Chinnappa Reddy, J.
1. The petitioner, a Sub-Inspector of Police was placed under suspension on 19th June, 1967 and a disciplinary enquiry was started against him. The D.S.P. Bhodan was appointed as enquiry officer to hold the departmental enquiry. The petitioner was served with a memo of charges issued by the Superintendent of Police, Nizamabad District. The D.S.P. Bhodan conducted the enquiry without even securing some relevant records. The petitioner after protracted correspondence submitted his written explanation on 30th December. 1969. Thereafter the enquiry officer proceeded with the enquiry. Both prosecution and defence witnesses were examined. However, without waiting for the explanation of the petitioner the enquiry officer submitted his report to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police through the Superintendent of Police Nizamabad. On persuing the records the Deputy Inspector-General of Police noticed that the charges had been issued by the Superintendent of Police who was neither the authority competent to impose the penalty nor the enquiry officer. That was against the procedure prescribed by the rules. He also noticed that the explanation of the petitioner had not been obtained and relevant records mentioned in the charge memo, had also not been obtained by the enquiry officer. Therefore, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police by his proceedings dated 8th October, 1971, directed a de novo enquiry against the petitioner by the Superintendent of Police, Mahaboobnagar, The petitioner has filed the present application for the issue of a writ to quash the proceedings dated 8th October, 1971 of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police.
2. Sri V. Jagannadha Rao, learned Counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the rules did not provide for a de novo enquiry and therefore, the proceedings of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police were without jurisdiction. He invited my attention to Rule 19(2) of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules which provides for the procedure to be followed. He also argued that though the Superintendent of Police had issued the charge memo, it was issued only after the approval of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, the authority competent to impose the punishment, had been obtained. There was, therefore, no illegality or irregularity.
3. Rule 19(2) provides that the authority competent to impose the penalty shall appoint an enquiry officer. The grounds on which it is proposed to take action shall be reduced to the form of definite charges and shall be communicated to the person charged together with a statement of allegations on which each charge is based. The person charged shall be required to file a written statement of his defence within a reasonable time and to state whether he desires an oral enquiry or to be heard in person or both. At the enquiry oral evidence shall be heard. After the completion of the oral enquiry the person charged shall be entitled to file a further written statement of his defence. The enquiry officer shall forward the proceedings of the enquiry to the authority competent to impose the penalty. The proceedings shall also contain statement of the findings of the enquiry officer on the different charges and the grounds there for. After the authority competent to impose the penalty arrives, at a provisional conclusion in regard to the penalty to be imposed the person charged shall be supplied with a copy of the report of the enquiry officer and be given a reasonable opportunity of making a representation within a reasonable time. Thereafter final orders shall be passed. It is clear from the rule that the authority competent to impose punishment has to consider the record and the findings of the enquiry officer before arriving at a provisional conclusion and requiring the person charged to show cause against the penalty proposed. If at that stage the authority competent to impose the punishment notices a serious illegality or irregularity which vitiates the enquiry I do not see any reason why he cannot straightaway order to de novo enquiry instead of waiting for the person charged to raise the question of illegality or irregularity in his representation or at a later stage. It is not disputed that if the person charged raises a question about any illegality or material irregularity in the representation made by him in answer to the show cause notice if is open to the authority competent to impose the punishment to order a de novo enquiry. If it can be done at that stage I see no reason why it cannot be done as soon as the authority competent to impose the punishment examines the record in the first instance. One must remember that a disciplinary enquiry against a delinquent officer begins and ends with the authority competent to impose the punishment and the enquiry by the enquiry officer is at his instance and only to facilitate and assist the disciplinary authority. The control of the disciplinary proceeding is always with the authority competent to impose the punishment and it is open to such authority to intervene at an appropriate stage to set right any illegality or irregularity that might have been committed in the course of the enquiry which might vitiate the enquiry. That is implicit in the power vested by the rules in the authority competent to impose penalty to start and conclude the disciplinary enquiry.
4. The learned Counsel invited my attentention to some cases as supporting his submission. In Sitaramaswami v. Flag Officer (1969) 2 A.P.L.J. (S.N.) 31. I had quashed a disciplinary proceeding on the ground that on two previous occasions disciplinary proceedings had been started against the petitioner and dropped without final orders being passed. A third proceeding was started against the petitioner on the same allegations as the earlier two proceedings and in those circumstances I had quashed the proceedings as nothing but an harassment of the petitioner. I had also mentioned that there was no rule enabling the disciplinary authority to drop a disciplinary enquiry in the middle and start a fresh enquiry later. But I took care to point out that the situation might be different if there was any jurisdictional illegality or irregularity associated with the initiation of the first proceeding. The case, therefore, does not help the present petitioner. In Dwaranchand v. The State of Rajasthan , a second departmental enquiry was started on the same facts after a public servant had been exonerated in the first departmental enquiry. It was held by Wanchoo, C.J. that the second departmental enquiry was incompetent. It is seen that in the case before' the Rajasthan Court the enquiry had not only concluded but the officer had actually been exonerated in the first proceeding. The case does not assist the petitioner. In Prabhu v. Deputy Commissioner, South Kanara (1969) S.L.R. 362, an enquiry was started and concluded but no action was taken. It was held that a second enquiry on the same charges would be ' plainly impermissible.' Where no explanation is given as to why no action was taken on the basis of the first enquiry and why a second enquiry had been started on the same facts, it is possible to say that the second proceeding is impermissible. But it does not follow that a disciplinary proceeding once started must culminate in the imposition of a punishment or an exoneration and that it cannot be dropped even for good reason and a, fresh enquiry cannot be started. The Mysore High Court observed:
If a disciplinary proceeding is commenced with respect to an accusation and that disciplinary proceeding has reached a stage where an enquiry has been completed that disciplinary proceeding must be continued and must end either in the imposition of punishment or an exoneration. If that disciplinary proceeding has not been terminated in that way the commencement of another disciplinary proceedings with respect to those charges is plainly incompetent.
These observations appear, in my view, to be rather wide.
5. The decision of Sambasiva Rao, J. in W.P. No. 7506 of 1973 was also relied upon by the learned Counsel. In that case the disciplinary authority quashed the first enquiry report on the ground that there were grave lacunae and procedural defects. The order did not disclose the defects. The learned Judge held that Rule 15 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules did not authorise the quashing of a first enquiry and the direction to hold a fresh enquiry. Sambasiva Rao, J. also referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No. 612 of 1967 where it was observed:
It seems to us that Rule 15, on the face of it, really provides for one inquiry but it may be possible if in a particular case there has been no proper inquiry because some serious defect has crept into the inquiry or some important witnesses were not available at the time of the inquiry or were not examined for some other reason, the Disciplinary Authority may ask the Inquiry Officer to record further1 evidence. But there is no provision in Rule 15 for completely setting aside previous inquiries on the ground that the report of the inquiring Officer or Officers does not appeal to the Disciplinary Authority. The Disciplinary Authority has enough powers to reconsider the evidence itself and come to its own conclusion under Rule 9.
6. It is clear from what has been italicised by me that the Supreme Court was merely observing that a disciplinary authority could not start a de novo enquiry because it did not agree with the conclusion of the inquiry officer. Neither the Supreme Court nor Sambasiva Rao, J. was dealing with a case where the very initiation of the enquiry was beset with a fatal defect. Where initiation of the enquiry is beset with a fatal defect as the one in the present case I think it is proper and right that the disciplinary authority should order a new enquiry. In such a case, it will really be a case of void enquiry in the first instance followed by a valid enquiry.
7. There is also no force in the submission of the learned Counsel that the memorandum of charges had been approved by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police and therefore, there was no illegality. It is categorically stated in the counter-affidavit that the Deputy Inspector-General of Police had not approved the charges as alleged.
8. In the result, the writ petition is dismissed but in the circumstances there will be no order as to costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.