P. Chandra Reddi, C.J.
1. The petitioner who seeks the removal of the order of dismissal by the Government on certiorari, was an antismuggling deputy tahslldar, Naidupet, Nellore district, from 11 January 1952 to 3 June 1953.
2. At about 3 a.m. on 2 March 1952, the petitioner found some carts carrying paddy and rice without permit, while he was on duty, on the outskirts of Palicherlapad village of Rapur taluk. It is stated that the petitioner detected this illicit transport of rice and faddy in three carts by four persons including P.W. 1 and Ramaaubba Raddi, which was an offence punishable under the Food Grains Control Order. It appears that he searched the person of Ramaaubba Reddi, seized a sum of Rs. 500 from him and retained that sum with him as illegal gratification for not taking further action against those individuals. In accordance with this understanding he did not take any steps to bring the offenders to book. When this was brought to the notice of the authorities concerned, investigation was directed to be made which showed that there was a prima facie case for proceeding against the petitioner departmentally. Thereupon, the Government referred the matter to the Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings.
3. The tribunal framed the following two Charges:
Charge I.-That, actuated by corrupt motives and in abuse of your position, you seized a sum of Rs. 500 from P. Ramasubba Reddi of Kanuparthipadu when you found Mm as well as two others (namely. P. Sundararama Reddi and S. Lakshmayya) transporting paddy and rice, without permit in contravention of the law and rules in the vicinity of Parcharlapadu in Nellore district to Rapur taluk, in the morning of 2 March 1952 at about 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and that you dishonestly retained the amount as illegal gratification and released the abovementioned P. Ramasubba Reddi on 3 March 1952 on his own bond (and P. Sundararama Reddi and Lakshmayya on their own bonds), tailing them that you would not file any case against them and they may take away their own bandies from the village munaif of Parcharla with whom you had left them (bandies).
Charge II.-That actuated by corrupt motives and in abuse of your position, you failed to discharge your duties properly, and deliberately commuted the irregularities mentioned below in connexion with the paddy and rice which ware seized from the persona mentioned in charge I on 2 March 1952.
* * *The irregularities committed by the petitioner were listed in Clauses (i) and (v) and it is not necessary for us to mention them here.
4. After taking the explanation of the petitioner and holding an enquiry as contemplated by Rule 8 of the Andhra (Disciplinary Proceedings Tribunal) Rules, 1953, the tribunal found that the accused officer was guilty of all charges except item 4 of charge II which relates to one of the irregularities committed by the petitioner. Accordingly the tribunal submitted its report to the Government holding that all the charges except item 4 of charge II were substantiated and recommending the dismissal of the petitioner. The tribunal also observed that
the Government might consider the question of giving lighter punishment if the Government are so inclined in view of the long service of the accused officer from 8 July 1926 and of the record of past service.
5. After perusing the report, the Government called upon the petitioner to show cause why he should not be dismissed. In accordance with this notice, the petitioner submitted his explanation. On a consideration of the explanation and all the relevant, circumstances, the Government passed orders dismissing him which are sought to be quashed in this petition.
6. The main submission of Sri Venkata Subba Rao, learned Counsel for the petitioner, in support of this petition la that the finding of the tribunal that the petitioner was guilty of the charges is vitiated by the tribunal relying on the evidence of P.Ws. 1, 4 and 6 and Ex. 32 and not attaching such importance to the fact that Ramana Reddi and Ramasubba Reddi, whose names were mentioned in Ex. P. 32, were not examined and also to the fact that the diary submitted by the petitioner was not produced by the Government in spits of his having called for it.
7. We do not think that there is any substance in this contention. We do not see how the tribunal has acted unjustifiably in relying on the evidence of P.Ws. 1, 4 and 6. There is nothing inherently improbable in the version given by these witnesses and it accords with probabilities and the attendant circumtances. Nothing was suggested to impeach the veracity of these witnesses. The learned Counsel has taken us through the entire evidence and we think that the tribunal was right in acting on the testimony of these witnesses. Further, the complaint that the tribunal has called in aid Ex. P. 32 is utterly unfounded for the reason that the learned Judge has not placed any reliance on this document in dealing with charge I. It is true that he has referred to it in Para. 22 of his report but that was only for the purpose of giving a resume of the document.
8. As regards the argument that the tribunal ought to have acquitted the accused officer because Raman a Reddi and Ramasubba Reddi were not examined, suffice it to refer to the following passage in the report of the tribunal:
In this enquiry, the prosecution did not examine Ramasubba Reddi or P. Ramana Reddi. The latter was examined by Sub-Collector. He (Ramana Reddi) was cited by me in the memo of charges and was served with summons. But he did not turn up. He evaded appearing before the tribunal and be the prosecution finally gave him up. Ramasubba Reddi did not turn up before the Sub-Collector, before me (in this enquiry) or before the police. Obviously, he was not keen on appearing. It appears from the evidence of P.W. 2 and the accused officer's report Ex. P. 27 that Ramasubba Reddi was concerned in a previous smuggling case also.
In view of these circumstances, no useful purpose is served by referring to illustration (g) under Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act which permits the drawing of adverse inference if evidence which could be produced is not produced. Surely, it could not be said on the face of the record that the department had deliberately withheld this evidence.
9. The submission of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the tribunal should have also insisted upon the production of the diary sent by the delinquent officer to his superiors, is equally untenable, for the reason that the petitioner did not insist upon its production and he himself filed office copies of the diary and relied upon them in support of his defence that he was trying to take further action against the concerned persons. In these circumstances, we think that the report of the tribunal is not in any way vitiated and its conclusions are unassailable, even if it is assumed that it is open to this Court in the exercise of its ; jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution to go into question of fact. We would not have allowed the pleas of natural justice were violated in his case. We have already stated that the tribunal had done nothing which would warrant any complaint of infringement of the principles of natural justice. It is now well settled that a writ of certiorari should be issued only to correct an error of law which is apparent on the face of the record. Even if the tribunal has committed an error of law, that would not be a ground for interference under Article 226, unless it is one which appears on the face of the record. Here, there is not even an error of law, much less an error of law apparent on the face of the record.
10. Even assuming that any of the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act were not strictly followed, that would not furnish justification for interfering with the order of the tribunal, in an enquiry under Article 226 of the Constitution. It has been laid down by their lordships of the Supreme Court in Union of India v. T.R. Varma 1958 II L.L.J. 259 that the Evidence Act has no application to enquiries by tribunal and the law only requires that the principles of natural justice should be observed in the conduct of enquiries and if a tribunal keeps in view the rule of natural justice, its decision cannot be assailed.
11. In these circumstances, we find that there are no merits in this petition and it has to be dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 150.