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State of Punjab Vs. Parsa Singh Teji - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 43 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1967P& H238
ActsConstitution of India - Article 311
AppellantState of Punjab
RespondentParsa Singh Teji
Appellant Advocate M.S. Punnu, Deputy Adv. General
Respondent Advocate B.S. Bindra, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredP.C. Wadhwa v. Union of India
Excerpt:
.....that the charges against him had not been established and his services had been terminated after the punjab state had failed to substantiate the charges in the departmental enquiry. the enquiry officer recommended that madan gopal should be removed from service immediately......services of the respondent.2. the brief facts of the case are that the respondent was appointed block development officer on probation in the erstwhile pepsu state on 17th august, 1956. later on, the probationary condition was removed and the respondent continued in temporary service. the respondent was posted as block development and panchayat officer at dera baba nanak from 26th september 1957 to 23rd april 1960 when he was transferred to guru har sahai in district ferozepore. in september 1960 the respondent was charged with several acts of misconduct including misappropriation of money, and the statement of allegation forming the basis of those charges was served upon the respondent through the deputy commissioner, ferozepore. the respondent submitted an explanation denying the.....
Judgment:

H.R. Khanna, J.

1. This appeal under Clause X of the Letters Patent by the State of Punjab is directed against the order of the learned Single Judge whereby he accepted the petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India filed by Parsa Singh Teji respondent and set aside the order of the Punjab Government terminating the services of the respondent.

2. The brief facts of the case are that the respondent was appointed Block Development Officer on probation in the erstwhile Pepsu State on 17th August, 1956. Later on, the probationary condition was removed and the respondent continued in temporary service. The respondent was posted as Block Development and Panchayat Officer at Dera Baba Nanak from 26th September 1957 to 23rd April 1960 when he was transferred to Guru Har Sahai in District Ferozepore. In September 1960 the respondent was charged with several acts of misconduct including misappropriation of money, and the statement of allegation forming the basis of those charges was served upon the respondent through the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore. The respondent submitted an explanation denying the charges against him. The Punjab Government thereupon on 5th February 1962 appointed Shri Gobinder Singh, I. A. S., as Enquiry Officer to hold departmental enquiry into the charges against the respondent. Shri Gobinder Singh made a report dated 19th May 1962 holding that some of the charges including those relating to misappropriation of money had been proved against the respondent. The same day i.e., on 19th May 1962 the Punjab Government passed an order withdrawing the departmental enquiry against the respondent which had been entrusted to Shri Gobinder Singh, Enquiry Officer, and forwarded a copy of the same to Shri Gobinder Singh.

On 2nd June 1962-the Government of Punjab passed the order terminating the services of the respondent as Block Development and Panchayat Officer with immediate effect as no longer required. It is the above order which has been assailed by the respondent in his petition filed on 30th July 1963. It appears that when the respondent filed the petition he was not aware of the fact that the Enquiry Officer had made a report against the respondent. The respondent, accordingly, took the stand in his petition that the charges against him had not been established and his services had been terminated after the Punjab State had failed to substantiate the charges in the departmental enquiry. It was further stated that order about the termination pf the services of the respondent was a colourable order made with a view to remove the respondent from service by way of punishment.

3. The petition was resisted by the appellant and it was averred that as the Government noticed in the year 1958 that some of the Block Development Officers were not up to the mark and their performance had not been satisfactory, the question of weeding out unsuitable Block Development Officers was taken up. The case remained under consideration till 1962 when it was finally decided that the services of the respondent along with two other Block Development and Panchayat Officers should be terminated being unsuitable officers for the posts which they were holding in accordance with the terms of their appointment as temporary Block Development and Panchayat Officers. The decision about weeding out the unsuitable Block Development and Panchayat Officers was taken independently of the enquiries pending against the officers in the Vigilance Department. The termination of services of the respondent, it is stated, had nothing to do with the enquiry conducted by the Vigilance Department against him. The services of the respondent along with two other Block Development and Panchayat Officers were terminated, according to the appellant, in the ordinary course entailing no penal consequences and in the bona fide exercise of the Government powers to remove temporary Government servants according to the terms of their appointment. The other allegations made by the respondent were denied by the appellant.

4. The learned Single Judge held that the Government having resorted to hold a detailed enquiry into the charges against the respondent and having obtained a report as a result of that enquiry, could not turn back and purport to terminate the respondent's services without pursuing the departmental proceedings to their logical end. The order terminating the services of the respondent was held to be by way of punishment and as such violative of the guarantee given by Article 311 of the Constitution. Some allegation had also been made by the respondent that the order had been made mala fide by the Planning and Development Minister, but this allegation was held not to have been substantiated.

5. We have heard Mr. Punnu on behalf of the appellant and Mr. Bindra on behalf of the respondent, and are of the view that the order terminating the services of the respondent was not by way of punishment and the learned Single Judge was in error in holding to the contrary. The main factor, which seems to have weighed with the learned Single Judge, is that the Government, having decided to hold a detailed enquiry into the charges against the respondent, could not turn back and terminate the services of the respondent without pursuing the departmental proceedings to their logical end. In this connection we find that this aspect of the matter was considered by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Jagdish Mitter v. Union of India, AIR 1964 SC 449. Gajendragadkar J. (as he then was), speaking for the Court observed as under :--

'Take a case where the authority initiates a formal departmental enquiry against a temporary servant, but whilst the enquiry is pending, it takes the view that it may not be necessary or expedient to terminate the services of the temporary servant by issuing an order of dismissal against him. In order to avoid imposing any stigma which an order of dismissal necessarily implies, the enquiry is stopped and an order of discharge simipliciter is served on the servant. On the authority of the decision Of this Court In the case of Parshottam Lal Dhingra, 1958 SCR 828: (AIR 1958 SC 36) it must be held that the termination of services of the temporary servant which in form and in substance is no more than his discharge effected under the terms of contract or the relevant rule, cannot, in law, be regarded as his dismissal, because the appointing authority was actuated by the motive that the said servant did not deserve to be continued for some alleged misconduct. That is why in dealing with temporary servants against whom formal departmental enquiries may have been commenced but were not pursued to the end, the principle that the motive operating in the mind of the authority is immaterial, has to be borne in mind.'

In the face of the above observations there was no legal bar to the Government withdrawing an enquiry and making an order terminating the services of the respondent.

6. Stress has been laid by Mr. Bindra upon the fact that the enquiry against the respondent, which had been entrusted to Shri Gobinder Singh Enquiry Officer, was withdrawn on 19th May 1962 and the report of the Enquiry Officer also bears that very date. It is contended that it cannot be a matter of mere coincidence that the order withdrawing enquiry was made on the day the report was made. According to Mr. Bindra, the Government withdrew the enquiry after coming to know of the report of the Enquiry Officer with a view to circumvent compliance with Article 311. In this respect, we find that the return filed on behalf of the State of Punjab shows that the order to terminate the services of the respondent and two others was made in pursuance of a decision of a proposal pending since 1958 to weed out unsuitable Block Development Officers. The return further shows that the order to terminate services was made independent of the enquiry pending against the respondent in the Vigilance Department and had nothing to do with that enquiry. There seems to be no sufficient ground to question the correctness of the stand taken in the return filed on behalf of the appellant. On the contrary, the circumstances of the case lend assurance to the correctness of the above stand.

The copy of the order withdrawing the departmental enquiry against the respondent, which had been entrusted to Shri Gobinder Singh, was forwarded to Shri Gobinder Singh, and according to the endorsement made for the purpose the copy was forwarded for information and necessary action with reference to the previous communication of the Government dated 5th February 1962 relating to the appointment of Shri Gobinder Singh as Enquiry Officer. If the Government had been aware at the time the order withdrawing the enquiry was made that Shri Gobinder Singh had completed his enquiry, there would have been no occasion to make the above endorsement to Mm. It is difficult to believe that the Government would go through all the farce of making the endorsement to the Enquiry Officer even though it had come to know of the report of the Enquiry Officer.

Apart from that, it is plain that if the authorities were actuated by ill will against the respondent and were aware, before the making of the order on 19th May 1962 regarding the withdrawal of the enquiry that the Enquiry Officer had found some of the charges against the respondent to have been substantiated; they would not have passed the order for the withdrawal of the enquiry. On the contrary, they could have used the report of the Enquiry Officer as a ground for the dismissal of the respondent and could have passed that order after issuing a show-cause notice against the proposed punishment to him. Looking to all the facts we find no valid ground to disbelieve the stand taken by the State of Punjab that the order to terminate the services of the respondent was made independently and was not influenced by the result of the enquiry. The fact that the Deputy Secretary, who filed the return, had himself not dealt with the matter, would not make material difference because the return was based upon information derived from official records.

7. Reference has been made by Mr. Bindra to the fact that, after terminating the services of the respondent, when a no demand certificate was required in favour of the respondent, the Deputy Secretary stated that Rs. 300, which had been obtained by the respondent, had not been credited to the Government account. It is contended that the above amount of Rs. 300 was also the subject of one of the charges regarding which enquiry was held. Annexure 'F to the petition, however, makes it clear that all that the Deputy Secretary did was to call upon the respondent to explain the position. The writing of the aforesaid letter by the Deputy Secretary to the respondent, in our opinion, would not in any way affect the validity of the order terminating the services of the respondent.

8. Mr. Bindra has referred to the case of Madan Gopal v. State of Punjab, AIR 1963 SC 531, This case had also been relied upon by the learned Single Judge, but in our opinion the respondent can derive no benefit from it. Madan Gopal was appointed an Inspector of Consolidation in 1953. In 1955 an enquiry was held against Madan Gopal on the charge of receiving illegal gratification. The Enquiry Officer held that the charge had been proved. The Enquiry Officer recommended that Madan Gopal should be removed from service immediately. Soon thereafter, an order was made by the Deputy Commissioner terminating the services of Madan Gopal and informing him that in lieu of notice he would get one months' pay as required by rules. The Deputy Commissioner, while issuing the order terminating the services, indicated that he agreed with the Enquiry Officer's finding that Madan Gopal had accepted bribes. It was this aspect of the matter which was emphasised by the Court while deciding the case in favour of Madan Gopal on the ground that there had been contravention of Article 311(2), and it was not on account of this aspect of the case that it was distinguished by Gajendragadkar J. in Jagdish Mitter's case AIR 1964 SC 449. As pointed out above, there is nothing in the present case to indicate that the Government, while terminating the services of the respondent, was influenced by the finding of the Enquiry Officer.

9. The learned Single Judge has also relied upon the observations of S.K. Das, Acting C. J., who spoke for the minority of the Judges, in the case of P.C. Wadhwa v. Union of India, AIR 1964 SC 423. The decision in the aforesaid case was given in the context of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules, and the facts of that case related to the reversion of an officer from higher officiating post of Superintendent of Police to substantive junior post of Assistant Superintendent of Police for unsatisfactory conduct. The question of terminating the services of a temporary employee did not arise in that case, as it does in the present, and as such the respondent, in our opinion, can derive no help from that authority. On the contrary the observations made in the case of Jagdish Mitter AIR 1964 SC 449, which have been reproduced above in our opinion, have a direct bearing.

10. We therefore, accept the appeal, set aside the order of the learned Single Judge, and dismiss the writ petition filed by the respondent. The parties, in the circumstances shall bear their own costs throughout.

D. Falshaw, C.J.

11. I agree.


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