Pudiparthi in Nellore District. The permanent village munsif was one Pattabhirami Reddi, the deceased brother of the petitioner. He went on sick leave sometime in July 1955. Thereupon the third respondent was appointed to act in that leave vacancy. The order of appointment stated that the third respondent was appointed for six months. It also stated that the permanent village munsif should produce a medical certificate of fitness before he joined his post. However the permanent village munsif extended his leave from time to time with the result that the third respondent continued to officiate in the leave vacancy. On 22-9-1957, the Tahsildar (second respondent) directed the permanent village munsif to join duty and the third respondent to hand over the records to the permanent village munsif. On 4-10-1957 the permanent village munsif wrote to the Deputy Tahsildar that he was in good health and that he may be allowed to join duty. On 6-10-1957 the Tahsildar issued another notice to the permanent village munsif asking him to join duty and directing the third respondent to hand over charge to the permanent village munsif. On 9-10-1957 the third respondent acknowledged receipt of this order and undertook in writing to the Tah-sildar that he would hand over the records to the permanent village munsif.

The permanent village munsif reported to the Tahsildar on 9-10-1957 that he had taken charge of the post. However, the third respondent did not hand over the records to the permanent incumbent. Therefore, on 20-10-1957 the Revenue Inspector took delivery of some registers and account books from the third respondent. On 26-10-1957 the permanent village munsif applied for two months' leave. On 29-10-1957 the Tahsildar put the village munsif of Sarvepalli Bit III in additional charge of Pudiparthi. On 9-11-1957 the third respondent sent an application to the Revenue Divisional Officer requesting him that he may be appointed again in the leave vacancy and that the orders of the Tahsildar putting the Sarvepalli village munsif in additional charge may be stayed. On this application, the Revenue Divisional Officer issued stay orders on 9-11-1957 itself. This stay order was communicated to the Tahsildar on 14-11-1957. But before that it appears that the Sarvepalli village munsif had already taken additional charge of Pudiparthi village. Therefore, on 21-11-1957 the Tahsildar reported to the Revenue Divisional Officer that the stay order could not be given effect to as the Sarvepalli village munsif nad taken charge on 29-10-1957 itself. This communication also requested that the arrangement made by the Tahsildar to be ratified rill a suitable man is appointed as village munsif of Pudiparlhi, This communication further added that the third respondent was an undesirable person.

On 6-12-1957 the Revenue Divisional Officer passed an order that the third respondent should be 'deemed to be in office'. It is by no means clear that the third respondent had actually taken charge as village munsif or func-tioned as such. On 5-2-1958 the third respondent sent a leave application from Hyderabad to the Revenue Divisional Officer. But the leave does not appear to have been granted to him at any time. However, he continued to be away at Hyderabad while keeping some of the village records with him. In April 1958 the Rvenue Authorities appear to have obtained possession of these records from the third respondent with the help of the police. In July 1958 the Tahsildar framed charges of misappropriation against the third respondent and submitted a punishment roll to the Revenue Divisional Officer. On 16-8-1958 the Revenue Divisional Officer approved the arrangement made by the Tahsildar of putting the Sarvepalli village mnnsif in additional charge of Pudiparthi village. This ratification appears to relate back to 29-10-1957 when the Sarvepalli village munsif took additional charge of Pudiparthi. By the beginning of March 1959, the Sarvepalli village munsif appears to have expressed inability or difficulty in holding additional charge of Pudiparthi village also. Therefore, on 5-3-1959 the petitioner, who is the brother of the permanent village mnnsif, was appointed as acting village munsif of Pudiparthi.

On 1-6-1959 the permanent village munsif resigned but requested the Revenue Divisional Officer that his minor son may be registered as 'missal' and his brother (Petitioner herein) be appointed as a Prow. On 3-1-1960 the Revenue Divisional Officer ratified the appointment of the petitioner with effect from 5-3-1959 till the post of Pudiparthi village munsif was permanently filled up. In January 1961 the permanent village munsif died thereby creating a permanent vacancy. The third respondent, who in the intervening time, had been prosecuted for criminal misappropriation of Government monies, was acquitted by the Munsif Magistrate, Gudur on 9-3-1962. Thereafter he made endeavours to join as village munsif of Pudiparthi. Those attempts did not succeed. Eventually, he filed a petition to the Board of Revenue on 24-7-1962 asking that he be appointed as acting village iminsif of Pudiparthi. The Board rejected that application. Thereupon the third respondent filed a 'revision' to the Government on 8-5-1963. The Government rejected it on 30-10-1968.

Subsequently on 18-11-1963 the third respondent filed a review petition before the Government, Government allowed this review petition in G. O. Ms. No. 526 Revenue dated 27-3-1964. Prior to this on 16-1-1964, the Board of Revenue appears to have directed the Collector, Nellore to enter the third respondent's name in the special register which is intended for village servants who have been guilty of delinquency. After the impugned G. O. dated 27-8-1964 was passed, the Deputy Tahsildar issued orders to the petitioner to vacate the office of villa He munsif and hand over charge to the third respondent. This led the petitioner to come to this court with a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.

3. Respondents in their counter-affidavits support the impugned order of the Government dated 27-3-1964. They say that the third respondent was neither suspended nor removed from his post as acting village munsif of Pudi-parthi and that therefore he ought to have been permitted to join duty after his acquittal in the criminal case. The omission of the Revenue Divisional Officer and the Collector to put him back as the acting village munsif was wrong and therefore the Government was justified in passing the impugned order asking him to be reinstated as acting village munsif.

4. The petitioner's learned counsel attacks the impugned order on the following grounds: (1) The appointment of the petitioner on 5-3-59 which was subsequently confirmed and ratified by the Revenue Divisional Officer on 3-1-1960 was to enure until a permanent incumbent was appointed as village iminsif of Pudiparthi. This appointment must be deemed to have been made under section 10(5) of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act. Therefore Government had no jurisdiction to pass the impugned order af-fecting the petitioner's right to hold the office. (ii) Even assuming that the appointment was not made under section 10(5) of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, Government had no jurisdiction to pass the impugned order and the entire matter should have ended with the Collector. Nellore. (iii) In any event, the impugned order cannot be upheld because the person who was vitally affected by it, namely, the petitioner, was not given any notice by the Government be-fore it passed the impugned order.

5. I do not think there is much substance in the first two grounds. There is nothing to show that the order appointing the petitioner as acting village munsif WAS made under section 10(5) of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act. Indeed the son of the deceased village munsii was not registered as a missal. Without his being so registered, the question of appointing a Proxy cannot arise. Therefore as a matter of fact, this condition cannot prevail.

6. The second contention that the Government had no jurisdiction to pass the impugned order also does not appear to be well-founded. The case of appointment of acting village munsif as in the instant case is outside the provisions of the statute as also of the Boards Standing Orders. In such a case, I think the Government, in view of the over-all superintendence and control it has over the entire administration of the -State, is entitled to intervene and pass appropriate orders. No doubt, it is only in very exceptional cases that an order once passed by the Government will be reviewed. But merely because the Government in the instant case have chosen to review their order, it is not sufficient for holding that the order passed in review is void and unenforceable. The circumstances in which an order should be reviewed and the propriety of reviewing a prior order, must, in a case like the present, be left to the Government's sense of fairness and administrative propriety.

7. The third and last contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner seems to me to be really substantial. Here is a case where by the impugned order the petitioner was virtually ousted from his office of village munsif which he was occupying since March 1959 without a break. Therefore he was a person vitally af-fected in the matter. This is especially so when we consider that he was appointed to act as village munsif till that post was permanently filled up. In such a case, a person like the third respondent, who at best had only a right to act for a short time at the pleasure or discretion of the authorities and who, unlike the petitioner, was not told that he would continue to officiate as village munsif until a permanent village mini-sit was appointed, ought not to have given an order which had the result of summarily ousting the petitioner from his office without any opportunity being given to make his representations. There is nothing to show that the order passed by the Revenue Divisional Officer appointing the petitioner to act as Village Munsif until a permanent man is appointed, is ab initio void in law. In such a case, I think, every principle of fairness required the petitioner to e given an opportunity of being heard, before an order in favour of the third respondent was passed by the Government. And it is not as if the petitioner had nothing cogent to say by way of representations to the Government. It was open to the petitioner to stand upon the circumstance that he was entitled to act as village munsif until a permanent incumbent was appointed. It was also open to him to point out that the third respondent, on account of the orders passed on 6-10-1957 and served on him and acknowledged by him on 9-10-1957 ceased to be an acting village munsif. The application of the third respondent to the Revenue Divisional Officer on 9-11-1957 requesting the latter that he may be appointed in the leave vacancy upto 21-1-1958 would also show that even the third respondent considered himself to be out of appointment at that time. There does not appear to have been a subsequent order appointing the third respondent to act as village munsif. The effect of the order of the R. D. O. dated 6-12-1957 stating that the third respondent should be 'deemed to be in office' required to be considered in the back-ground of all the facts and the previous orders. It was open to the petitioner to urge before the Government that the order of 6-12-1957 did not amount to an order of appointment and that if the third respondent had ceased to be an acting village munsif prior to 6-12-1957, he could not properly be 'deemed to be in office' on 6-12-1957 and that therefore the deeming order was not valid and fell to be ignored. The petitioner could also have urged that the subsequent order of 5-3-1959 appointing him to act as village munsif until the appointment of a permanent village munsif which was later ratified by the Revenue Divisional Officer had the effect of putting an end to the effect of the Revenue Divisional Officer's deeming order of 6-12-1957. Then there is the circumstance of the criminal prosecution launched against the third respondent and also the circumstance that on 16-1-1964 the Board of Revenue had directed the Collector to include the third respondent's name in the special register.

These and other matters the petitioner was entitled to place before the Government for their consideration. These are relevant matters which the Government ought to have considered before coining to a decision. The petitioner ought to have been given an opportunity to make his representations to show that he is entitled to continue to act as village munsif. As such an opportunity was not given, the order passed by the Government which had the effect of affecting the rights of the petitioner cannot be upheld. As pointed out by the Supreme Court in Rade-shyam v. State of M. P., : [1959]1SCR1440 at p. 119 the circumstance that an action taken by an authority is an administrative action does not mean that that authority has not to observe the ordinary rules of fairplay. Their Lordships observed:

'Reference to the observation made by Fortesque J. in Dr. Bentley's case R. v. University of Cambridge, (1723) 93 ER 698 (704) about God asking Adam and Eve whether they had eaten the forbidden fruit appearing in the judgment of Byles J. in Cooper v. Wandsworth Board of Works. (1863) 14 CB (NS) 180: 143 ER 414 is apposite. The decision in the last mentioned case clearly establishes that in some cases it may be necessary to give an opportunity to a party to have his say before an administrative action is taken against him.'

It is not necessary to deal with the other English cases on this point many of which are discussed in a recent judgment of the House of Lords in Ridge v. Baldwin, 1964 AC 40. In view of the circumstance that the Government had not given a notice to the petitioner before passing the impugned order, the order passed by the Government is set aside and the matter is remitted to Government for fresh consideration and disposal after giving notice to the petitioner and affording him a lair opportunity to make his representations. In the circumstances, I make no order as to costs.


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