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D.R. Menon Vs. Director of Harijan Welfare and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Appln. No. 2 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1957All408
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 226 and 311
AppellantD.R. Menon
RespondentDirector of Harijan Welfare and anr.
Appellant AdvocateN. Banerji, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateB.K. Dhaon and ;B.N. Roy, Advs.
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....although the master may have no good reason to do away with the services of his employee. if, therefore, the state or the union of india proposes to do away with the services of a servant or the government on account of misconduct certain well defined procedure indicated in the constitution has to be followed. in the order of termination, however, some allegation which had been made against the government servant had also been mentioned but the operative part of the order clearly indicated that it was a termination of service under the contract. this clearly showed that the opposite party proposed to take action against the applicant under the disciplinary rules of the government and not under the terms of the contract. the applicant is clearly entitled to an order quashing the order of..........on account of misconduct or indiscipline even though it may not be a term expressed in the terms of contract under which the servant is employed. apart from this general right of an employer, the parties, namely, the master and servant, may enter into a contract by means of which the two may agree to have the service terminated on a month's notice on either side, and although the master may have no good reason to do away with the services of his employee. it is open to him under the terms of the contract to terminate the services of the employee, after giving him a month's notice.if, however, the servant happens to be a servant of the state of the union his rights have been safeguarded by the constitution. if, therefore, the state or the union of india proposes to do away with.....
Judgment:

Randhir Singh, J.

1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution for the quashing of an order of removal for misconduct passed by the opposite party No. 1 against the applicant.

2. The applicant was admittedly in the temporary service of the State of Uttar Pradesh as Senior Electrical Inspector at Government Technical Centre, Bakshi-Ka-Talab, Lucknow. It appears that one Sri Hasan Zaffar was the Superintendent of the State Government Technical Centre in November, 1953. A loan of Rs. 25/- is said to have been taken by Sri Zaffar from the applicant and in connection with the demand for this amount it was alleged that the applicant had misbehaved with Sri Hasan Zaffar. A report was lodged to the authorities and a notice was given to the applicant to show cause why his services should no be terminated. He was suspended with immediate effect for gross misconduct and for assaulting Sri Hasan Zaffar. The applicant was required to submit his explanation to the Superintendent of the Centre.

In the same order it was mentioned that the applicant was to draw subsistence allowance at 1/4th of his pay during the period of suspension. The applicant submitted his explanation which did not appeal to the officer conducting the enquiry and he reported for the termination of the services of the applicant. Thereupon the Director of Harijan Welfare. Uttar Pradesh, opposite party No. 1, considered the allegations made against the applicant and the explanation submitted by him as also the report of the Superintendent. He came to the conclusion that the applicant was guilty of gross misconduct and he was ordered to be removed from service with effect from 1st of September, 1955, This order was passed on the 13th September, 1955, and the order of removal was to take effect retrospectively. The applicant then moved the petition for writ which is before us.

3. The learned counsel for the applicant has urged that in a case in which action is taken for misconduct and a person is moved after enquiry under the Disciplinary Rules the provisions of Article 311 Of the Constitution are attracted even though the service of the servant may be terminable under the contract of service by one month's notice on either side. The question as to whether Article 311 is attracted in such cases has been the subject of discussion in a number of reported cases of the various High Courts. The first case relied upon by the learned counsel for the applicant is Kamta Charan Srivastava v. Postmaster-General, Bihar, (S) AIR 1955 Pat 381 (A).

In this reported case a temporary employee of postal department was served with a notice discharging him from the service on the expiry of the period of one calendar month from that date. There was, it appears, in the rules a clause which empowered the appointing authority to dispense with the services of a temporary employee after giving him a month's notice The conduct of the applicant in this reported case was made the subject of enquiry and certain findings were arrived at and these findings were incorporated in the notice but it was clearly mentioned that the applicant in that case was to be discharged from the department on the expiry of one month from that day.

The discharge on the face of it under the. notice served upon the applicant in that case was under the rules which enjoined a notice of one month. Das C. J., as he then was, and Imam J. observed that the courts should look to the substance of the matter and not only to the form and if it appears that a servant though he maybe a temporary servant, liable to be discharged on a month's notice, is charged with misconducts ana if disciplinary proceedings are taken against him, lie will be entitled to the protection of Article 311 of the Constitution of India and if the provisions of Article 311 have not been observed the order of termination will not be a good and valid order.

In a Bombay case, Shrinivas Ganesh v. Union of India, (S) AIR 1956 Bom 455 (B), Chagla C. J. and Dixit J. also have taken more or less the same view and have drawn a distinction between an order of removal on the basis of misconduct and a discharge simpliciter under the terms of a contract. A master or an employer, in the very nature of the relationship of a master and servant has the right to dismiss an employer on account of misconduct or indiscipline even though it may not be a term expressed in the terms of contract under which the servant is employed. Apart from this general right of an employer, the parties, namely, the master and servant, may enter into a contract by means of which the two may agree to have the service terminated on a month's notice on either side, and although the master may have no good reason to do away with the services of his employee. It is open to him under the terms of the contract to terminate the services of the employee, after giving him a month's notice.

If, however, the servant happens to be a servant of the State of the Union his rights have been safeguarded by the Constitution. If, therefore, the State or the Union of India proposes to do away with the services of a servant or the Government on account of misconduct certain well defined procedure indicated in the Constitution has to be followed. No Government servant can be dismissed, discharged or removed from service unless opportunity has been given to him to show cause against such dismissal, discharge or removal. This provision of the Constitution is applicable to temporary Government servants also.

If the Government, therefore, chooses to dismiss, discharge or remove a temporary Government servant under its rules of disciplinary action it will be bound to adopt the procedure laid down by the Constitution and by the rules framed in connection therewith. If, however, the Government does not choose to dismiss, discharge or remove a servant for misconduct but chooses to take advantage of the terms of the contract it is open to the Government to do away with the services of the servant under the terms of the contract. Such a termination will not amount to discharge or removal but wpuld be a termination of the service simpliciter.

4. It has to be borne in mind that the removal or discharge on account of misconduct has a certain stigma or slur attached to it and a person who is removed from service for misconduct may have to suffer on account of that stigma. He should, therefore, in all fairness be given an opportunity to defend himself and to explain the charges against him before he can be removed for misconduct by the Government.

5. Apart from the two cases cited above there are some cases of our own High Court in which this point arose for consideration. The first case, in point of time, is--'Jayanti Prasad v. State of Uttar Pradesh', 1951 All LJ 450: (AIR 1951 All 793) (C). This was a case in which a temporary government servant's services were terminated after giving him one month's notice. In the order of termination, however, some allegation which had been made against the government servant had also been mentioned but the operative part of the order clearly indicated that it was a termination of service under the contract. The following observations made by Agar-wala J., who delivered the judgment, will indicate the view taken by the Division Bench:

'If a person's services are sought to be termi-natea before the period of his service has expired, on account of some misconduct, then, whether the employee is temporary or permanent, the procedure prescribed in Article 311 has to be followed unless of course the case falls within any one of the three provisos to Clause (2). If, on the other hand, a person's services are sought to be terminated at the expiry of the term for which he was engaged, or at the expiry of the period of notice by which, in accordance with the conditions of his service, his services could be terminated, there is no question of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank and Article 311 does not come into operation.'

6. There are some later cases also on the point and they are,--'Sharda Frasad Srivastava v. Accountant General, U. P. Allahabad', (S) AIR 1955 All 496 (D);--'Dalel Singh v. Honorary Secretary, Co-operative Union Ltd. U. P. Lucknow', AIR 1956 All 43 (E); and--'Anant Bam Misra v. N. Dixit', AIR 1956 All 527 (F). In all these three cases also the distinction referred to above between removal for misconduct and termination of service under the contract has been brought out. It would thus appear that wherever trie government chooses to discharge or remove a servant on the ground of misconduct and not under the express terms of contract the provisions of Article 311 will have to be meticulously observed.

7. In the present case there is no indication at any stage of the proceedings taken against the applicant that it was the intention of the opposite party to terminate the services of the applicant under the contract. In fact there is an indication to the contrary. In the very first order asking the applicant to show cause it was mentioned that he was charged with the offence of gross misconduct and discipline and was suspended. There was a further order and that he was to receive subsistence allowance at 1/4 of his salary. This clearly showed that the opposite party proposed to take action against the applicant under the Disciplinary Rules of the Government and not under the terms of the contract. In fact, no such procedure was at all necessary, if it was the intention of the government to take action against the applicant under the terms of the contract.

8. It has been urged on behalf of the opposite party that it is always open to the government to hold an enquiry and then ultimately to take action as a result of the. findings by the enquiring officer. There can be no doubt, that an employer may hold an enquiry about the conduct of his employee for his subjective satisfaction and the result of such an enquiry may ultimately lead the employer to take an action against the employee. It will, therefore, not be wrong for ah employer to hold an enquiry into the misconduct for his own satisfaction but if as a result of the enquiry the ultimate action taken is not under the terms of the contract but is under the disciplinary rules the State cannot fall back upon the terms' of the contract to justify its order of removal or discharge. Similarly if after an. enquiry has been held the Government does not choose to take action under the disciplinary rules but terminates the service of a servant under the terms of the contract with the contractual notice of 30 days it may not perhaps be argued that the result of the earlier enquiry should be deemed to be the legal basis of termination.

9. Even a mention of the words 'under the terms of the contract' in an order of removal may not be sufficient to indicate that the removal was under the terms of the contract. The intention has to be gathered from the circumstances and the words of the order. If a removal is in essence a removal for indiscipline or misconduct to which reference is also made in the order and there is no other indication in the order of termination of service that it is in terms of the contract of service, such as 30 days notice or payment of salary in lieu thereof, and on the contrary there is an indication that the removal is for indiscipline or misconduct or for other fault, the mere mention of the words 'in terms of the contract' will also not convert a removal on a disciplinary charge into a termination in terms of the contract.

10. So far as the present case is concerned, as pointed out above, there is not the least reference anywhere in the order or in the proceedings that the services of the applicant were terminated under the terms of the contract or under the rules laying down termination on one month's notice on either side. There is, therefore, no escape from the conclusion that the order passed in this case for the removal of the applicant for gross misconduct and indiscipline cannot be upheld as admittedly the provisions of Article 311 of the Constitution had not been complied with before the final order of removal was passed against the applicant. The order must, therefore, be quashed.

11. It has further been contended on behalf of the opposite parties that the order of removal should not be set aside on the ground that it will be open to the opposite parties even now to terminate the services of the applicant under the contract. It is open to the opposite parties either to take action under the terms of the contract for termination of the services of the applicant or to proceed further with the enquiry according to law from the state the applicant was suspended or his explanation was received. We cannot, therefore, take this circumstance into consideration in deciding this application for writ. The applicant is clearly entitled to an order quashing the order of removal as it was a bad order and the opposite parties may thereafter take such action as advised.

12. As a result the petition is allowed and the order of removal dated the 13th of September, 1955, Lucknow September 14, 1955, No. HD/11502 is quashed. The applicant shall get his costs from the opposite parties.


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