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Sreedharaiah and anr. Vs. Dist. Supdt. of Police, Anantapur and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService;Constitution
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 127 and 153 of 1957
Judge
Reported inAIR1960AP473; (1960)IILLJ156AP; (1960)IILLJ156AP
ActsConstitution of India - Article 311
AppellantSreedharaiah and anr.
RespondentDist. Supdt. of Police, Anantapur and ors.
Appellant AdvocateI. Balaiah, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateM.S. Ramachandra Rao, 2nd Government Pleader
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
service - dismissal - article 311 of constitution of india and order no. 95 (4) of (andhra pradesh) police standing orders - complaint of irregular and improper conduct against petitioners - district superintendent placed petitioners under suspension and framed specific charges - dismissed after enquiry - petitioners submitted explanation denying charge - explanation ignored - held, authorities acted in a manner opposed to natural justice and certiorari be granted. - all india services act, 1951.sections 8 & 11 & a.p. buildings (lease, rent and eviction) control rules, 1961, rule 5: [v.v.s. rao, g. yethirajulu & g. bhavani prasad, jj] refusal by landlord to receive rent - deposit of rent in court - held, a tenant has the option to take recourse to section 8 in case of refusal or.....satyanarayana raju, j.1. these petitions, under article 226 of the constitution of india, can be disposed of in a common judgment as they arise out of the same facts and raise the same points for determination.2. the petitioner in w. p. no. 127 of 1957, is sreedharaiah, who was p. c. 31 of anantapur district. the petitioner in w. p. no. 153 of 195t is venkataramanappa who was p. c. 75 of the same district.3. in order to appreciate the points debated before us, it is necessary to set out the admitted facts in their chronological sequence. the two petitioners were in service as police constables in the state of andhra. in october. 1954, they were attached to the police station at kadiri in anantapur district. while so, a complaint of irregular and improper conduct in the discharge of their.....
Judgment:

Satyanarayana Raju, J.

1. These petitions, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, can be disposed of in a common judgment as they arise out of the same facts and raise the same points for determination.

2. The petitioner in W. P. No. 127 of 1957, is Sreedharaiah, who was P. C. 31 of Anantapur District. The petitioner in W. P. No. 153 of 195T is Venkataramanappa who was P. C. 75 of the same District.

3. In order to appreciate the points debated before us, it is necessary to set out the admitted facts in their chronological sequence. The two petitioners were in service as police constables in the State of Andhra. In October. 1954, they were attached to the Police Station at Kadiri in Anantapur District. While so, a complaint of irregular and improper conduct in the discharge of their duties was made against them. Having decided to set in motion the machinery preliminary for punishment, the District Superintendent of Police, Anantapur, placed the petitioners under suspension and framed a specific charge on 25-10-1954, which is as follows: (In this judgment, the communications sent to the petitioners in W. P. No. 127/57 and the representations made by him are set out; those in the other Writ petition are identical and do not require to be extracted. For the sake of convenience, the Deputy Superintendent who held the enquiry against the petitioners is referred to in this judgment as 'enquiry officer' and the District Superintendent of Police, Anantapur, who was competent to dismiss the petitioners and did dismiss them is referred to as 'the competent authority).

'P. C. 31 Sridharaiah of Kadiri station (petitioner in W. P. No. 127/57): For grave misconduct in receiving along with P. C. 75 Venkataramanappa (petitioner in W. P. 153/57) illegal gratification of Rs. 74 on 15-10-1954 from one Chakala Muneppa and two others of Kadiri who were in possession of stolen properties seized in Cr. Nos. 144 and 145 of 1954 of Kadiri Station.'

After setting out the facts in evidence and the witnesses proposed to be examined in support of the charge, the charge memo concluded as follows ;

'Acknowledge receipt of copy of charge and offer your written explanation within 7 days of receiving the charge showing cause as to why you should not be dismissed or otherwise punished, failing which it will be construed that you have no explanation to offer and the matter will be disposed of ex parte. You will say whether you want a personal hearing. Please also produce a list of documents you propose to cite and a list of witnesses you propose to examine in your defence with the points upon which you expect each Will speak.'

The petitioners duly submitted their explanation in writing stoutly denying the charge. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Anantapur who was appointed by District Superintendent to conduct the enquiry and submit a report held an enquiry in the manner required by the relevant rules. Before the enquiry officer, ten witnesses were examined in support of the charge. Besides cross-examining those witnesses, the petitioners examined four witnesses in their defence. After evidence was closed, the Enquiry Officer prepared a minute. In it, after reciting the charge and summarising the explanations submitted by the petitioners, the Enquiry Officer elaborately considered the evidence of each of the witnesses, who gave evidence in support of the charge and in denial thereof. He submitted to the District Superintendent on the 15th May, 1955 (based on detailed discussion of the evidence) in support of the finding:

'Weighing the evidence as a whole, I am inclined to judge that the story of illegal gratification is false and that it is not proved.'

On 31-5-1955, Shri D. Srinivasulu Naidu, the then District Superintendent, issued a notice calling upon the petitioners to submit their further representations. It was in these terms:

'I have carefully studied and examined the P. Roll against you. I find the charges proved. I have arrived at a provisional conclusion to inflict the punishment of dismissal for the charge mentioned in the minute.'

To the notice was appended a copy of the minute submitted by the Enquiry Officer. As is clear from the above notice, the District Superintendent did not indicate the reasons for his disagreeing with the conclusions of the enquiry officer. The petitioners duly submitted their further representations on 11-6-1955, reiterating their innocence. In this they stated as to how the evidence of the prosecution witnesses was unreliable and the evidence of the defence witnesses was reliable.

4. On 2-8-1955, the District Superintendent passed the following order:

'I have gone through the whole file carefully and bestowed my full attention. I entirely disagree with the finding of the enquiry officer who has not weighed the evidence properly. Even his finding is not properly worded. He says that the charge is false and it is not proved. It must be either false or not proved but not both.

But I hold that the charge of illegal gratification is clearly and conclusively proved. The direct evidence of P. Ws. 7, 8 and 9 corroborated by the circumstantial evidence of P. Ws. 1, 2, 3 and 4 brings home the guilt upon the delinquents to the very hilt. It is not impossible for the men on guard duty to go into the village during the off duty hours. In fact, the delinquent says on 15-10-1954 after 6 p.m. he seized the property and on that date also he was on guard duty. Only when P. W. 10 the C. I. got information about the delinquent receiving the illegal gratification and began recording statements when the delinquent came out with his report of seizure of property to cover up his guilt. It is impossible to get more dependable evidence in cases of corruption. His further representation has not revealed any fresh material on his behalf the charge is serious one and therefore (I) dismiss the delinquent from the force.'

Against the said order of the District Superintendent the petitioners preferred appeals to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police. Central Ranee, Anantapur. In his proceedings dated 9-9-1955, the Deputy Inspector General sent the following communication to the District Superintendent:

'The orders of the District Superintendent of Police, Anantapur, in P. R. 205/55 dated 2-9-1955 dismissing the P. C. 75 Venkataramanappa and P. C, 31 Sreedharaiah are cancelled due to the procedural irregularity in the proceedings. The District Superintendent of Police will pass fresh orders after following the correct procedure. The two P. Cs. should be reinstated and placed under suspension immediately till fresh proceedings are disposed of.'

A copy of this order was not admittedly communicated to the petitioners but they were informed that they should appear before the District Superintendent of Police, Anantapur for reinstatement.

5. On the 15th September, 1955, the District Superintendent sent the following communication to the petitioners:

'P. Cs. 75 Venkataramanappa of Uravakonda Station and 31 Sridharaiah of Penukonda Station dismissed in P. R. 205/55 are reinstated. Theyshould report for duty in their respective stationsforthwith.'

Simultaneously with the order of reinstatement the District Superintendent sent another communication (dated 15-9-1955) informing the petitioners as follows:

'P. Cs. 75 Venkataramanappa of Uravakonda Station and 31 Sridhariah of Penukonda Station are placed under, suspension W. E. from the date they report to duty in their respective stations. While under suspension they will draw half average pay as sub-grant and admissible D. A.'

6. On the 16th September. 1955, the District Superintendent issued notice to the petitioners calling upon them to make further representations. The notice reads as follows:

'I have carefully studied and examined the P. Roll against you I find the charges proved. I have arrived at a provisional conclusion to inflict the punishment of dismissal for the charges mentioned in the minute....'

It will be seen that this notice is a verbatim reproduction of the earlier notice, dated 31-5-1955. To the notice were appended a copy of the minute recorded by the enquiry officer and the District Superintendent's own conclusion and his view of the evidence. What he has thus enclosed in addition to the minute is a copy of the order passed by him on 2-8-1955, omitting the final sentence (viz., 'the charge is serious one and therefore I dismiss the delinquent from the force.')

7. On 29-9-1955, the petitioner in W. P. No.127 of 1957 sent his representation, the material portion of which is as follows:

'I submitted an appeal to the D. I. G. of Police on 29-8-1955. I got no orders. When I expect the appellate authority's orders, I am called on to represent why I should not be dismissed in the absence of any further and fresh charge or enquiry. So I request permission to peruse the connected records so that I may be able to submit my representation.'

' On 7-10-1955, the competent authority informed him;

'Your appeal to the D. I. G. is kept pending in this office till fresh proceedings are issued on the P. R. against you. Hence the question of perusing the records referred to by you do as not arise. You are directed to submit your further representation on the minute enclosed to memo C. No. 205/PR/55 dated 16-9-1955 at once.'

In compliance with this direction, the petitioner submitted his further representation dated 16-10-1955, reiterating his innocence and stating as follows:

'I Dray that my representation in my petition dated 11-6-1955 and the record of enquiry made by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Penukonda, and his finding be treated as my final say in the matter.'

On 11-12-1955, the District Superintendent of Police passed the followine; order:

'I have gone through the minute and the connected records carefully and bestowed my personal attention. I have gone through the further representation submitted by the delinquent under date 10-10-1955. In the latter he has simply stated that the enquiring officer, has held the charges as not proved and that action against him may be dropped.

I hold the charge as proved. The evidence of P. Ws. 7. 8 and 9, corroborated by the circumstantial evidence of P. Ws. 1, 2, 3 and 4, brings home the guilt upon the delinquent to the very hilt. It is not impossible for the men on guard duty to go into the town during waiting duty; certainly they do so during off-duty hours.

The delinquent in his explanation says that on 15-10-1954 lie seized the property after 6 p.m. On that day he was on guard duty. Only when the C. I. of Police P. W. 10 got information about the delinquent receiving illegal gratification and began recording statements, the delinquent came out with his report of seizure of property to cover up his guilt. I, therefore, dismiss him from the force from the date of suspension as the charge is a very serious one.'

8. On 11-1-1956, the petitioners submitted their appeals to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police. By his order, dated 15-3-1956. the Deputy Inspector-General rejected the appeals. On the 12th September, 1956, the further appeals preferred by the petitioners to the Inspector-General of Police were rejected.

9. Having exhausted all their remedies, the petitioners filed these writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution praying that the records pertaining to their cases be called for and their dismissal be set aside and that they be given such further and other relief as they may, in law, be entitled to.

10. The main points raised in support of the petitions and urged Before us are;

1. that the finding recorded by the Enquiry Officer is final and the District Superintendent could not disregard that finding and come to a different conclusion; and

2. that the District Superintendent of Police conducted the proceedings contrary to the rules of natural justice and the prescribed rules of procedure.

11. We shall now consider these contentions. Under the Madras Police Subordinate Services Discipline and Appeal Rules, 1955, which are the Rules applicable to this State, constables and reserve constables are included in class 7 and the authority competent to impose the punishment of compulsory retirement or removal or dismissal against such class of subordinates is the District Superintendent and the appellate authority is the Deputy Inspector-General. P. Section O. No. 90 prescribes the procedure to be followed by the competent authority before imposing the penalty of reduction, suspension, compulsory retirement, removal or dismissal.

12. Initially it may be stated that a statutory functionary exercising administrative power, can delegate his functions by deputing a responsible and competent official to enquire and report. In Pradyat Kumar v. Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, : [1955]2SCR1331 , their Lordships of the Supreme Court laid down as follows:

''It is true that no judicial tribunal can delegate its functions unless it is enabled to do so expressly or by necessary implication. But the exercise of the power to appoint or dismiss an officer is the exercise not of judicial power but of an administrative power. It is nonetheless so by reason of the fact that an opportunity to snow cause and an enquiry simulating judicial standards have to precede the exercise thereof. It is well recognised that a statutory functionary exercising such a power cannot be said to have delegated his functions merely by deputing a responsible and competent official to enquire and report. That is the ordinary mode of exercise of any administrative power. What cannot be delegated except where the law specifically so provides is the ultimate responsibility for the exercise of such power. A functionary who has to decide an administrative matter, such as the dismissal of, a member of the staff, can obtain the material on which he is to act in such manner as may be feasible and convenient, provided only the affected party has a fair opportunity to correct or contradict any relevant and prejudicial material.'

It was therefore undoubtedly competent to the District Superintendent to delegate the actual enquiry to the Deputy Superintendent.

13. Even so, it is argued that the District Superintendent of Police could not disregard the findings arrived at by the enquiry officer and on the evidence come to a conclusion different from the one arrived at by him. The relevant Police Standing Order 95(4) is as follows:

'Findings: The officer holding the inquiry should record his finding on each charge separately after carefully' considering the evidence adduced In support of it as well as that for the defence. In case where there are several charges the enquiring officer should deal with each sub-charge under (b), (c) and (d), one below the Other, so that the difficulty that is usually experienced in such cases is avoided. If necessary a full final summing; up may be given at the end covering all the charges. In cases which are submitted to higher authority for the imposition of the penalty, the officer holding the inquiry may make a recommendation regarding the penalty to be imposed in those case which he takes up suo motu, and in cases where he is directed to hold an enquiry it is open to the authority ordering the enquiry to direct the enquiring officer to make such recommendation.'

This order prescribes the procedure with regard to tile recording of findings by the enquiry officer. Under this order, the enquiry officer records his findings on the basis of the evidence produced by both sides. The authority competent to impose the punishment is the ultimate authority to decide both the relevant questions, whether the charge has been proved, and if the charge has teen proved, what the punishment should be. We cannot construe P. S. O. 95 (4) in such a way as to confine the power of the competent authority only to the imposition of the penalty for charges on which the Enquiry Officer gave findings adverse to the delinquents, as distinguished from the power to come to his own conclusions and findings independent of those arrived at by the enquiry officer.

The authority who ordered the enquiry with a view to take appropriate action and to whom the enquiry officer sent his report (minute) for such action obviously cannot fully carry out his duty and discharge his responsibility if he is precluded from questioning the correctness of the findings arrived at by the enquiry officer. The construction sought to be placed by the learned counsel for the petitioners will clothe the report of the enquiry officer with a finality which the nature of the proceedings does dot warrant. The finding of the enquiry officer is more in the nature of a report to the competent authority to enable it to pass final orders. Such finding can assist but not bind the competent authority who alone has to come to a final conclusion and decide.

14. A Division Bench of the Madras High Court in Kuppuswami v. State of Madras, 1956-3 Mad LJ 352, came to a similar conclusion on a consideration of the relevant rules relating to enquiry and report by the Disciplinary Proceedings Tribunal to Government. At p. 354. Rajagopalao J., observed:

'The scope of the Madras Civil Service Disciplinary Proceedings Tribunal Rules makes it clear that despite the composition of the Tribunal its role, apart from the enquiry it had to conduct and the findings it had to record on the basis of the evidence produced by both sides in that enquiry, was advisory. The Government was the ultimate authority to decide both the relevant questions, whether the charges had been proved and if the charges had been proved, what the punishment should be. Rule 8 (b) makes that position quite clear. Indeed, we do not understand the learned Advocate General to dispute the proposition, that even if the tribunal held one or more of the charges inquired into by it had been proved, it was open to the Government to disagree with the tribunal and to decline to accept those findings as correct.'

The same view was taken by a Division Bench of this Court, consisting of Subbarao C. J., and Mohammed Ahmed Ansari J., in the State of Andhra v. Ramayya Suri, 1957-1 Andh WR 187: (AIR 1957 Andh Pra 370). We. therefore, hold that the finding of the enquiry officer is not final and that it can be reviewed in appropriate cases by the competent authority before final orders are passed.

15. The more substantial contention raised by the petitioners is that the procedure followed by the competent authority (District Superintendent) was contrary to the rules of natural justice.

16. In order to more fully appreciate this contention, we may here summarise the admitted fact's. After an elaborate consideration of the evidence of P. Ws. 1 to 10 and D. Ws. 1 to 4. the enquiry officer found that the charge levelled against the petitioners was not proved. After receiving the minute, the authority competent to impose the punishment, viz., the District Superintendent oi Police gave notice to the petitioners to show cause why they not be dismissed from service. Along with the notice the competent authority merely forwarded a copy of the minute of the enquiry officer. After the petitioners submitted their explanations, the competent authority passed an order dismissing the petitioners from service.

There is nothing in this order to show that the evidence adduced by the petitioners in their defence was adequately considered. Except to say that he disagreed with the finding reached by the enquiry officer, there is no independent consideration of the evidence and there is no indication of the reasons which impelled the District Superintendent to disagree with the finding and the reasoning of the enquiry officer. What followed is somewhat unusual. The petitioners preferred appeals to the appellate authority, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police. The appellate authority directed the competent authority to reinstate the petitioners and to proceed with the enquiry afresh as in his opinion, the prescribed procedure was not duly followed by the competent authority. A copy of this communication was not admittedly sent to the petitioners. By an endorsement sent to them by the appellate authority the petitioners were informed that they should appear before the District Superintendent for reinstatement.

On the same day they were informed by the District Superintendent of Police that they were reinstated and that they should report for duty in their respective stations forthwith. By an order of even date, they were again informed that they were under suspension; and on the 16th, they were served with a notice to submit their further representations within seven days from the date of the receipt of the notice. To this notice again, a copy of the report of the enquiry officer was appended along with the opinion of the competent authority. The opinion accompanying the notice was a mere reproduction of the order passed by the competent authority on the earlier occasion minus the concluding portion. The opinion did not contain a consideration of the various aspects in which the evidence had been discussed by the Enquiry Officer; there was no reference at all made to the defence witnesses. There was no consideration of the evidence of each of the witnesses, P. Ws, 1 to 10.

On receipt of this notice, the petitioners requested the competent authority to 'enlighten them as to why and how fresh proceedings had been started against them in the absence of fresh material in the punishment roll.' They reiteratedtheir request to permit them to peruse the records. Their request was rejected by the District Superintendent of Police by order dated 7-10-1955, and they were informed that their appeals to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police were kept pending in the office of the competent authority till fresh proceedings were issued and that therefore the question of perusing the records did not arise. So, petitioners had to make their representation dated 16-10-1955. The District Superintendent of Police passed the final order of dismissal dated 11-12-1955.

17. Now, the question is whether the complaint of the petitioners that the competent authority had not followed the rules of natural justice is well founded.

18. In Khem Chand v. Union of India, : (1959)ILLJ167SC their Lordships ofthe Supreme Court, after a careful analysis of the judgment of the Federal Court in Secy, of State . I. M. Lall, 1945-2 Mad LJ 270: (AIR 1945 FC 47), summarised the nature of protection extended to civil servants thus:

'The protection provided by the rule, like rule 55, of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, together with an additional opportunity embodied in Section 240(3) of the Government of India Act. 1935, so as to give a statutory protection to the Government servants has now been incorporated in Article 311(2) of the Constitution so as to convert the protection into aconstitutional safeguard.

'The reasonable opportunity of showing causeagainst the action proposed includes

(a) an opportunity to deny his guilt and establish his innocence which he can do only if he is told what the charges levelled against him are and the allegations in which the charges are based;

(b) an opportunity to defend himself by cross-examining the witness produced against him and by examining himself or any other witnesses in support of his defence; and finally

(c) an opportunity to make his representations as to why the proposed punishment should not be inflicted on him which he can only do if the competent authority after the enquiry is over and after applying his mind to the gravity or otherwise of the charges proved against the government servant tentatively proposes to inflict one of the three punishments and communicates the same to him.'

19. It is difficult to define precisely the scope of the reasonable opportunity which is vouchsafed to a civil servant. A Division Bench of the Andhra High Court, consisting of Subba Rao, C. J. and Bhimasankaram, J. considered the scope of that expression in Joga Rao v. State of Madras, 1956 Andh WH 978 : ((S) AIR 1957 Andh Pra 197), where it was observed as follows:

'Though the enquiry may have to be held in two stages, one up to the time the authority comes to a conclusion on the question of the offence committed by the civil servant and the other from the stage notice is given to show cause against the action proposed to be taken in regard to him the entire process of the enquiry will nave to be scrutinised by ascertaining whether reasonable opportunity is given to the servant to show cause against the action proposed to be taken in regard to him. The opportunity to show cause is qualified by the word 'reasonable.'

It is for the Court on the facts of each case to scrutinise the entire record to come to a conclusion whether such reasonable opportunity was given to the civil servant. If, as a matter of fact, every opportunity was given to the civil servant to defend himself by examining witnesses and by cross-examining the prosecution witnesses, it would be unreasonable to compel the authority to repeat the entire inquiry after the second stage is reached. It is true that reasonable opportunity to show cause against the action proposed to be taken includes an opportunity to canvass the correctness of the reasons for taking the proposed action.

The authority should necessarily in its order requiring the civil servant to show cause give not only the punishment proposed to be inflicted on him but also the reasons for coming to that conclusion. A civil servant can show cause by pleading that the Tribunal's report is vitiated by gross irregularities committed by it or by violating the principles of natural justice such as preventing him from examining his witnesses or cross-examining the witnesses who spoke against him or similar others.

If the finding of the Tribunal is the basis for the proposed punishment, he can also attack the correctness of the finding by showing that the finding was not based on the evidence or is not supported by evidence. But it would be unreasonable to compel the authority to have trials as it were, one up to the stage of the notice contemplated by Article 311 and the repetition of it again after notice, though in a particular case, if the inquiry is vitiated by any of the reasons mentioned above, a further enquiry may reasonably be asked by the civil servant. To put it shortly, the entire proceedings of the inquiry must be looked into carefully to ascertain whether reasonable opportunity within the meaning of Article 311 is afforded to a civil servant or not.' It is manifest from the above observations that a civil servant can question the correctness of the findings in showing cause against the penalty proposed to be inflicted on him. Indeed, this is not disputed by the learned Government Pleader.

20. One of the prime functions of judicial control of administrative orders is to ensure that the 'fundamentals of fair play' have been preserved. In America this is done through the concept of procedural due process. Courts in this country assure administrative fair play through the concept of natural justice. Although natural justice does not fall within those definite and well-recognized rules of law which Courts enforce, it is beyond doubt that there are certain canons of judicial conduct to which all tribunals and persons who have to give judicial or quasi-Judicial decisions ought to conform. The principles on which they rest are implicit in the rule of law. This conformity is insisted upon by Courts, whether it be through the constitutional concept of 'due process' or through ethico-legal device of 'natural justice.'

21. What is necessary in all cases is that the fundamentals of fair play should be observed. The requirements of fairness are not exhausted in the taking or consideration of evidence but extend to the concluding parts of the procedure as well as to the beginning and intermediate steps. In ensuring this result it is important that the tribunal should give reasoned decisions. The value of reasoned opinions as a check upon arbitrary administrative power will be readily evident. As pointed out by Bernard Schwartz in 'Law and the Executive in Britain', in the first place, the requirement of an opinion provides considerable assurance that the case will be thought through by the deciding authority.

22. The opinion communicated by the competent authority to the petitioners along with the show-cause notice, does not contain an adequate consideration of the evidence nor does it give the reasons for the decision. It may be observed that in the opinion recorded by him as well as in the final order the competent authority disagreed with the finding reached by the enquiry officer. The finding of the District Superintendent (in the show-cause notice as well as in the final order) was of the nature of a reversing finding with reference to the finding of the enquiry officer which the latter had given in his report according to the rules. If the competent authority was merely confirming the minute of the enquiry officer, it may be readily conceded that there was no need for him to discuss the evidence or to give reasons.

But, when the authority wan coming to a conclusion different from the one reached by the enquiry officer it was incumbent upon him to consider the validity of the reasons given by the enquiry officer and state the grounds which impelled him to come to a different conclusion. As the authority competent to impose the punishment, it was plainly his duty to inform the petitioners of the reasons on which his finding was based. The competent authority was enclosing with his show-cause notice (as enclosure) the report of the enquiry officer which contained findings in favour of the constables supported by careful discussion and analysis of the evidence and specific reasons. So, the competent authority had to indicate how he considered the reasons and finding of the enquiry officer to be bad.

The learned Government Header has fairly conceded that the opinion and the order of the competent authority do not satisfy the requirements of a reversing order. But he has argued that the matter was considered by the appellate authority and by the departmental head. Admittedly, the petitioners preferred an appeal to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, and a further appeal to the Inspector-General of Police. As pointed out by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in State of U. P. v. Md. Nooh, 1958 SCJ 242 at p. 249 : (AIR 1958 SC 86 at P. 94)

'There may conceivably be cases ......where the error, irregularity or illegality touching jurisdiction or procedure committed by an inferior court or tribunal of first instance is so patent and loudly obtrusive that it leaves on its decision an indelible stamp of infirmity or vice which cannot be obliterated or cured on appeal or revision. If an inferior Court or tribunal of first instance acts wholly without jurisdiction or patently in excess of jurisdiction or manifestly conducts the proceedings before it in a manner which is contrary to the rules of natural justice and all accepted rules of procedure and which offends the superior Court's sense of fair play, the superior court may . . . quite properly exercise its power to issue the prerogative writ of certiorari to correct the error of the court or tribunal of first instance, even if an appeal to another inferior court or tribunal was available and recourse was not had to it, or if recourse was had to it, it confirmed what ex facie was a nullity ....... This would be so allthe more if the tribunals holding the original trial and the tribunals hearing the appeal or revision were merely departmental tribunals composed of persons belonging to the departmental hierarchy .....'

23. What the competent authority was required by the rules of fundamental fair play wife not a mere empty formality or a mechanical reproduction of the provisions of the statute. What the competent authority was in duty bound to do was to give a reasoned finding, the correctness of which it was open to the petitioners to canvass. That he did not do. Indeed, a reading of the record leaves us with a feeling that the officer treated the whole procedure as an empty formality and this seems to have coloured his entire Outlook on the case. It requires no reiteration that the assurances given to the servants of Government are meant to be real and effective and must be complied with in the letter and the spirit in which they are intended.

24. As a result of the foregoing discussion, the conclusion becomes inescapable that the competent authority manifestly conducted the proceedings before him in a manner which is contrary to the rules of natural justice. A writ of certiorari will, therefore, issue quashing the orders of the respondents dismissing the petitioners from service. Our Judgment will not preclude the competent authority from proceeding with the enquiry against the petitioners afresh in accordance with law. Thepetitioners will have their costs from the respondents. We fix the Advocate's fee at Rs. 100/- in each of the petitions.


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