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S. Harjit Singh Vs. I.G. Police, Punjab, Chandigarh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution;Service
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 1042 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1963P& H90
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 226 and 311(2)
AppellantS. Harjit Singh
Respondenti.G. Police, Punjab, Chandigarh
Appellant Advocate B.S. Chawla, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Mohinder Singh Pannu, Dy. Adv. General
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredKapur Singh v. Union of India
Excerpt:
.....ten years later in 1955. there after, he claims to have discharged his duties as head constable of police to the complete satisfaction of his superior officers and also passed the course qualifying the petitioner for promotion to the rank of assistant sub-inspector and indeed, he proceeds to assert that he was actually recommended for being appointed as assistant sub-inspector. it is true that it would perhaps have been better if mr. rowe had also examined the complainant himself, but his failure to do so, in my opinion, does not in any way vitiate the proceedings. of police, air 1961 ker 299, relied upon by the respondent where it is stated that dismissal by superior authority on evidence recorded by a subordinate officer is not bad provided the superior authority applies his mind to..........not guilty. departmental proceedings were then initiated and shri des raj singh was appointed the enquiry officer.on 26-5-1959, the opening day of the enquiry, the petitioner applied for entrusting the enquiry to some higher officer because the petitioner had been charge-sheeted in respect of alleged misbehaviour towards s. jowala singh, deputy superintendent of police, hoshiarpur, who was the immediate superior officer of shri des raj singh, and who was also one of the important witnesses in the case. another application submitted by the petitioner on that day contained a request that the enquiry officer being a law graduate, the petitioner should also be permitted to engage a counsel. both these prayers were disallowed by the enquiry officer and on 1-6-1959 about nine witnesses in.....
Judgment:
ORDER

I.D. Dua, J.

1. The petitioner, Harjit Singh, Ex-Head Constable, has approached this Court under Article 228 of the Constitution alleging that he was recruited as a Foot Constable in the Punjab Police in 1940 and was confirmed as such in 1945. On 1-11-1945, he was promoted to the officiating rank of Head Constable and was ultimately confirmed in that rank ten years later in 1955. There after, he claims to have discharged his duties as Head Constable of police to the complete satisfaction of his superior officers and also passed the course qualifying the petitioner for promotion to the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector and indeed, he proceeds to assert that he was actually recommended for being appointed as Assistant Sub-Inspector.

2. One Bawa Singh alias Shankar Singh of village Talwandi Jattan Police Station Hariala in the district of Hoshiarpur got a case registered at the above police station on 5-3-1959 alleging abduction of his daughter, Smt. Jagiro, by certain persons, three in number. The petitioner was entrusted with the investigation of the case as a result of which one person called Jagga was considered to have been concerned in the alleged crime. The two other persons were considered to be unconnected with the occurrence. When Bawa Singh learnt that the petitioner had exonerated two of the alleged culprits, he became inimical towards the petitioner and resolved to harm him. A complaint was consequently made by Bawa Singh with the Deputy Superintendent of Police of the llaqa alleging demand and receipt of illegal gratification by the petitioner from Bawa Singh. Thereupon, Shri Des Raj Singh, prosecuting Sub-Inspect or, Hoshiarpur, served a summary of allegations of misconduct on the petitioner on 13-5-1959, to which allegations the petitioner pleaded not guilty. Departmental proceedings were then initiated and Shri Des Raj Singh was appointed the enquiry officer.

On 26-5-1959, the opening day of the enquiry, the petitioner applied for entrusting the enquiry to some higher officer because the petitioner had been charge-sheeted in respect of alleged misbehaviour towards S. Jowala Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Hoshiarpur, who was the immediate superior officer of Shri Des Raj Singh, and who was also one of the important witnesses in the case. Another application submitted by the petitioner on that day contained a request that the enquiry officer being a law graduate, the petitioner should also be permitted to engage a counsel. Both these prayers were disallowed by the enquiry officer and on 1-6-1959 about nine witnesses in support of the charges were examined and the evidence of the department closed. Soon after this, the petitioner was served with a charge-sheet on that very day i.e. 1-6-1959. After this, the petitioner was asked to name his defence witnesses and he submitted a list of about 18 defence witnesses on 3-6-1959.

The enquiry officer in the absence of the petitioner struck out and declined to examine six witnesses who were important ones. The information about the 12 witnesses retained by the enquiry officer was communicated to the petitioner.

3. While the enquiry was proceeding, a letter was received from the Inspector General of Police to the effect that in view of the recent pronouncement by the Punjab High Court, all departmental enquiries in which the complainant was a senior officer should not be entrusted to his subordinate officer. This letter which is marked as Annexure 'E' is dated 2-6-1959 and from this letter it is clear that for future guidance where any senior officer is himself an aggrieved party or a chief prosecution witness, departmental enquiry should not be entrusted to an officer subordinate to him. On receipt of this letter, the enquiry, according to the writ petition, was transferred to Shri V. T. Rowe, Officer Incharge, Police Recruits Training Centre, Jahan Khelan, District Hoshiarpur, who summoned the petitioner for 13-7-1959 for producing his defence. The petitioner filed an application on that date claiming a de novo enquiry, for the previous enquiry officer could not hold the enquiry and had also struck off the petitioner's most important defence witnesses without recording any reasons and without hearing the petitioner.

This application was summarily rejected and the 12 defence witnesses were summoned by Shri Rowe. The petitioner also applied for summoning the file of the case registered against the petitioner under Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, as the petitioner wanted to know the allegations on which that case had been started. This prayer was also disallowed. Eleven of the petitioner's witnesses were thereafter examined by the enquiry officer and the report submitted to the Superintendent of Police, Hoshiarpur. On receipt of this report, the Superintendent of Police served a show-cause notice on the petitioner on 29-10-1959; this was accompanied by a copy of the report. The petitioner submitted his explanation to the show-cause notice, but he was dismissed from service on 9-12-1959.

The petitioner's appeal to the Deputy Inspector General of, Police was rejected on 8-7-1960 and a further revision to the Additional Inspector General of Police was also disallowed on 27-2-1961. It is on these allegations and in these circumstances that the present writ petition has been filed and three grounds are stated in the petition in support of the plea that reasonable opportunity of hearing was denied to the petitioner. In the first instance, it is stated that the departmental evidence was not heard by the enquiry officer who actually reported and that he had therefore no opportunity of watching the demeanour of the witnesses. It Is next pleaded that six of the most important defence witnesses who would have proved the petitioner's innocence were disallowed fay the enquiry officer without applying his mind. Lastly, it has been urged that the criminal file of the case which would have falsified the allegations against the petitioner was not summoned.

4. In arguments, the petitioner's counsel started his attack against the impugned order with another point, namely, that the petitioner should have been allowed to be represented by a lawyer and in support of this ground of challenge he relied on a decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Dr. K. Subba Rao v. State of Hyderabad, (S) AIR 1957 Andh-Pra 414 and on Ramesh Chandra Verma v. R. D. Verma, AIR 1958 All 532. This challenge has been met by the respondent on two grounds. In the first instance, it is pointed out that this ground is not contained in the petition, next it is urged that tire petitioner has no such right of being represented by the counsel; assistance for this submission has been sought from Karuppa Udayar v. The State of Madras, AIR 1956 Mad 460, Lakshmi Narain Gupta v. A. N. Puri, AIR 1954 Cal 335, James Bushi v. Collector of Ganjam, AIR 1959 Orissa 152, Punjab State v. Bhagat Singh, (S) AIR 1955 Punj 118 and an unreported decision at Capoor J. in P. C. Vadhwa v. State, Civil Writ No. 887 of 1959 (Punj.).

5. I agree with the respondent that a person against whom a departmental enquiry is held has no Inherent right to be represented by a professional lawyer and that there is no rule of natural justice conferring such a right. If the statutory rule governing such enquiries gives such a right then the effect of its non-compliance would be governed by the language of the rule itself. Bat apart from such a provision, as at present advised, I do not find it easy to persuade myself to hold that merely because an employee has not been afforded the facility of being represented by a professional lawyer the enquiry against him must be struck down as violative ot the rule of natural justice. The decisions cited on behalf of the petitioner seem to me to be of not much avail to him.

In Dr. K. Suba Rao's case, (S) AIR 1957 And-Pra 414, it was observed that it is for the Court on the facts of each case to scrutinise the entire record to come to a conclusion whether a reasonable opportunity is provided by Article 311 of the Constitution was given to the civil servant concerned. In the circumstances of that particular case, however. It was observed that the petitioner there had, rightly or wrongly, a reasonable apprehension that the enquiry was the result of a pre-conceived plan and a concerted action on the part of the medical department and that his request for professional help was thus justified and refusal of the Enquiry Officer to accede to that simple request had in the circumstances of that case deprived the petitioner there of an opportunity to defend himself.

In R. C. Verma's case, AIR 1958 All 532 Mehrotra J. of the Allahabad High Court observed that in a given case refusal to afford a reasonable opportunity to take legal advice when viewed in the light of the other circumstances may legitimately lead to the inference that the civil servant involved was not given a reasonable opportunity to defend himself. In my opinion, the two decisions of this Court in Bhagat Singh's case (S) AIR 1955 Punj 118, and P. C. Wadhwa's case, Civil Writ No. 887 of 1959 (Punj), are binding on me and unless I am induced to doubt the correctness of the view repressed therein, I must follow them. The petitioner's counsel has not been able to convince me that the view expressed in these two decisions requires reconsideration. I would, therefore, holding the engagement of a professional lawyer not to be an essential part of the rule or natural justice repel the petitioner's contention. No special circumstances have been made out in the present case which would justify departure from the rule laid down in the cases cited on behalf of the respondent

6. The contention that the evidence led on behalf of the department was not recorded by the officer who actually made the final report and that this circumstance vitiates the enquiry is also without substance. The letter from the Inspector General of Police, Annexure 'E', does not, in my opinion, carry the effect of nullifying or vitiating all enquiries held prior to the receipt of these directions by the Enquiry Officers who are junior to the complainant appearing in the enquiry concerned. On behalf of the petitioner, a point was also sought to be made that the Enquiry Officer did not appear to be an independent person and, therefore, did not apply his own mind. Mr. Rows to whom the enquiry was later transferred in pursuance of the directions contained in Annexure 'E', according to the petitioner's counsel, should have started the proceedings de novo.

Here, it must be pointed out that such departmental enquiries, as is the one before me, are not expected or enjoined to be conducted as strictly judicial trials governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure. It is true that it would perhaps have been better if Mr. Rowe had also examined the complainant himself, but his failure to do so, in my opinion, does not in any way vitiate the proceedings. Here I may notice a decision of the Kerala High Court in Raghava Menon v. I. G. of Police, AIR 1961 Ker 299, relied upon by the respondent where it is stated that dismissal by superior authority on evidence recorded by a subordinate officer is not bad provided the superior authority applies his mind to the evidence. The respondent also in this connection referred me to Kapur Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1960 SC 493.

The grievance that six of the most important witnesses were disallowed by the Enquiry Officer without applying his mind is also without any substance. It has not been shown on behalf of the petitioner as to how he has been prejudiced. The first information report of the judicial case was produced and according to the statement made on behalf of the respondent's counsel, the case never went to Court and indeed no statement of any one of We witnesses was even asked for on behalf of the petitioner. Only the file of that case was sought to be summoned. The Enquiry Officer declined to summon the file because he was not shown the relevancy of that record. No specific portion of the record to be relied on was specified. This assertion made on behalf of the, respondent has not been denied by the petitioner's counsel, who confined his argument to the submission that the case with the police was different from the present case and that, therefore, he wanted that file to be summoned. In my opinion, the omission to summon the file on the fads and circumstances of this case does not vitiate the enquiry.

7. For the foregoing reasons, I do not think there is any sufficient ground for interference on the writ side; the present writ petition must, therefore, fail, which is hereby dismissed but without any order as to costs.


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