1. The petitioner is seeking to quash the order dated February 14, 1986 dismissing him from service on the solitary ground that he was convicted by the X Metro-politan Magistrate, Secunderabad in S.T.C. No. 13 of 1986 dated January 7, 1986 for an offence punishable under Section 186 I.P.C. and Section 70-B of the Hyderabad City Police Act. The facts are not in dispute.
2. The petitioner has been working as Security Guard of the respondent. On December 24, 1985, during night time on the festive Christmas day, the petitioner in the company of his friends was found to have been drunk and was alleged to have beaten two persons. As a result, police charge-sheeted the petitioner for the offence of affray and on receipt of summons, to avoid protraction in the proceedings, he pleaded guilty and accordingly was convicted and sentenced to pay fine. On receipt of the order, the management of the first respondent, by he impugned proceedings and in exercise of the power under Clause 23(35) of the Standing Orders which defined that conviction by a Criminal Court for moral turpitude - a mis-conduct read with Clause 27 (which dispenses with enquiry and be a basis for dismissal), dismissed the petitioner from service.
3. Sri Srinivas, learned counsel for the petitioner contends that drinking today and quarrelling at a private place between two individuals though is an offence of affray punishable under the above provisions, does not involve moral turpitude. Therefore, mere conviction on that basis does not entail the petitioner with dismissal from service. On the other hand, Sri P. L. N. Sarma, learned counsel for the respondent has contemplated that once the petitioner out-stepped his limits and was found in a drunken brawl, had beaten the members of the society, it is a moral turpitude as a transgression of the moral duty he owes to the society. Since it is an offence punishable under Section 186 IPC and Sec, 70-B of the City Police Act, the management has rightly dismissed him on the conviction given by the Criminal Court. In support thereof, he placed strong reliance on the decision reported in Durga Singh v. State of Punjab . The question, is therefore, whether drinking alcohol or toddy and in that drunken brawl, had quarrel between two individuals amounts to moral turpitude. In Words & Phrases, Permanent Edition. Volume 27, at page 556, 'Moral turpitude' has been defined thus :
'Moral turpitude is defined as an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in private and social duties owing to fellow men or society in general, contrary to accepted and customary rules. Moral turpitude is an act of baseness, villainy or depravity in the private social duties which a man owes to his fellow-men or to society in general contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man. The words involving moral turpitude as used in the law with reference to crimes, refer to conduct which is inherently base, vile or depraved, contrary to accepted rules of morality whether it is or is not punishable as a crime, they do not refer to conduct which before it was made punishable as a crime, was not generally regarded as wrong or corrupt. Turpitude is defined as inherent baseness or vileness of principle, words or actions or shameful wickedness or depravity, whereas moral describes conduct that conforms to the generally accepted rules which society recognises should govern everyone in his social and commercial relations with others regardless of whether those rules constitute legal obligations, so that 'moral turpitude' implies something in itself whether punishable by law or not, the word 'moral' serving only to emphasise the nature of the wrong committed'.
4. At page 565 it is found :
'Conviction of violation of the prohibition law is not such conviction of crime as involves moral turpitude'.
5. In Ramanatha Aiyar's Law Lexicon, 1940 Edition, at page 832 it is stated that :
'Moral turpitude : Anything done contrary to justice, honesty, principle or good morals; an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow men or to society in general contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man'.
6. This very word 'Moral Turpitude' is subject of several decisions and all the decisions have been culled out by a recent judgment of the Madras High Court in Management of T & Farm Equip. v. First Additional Labour Court (1982-II-LLJ-403 at P. 409). In this case, conviction was for drinking arrack and the question therein is whether it is an offence involving moral turpitude liable for dismissal from service. The learned Judge at page 409, in paragraph 16 has stated thus :
'.... Even act punishable in law would not amount to an offence involving moral turpitude. If that had been the intention then there is no necessity at all for statutes to say that a person convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude would be exposed to certain consequences or disqualification. The Legislature would have merely stated that a person who is punished for violation of any law would be exposed to such consequences, or disqualification. The question whether conviction for a particular offence involves moral turpitude will depend upon the facts and circumstances of the case. However in order to come within the scope of the phrase 'moral turpitude', there must be an element of baseness and depravity in the act for which a particular individual has been punished. The act must be vile or harmful to society in general or contrary to accepted rules of rights and duties between men and men. Merely a violation of a particular statute cannot amount to the commission of an act involving moral turpitude'.
It was held that the dismissal was not warranted as found by the Labour Court. It was set aside.
7. In Buddha Pitai v. S. D. O. (AIR) 1965 Allahabad 832 FB a Full Bench of Allahabad High Court considered this question in the context of selling 'adulterated food' - an article found to contain a colouring matter under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and the conviction to be a disqualification to an elective offence. Desai, C.J. speaking per majority had put a pertinent test thus :
'In deciding whether a person is convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude there are two ways of looking at the matter, one of considering the nature of the act done and the other of considering the nature of the offence punished under the statutory provision. Section 5-A speaks of 'an offence involving moral turpitude' and suggests that what is to be seen is the nature of the offence which is made punishable by the statutory provision and not that of the act which is brought within its ambit. It must be the offence, i.e., the ingredients of the offence prescribed by he statutory provision, and not the act actually done, which must involve moral turpitude. There is nothing inherently immoral in using a colouring matter other than that prescribed in respect of the article in which it is used. It is only a prohibited act and it is an offence simply because it a prohibited act'.
It was held that the conviction is not a disqualification to stand for an elective office.
8. In B. A. Khrist v. State of Gujarat 1978 (2) S.L.R. 830 (Guj), D. A. Desai, J. (as he then was) had considered the question of conviction of the petitioner by Criminal Court for an offence of gambling, under Secs. 5 and 6 of the Prevention of Gambling Act and consequent dismissal of the petitioner from service. In that context the entire gamut of controversy was considered by the learned Judge. It is held thus :
'It does not appear in the context of the present day society that it would be too traditional, too moral, extremely religious and highly ethical to hold that gambling involves moral turpitude. One must examine the notions of the present day society and its reaction towards gambling. In other words, is gambling moral or immoral or merely something which decent people would ordinarily detest, Standards and yardstick must be of a common work-a-day man without inhibition and taboo, and not of a highly religious or ethical person or moralist. In order to come to an appropriate conclusion whether gambling involves moral turpitude it is also equally necessary to understand what is meant by expression 'moral turpitude'.
The learned Judge further held :
'It thus appears both by the dictionary meaning as well as by decided cases that that conduct could be said to involve moral turpitude which would inculcate within its folds baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man. In other words it must be a conduct, involving grave infringement of the moral sentiment of the community which would shock the conscience of the society in which man lives and the conduct must be examined in relation to the office held by person whose conduct is examined.'
In Mangali v. Chakki Lal : AIR1963All527 being in possession of Bhang was an offence under Section 60 of the Excise Act. The conviction thereunder was held not a moral turpitude. In Risal Singh v. Chandgi Ram 0065/1966 conviction under Section 19(f) of the Arms Act is held not a moral turpitude. In Jaysing Rangarao Raut v. M. S. Elec. Board (1980-I-II-LLJ-117) conviction under Sections 149 and 341 I.P.C. is not a moral turpitude and the employee is not liable to dismissal from service for such a conviction. I respectfully agree with the ratio laid down in those cases. It is work a day rule in the present society. Though drinking is a common phenomenon by men of lower strata of society it is also not an unusual feature among men holding high responsible offices-constitutional or otherwise. Therefore mere drinking wine, arrack or toddy is not a depravity or vileness or a baseness in the private or social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen or society in general. As a matter of fact, it is common knowledge that under the Andhra Pradesh Excise Act of 1963, the Government is earning annually about six hundred corers of rupees by selling in public auction of its right to vending of intoxicants and thereby it has not only legitimized drinking intoxicants but also is abetting and thus is encouraging the drinking of intoxicants among the people. It is common knowledge that the common man after his day's work usually takes to drinks as a reliever of dreary and fatigue and it is a common phenomenon and everyday's incident among the common men that drunken brawl and petty quarrels after intoxication in the streets. The mere fact that a man is convicted for an offence of affray in a public place, under the statute by itself cannot be said to be depravity of mind or vileness or baseness of the conduct. Every offence under the Indian Penal Code does not necessarily constitute a depravity of the mind or vileness or baseness of the man. The offences like falsification of accounts or corruption, embezzlement, bribery etc. do involve moral turpitude and if a man is convicted for such an offence under the Indian Penal Code, it would certainly constitute an offence of moral turpitude. But merely because one takes to drink and a common man like the petitioner who is alleged to have drunk on a festive day in the company of friends and in the drunken brawl had quarrel with third persons and injured certain persons, does not itself constitute an offence of moral turpitude. As emphasised, it is the nature of the Act complained of and the nature of the ingredient of the offence that led to the conviction are the essential features which the Court has always to bear in mind. Mere riotousness or indignation due to drinking does not have any place when it involves either with the liberty of the citizen, 'tenure of service under State or the life (livelihood)' under Article 21 of the Constitution.
9. Under these circumstances, the question is whether the conviction of the petitioner under Section 186 IPC and Section 70-B of the City Police Act constitutes moral turpitude. As stated earlier, if it were a case where the petitioner being a Security Guard had been, while on duty, addicted to drink and failed to discharge the duty, certainly that would be depravity of mind or dereliction of duty. When it was, in his private conduct, he has taken to drink on a festive day or in the usual course, in my view, it does not constitute moral turpitude. The decision relied on by Sri Sarma viz., Durga Singh's case (supra), no doubt, applies to the facts in this case. But unfortunately, in my respectful view, in view of the change of circumstances and passage of time, the high moral standards set in by the learned Judge does work deprivation of livelihood or life, under Article 21 of the Constitution and so, with great respect to the learned Judge, I express my inability to follow the ratio laid down therein. In the circumstances, though the petitioner was found to have been drunk and in the drunken brawl, had quarreled with third parties at a public place which was an offence and though he was convicted under Section 186 I.P.C. and Section 70-B of the City Police Act, it does not constitute moral turpitude within the meaning of Clause 23(35) of Standing Orders of the respondent.
10. It is next contended that though this Court inclines to hold that it is not a moral turpitude, it may be left to the management to take appropriate disciplinary action against the petitioner after following the petitioner after following the procedure prescribed under the statute. In my view, this case does not call for taking such action for more than one reason. Firstly, the very action taken by the respondents is the conviction by the Court of law for an offence involving moral turpitude within Sub-clause (35) of Clause 23 of the Standing Orders. Once it is held that the conviction for affray does not constitute moral turpitude, there is no other offence for which action is sought to be taken. Even otherwise, the alleged drinking was on December 24, 1985 and the dismissal order was on June 14, 1986. In view of the long lapse of time, no useful purpose would be served in taking any action against the petitioner. Under these circumstances, I allow the writ petition and quash the impugned order. There will be no order as to costs.