(1) This judgment will dispose of two petitioners brought under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India which are Civil Writs Nos. 845 of 1957 and 1225 of 1958. Both of them have been filed by Shri T. L. Tondon, who at one time, was a gazetted officer in the Bank of Patiala (Previously known as the Patiala State Bank) but who has since been dismissed. The earlier petition is directed against the order of suspension and the holding of an inquiry into the various charges levelled against him and the latter is directed against the order of his dismissal.
(2) The facts giving rise to these petitions are as under: On 17-10-1945, the petitioner was appointed as an Inspector in the Patiala State Bank and was placed in the grade of 250-15-340. According to the rules then in force, the appointment of a person, who was not the subject of the Patiala State, could only be made with the previous sanction of His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala. As the petitioner was not a subject of the Patiala State, the Board of Directors had to obtain sanction for his appointment from His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala and this sanction was obtained by them on 15-101-1945. On 18-9-1946, the petitioner was promoted to a gazetted job under the orders of His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala.
By a general command issued by the Maharaja of Patiala the powers of appointment and dismissal of gazetted officers of the Bank were reserved by the Maharaja to himself. On 20-8-1948, Patiala and certain other State in East Punjab integrated with each other of form a Union known as the PEPSU State (the Patiala and East Punjab States Union). The Patiala State Bank was thereafter named as the Bank of Patiala. The Maharaja of Patiala became the Rajpramukh of the newly formed PEPSU State, and on the same day he issued an Ordinance No. 1 of 2005 Bk., by which it was, inter alia, provided that all Laws. Ordinances, Acts, Rules, Regulations, Notifications, Hidayats and Firman-i-Shahi, having the force of law in Patiala State on the date of commencement of the Ordinance, shall apply mutatis mutandis to the territories of the said State and that with effect from that date all Laws in force in such Covenanting States immediately before that date shall be repealed.
On 5-7-1949, the petitioner was placed in a higher grade which was 425-25-700 and the orders in this respect were passed by the Rajpramukh of the PEPSU State. On 3-4-1952, one Ram Sarup, clerk of the Bank at Narnaul Branch, made a complaint to the authorities of the Bank alleging that the petitioner was interested in the promotion of a limited concern at Delhi and that he was using his official influence for that purpose which amounted to a misconduct on his part. Sardar Mohan Singh, Managing Director of the Bank, instituted some sort of inquiry into this complaint and reported on 1-5-1952, that the allegations were baseless. The Secretary of the Bank conveyed the result of the inquiry to the Manager, Narnaul Branch, through whom the complaint had been received. On 4-3-1953, the President of India issued an order that a situation had arisen in which the Government of PEPSU State could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of India, and in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Art. 356 of the Constitution of India, the president of India assumed to himself all functions of the Government of the State, and all powers vested in him were made exercisable by the Rajpramukh of the State.
The powers of the Legislature of the said State were declared to be exercisable by and under the authority of the Parliament. On 5-4-1953, another complaint was received by the Bank against Mr. Tandon and the same was addressed to the Adviser to the Rajpramukh. The matter was again inquired into by the Managing Director on 23-4-1953, and this complaint was also found to be false. On 9-5-1953, the Managing Director reported to the Government that the complaint was false and unfounded, but on 24-11-1953, the Adviser to the Rajpramukh passed orders that the petitioner be suspended. On 21-12-1953, Mr. R. N. Madhok, Deputy Secretary to the Government issued a charge-sheet to the petitioner, copy of which is annexure 'A'. On 18-1-1954, the petitioner filed his reply to the charge-sheet, and on 1-12-1954, he wrote to the Finance Secretary that all the authorities who had occasion to deal with his case had found that the charges against him were false and requested that no fresh inquiry be instituted into the said charges.
On 6-12-1954, the petitioner received information for the Managing Director regarding the appointment of Brigadier Kushalpal Singh (one of the directors of the Bank) as the inquiry officer. Annexures RA, RB and RC make it clear that the appointment of the aforesaid inquiry officer was actually made under the orders of the Finance Minister. On 15-12-1954, the petitioner wrote a letter to the Finance Secretary protesting against the institution of a fresh inquiry against him. On 31-1-1955, he made a petition to the Inquiry Officer that the inquiry was illegal and void as the charges had already been inquired into by the Managing Director. On 5-2-195, however, the Inquiry Officer issued a charge-sheet to the petitioner and called upon him to stand the inquiry. On 22-2-1955, the petitioner was informed that his request for stopping the inquiry could not be acceded to. He then made frantic efforts to set that the inquiry was not proceeded with and filed various representations in that behalf on 16-3-1955, 28-5-1955, and 7-5-1955.
The inquiry was in the meantime proceeding and the evidence of the prosecution witnesses was being recorded. The petitioner remained present throughout the inquiry and participated in the same in various manners, but curiously enough he did not cross-examine any of the witnesses against him. The Managing Director of the Bank told him that his non-participation in the inquiry was at his own risk and advised him to participate. On 31-5-1955, he started actively participate. On 31-5-1955, he started actively participating in the inquiry, but by this time 29 out of 34 P. Ws, had already been examined. He cross-examined the rest of the five witnesses, and on 10-6-1955, he made an application to the Inquiry Officer explaining his reasons for his past non-participation but made no request at all with regard to the recalling of the prosecution witnesses who had not been cross-examined by him.
On 4-12-1955, the Inquiry Officer closed the case and called upon the petitioner to file his written- statement. It appears that the petitioner did not make any request to the Inquiry Officer for the production of any witness in defence. On 15-12-1955, the petitioner filed his written statement, and on 29-12-1955, the State filed its reply. On 2-1-1956, the petitioner filed a replication to the reply of the State and on 4-1-1956, the State once again filed another reply. On 4-1-1956, the petitioner filed his final reply. As the record of the inquiry did not show that the petitioner had been called upon to procedure his defence and had not chosen to produce any, the Inquiry Officer wrote a letter to the petitioner on 28-1-1956, asking him to furnish a certificate the he did not wish to produce any defence evidence.
On 31-1-1956, the petitioner wrote to the Inquiry Officer in reply to his letter that under the PEPSU Service Regulations defence evidence was not summoned where there was no prima facie case. He said in this letter that he was not called upon to enter his defence, and from this fact he presumed that the inquiry Officer did not consider that any prmia facie case had been established against him. On 20-2-1956, the Inquiry Officer fixed a date for examination of the defence evidence and intimated the same to the petitioner. On 24-2-1956, the petitioner wrote to the inquiry officer reiterating his earlier stand and saying that he reserved his defence for a later stage.
The date fixed for the examination of the defence was 1-3-1956, but the Inquiry Officer adjourned the same to 12-3-1956, in order to afford the petitioner another opportunity for the same. On 8-3-1956, the petitioner made a written representation to the Inquiry Officer expressing lack of confidence in him and reserving his right of leading defence evidence before the Government. On 12-3-1956, the Inquiry Officer passed orders adjourning the case to enable the petitioner to move the Government for the transfer of the case from him within 15 days from the said date. On 19-3-1956, the petitioner made a written request to the Finance Secretary for the transfer of the case, but on 10-4-1956, he was informed that the Inquiry Officer had been asked to report on the material with him. On 28-5-1956, the Inquiry Officer submitted his report holding that the charges against the petitioner were substantially proved.
This report remained pending with the Government for some time and on 1-11-1956, the erstwhile PEPSU State integrated with the Punjab State. On 18-7-1957, the petitioner made a representation to the Finance Secretary, a copy of which is annexure 'K' in the present case. He sent another representation on 7-8-1957, a copy of which is annexure 'L' but received no reply to either of the two. On 29-8-1957, he filed Civil Writ No. 845 of 1957 in this Court seeking to have the orders of suspension and all subsequent proceedings quashed. This petition was admitted on 30-8-1957.
(3) On 13-9-1957, a formal notice was issued to the petitioner by the Government asking him to show cause why he should not be dismissed from service, vide annexure 'M'. A copy of the report of the Inquiry Officer was also sent to him along with this notice. On 12-10-1957, the petitioner submitted a reply and asked for inspection of some documents and also for examination of his defence evidence. On 12-10-1957, the Finance Secretary gave him an opportunity to inspect the documents at Patiala in the presence of the Managing Director. On 27-12-1957, the petitioner wrote to the Finance Secretary asking permission to lead defence evidence and to cross-examine important prosecution witnesses. It appears that the documents were inspected by the petitioner, but that the Government turned down the petitioner's request for production of the defence evidence and for recalling of the prosecution witnesses for cross-examination. On 22-9-1958, the writ petition filed by the petitioner came up for hearing before a learned Single Judge of this Court and at the hearing a request was made by the learned Advocate-General that the case be adjourned in order to enable the Government to arrive at a final decision with regard to the action to be taken against the petitioner.
The learned Single Judge adjourned the case for two months and ordered that the record be sent back to the Government. In November or December, 1958 the case was sent by the Government to the Public Service Commission who made its report on 9-12-1958. In the meantime the case was placed again for hearing before a learned Single Judge on 1-12-1958, and was referred to a larger Bench. On 11-21-1958, while the previous civil writ petition was yet pending in the High Court the petitioner was dismissed from the Government service under the orders of the Governor, Punjab. These orders were conveyed to the petitioner on 17-12-1958, and on 22-12-1958, Civil Writ Petition No. 1225 of 1958 was filed by the petitioner. The order of the Governor which is contained in annexure 'O' was to the effect:
Shri T. L. Tandon,
Inspector of Bank of Patiala,
3, Bank Colony, Patiala.
Memorandum No. 7506-B and C-58/17057 dated Chandigarh, 11-12-1958.
Reference: Inquiry conducted against you by Shri Kushalpal Singh, Inquiry Officer.
2. The Governor of Punjab has duly considered the findings of the Inquiry Officer against you and your petition dated 29-10-1958, and is pleased to dismiss you from the service of the Bank of Patiala, with effect from 11-12-1958.
3. Please acknowledge receipt,
Under Secretary, Budget,
for Secretary to Government of Punjab, Finance Department'.
The petitioner moved this Court for the records to be summoned from the Government with a view to see if the Governor had actually passed the orders of dismissal conveyed to him. The Government did not produce the records and at the hearing a grievance was made by the petitioner that he had not been shown the actual orders of the Governor. The contention was that the Governor personally had not passed any orders of dismissal and that he was entitled to see the orders to find out if it was a fact. It was represented by the learned counsel for the petitioner that he wanted the records also for the purpose of seeing whether any advice had been tendered to the Governor by the Chief Minister with regard to the matter of dismissal of the petitioner.
(4) The learned Advocated-General contended that he had brought the records with him and if the Court wanted to look up the same he had no objection to the said course. He, however, urged that under Art. 166 of the Constitution of India the petitioner was not entitled to contend that the orders were not passed by Governor. Para 2 of the said Article reads as under--
'Orders and other instruments made and executed in the name of the Governor shall be authenticated in such manner as may be specified in rules to be made by the Governor, and the validity of an order or instrument which is so authenticated shall not be called n question on the ground that it is not an order or instrument made or executed by the Governor'.
(5) The learned Advocate-General urged that the order contained in annexure 'O' was a duly authenticated one as per rules provided for the purpose, and as the order on the face of it showed that the orders of dismissal were of the Governor, the validity of the authenticated order could not be called into question on the ground that it was not an order made by the Governor.
(6) With regard to the matter of advice of the Chief Minister, the learned Advocate-General relied upon Art. 163 of the Constitution of India, sub-para (3) of which clearly provided that the question whether any, and if so what, advice was tendered by Ministers to the Governor shall not be inquired into in any Court. In view of the aforesaid Articles of the Constitution, we thought it absolutely unnecessary to ask the Advocate-General to produce the said records in Court and decided to treat the order in annexure 'O' as that of the Governor of Punjab and refused the petitioner to agitate the matter that the said order had not been passed by the Governor himself or that the Governor had not made the said orders under the advice of his ministers.
(7) On merits none of the petitions has nay force. It may at the outset be stated the order of suspension of the petitioner was passed as far back as the 24th November, 1953, but was impugned for the first time in the petition filed on 29-8-1957, i.e., after about four years. The inquiry by Brigadier Kushalpal Singh started sometime in March 1955 and went on for a period of about two years. The orders regarding the holding of inquiry were also challenged for the first time in the aforesaid petition made in October 1957. The inordinate delay, in filing the petition (Civil Writ No. 845 of 1957) seeking to have the orders of suspension and the holding of inquiry quashed has not been satisfactorily explained in the present case and disentitled the petitioner from obtaining extraordinary remedies from this Court.
(8) On merits the only urged against the order of suspension was that the same had been passed by the Adviser to the Rajpramukh who had no jurisdiction, at all, in this respect. The learned counsel contended that the President of India had assumed all powers of the Government to himself and that the Adviser to the Rajpramukh had no powers to pass orders of suspension of the petitioner. This contention appears to us to be devoid of any force. Under rule 11 of the Rules of Executive Business of the Government of Patiala and East Punjab States Union dated the 29-9-1953, and of the amendment thereto dated 26-11-1953, the Adviser to the Rajpramukh had been given ample powers in all these matters. The said rule reads as under:
'11. Except as otherwise provided by any rule or order, cases shall ordinarily be disposed of by or under the authority of the Adviser who may, by means of standing orders, give such directions as he thinks fit for the disposal of cases'.
By the Patiala and East Punjab States Union Legislature (Delegation of Powers) Act, 1953, which came into force on 20-5-1953, the President of India could enact a law containing such provisions as he considered necessary for the purpose of the PEPSU State whether the Parliament was or was not in session. Some doubts were expressed about the validity of the Rules of Business referred to us and it became essential to pass a law clearing those doubts. The Patiala and East Punjab States Union Rules of Executive Business (Validation) Act, 1954, was then passed and came into force on 4-3-1954. Under S. 3 of the same, all actions taken under the Rules of Business were validated and were held to be in accordance with law.
It is now too late in the day to urge that the Adviser did not possess the powers of suspension or of holding inquires against the delinquent officers. In fact that President of India had passed an order on 4-3-1953, per notification No. F. 3 (10) PA/53, by means of which it was provided that all the functions of the Government of Patiala and East Punjab States Union and all the powers vested in or exercisable by the Rajpramukh of that State under the Constitution or under any law in force in that State, which have been assumed by the President by virtue of Clause (a) of the said Proclamation, shall, subject to the superintendence, direction or control of the President, be exercised by the Rajpramukh of the said State who will act on the advice of the Adviser appointed by the President in this behalf. The aforesaid order, therefore, substantially gave all the powers to the Adviser. Be that as it may, the Rules of Business and the subsequent validation of same leaves no doubt at all that the Adviser had the powers to pass orders of suspension and the holding of inquiries against the delinquent officers.
(9) It was next contended that the appointment of the Inquiry Officer had been made by the Managing Director and not by the Government. As has already been pointed out above, the orders of inquiry were made as per annexures RA, RB and RC, and a perusal of all these three annexures leaves no doubt at all that the orders were actually passed by the Finance Minister and were really conveyed to the Managing Director of the Bank through the Finance Secretary. There can be no doubt that the Finance Minister had the power to act on behalf of the Government in this respect as the Bank of Patiala was directly under the Finance Department of the Government. The earlier writ petition, i.e., Civil Writ No. 845 of 1957, has, therefore no merits.
(10) Regarding Civil Writ No. 1225 of 1958, two contentions were mainly raised which are--
(1) that the orders of dismissal were passed by an authority subordinate to the one who made the appointment; and
(2) that reasonable opportunity to defend and to show cause against the dismissal was not given to the petitioner.
(11) The first contention was raised on misapprehension of the correct position and on the basis that the order of dismissal was not actually passed by the Governor himself. As shown above, the order as given in annexure 'O' is a duly authenticated one and the validity of the order cannot be called into question on the ground that the order was not made by the Governor. The Validity of this order cannot also be impugned on the ground that the Governor did not act under the advice of his Ministers. The relevant parts of Arts. 163 and 166 have already been quoted in extensor in the earlier part of this judgment.
It is conceded that if the order contained in annexure 'O' is taken to be a duly authenticated order, and if as a result of the interpretation of Art. 166 of the Constitution of India, it is found that the order contained in annexure 'O' was made by the Governor himself, the argument that the order was passed by an authority subordinate to the one appointing the petitioner will lose all its force. It was contended that the order contained in annexure 'O' should not be taken to be one duly authenticated inasmuch as it was not really an authenticated order but was a communication of the same to the petitioner. We regret we cannot accept the contention. The order is duly signed by an Under-Secretary to the Government and clearly says that
'the Governor of Punjab has duly considered the findings of the Inquiry Officer against you and your petition dated 29-10-1958, and is pleased to dismiss you from the service of the Bank of Patiala with effect from 11-12-1958'.
The rules of authentication only provide that the order should be signed by a Secretary, Deputy-Secretary or Under-Secretary to Government, and that the order should be in name of the Governor. The order contained in annexure 'O' satisfied both the requirements and must, therefore, be treated to be an authenticated order. Article 166 of the Constitution of India clearly provides that the validity of an authenticated order shall not be called into question on the ground that it was not passed by the Governor. The order, in these circumstances, must be treated to be one of the Governor, who cannot be said to be, in any way, subordinate authority to the one who originally appointed the petitioner. We are of opinion that the petitioner's appointment must be taken to have been made by the Board of Directors of the Bank.
The mere fact that the sanction of His Highness was need for the same, because of the reason that the petitioner happened to be a non-State subject, would not make the order as one of His Highness. Even assuming that the order was of His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala, it must be treated to be an order of the Government of Patiala, and the orders of dismissal having been passed by the Government of Punjab, who are for all intents and purposes the successor-in-interest of the Government of Patiala, the contention, that the order of dismissal was passed by an authority subordinate to the one appointing the petitioner, must be repelled.
(12) The only other point that falls for decision is, whether the petitioner was given reasonable opportunity to defend himself and to show cause against his dismissal. It has already been mentioned above that the inquiry by Brigadier Khushalpal Singh started in March 1955 and that the Petitioner was actually appearing before the said Inquiry Officer on all the dates of inquiry, although he voluntarily did not cross-examine the first twenty-nine prosecution witnesses. It is in the affidavit filed by the State that the petitioner was participating in the inquiry in all other aspects, but, for the reasons best known to him, he did not cross-examine the first twenty-nine witnesses.
He started cross-examining the witness on 31-5-1955, and actually cross-examined the witnesses produced on that date and thereafter. By his voluntary action in not cross-examining the previous witnesses, he cannot make any grievance that he was not allowed opportunity to cross-examine. It is true that there is no note on the file of the inquiry Officer that he called upon the petitioner to procure his defence evidence at any time earlier than the 4th December, 1955. If the sate of affairs had existed as it was on 4-12-1955, it may have been possible for the petitioner to urge that he was not given opportunity to produce the defence. On 28-1-1956, however, the Inquiry Officer clearly wrote to the petitioner that he should furnish a certificate that he did not desire to produce any defence evidence.
This letter shows that the petitioner had been given opportunity to produce defence evidence previous to that but that he had actually refused to produce the same. As the Inquiry Officer had not put this fact in black and white on the record, he had to writ the above letter on 28-1-1956. The petitioner in his reply dated 31-7-1956 refused to produce the evidence. In spite of it the Inquiry Office fixed a date for defence evidence as per annexure R. 4, but the petitioner did not avail of it as per annexure R. 5. The Inquiry Officer adjourned the case once again to 12-3-1956, with a view to afford the petitioner another opportunity to produce his defence, but by his letter, annexure 'G', dated 8-3-1956, the petitioner did not avail of this opportunity also.
(13) Mr. Awasthy's argument is that in spite of this the Government should have afforded an opportunity to the petitioner to lead his defence evidence and to cross-examine the important prosecution witnesses, and for this proposition he relies on a Division Bench decision of the Bombay High Court in Dadarao Shegoji Tidke v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1958 Bom 204. There is no doubt that some remarks in that judgment do support Mr. Awasthy's contention. In that case, however, the contention of the petitioner was that he had not been given inspection of the record and that no oral inquiry had at all been held and no witness either of the prosecution of the defence had been examined and cross-examined. It appears that the Bombay Bench, on the facts of that particular case, came to the conclusion that the petitioner had not really been afforded any reasonable opportunity of defending himself. With due respects were cannot agree with the general observations made by the Bombay Bench in the aforesaid case that even if opportunity had been given to the petitioner by the Inquiry Officer and he had voluntarily refused to avail of the said opportunity, he should be entitled to another opportunity after the show-cause notice had been given to him by the Government proposing the punishment.
It appears that these remarks are really based on the judgment of the learned Chief justice of the Federal Court in Secretary of State v. I. M. Lall, AIR 1945 SC 47, which are quoted in extension at page 206 of the Bombay judgment. That view was, however, not accepted in its entirety by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Khem Chand v. Union of India, AIR 1958 SC 300. After giving our careful consideration to the whole matter, we are of opinion that if a person has been given complete opportunity of cross-examining the prosecution witnesses and of adducing his defence at the stage of the inquiry held against him, he cannot be entitled to another opportunity at a later stage when notice is issued to him to show cause against the punishment proposed. If, however, he can make out a case that the Inquiry Officer did not give him reasonable opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses against him or of producing his defence evidence, he will certainly be entitled to another opportunity by the Government at a later stage when he received the final show-cause notice. Their Lordships of the Privy Council in High Commr. for India v. I. M. Lall, AIR 1948 PC 121, observed at page 126 as under--
'Their Lordships would only add that they see no difficulty in the statutory opportunity being reasonably afforded at more than one stage. If the civil servant has been through an inquiry under S. 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 inquiry'.
The word 'state' in the aforesaid observations clearly means the stage of inquiry. The observations read as a whole must be interpreted to mean that if an inquiry has been made and reasonable opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses and to examine his own defence has been given to a delinquent officer, a repetition of that stage, i.e., the stage of inquiry, cannot be reasonably asked for. Mr. Awasthy urges that the words 'if duly carried out' in the observations of their Lordships should be interpreted to mean that the repetition of the stage cannot be asked for, if the witnesses for the prosecution have already been cross-examined and if the defence has already been examined.
He urges that if the delinquent officer has even by his own volition not cross-examined the prosecution witnesses or examined his defence, he can ask for repetition of the inquiry because the stage of inquiry has been carried out. We regret we cannot accept this contention. The stage of inquiry is, in our judgment, duly carried out if the delinquent officer has been given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution or to examine his defence. It should not at all matters whether the delinquent office cross-examined or by his folly refused to cross-examine the witnesses of the other side or actually led defence or by his own folly refused to lead evidence at that stage.
The petitioner must be taken to have been given opportunity for the said purpose, and the mere fact that he did not avail of it, would not show that the stage of inquiry has not been duly carried out. The petitioner, in this case, was misguided in refusing to cross-examine the first twenty-nine witnesses and in refusing to lead his defence evinced at the state of inquiry. But this fact does not show that the stage of inquiry was not duly carried out.
(14) Certain other minor matters were then urged and they were the following--
(1)the inquiry should have been entrusted to a Government Official and should not have been allowed to be conducted by a Director of the Bank;
(2)That the Bank of Patiala did not belong to the State of Punjab and the State of Punjab was not therefore authorised to pass orders of dismissal of any officer of the said Bank;
(3)that the inquiry should have been conducted under the Patiala and East Punjab States Union Public Servants (Inquiries) Ordinance, 2006 Bk., and not under the PEPSU Services Regulations;
(4)that the report of Inquiry Officer had inherent defects and that errors were patent on the said report which vitiated the same altogether; and
(5)that rules of natural justice had not been complied with.
(15) None of these contentions has, in our judgment, any force at all. There is no rule providing that inquires against delinquent officers must necessarily be conducted by Government servants. The inquiry in this case was against a Bank employee and the Government thought it fit to entrust the same to a Director of the Bank, who was conversant with the affairs and routine of the Bank and who also happened to be otherwise a highly placed gentleman having retired as a Brigadier.
(16) It has been held by a Division Bench in Messrs. Tilakram Rambaksh v. Bank of Patiala, AIR 1959, Punj 40, that by an agreement entered into between the State of Punjab and the Union of India the Bank of Patiala belongs to the State of Punjab. We have no reason to differ from the view taken in that case, and on the basis of the same we hold that the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that Bank of Patiala belongs to the State of Punjab. We have no reason to differ from the view taken in that case, and on the basis of the same we hold that the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that Bank of Patiala did not belong to the State of Punjab has no force at all.
(17) The Patiala and East Punjab States Union Public Servants (Inquiries) Ordinance can be applicable only if the Govt. decides to hold a public inquiry against any officer of the State. The Government have the option to hold either a public inquiry against its officers or an ordinary type of departmental inquiry. In its discretion the Government decided that the present was not a fit case for a public inquiry, and, therefore, did not order an inquiry under the said Ordinance.
(18) It is contended that the Pepsu Service Regulations infringe the provisions of Art. 14 of the Constitution of India in so far as they enable the Government to discriminate between the cases of persons similarly placed (i.e., delinquent officers) one of whom may be dealt with under these regulations and another under the Patiala and East Punjab States Union Public Servants Inquiry Ordinance. This contention again is devoid of all force. The two provisions provide for 2 different contingencies. It and when it is found by the Government that a public enquiry is called for against any delinquent officer the same will be held in accordance with the provisions of the Ordinance and in all other cases the enquiries will be conducted in conducted in conformity with the provisions of the Services Regulations. This contention if given effect to would mean that in all cases the Government must necessarily make public enquiries against all its delinquent officers irrespective of the nature of charges and this will evidently lead to absurd results.
(19) Regarding the defects in the Inquiry Officer's report, it was urged that the Inquiry Officer had not recorded any finding that the petitioner used his official influence on any of the parties dealing with the Bank. We have no doubt that the Inquiry Officer has actually found that the influence was exercised on the Bank's parties. The evidence of prosecution witnesses Nos. 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 24, 26, 28, 32, and 33 makes it clear that the influence was used on the Bank's parties and the Inquiry Officer believed the evidence of these witnesses and found the charges proved against the petitioner. In any case, we are not sitting in appeal over the fining of the Inquiry Officer, and as long as we are satisfied that he has acted within his jurisdiction and has given reasonable opportunity to the petitioner to defend himself, we cannot upset his findings. It was for the Government to accept or reject his findings and the Government chose to accept them.
(20) It has not been shown to us in what way and what particular rules of natural justice have not been complied with. The mere fact that the petitioner did not choose to co-operate or did not choose to fully participate in the inquiry would not show that the Inquiry Officer did not give him proper opportunity to defend.
(21) It was lastly contended that the charge-sheet in the case had not been framed by the Government and that the Enquiry Officer had no jurisdiction to frame the charge-sheet. We however, find that the charge-sheet had originally been framed by the Deputy-Secretary to the Government and Brigadier Khushalpal Singh only gave a typed copy of the said charge-sheet to the petitioner. The petitioner was fully conversant with the charges against him because they had already been handed over to him by the Deputy-Secretary to the Government and he had submitted a representation in respect of the same to the Government. Even if there was a small irregularity in the mater of handing over of the charge-sheet by the Inquiry Officer instead of by the Government, the same has absolutely no bearing on the present case. The constitutional safeguards provided by Art. 311 of the Constitution have all been provided to the petitioner, and we see no force at all in the various contentions raised on his behalf.
(22) In the result, we dismiss both the petitions, but in view of the fact that the petitioner is out of job, we leave the parties to bear their own costs.
(23) Petitioner dismissed.