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Jagannath Singh Vs. Assistant Excise Commissioner and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution;Service
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 1891 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1959All771
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 53, 154, 163, 226, 310 and 311; Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules - Rule 55 and 55A
AppellantJagannath Singh
RespondentAssistant Excise Commissioner and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS.C. Khare and ;N.C. Upadhya, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateStanding Counsel
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....- petitioner failed to establish violation of article 311 - held, order of dismissal valid under article 310. (ii) symbolic expression - articles 154 and 163 of constitution of india - words president and governor should not be understood as the president and governor in person - these words have to be understood in symbolical sense. - - there was no inquiry under rule 55 in the year 1954, although the letter dated 5-5-1954 distinctly mentioned that the fresh proceedings would be in accordance with rules 55 and 55-a. secy, of state begin of the skype highlighting 0043/1936 end of the skype highlighting, it was held by their lordships of the privy council that, unless in special cases, where it is otherwise provided, servants of the crown hold their offices during the pleasure of the..........ground of misbehaviour towards his- superior officer--the supervisor. on 24-5-1950 the assistant excise commissioner dismissed the petitioner without following proper procedure. in may, 1952, the petitioner served upon u. p. government a notice under section 80, c, p. c. on the ground that the dismissal was unconstitutional. as a result of the notice, the petitioner was reinstated by the assistant excise commissioner by his order dated 5-5-1954.by the same order the petitioner was again suspended. it was further directed that the petitioner would be tried in accordance with rules 55 and 55-a of the. civil services (classification, control and appeal) rules (hereinafter referred to as classification rules). but no such fresh inquiry was held in accordance with rule 55 of classification.....
Judgment:
ORDER

V.G. Oak, J.

1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is directed against an order dismissing the petitioner from Government service. Jagannath. Singh is the petitioner.

2. According to the petitioner's affidavit, he was posted as an Excise Peon in district Deoria. On 7-5-1950 he was served with a charge-sheet on the ground of misbehaviour towards his- superior officer--the Supervisor. On 24-5-1950 the Assistant Excise Commissioner dismissed the petitioner without following proper procedure. In May, 1952, the petitioner served upon U. P. Government a notice under Section 80, C, P. C. on the ground that the dismissal was unconstitutional. As a result of the notice, the petitioner was reinstated by the Assistant Excise Commissioner by his order dated 5-5-1954.

By the same order the petitioner was again suspended. It was further directed that the petitioner would be tried in accordance with Rules 55 and 55-A of the. Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules (hereinafter referred to as Classification Rules). But no such fresh inquiry was held in accordance with Rule 55 of Classification Rules. He was merely asked to show cause why he should not be dismissed. The petitioner protested that there should be fresh proceedings in accordance with Rules 55 and 55-A of Classification Rules. Only three prosecution witnesses were called for cross-examination by the petitioner. Ultimately on 14-9-1954 the Assistant Excise Commissioner passed another order dismissing the petitioner from service.

3. An appeal filed by the petitioner was dismissed by the Excise Commissioner on 31-5-1955 Another appeal was dismissed by the State Government on 7-3-1956, Jagannath Singh has, therefore, filed this writ petition for quashing the three orders passed by the Assistant Excise Commissioner, the Excise Commissioner, U. P., and the State of Uttar Pradesh.

4. Mata Prasad Khare, who is Head Clerk of the office of the Assistant Excise Commissioner, Moradabad, has filed a counter-affidavit on behalf of the opposite parties. It is conceded that in 1954 the Government came to the conclusion that, the proceedings against the petitioner in 1950 were irregular. Fresh departmental proceedings were, therefore, ordered. According to the counter-affidavit, the proceedings in 1954 were quite regular. The petitioner filed a rejoinder affidavit.

5. The main contention of Mr. S. C. Khare appearing for the petitioner was that, the inquiry held in 1954 was not in accordance with Rules 55 and 55-A of the Classification Rules. Annexure 'A' to the affidavit is a copy of the letter sent by the Assistant Excise Commissioner to the petitioner 011 5-5-1954. In that letter the Assistant Excise Commissioner wrote:

'..... You are also informed that fresh proceedings will now be started against you in accordance with the new Rules 55 and 55-A of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules.....'

It was contended for the petitioner that, no such inquiry was held after 5-5-1954 in accordance with Rules 55 and 55-A of the Classification Rules.

6. Rules 55 and 55-A contain detailed instructions when it is proposed to pass an order of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank. According to Rule 55, the civil servant has to be informed in writing of the grounds on which it is proposed to take action. He must be given adequate opportunity of defending himself. The grounds on which it is proposed to take action should be reduced in the form of a definite charge or charges. The charges are to be communicated to the civil servant. If he so desires, an oral inquiry shall be held in respect of the allegations. The person charged is entitled to cross-examine witnesses. He is also entitled to produce evidence in defence.

7. Rule 55-A states:

'After the inquiry against a Government servant has been completed, and after the punishing authority has arrived at provisional conclusions in regard to the penalty to be imposed, the Government servant charged shall, if the penalty proposed is dismissal.....be supplied with a copy of theproceedings prepared under Rule 55.....and asked to show cause.....why the proposed penaltyshould not be imposed on him.....'

it will he seen that, according to the scheme of Rules 55 and 55-A, the inquiry has to be in two stages. In the first stage, the inquiry officer hasto find out whether the charges are true or not, If, as a result of the inquiry in the first stage, the authority holding inquiry comes to the conclusion that the charges are true, the authority provisionally comes to a conclusion that a certain punishment should be imposed on the civil servant. On arrival at such a provisional conclusion, the authority has to call upon the civil servant to show cause why the proposed penalty should not be imposed upon him.

8. What was done in the present case was this: On 5-6-1954 the Assistant Excise Commissioner served a notice upon the petitioner calling upon him to show cause why he should not be dismissed from service. Annexure 'B' to the affidavit is a copy of the notice dated 5-6-1954. The notice ran thus;

'A copy of proceedings of your case is enclosed herewith. The proposed punishment in your case is dismissal from service. You should, therefore, show cause.....'

It will he seen that the Assistant Excise Commissioner decided to utilize the proceedings of 1950 as evidence for the inquiry held in 1954. On receiving the notice dated 5-6-1954, the petitioner filed an explanation or a protest. Annexure 'C' to the affidavit is a copy of the explanation. He urged that Rules 55 and 55-A were not being complied with. He had no opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses. He requested that Excise Inspector Gulab Singh should be examined in the presence of the petitioner. Finally, it was requested that a date might be fixed so that the petitioner or his pleader would appear and throw light on the case. Certain prosecution witnesses were recalled, and were cross-examined on behalf of the petitioner. No witnesses were produced by the petitioner in defence. The Assistant Excise Commissioner passed on 14-8-1954 the impugned order dismissing the petitioner from service.

9. The inquiry held in 1954 was not conducted in two distinct stages as laid down in Rules 55 and 55A of Classification Rules. The inquiry actually held was somewhat on the lines of an inquiry under Rule 55-A. There was no inquiry under Rule 55 in the year 1954, although the letter dated 5-5-1954 distinctly mentioned that the fresh proceedings would be in accordance with Rules 55 and 55-A. On 5-6-1954 the Assistant Excise Commissioner arrived a[ the provisional conclusion that, the petitioner deserved dismissal from service without recording any evidence between 5-5-1954 and 5-6-1954. I agree with Mr. Khare that the inquiry held against the petitioner in 1954 was not in accordance with Rules 55 and 55-A of Classification Rules,

10. The learned Standing Counsel urged that, even if Rules 55 and 55-A of Classification Rules were not complied with, the order of dismissal is saved by Article 310 of the Constitution. Clause (1) of Article 310 is in these terms:

'Except as expressly provided by this Constitution, every person who is a member.....of acivil service of the Union..... holds office duringthe pleasure of the President, and every person who is a member of a civil service of a State.....holds office during the pleasure of the Governor.'

11. In Venkata Rao v. Secy, of State 0043/1936 , it was held by their Lordships of the Privy Council that, unless in special cases, where it is otherwise provided, servants of the Crown hold their offices during the pleasure of the Crown, not by virtue of any special prerogative of the Crown, but because such are the terms of their engagement, as is well understood throughout thepublic service. The words 'subject to the rules' appearing in Section 96-B of Government of India Act. 1919 are not superfluous and ineffective.

The section contains a statutory and solemn assurance that the tenure of office though at pleasure will not be subject to capricious or arbitrary, action but will be regulated by rule. The provisions for appeal in the rules are made pursuant to the principle so laid down. Redress, therefore, in such cases is not obtainable from the courts by action. It is so even where there has been serious and complete failure to adhere to important and fundamental rules, as for instance in the case of a person who has been dismissed from service without any investigation into charge as per Rule 14 under Section 96-B. The remedy of the person aggrieved does not lie by a suit in Court but by way of appeal of official kind.

12. The decision in Venkata Rao's case 0043/1936 turned upon the interpretation of Section 96B of Government of India Act, 1919. Sub-section (1) of Section 96-B of Government of India Act, 1919 ran thus:

'Subject to the provisions of this Act and of the rules made thereunder, every person in the civil service of the Crown in India holds office during His Majesty's pleasure.....'

It will be noticed that the provision of Section 96-B was expressed as subject to rules made under the Act. The language of Article 310 of the Constitution is slightly different. Although Article 310 is subject to express provisions of the Constitution, the Article is not subject to rules framed as provided by the Constitution. Thus under Article 310 of the Constitution the position of the State is slight-ly stronger than that under Section 96-B of Government of India Act, 1919.

13. In Lilawati v. State of Madhya Bharat, AIR 1952 Madh-B 105, it was held that, the Madhya Bharat Civil Service Rules 1950 did not in any way abridge or control the power of the Raj Pra-mukh to dismiss at pleasure a civil servant. The rules were merely administrative rules for the guidance of officers of Government in the imposition of penalties and in the conduct of departmental inquiries against Government servants. The dismissal or removal of a civil servant in violation of the rules would not by itself entitle him to come to the High Court, but would leave him to appeal to the administrative authorities. It is only a breach of Article 311 that furnishes a cause to come to the High I Court or to approach a civil court for redress.

14. Similarly in Jagannath Prasad v. State of U. P. : AIR1954All629 , it was held by a Division Bench of this Court that, the Governors' power to dismiss at pleasure is subject only to the express provisions of the Constitution. Power is conferred upon the Governor by Article 309 to make rules regulating the conditions of service of civil servants of the State Government, but such power is subject to the provisions of Article 310. No rules can be made which fetter or restrict his power to dismiss at pleasure. The rules are administrative, and contravention of their provisions will not confer upon the dismissed servant a cause of action.

15. Mr. Khare contended that, although an order of dismissal passed by a Governor is protected by Article 310 of the Constitution, that privilege cannot be extended to an order passed illegally by an Assistant Excise Commissioner. In the Privy Council case referred to above Venkata Rao was a Reader in the Government Press, Madras. He must have been dismissed from service by some officerat Madras. That was not a case where a civil servant had been dismissed by His Majesty personally. Yet it was held that the order of dismissal was saved by Section 96-B of Government of India Act, 1919. In Lilawati's case AIR 1952 Madh-B 105, she appears to have been dismissed by some officer in Madhya Bharat Government. That was not a case of an order of dismissal passed by the Raj Pramukh personally. Yet it was held by Madhya Bharat High Court that, Article 310 of the Constitution was applicable.

16. Article 154 of the Constitution deals with the executive power of State. Clause (1) of Article 154 states:

'The executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution.'

Article 163 provides for g Council of Ministers. Clause (1) of Article 163 states:

'There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.'

17. The effect of Arts, 154 and 163 of the Constitution is that, a Governor rarely passes executive orders personally. He acts through his Ministers and subordinate officers. Even where an executive order purports to be an order of the Governor, in practice the order is usually an order passed by a Minister. There are thousands of civil servants in Uttar Pradesh. It is impossible for the Governor to give personal attention to the case of every civil servant. These considerations show that, the words 'President' and 'Governor' appearing in Article 310 should not be understood as the President and Governor in person. The words 'President' and 'Governor' have to be understood in symbolical sense.

The word 'Governor' in Article 310 denotes the executive power of the State. Even where an authority (not being the Governor) duly empowered in this behalf dismisses a subordinate civil servant, Article 310 will be attracted. In the present case an Assistant Excise Commissioner dismissed an Excise Peon from service. Mr. Khare did not contend that, Assistant Excise Commissioner is not authorised to dismiss an Excise Peon. So the order of dismissal dated 14-9-1954 passed by the Assistant Excise Commissioner against the petitioner attracts the provision of Article 310 of the Constitution.

18. Finally, Mr. Khare contended that, apart from a breach of Rules 55 and 55-A, there was also contravention of Article 311 of the Constitution. This point was not expressly raised in the grounds mentioned in the writ petition. But Mr. Khare was permitted to argue on this aspect also. According to Clause (2) of Article 311 of the Constitution, a member of a civil service cannot be dismissed until he has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the action proposed. We have to see whether in the present case the petitioner was given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the proposed dismissal,

19. According to the petitioner, the inquiries held in 1950 and 1954 were both illegal. In paragraph 5 of the petitioner's affidavit it is stated that, on 24-5-1950 the Assistant Excise Commissioner dismissed the petitioner without following proper procedure. In, paragraphs 5 and 6 of the counter-affidavit it is stated that, the Assistant Excise Com-missioner fixed 7-5-1950 for examination of witnesses. The petitioner was directed to appear on that date. But the petitioner absented himself on 7-5-1950. Sri Dovel and other witnesses were examined by the Assistant Excise Commissioner on 7-5-1950. In the rejoinder affidavit the petitioner stated that, he was unable to appear before the Assistant Excise Commissioner on 7-5-1950 on account of illness. It will be seen that, in the inquiry held in 1.950 the Assistant Excise Commissioner was prepared to record statements of prosecution witnesses in the presence of the petitioner.

20. The petitioner's main grievance is that, he was not allowed to cross-examine prosecution witnesses either in 1950 or in 1954. In particular it was necessary to cross-examine the Supervisor, who was the main prosecution witness. The Supervisor was not cross-examined at any stage.

21. On this point it is stated in the counter-affidavit that, the petitioner never applied for an opportunity to cross-examine Shri Dovel (the Supervisor). The petitioner was not denied an opportunity to cross-examine Shri Doval. The applicant was asked to name the witnesses, whom he wished to cross-examine. The petitioner named only Jagannath Prasad and Chhedi Lal. Annexure 'E' to the counter-affidavit is a copy of the petitioner's statement dated 19-7-1954.

The first question asked to the petitioner on 19-7-1954 was about the witnesses whom he wished to cross-examine. The petitioner replied that ho wished to cross-examine Chhedi Lal and Jagannath Prasad. In answer to another question the petitioner replied that, he wished to cross-examine Gulab Singh, Excise Inspector. Annexure 'F' to the counter-affidavit is a copy of the proceedings dated 29-8-1954. According to Annexure 'F', Jagannath Singh stated that he had nothing to add, and would not produce defence. He requested for perusal of his service book. According to paragraph 10 of the rejoinder affidavit, the petitioner wanted to cross-examine Sri Doval and other witnesses.

The Assistant Excise Commissioner said that, as Sri Doval was posted in another district, it would take a very long time to call him. For this reason the deponent was asked to cross-examine Jagannath Prasad, Chhedi Lal and Gulab Singh only. The petitioner was not given any opportunity of cross-examining Sri Doval, complainant. It will be seen that, parties are not agreed on the question whether the petitioner ever requested for an opportunity to cross-examine Sri Doval, Supervisor. Admittedly, some prosecution witnesses were cross-examined on behalf of the petitioner in 1954.

22. In Union of India v. T. R. Varma, : (1958)IILLJ259SC , their Lordships of the Supreme Court discussed principles of natural justice at page 885 thus:

'Stating it broadly and without intending it to be exhaustive, it may be observed that rules of natural justice require that a party should have the opportunity of adducing all relevant evidence on which he relies, that the evidence of the opponent should be taken in his presence, and that he should be given the opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses examined by that party, and that no materials should be relied on against him without his being given an opportunity of explaining them.'

23. In the present case Sri Doval Supervisor was an important witness in the inquiry. He was not examined in the presence of the petitioner either in 1952 or in 1954. According to the counter-affidavit, it was proposed to record Shri Doval'sstatement on 7-5-1950 in the petitioners' presencebut the petitioner did not avail of that opportunity. The petitioner did not express a desire in 1954 to cross-examine Shri Doval.

24. In Shyam Lal v. State of U. P. : AIR1954All235 it was observed by a Division Bench of this Court at pages 243 and 244 that, the expression 'showing cause' used in Article 311 implies adequate opportunity of leading evidence in support of the contentions of the person concerned and controverting the contentions raised against him. Opportunity of cross-examining witnesses should be given where necessary. There should be an opportunity to address arguments.

25. In Rama Shankar Srivastava v. Divisional Suptd., Northern Rly. : AIR1956All393 , it was held by another Division Bench of this Court that, the expression 'showing cause' has been held to connote

'an opportunity of leading evidence in support of one's allegations and in controverting such allegations as are made against one.'

It cannot be said that an opportunity of showing cause has been granted when a person is only called upon to submit a written explanation but is not clearly told what the entire evidence against him is and is not afforded an opportunity to controvert the charges by adducing his own evidence.

26. The petitioners' contention in the present case is that, he was not given an opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses--in particular Sri Doval Supervisor. Admittedly, the petitioner did cross-examine Jagannath Prasad, Chhedi Lal and Gulab Singh witnesses. According to the opposite parties, there was no request for cross-examining Sri Doval. It has not been denied on behalf ofthe petitioner that, he had an opportunity to produce defence if he liked.

27. In High Commr. for India v. I. M. Lal , their Lordships of the Privy Council interpreted Section 240 of Government of India Act, 1935. The provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 240 of the Government of India Act, 1935 were similar to the provisions of Clause (2) of Article 311 of the Constitution of India. At page 126 their Lordships observed thus:

'No action is proposed within the meaning of the sub-section until a definite conclusion has been come to on the charges, and the actual punishment to follow is provisionally determined on. Prior to that stage, the charges are unproved and the suggested punishments are merely hypothetical. It is on that stage being reached that the statute gives civil servant the opportunity for which Sub-section (3) makes provision. Their Lordships would only add that they see no difficulty in that statutory opportunity being reasonably afforded at more than one stage. If the civil servant has been through an enquiry under Rule 55, it would not be reasonable that he should ask for a repetition of that stage, if duly carried out, but that would not exhaust his statutory right, and he would still be entitled to represent against the punishment proposed as the result of the findings of the enquiry.'

In the present case only a single inquiry was held in 1954. That was not an inquiry in two stages as indicated by the Judicial Committee in I. M. Lall's case, . But although their Lordships indicated that, opportunity may be given to the civil servant at more than one stage, they also pointed out that, if there was already an inquiry under Rule 55, it would not be reasonable that the civil servant should ask for a repetition of that stage.

In the present case there was an inquiry in the year 1950. It is true that that inquiry was defective. But in that inquiry definite charges were framed against the petitioner. On 24-5-1950 an order of dismissal was passed on the footing that the charges had been established. When the second inquiry against the petitioner commenced on 5-6-1954, he was called upon to show cause why he should not be dismissed from service. A copy o the previous proceedings was enclosed with the notice. The proceedings contained the charges as well as the prosecution evidence against the petitioner.

So when he received the notice on 5-6-1954, he knew the charges which he had to meet and the evidence on which it was proposed to dismiss him from service. With this information in his possession, the petitioner should have had no difficulty in showing cause against the notice. The petitioner submitted his explanation. He cross-examined certain prosecution witnesses. He had an opportunity to produce his defence. The petitioner appeared before the enquiry officer personally several times. It appears that the petitioner had reasonable opportunity to show cause against the proposed punishment.

The writ petition is being disposed of on the basis of affidavits filed by the parties. It was open to the petitioner to file a regular suit, and establish contravention of Article 311 of the Constitution. But upon a perusal of the affidavits filed by the parties, it does not appear that Article 311 was contravened.

28. The position, therefore, is this. The petitioner was dismissed from service on 14-9-1954 as a result of an inquiry. The inquiry was not conducted in accordance with Rules 55 and 55-A of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules. The petitioner has failed to prove contravention of Article 311 of the Constitution. So the order of dismissal is protected by Article 310 of the Constitution. Although the writ petition is being dismissed, the petitioner has succeeded in proving that the inquiry against him was not held in accordance with statutory Rules. Parties may, therefore, be ordered to bear their own costs.

29. The petition is dismissed. Parties shall bear their own costs.


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