1. This second appeal has been referred to us on account of conflict of decisions by this Court on the interpretation of the provisions of Article 311(1) of the Constitution of India. The order of reference reads as follows:
'In view of the importance of the question as also conflict of views expressed in Abid Mohommad Khan v. The State of Madhya Bharat (AIR 1956 Madh Bha 259); Ramchandra Gopalrao v. D.I.G. Police (AIR 1957 Madh Pra 126); Raghunath Singh v. State of Madhya Bharat (AIR 1959 Madh Pra 43) and V B. Kharate v. State of M.P. (1959 MPLJ 534), the case shall be heard by a Full Bench. Accordingly, the case is referred to a Full Bench.'
2. Before embarking upon the consideration of the points of law arising in the case we think it proper to give a brief resume of facts.
3. The plaintiff-appellant Dinkarrao (to be referred to hereafter as appellant) was Sub-Inspector of Police in the service of the State of Madhya Pradesh. A criminal case under Sections 330 and 331, I.P.C. was instituted against the appellant, as a result of which he was convicted under Section 323, I.P.C. by the trial Court on 26-2-54 and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 200. Aggrieved by the acquittal of the appellant under Sections 330 and 331, I.P.C. the State of Madhya Pradesh filed appeal in the High Court and the same was allowed on 6-11-57. The High Court convicted the appellant under Section 330, I.P.C. and sentenced him to 3 months' rigorous imprisonment in addition to fine of Rs. 200. As a result of theconviction of the appellant by the Eight Court under Section 330, I.P.C. the Superintendent of Police, Guna, suspended the appellant with effect from 6-11-57. The appellant served out the sentence awarded to him by the High Court end was released from jail on 6-2-58. Thereafter, the Inspector-General of Police M.P. dismissed the appellant on 24-4-58 with effect from 6-11-57, the date of his conviction by the High Court.
4. The appellant filed appeal from the order of his dismissal, but the same was rejected by the Government of M.P. The appellant then filed the present suit for declaration that the order of his dismissal was illegal and void being in contravention of Article 311 of the Constitution of India. The State Government resisted the suit. The trial Court, namely--the Civil Judge Class I Guna decreed the plaintiff-appellant's suit vide his judgment dated 17-4-69. He held that the order of dismissal of the appellant passed by the I.G. Police was ultra vires, illegal and void and consequently liable to be set aside. He also awarded Rs. 5,100 on account of salary and deamess allowance to the appellant.
5. Dissatisfied by the judgment and decree passed by the trial Court, the Government of M.P. filed an appeal in the Court of the District Judge, Guna, who by his judgment dated 29-5-69 allowed the appeal, set aside the judgment and decree passed by the trial Court and dismissed the appellant's suit. Hence, this second appeal. As already stated above the learned single Judge before whom the appeal was laid, admitted it and has referred it to a Full Bench.
6. Shri H.G. Mishra, learned counsel for the appellant has urged the following two points in support of the appeal:--
(i) that the order of the apellant's dismissal passed by the I.G. of Police M. P. is void being in contravention of Article 311(1) of the Constitution as the Inspector-General of Police was an authority subordinate to the Maharaja of Gwalior by whom the appellant was appointed on 9-7-42.
(ii) that Rule 246 of the Madhya Bharat Police Regulations has no application to the appellant's case and since the procedure prescribed under Rule 237 of the said Regulations was not followed, the impugned order of dismissal is liable to be set aside.
7. Point Not (i) : In Abid Mohammad Khan v. The State of M.B. (AIR 1956 Madh Bha 259) a Division Bench of this Court held that if a civil servant is dismissed from service fey an authority which is inferior in rank by which he was in fact appointed the dismissal, is invalid and inoperative. The learned Judge went on to observe that the question in such a case is not as to who was the punishing authority or who had the power to dismiss the civil servant concerned on the date the order of dismissal is passed, but is whether the authority who dismissed the civil servant was subordinate in rank to the authority by which he was appointed. The petitioner in that case was appointed by the Government of Madhya Bharat with effect from 1-4-5-2 and was dismissed by the Commissioner, who was then an authority subordinate to the Government. The order of dismissal passed by the Commissioner was held to be in contravention of the provisions of Article 311(1) of the Constitution and, therefore, invalid and inoperative.
8. In another Division Bench case Ramchandra Gopalrao v. D.I.G., Polke, AIR 1957 Madh Pra 126 = (1957 Jab LJ 601) dismissal of the petitioner was held to be illegal on the ground that the petitioner was appointed by the Inspector-General of Police after the formation of Madhya Bharat, but the dismissal was ordered by the Dy. Inspector-General of Police, an authority subordinate in rank to the appointing authority. It was observed that it is the rank of the person actually appointing the civil servant that is material and the position of the appointing and dismissing authorities must be decided with respect to their ranks and not functions.
9. In Raghunath Singh v. State of Madhya Bharat, AIR 1959 Madh Pra 43 another Division Bench sitting at Gwalior held, that removal of the petitioner in that ease, namely Raghunath Singh who was appointed by the Inspector-General of Police of the erstwhile Gwalior State but was removed by the Dy. Inspector-General Northern Range M. B. did not contravene Article 311 of the Constitution since it was not shown that the removing authority was subordinate to the appointing authority. The attention of the learned Judges was no doubt drawn to the earlier; decisions, in the eases of Abid Mohommad and Ramchandra Gopalrao (AIR 1956 Madh Bha 259 andAIR 1957 Madh Pra 126) (supra) but the learned Judges observed that the facts of those cases were distinguishable and the principles laid down therein had no application to the case before them.
10. In V.B. Kharate v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1959 MPLJ 534 the petitioner was originally appointed as Sub-Inspector of Police in the former Holkar State by the Maharaja of that State. On the formation of the new M. P. State, he was absorbed in the services of the new State by a gazette notification issued under the orders of the I. G. Police giving gradation list of all the police officers in the State. Subsequently, the petitioner was charge-sheeted and was dismissed from service by the D.I.G. Police. The petitioner challenged his dismissal inter alia on the ground that his original appointment having been made by the Government of Holkar State, he could not be dismissed by an authority subordinate to it. It was held that on the formation of the State of M.B., the rules in force in the Holkar State came to an end and his service conditions were regulated under the rules laid down by the M. B. State. It was pointed out that under M, B. Police Act which applied to the petitioner at the time of his dismissal, the D.I.G. Police was authorized to dismiss the Sub-Inspector. In this view of the matter, the dismissal of the petitioner by the D.I.G. Police was held to be valid. The learned Judge also drew attention to the Supreme Court case--Rajvi Amar Singh v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1958 SC 228 and held that in view of the decision of the Supreme Court, Ramchandra Gopalrao's case (AIR 1957 Madh Pra 126) (supra) is no more good law.
11. In a still later decision by a single Judge of this Court Antar Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1960 Madh Pra 254 where the petitioner was appointed as a police constable by the Dy. Inspector General of Police of the erstwhile Indore State and was continued in service of the Madhya Bharat State without any order of fresh appointment, his removal from service by the Superintendent of Police Indore was held to be not bad as violating the provisions of Article 311(1) of the Constitution. Under the rules in force in the Madhya Bharat State, a police constable could be removed from service by the Superintendent of Police. The learned Judge found that the authority dismissing the petitioner was not subordinate in status to the authority appointing him. In coming to this conclusion reliance was again placed on Rajvi Amar Singh v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1958 SC 228.
12. At this stage, we consider it proper to reproduce the following observations of their Lordships in Rajvi Amar Singh's case (AIR 1958 SC 228) (supra):--
'Now it is well established that when one State is absorbed in another, whether by accession, conquest, merger or integration, all contracts of service between the prior Government and its servants automatically terminate and there-after those who elect to serve in the new State, and are taken on by it, serve on such terms and conditions as the new State may choose to impose. This is nothing more (though on a mere exalted scale) than an application of the principle that underlies the law of Master and Servant when there is a change of Masters. So far as this Court is concerned, the law is settled lay the decision in State of Madras v. K.M. Rajagopalan. AIR 1955 SC 817 at p. 830. That apart, Article XXI (1) of the covenant indicates that the old contracts terminated just as they did in AIR 1955 SC 817. In the first place there were three options:
(1) continuance in service,
(2) payment of reasonable compensation, and
(3) retirement on proportionate pension.
That shows that the old contracts terminated and that those who continued in service did so on the basis of fresh contracts, the conditions of which had yet to be determined. The only guarantee (assuming that the appellant can avail himself of it) was that the new conditions were not to be less advantageous than those on which the appellant was serving on 1-11-48. There was no guarantee that they would be the same or better.'
The above observations of their Lordships, in our opinion, clinch the issue. It follows, therefore, that where at the time of the integration of the princely States with the rest of India, persons serving in the princely States were absorbed in the services of relative new States that came into existence as a result of the integration, the authority by whom such persons were appointed to the integrated services, or who would have been competent to make the appointment, in case there was no actual fresh appointment, must be deemed to bethe appointing authority competent to dismiss or remove such persons.
13. It has not been disputed before us and in fact, it has never been the case of the petitioner at any stage that the Inspector-General of Police M. P., who passed the impugned order was not competent to make appointment of a Sub-Inspector at the time he passed the order in question. He must, therefore, be deemed to be the appointing authority of the petitioner for the application of the principle contained in Article 311(1) of the Constitution.
14. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the view taken in Abid Mohommad's and Ramchandra Gopalrao's cases (AIR 1956 Madh Bha 259 and AIR 1957 Madh Pra 126) (supra) is no more good law in view of the observations of their Lordships in Rajvi Amar Singh's case (AIR 1958 SC 228) (supra) and must be taken to be impliedly overruled. Consequently, we hold that the I.G. of Police M. P. was competent to dismiss the appellant and the impugned order of dismissal does not contravene Article 311(1) of the Constitution.
15. Point No. (ii)-- This brings us to the consideration of the other point, viz. whether the impugned order is liable to be struck down on account of non-observance of the procedure laid down in Rule 237 of the M. B. Police Regulations. It may be observed that the respondent's contention is that the appellant's case is governed by Rule 237 of the said Regulations and not by Rule 246.
16. For a proper appreciation of the contention raised on behalf of the appellant we may here reproduce both the rules:--
'237. On sanction to prosecute being obtained, the officer incriminated shall at once be placed before a Magistrate to be dealt with according to law. On termination of the judicial proceedings, it will be the duty of the departmental superior to consider the evidence and findings and determine whether the retention of the subordinate in the service is desirable or not. This is a matter entirely for his consideration subject to an appeal to higher departmental authority. He is responsible for the retention or dismissal of his subordinate as may be expedient in the interests of the public service, and in case of an acquittal by a Magistrate, whilst he must carefully consider the reasons, he is not justified in retaining the servant whom he believeson the evidence to be corrupt or otherwise so discredited as to be unfitted for retention in the public service. xx xx xx'
'246. When a police officer has been sentenced, on conviction of a criminal offence, to rigorous imprisonment and the sentence has been upheld on appeal, or no appeal has been lodged, he shall be dismissed from the force:
Provided that if his offence was not of a serious or disgraceful nature, and the imprisonment has not been so prolonged as to be of itself degrading, it shall be in the discretion of the Inspector-General to allow his retention in the force.'
17. At one stage, learned counsel for the appellant also sought shelter under Article 311(2) of the Constitution in support of his contention that no reasonable opportunity of being heard was given to the appellant before the penalty of dismissal was imposed upon him. But on being faced with proviso (a) under Article 311(2) of the Constitution, the learned counsel did not pursue this argument and in our opinion rightly. Proviso (a) reads as under :
'Provided that this clause shall not apply-
(a) where a person is dismissed or removed or reduced in rank on the ground of conduct which has led to his conviction on a criminal charge.'
18. There is no denying the fact that the appellant was dismissed on the ground of conduct which led to his conviction on a criminal charge. Learned counsel had, therefore, no alternative but to rest his case on Rule 237 of the M. P. Police Regulations. He has urged that Rule 246 would apply only to those cases where a police officer has been sentenced on conviction of a criminal offence to rigorous imprisonment by the trial Court and the sentence has been upheld on appeal, or no appeal has been lodged. He wants us to read the words 'by the trial Court' after the words 'rigorous imprisonment' in Rule 246. His argument is that since in the present case the appellant was not sentenced to rigorous imprisonment by the trial Court, but the High Court sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for the first time under Section 330, Rule 246 would have no application. We regret, we cannot accept this interpretation. In the first place, the Rule provides that the police officer must have been sentenced on conviction in a criminal offence to rigorous imprisonment and in case there is an appeal, the sentence must have been upheld. The fact that sentence of rigorous imprisonment has been imposed by the High Court, would, in our opinion not take the case out of the purview of Rule 246. We cannot read the words 'trial Court' in the Rule so as to limit its scope. It is a well established principle of interpretation of statutes that the intention of the Legislature has always to be gathered by words used by it, giving to the words their plain, normal, grammatical meaning. It is not permissible to read words in a statute which are not there, unless the rule as it stands is meaningless. That is not the case here. We also fail to see any reason why imposition of sentence of rigorous imprisonment by the High Court should in any way be placed on a lower footing than the sentence of imprisonment passed by a subordinate Court.
19. There is yet another aspect of the matter to which we might usefully advert. Reference may be made to Rule 247 of the Regulations, which reads as under:
'247. When a police officer has been convicted of a criminal offence and has been sentenced to simple imprisonment or fine, he shall not necessarily be dismissed but may be retained in the force with the sanction of the Inspector-General, if his retention appears desirable.'
20. A comparison of Rules 246 and 247, leaves no doubt that Rule 246 would apply in case of rigorous imprisonment that is, where a police officer is sentenced to rigorous imprisonment, the authority competent to impose departmental punishment upon him has no option, but to dismiss him whereas according to Rule 247, in case of simple imprisonment the departmental authority has discretion to dismiss him or not to dismiss him according to the facts and circumstances of each case. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the appellant's case has been rightly dealt with under Rule 246 and there is no substance in the second contention either.
21. The result is that this appeal fails and is hereby dismissed. But in the circumstances of the case we make no order as to costs.