1. The petitioner who is Gaya Prasad Misra was a member of the Police Force in this State. He entered service sometime in 1935 as a Constable but was working as Station Officer Incharge Police Station Misrikh in 1952. While posted in Sitapur district where Misrikh is situate he appeared to have purchased a house for Rs. 8000/- in the name of his wife. Admittedly he did not inform the higher authorities, as was necessary under Rule 11 of the Government Servants' Conduct Rules, about the purchase of this house.
He was accordingly asked by the Superintendent of Police on 18-12-1953 about this purchase and he was also suspended with effect from the same date. On 10-4-1953 he was served with a charge sheet also under Section 7 of the Police Act accusing him of several charges in which he was blamed of having accepted illegal gratification besides purchasing the above house.
A case under Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1947 was also registered against him an 30-5-1953, and the investigation was entrusted to a C. I. D. Inspector who got recorded the statement of certain witnesses also under Section 164 Cr. P. C. The report recorded under the above section is annexure 'C' to the main affidavit filed by the petitioner. A final report under Section 173 Cr. P. C. was also filed by the police in respect of the charge under Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act on 26-10-1953. It was accepted by the District Magistrate on 18-11-1953.
2. On 6-12-1953 the petitioner was once again served with a charge sheet annexure 'B.' In this document the Superintendent of Police laid four distinct charges against the petitioner. The first charge related to the purchase of a house in the name of his wife for Rs, 8000/- and his not in-forming his higher authorities about it thus contravening Rule 11 of the Government Servants' Conduct Rules.
The remaining three charges were that while posted at police station Misrik he extracted bribe in three cases; in one case a sum of Rs. 240/- from Jia Lal and Rupan chamars of village Phulpur, in another a sum of Rs. 200/- from Smt. Chutkanni and Lakuri of village Lohangpur, and in the third Rs. 250/- from Bihari Pasi in connection with a crime under Section 452/323 I. P. C. As usual the Superintendent of Police while serving the above charges on the petitioner further called upon him to file his defence on or before 14-12-53 and also to inform the Superintendent of Police whether he wanted to be heard in person or desired to cross examine any witness or produce any document, list whereof was given in the charge sheet. In response to the above the petitioner submitted his reply on the charges on 14-12-53. He also requested permission to be heard in person and to cross-examine the witnesses.
2a. It is not denied that the petitioner was heard in person and was also allowed the requisite opportunity to cross examine the witnesses whom he wanted to cross examine. His grievance, however, is two-fold; one is that the enquiry originally closed on 12-1-54 but afterwards on 22-1-54 the enquiry officer examined one more witness Ram Dayal to prove the report Ex. D-6 as it was then marked by one Lal Ji Govind Rao, Sub-Inspector, District Intelligence Staff, when Sri Lal Ji Govind Rao himself was neither produced nor tendered for cross-examination; the other is that without there being any charge against him of general dishonesty the enquiry officer entered into a discussion of that fact with the result that he was prejudiced in arriving at his conclusions on charge No. 4 which related to acceptance of illegal gratification of Rs. 250/- from Bihari Pasi.
2b. The other facts are that the enquiry officer on 24-1-54 held the first and fourth charge proved against the petitioner and he proposed the punishmet of dismissal while submitting his findings to the Deputy Inspector General of Police. Thereupon the Deputy Inspector General of Police served a copy of the findings by the enquiry officer on the petitioner and asked him to show cause against the proposed punishment.
The petitioner then submitted his explanation on 16-2-54. Ultimately the Deputy Inspector General of Police after considering the explanation furnished by the petitioner dismissed him from service on 8-5-54. Against the said order of the Deputy Inspector General of Police the petitioner appealed to the Inspector General of Police, but the latter also dismissed it on 4-1-55. After the dismissal of his appeal he filed this petition impugning the order of dismissal.
3. Although numerous grounds were mentioned in the petition against the order sought to be impugned, those urged at the hearing were these:
1. That the enquiry was vitiated on account of the examination subsequently by the enquiry officer of Ram Dayal witness to which reference has been made earlier also in this judgment.
2. That there was no charge of general dishonesty against him still the enquiry officer recorded a finding upon it.
3. That the enquiry was bad and without jurisdiction inasmuch as the final report under Section 173 Cr. P. C. ought to have been approved by the Special Judge appointed under the Prevention of Corruption Act and not by the District Magistrate, and that so long as the final report was not so approved by the Special Judge, Rule 486 of the Police Regulations stood as a bar against the commencement of the departmental proceedings.
4. That again the enquiry officer made a manifest error in holding that the house had been purchased by the petitioner out of illegal gains when, indeed, there was no such suggestion in the charge served upon him. This renders the entire proceedings held by him to be void. Further that the punshment of dismissal awarded on that account was illegal.
4. Out of the four grounds stated above, the first, second and fourth, relate to the manner in which the inquiry was held. In the fourth ground, however, is included the allegation also that the punishment awarded was illegal. In this connection it will be worthwhile to mention that amongst the four charges which had been served upon the petitioner in the course of the departmental proceedings the charge as regards the purchase of the house by the wife and default in submitting that information to the Government, and the charge that the petitioner accepted Rs. 250/-as bribe were held established.
There can be no manner of doubt that if the petitioner was held guilty, as he was, of accepting bribe from Bihari Pasi that finding alone was sufficient to sustain the order of dismissal which ultimately was passed against him. This aspect is rather important because the three grounds, viz. the 1st, 2nd and 4th urged before this Court relate to the portion of the inquiry which really related to the charge about the purchase of the house. Ramdayal witness who was examined subsequently, likewise the report Ex. D6 were relevant in its (sic) connection only.
The discussion about the petitioner's general dishonesty and the finding that the purchase was effected out of illegal gains made by the petitioner again related to the same matter. Thus even if it be accepted for a moment, which too, however, cannot be urged very successfully that the inquiry J officer exceeded the scope of the subject matter before him, the petitioner cannot benefit because of his proved guilt of having accepted bribe from Bihari Pasi and for which a punishment of dismissal was always permissible. In the above view of the matter we are of the opinion that the petitioner cannot successfully impugn the order of dismissal on the above three grounds.
5. However, on their own merits too we are unable to agree with the petitioner that the inquiry officer was guilty of any such error as would vitiate the inquiry held by him. It is true that there was no specific charge of general dishonesty against the petitioner, nor was it included in it that the purchase by the wife was benami for him, nevertheless, it was a part of the charget that he i.e., the petitioner, failed to lodge information aboutthe purchase of the house before the higher authorities and in its connection it was fully relevant to consider the causes which had persuaded the petitioner in withholding the information.
The purchase was effected for a sum of Rs. 8000/- and a much larger sum had also been spent over its repairs and improvement. It was thus a fairly costly property about which information had not been given. The inquiry officer was well within the scope of his duty in ascertaining the circumstances which were at the back of the mind in withholding the information and as he found one prominent circumstance was that the property had been acquired out of illegal gains.
6. There can be no real grievance against the examination of Ramdayal witness also as an opportunity had been given to the petitioner to cross-examine him. Even if he was examined after the rest of the case had closed, the petitioner cannot grudge the examination of Ramdayal who was examined to prove a certain document only while opportunity to cross-examine him had been given. This objection too has thus no force.
7. In considering the third objection above mentioned it will be necessary to refer firstly to paragraph 486 of the Police Regulations. Its relevant portion is thus:
'486. When the offence alleged against a police officer amounts to an offence only under Section 7 of the Police Act, there ean be no magisterial inquiry under the Criminal Procedure Code. In such cases, and in other cases until and unless a magisterial inquiry is ordered, inquiry will be made under the direction of the Superintendent of Police in accordance with the following rules.
I. Every information received by the police relating to the commission of a cognizable offence by a police officer shall he dealt with in the first place under Chapter XIV, Criminal Procedure Code, according to law, a case under the appropriate section being registered in the police station concerned provided that-
(3) .....investigation shall be made by a police officer selected by the Superintendent of Police and higher in rank than the officer charged;
(4) on the conclusion of the investigation and before the report required by Section 173, Criminal Procedure Code, is prepared, the question whether the officer charged should or should not be sent for trial shall be decided by the Superintendent of Police, provided that before an officer whose dismissal would require the concurrence of the Deputy Inspector General under paragraph 479 is sent for trial by the Superintendent of Police the concurrence of the Deputy Inspector General must be obtained;
(5) the charge-sheet or final report under Section 17S. Criminal Procedure Code, shall be sent to the District Magistrate if the Superintendent of Police or the Deputy Inspector General has decided against a prosecution, a note by the Superintendent of Police giving the reasons for this decision, shall be endorsed on, or attached to, the final report;
(6) when the reason for not instituting a prosecution is that the charge is believed to be baseless, no further action will be necessary if the charge is believed to be true and a prosecution is not undertaken owing to the evidence being considered insufficient or for any other reason the Superintendent may, when the final report under Section 173, Criminal Procedure Code, has been accepted by the District Magistrate, take departmental action as laid down in paragraph 490.'
(The rest of this paragraph is not directly relevant in the present dispute.)
8. The next relevant provision is contained in paragraph 489, which provides:
'A police officer may be departmentally tried under Section 7 of the Police Act-
(1) after he has been tried judicially;
(2) after a magisterial inquiry under the Criminal Procedure Code;
(3) after a police investigation under the Criminal Procedure Code or a departmental inquiry under paragraph 486 III above.'
9. Then comes paragraph 490 which contains the procedure to be followed in departmental inquiries.
10. As has been noticed earlier also the charge against the petitioner was amongst others of accepting illegal gratification also. Accordingly a case under Section 5 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against him in accordance with paragraph 486 above. Its copy is Annexure C. An investigation was also held by Sri Gopal Dubey, Inspector, C. I. D. who in the end submitted his final report through proper channel to the District Magistrate under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
In submitting the final report it was pointed out that a successful prosecution in Court on the alleged charges was not feasible owing to insufficient evidence, nevertheless the ease was a fit one for departmental action. On the above report the District Magistrate to whom it had been submitted made the order on 18-11-1953 accepting the recommendation of the inquiry officer. With the acceptance of the report the case was closed and the petitioner escaped prosecution. It was subsequently on 6-] 2-1953, that fresh charges were served upon the petitioner and departmental action under paragraph 490 was started against him.
11. Before the several arguments urged in connection with the inquiry held under Paragraph 490 are discussed reference to the following provisions of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1952, will be necessary.
12. Section 6 of this Act conferred power on the State Government to appoint Special Judges in different areas to try offences punishable under Section 161 and certain other sections of the Indian Penal Code as also an offence under Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.
13. Section 7(1) provided:
'7 (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, or in any other law the offences specified in Sub-section (2) of Section 6 shall be triable by Special Judges only.'
(The remainder of the section is not relevant here.) Then in Section 8 it was laid down that
'8 (1) A Special Judge may take cognisance of offences without the accused being committedto him for trial and in trying the accused persons, shall follow the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 for the trial of warrant cases by Magistrates.'
(The remaining provisions of this section are not necessary in the present case).
14. It would appear from the above provisions of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1952 that an offence of bribery under Section 161 by a person, as the present petitioner is exclusively triable by a Special Judge appointed under the provisions of Section 6 of that Act, and who under Section 8 is also authorised to take cognizance of the offence without the accused being committed to him for trial. Further in trying the accused person he is required to follow the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure for the trial of warrant cases by Magistrates.
Referring to the above provisions and the fact that an offence under Section 161 and similarly under Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, is triable by a Special Judge only, one of the objections which the petitioner has taken is that the final report under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure should have been referred in the above case to the Special Judge and not to the District Magistrate as the former alone was competent to hold the trial.
The other objection and which incidentally arose is that in the absence of the final report having been submitted to the Special Judge there was no final report in the eye of law putting an end to the proceedings started against him under Chapter 14 of the Criminal P. C. but the same, his contention further is, was necessary as a condition precedent to the commencement of the departmental inquiry.
15. Two questions will, therefore, be required to be judged :
(1) Whether it was necessary under the law that the final report should have been submitted in the present case to the Special Judge and not to the District Magistrate and was the former alone competent to accept it, and
(2) Does paragraph 486 contemplate that there shall be no departmental inquiry unless and until proceedings are first initiated under Chapter XIV, Criminal P. C. and those proceedings have concluded by a final report duly submitted and accepted under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
16. It may not be necessary in the present case to answer the second question if the view held on the first is that the District Magistrate was competent to accept the final report in spite of the provision in Section 7 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1952, empowering the Special Judges alone to try of fences under Section 161 I. P. C. and Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It is not disputed that a first information report under Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against the petitioner.
There is no dispute also that the said crime was investigated and later, because the evidence that was forthcoming was considered to be deficient or otherwise insufficient, a final report onthose grounds was also submitted to the District Magistrate under Section 173 Cr. P. C. If, therefore, the submission of the final report before the District Magistrate can be justified and the District Magistrate was competent to accept it there will be an end to the 2nd objection urged on behalf of the petitioner.
17. The final report was submitted on 26-10-1953, and was accepted by the District Magistrate on 18-11-1953. The departmental proceedings were started against the petitioner much later in December the same year, i. e. they were started after the proceedings commenced under Chapter XIV of the Code of Criminal Procedure had concluded in this case.
18. We, therefore, at once proceed to consider the question already posed above. Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure requires in cl, fa) of Sub-section (1) that as soon as an investigation under Chapter XIV is completed, the officer in charge of the police station shall forward to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of the offence on a police report the names of the parties, the nature of information received and other particulars mentioned in the section. Section 190 describes Magistrates who may take cognizance of any offence. A District Magistrate is according to Section 190 empowered to take cognizance of any offence-
(a) upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence;
(b) upon a report in writing of such facts made by any police officer;
(c) upon information received from any person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge or suspicion, that such offence has been committed.
19. Thus there cannot be any doubt, if the above provisions alone of Section 173 read with Section 190 Cr. P. C. had been there, that the District Magistrate was empowered to take cognizance of the offence with which the petitioner was charged in the present case. But in view of the provision in Section 7 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1952, according to which a Special Judge alone is competent to try such an offence, the contention is put forward that Section 173 Cr. P. C. should itself be deemed to have been amended to this extent, viz., that whenever the offence concerned is an offence triable by a Special Judge the reference in the section to the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance should be construed to be a reference to the Special Judge.
20. Admittedly the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, by which exclusively jurisdiction to try such offences was vested, in the Special Judges alone has not made any amendment in Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. On the other hand, Section 7 also in providing that the offence specified in Sub-section (1) of Section 6 of that Act shall be triable by Special Judges only has over-ridden the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the matter of trial alone of those offences. This is clear from the opening words of the sub-section which provides-
'Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, or in any other law, the offences specified in Sub-section (1) of Section 6 shall be triable by Special Judges only.'
The provisions of the Code relating to information to. the police and their powers to investigate or for the matter of that taking cognizance of offences have not been referred nor over-ridden.
21. It was contended that since the Special Judge alone is competent to try the offence he only can decide whether the particular prosecution should be started or not. A Magistrate who is not competent to try the case cannot do so. There can be no dispute with the fact that the trial of the offence can be held by the Special Judge only; but taking cognizance of a case is not the same thing as trial for the offence. Cognizance is a point when the Magistrate takes judicial notice of the offence. No proceedings are necessarily started thereby (sic) against the person accused of the offence.
As a matter of fact, in many cases, pointedly those triable exclusively by a Court of Session cognizance is nevertheless taken by a Magistrate though the law does not vest him with the power to try any accused on those charges. Taking cognizance of an offence is thus an entirely different thing than the trial of a person for the offence. As earlier pointed out taking cognizance of an offence is the point when a Magistrate, who may or may not be empowered to try an offender for the offence, first takes judicial notice of it.
Section 190 which provides for taking of cognizance of offences by Magistrates does not draw any line between offences which may be triable also by such Magistrates and offences which are not so triable by him. Both classes of offences are covered by the language of this section. According to the definition of the word 'offence' as contained in Clause (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Code, offences whether triable or not by a Magistrate are included in it. Thus according to the plain meaning of Section 190 a Magistrate described in it has power to take cognizance of any offence, i. e. both of offences which may ultimately be triable by him, and offences which may not be triable by him. Our attention has not been invited to any provision of the Code according to which the power to take cognizance of an offence by a Magistrate is curtailed by any such condition viz. that he is competent to hold a trial also for the offence.
22. Section 7 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act has merely laid down that the offence under Section 161 I. P. C. and Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, shall be triable by a Special Judge only. There are a large number of offences under the Indian Penal Code which are similarly triable exclusively by a Court of Session. The provisions of Section 173 and also of Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are admittedly applicable to offence triable exclusively by Courts of Session.
An offence triable by Special Judge under Section 7 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1952, stands on an identical footing and the mere prohibition against trial of those offences by other than Special Judges does not in our opinion affect the applicability of Section 173; in other words, affect the power of the District Magistrate under Section 173 to accept a final report.
23. We are unable to find anything in Section 173 also which, should require that the orderaccepting the final report could be made by an authority which while empowered to take cognizance of the offence is further empowered to try the offender or to commit him for trial. All that it says is that the report will be submitted to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of the offence. Unlike the case of Sections 169 and 170 of the Code which describe the Magistrate before whom appearance is intended in these words:
'empowered to take cognizance of the offence upon a police-report and to try the accused or commit him for trial'
the words 'to try the accused or commit him for trial' are significantly absent from Section 173. This again pointed out the legislative intention that the Magistrate referred to in the section need only be empowered to take cognizance of the offence. It is not necessary that he must further be competent to try the accused or commit him for trial. Because the intention had been that the Magistrate should be competent to try also the accused or commit him for trial obviously there is no apparent reason why it omitted the words 'to try the accused or commit him for trial' from this section.
24. Now if the Magistrate who may act under Section 173 need not be empowered also to try the accused or to commit him for trial, the petitioner's argument that an authority which can try an accused for the offence can alone act under Section 173 must fail. The reasoning adopted by the petitioner that because the Special Judge alone could try the offender in the present case there was a modification by necessary implication of Section 173 due to the enactment of Section 7 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1952 cannot be upheld.
25. Again, referring to Section 8 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act which gave power to the Special Judge to take cognizance of an offence under Section 161 or under Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act without the accused being committed to him for trial the petitioner also contended that the Special Judge alone was not only empowered to try the accused but he could take cognizance also of the offence. That is, he occupies the same position as a Magistrate does in relation to other offences. While it may be said more than that we need decide on the particular point that a Special Judge is authorised to take cognizance also of the offence, the power of a Magistrate to take cognizance, which belongs to him under Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, is not taken away thereby. Whatever the powers of the Special Judge might be in that behalf, the Magistrate's power to take cognizance of the offence remains unabated. Section 173 of the Code will have to be interpreted according to its own language, thus if the section provides that the acceptance of the final report shall be by a Magistrate, there can be no reason why it was not possible for him to do so in the present case.
26. In this connection we may cursorily refer to the provisions in sub-paragraph (6) of Paragraph 1 of Police Regulation 486 also. It makes reference to the final report under Section 173 only while providing when departmental action may be taken. It makes no exception for cases which may be triable by Special Judges. Nor does it require thatIn those cases the final report shall be accepted by the Special Judge. If, therefore, Section 173 of the Code entitled a Magistrate who is empowered to take cognizance of the offence to accept the report, the condition namely that prior proceedings shall be held under Chapter XJV of the Code, will still be satisfied in the present case.
27. In view of the foregoing discussion we are of the opinion that a final report had been duly presented and also accepted in this case under Section 173 of the Code.
28. We now come to the other question which is whether it was necessary as a condition precedent that in cases where information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence by a police officer is received and such offence is an offence under Section 7 also of the Police Act the proceedings under Chapter XIV must be held and also concluded by a final report before departmental proceedings are commenced. Since the finding has been that a final report had been duly submitted and accepted in the instant case under Section 173, there is no necessity of deciding this question as admittedly the departmental proceedings had commenced subsequently only oh 6-12-1953.
We are, therefore, refraining from expressing our opinion on the said interpretation of regulation 486. Learned counsel for the petitioner had cited the case of Mohd. Umar v. Inspector General of Police, 1957 All LJ 603: ((S) AIR 1957 All 767) and also an unreported decision Ajodhia Prasad v. State of Uttar Pradeshj Civil Misc. Application (O, J.) No. 86 of 1954, decided by a Division Bench on 23-12-1957, in which the view as put forward by him was accepted.
Since an answer on this question is not necessary for disposing of the present petition, we shall abstain from expressing our opinion on it as it may be necessary to examine in its connection an aspect not urged in the above cases but all the same deserving of consideration that the particular provision in regulation 486 was not mandatory but directory only. The question may also require to be considered in the background that the main power to punish departmentally is derived from Section 7 of the Police Act while the Police Regulations laid down the procedure to be followed in carrying out that power. However, as already said we do not consider ourselves called upon to enter into these questions which will not affect the final result of this petition.
29. Now the net result of the foregoing discussion is that this petition should fail. We accordingly dismiss it with costs.