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Union of India (Uoi) and ors. Vs. Sripati Ranjan Biswas and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Appeal No. 556 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1975SC1755; 1975LabIC1221; (1975)IILLJ363SC; (1975)4SCC699; [1976]1SCR268; 1975(7)LC604(SC)
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 77(3) and 166; Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1957 - Rule 23(2)
AppellantUnion of India (Uoi) and ors.
RespondentSripati Ranjan Biswas and anr.
Appellant Advocate L.N. Sinha,; P.P.Rao,; Girish Chandra, Adv
Respondent Advocate A.K.Sen, ; Prodyot Kumar Chakravarty, Advs.
Cases ReferredSamsher Singh v. State of Punjab and Anr.
Prior historyAppeal by special leave from the Judgment and Order dated December 13, 1973 of the Calcutta High Court in Appeal From Original Order No. 683 of 1971
Excerpt:
.....- appellate authority - rule 23 (2) of central civil services (classification, control and appeal) rules, 1957 - respondent suspended on charges of taking illegal gratification and purchase of land without sanction of appropriate authority - dismissed from service - appeal before president under rule 23 (2) (b) - appeal disposed off by minister in ministry of finance - whether minister had right to deal with appeal which had been preferred to president - any reference to president under any rule must be to president as constitutional head acting with aid and advice of council of ministers - disposal of reference by minister under rule 23 (2) (b) was proper and legal disposal of appeal buy president who acted on advice of ministers. - - 3. on november 25, 1966 the respondent..........president of india under rule 23(2) (b) of the central civil services (classification, control and appeal) rules 1957 (briefly the rules). after consulting the union public service commission under rule 30(2) of the rules, the president of india rejected the respondent's appeal.3. on november 25, 1966 the respondent filed a petition under article 226 of the constitution in the high court challenging the validity of the dismissal order as well as the appellant order of the president, the learned single judge allowed the writ petition on august 29, 1967, holding that the appellate authority decided the appeal without considering whether the drastic punishment of dismissed was excessive or not in violation of the provisions of rule 30(2)(c). the learned judge, however, gave liberty to.....
Judgment:

P.K. Goswami, J.

1. This appeal by special leave is directed against the judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court of Calcutta of December 13, 1973 reversing the judgment of the learned Single Judge who had earlier found no infirmity in the impugned order of dismissal of the first respondent (hereinafter to be described as the respondent.)

2 The respondent was a confirmed Appraiser with about eleven years' service in the Customs Department in Class II of Gazetted Officer. On December 4, 1961, he was suspended and a chargeable was served upon him. The charge related to firstly taking illegal gratification, secondly possession of assets disproportionate to his disclosed income and thirdly purchase of a plot of land without sanction of the appropriate authority. The respondent was found guilty in the course of a department enquiry of the second and third charges and was exercised with regard to the first charge. A second notice was served upon him on December 17, 1962, affording an opportunity to show cause why he should not be dismissed from service. Thereupon the respondent preferred an application under Article 226 of the Constitution in the High Court challenging the show cause notice and contained a Rule, This Rule was disposed of by the High Court quashing the third charge and the Collector of Customs was directed to reconsider the appropriate penalty to be imposed on the surviving second charge. On February 3, 1964, the Collector of Customs passed an order dismissing the respondent basing on the second charge. The respondent preferred an appeal to the president of India under Rule 23(2) (b) of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules 1957 (briefly the Rules). After consulting the Union Public Service Commission under Rule 30(2) of the Rules, the President of India rejected the respondent's appeal.

3. On November 25, 1966 the respondent filed a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution in the High Court challenging the validity of the dismissal order as well as the appellant order of the President, The learned single Judge allowed the writ petition on August 29, 1967, holding that the appellate authority decided the appeal without considering whether the drastic punishment of dismissed was excessive or not in violation of the provisions of Rule 30(2)(c). The learned Judge, however, gave liberty to proceed with the appeal afresh. Thereafter the Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, heard the appeal on March 29, 1969. Ultimately the respondent's appeal to the President of India was rejected on April 25, 1969 and the Under-Secretary to the Government of India in the Finance Ministry communicated the order in the name of the President on May 9, 1969- The communication was in the following terms:

I am directed to refer to your letter dated 2-4-1968 and 5-6-1969, containing your further submission in reply to the notice issued to you vide this Ministry's No. F-49/1/67/Ad. II dt. 23-2-1968, and to say that the President has carefully considered the further submissions made by you in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission. The arguments advanced by you at the time of the hearing granted to you by Shri P.C. Sethi, Minister in the Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the President on 28-3-1969 have also been carefully considered by him. Upon consideration of all the facts and circumstances of the case the President has decided that the penalty of dismissal from service imposed on you by the Disciplinary Authority (viz) the Collector of Customs, Calcutta is not excessive or severe and that your appeal should be rejected. The President hereby orders accordingly. A copy of the U.P.S.C.'s letter No. F3/56/88-91 dated 20-101968 and a copy of the order passed by the Minister on behalf of the President are enclosed herewith.

4. The respondent in a third round of litigation challenged the above order in the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. The learned single Judge dismissed the same but in appeal against the judgment the Division Bench set aside the order of the learned Single Judge and quashed the aforesaid order of May 9, 1969. Hence this appeal by the Union of India.

5. The High Court held that the powers and duties which the President is required to exercise as an appellate authority under Rule 23(2)(b) of the Rules are not Constitutional duties imposed upon the President under the Constitution. Recording to the High Court the functions and duties of the President an appellate authority under the said Rules are not part of business of the Government of India nor are they part of the President's duties under the Constitution. The High Court, therefore, came to the conclusion that the Minister had no right to deal with the appeal which had been preferred to the President of India under the said Rules.

6. The above question is squarely covered by a recent decision of this Court in Samsher Singh v. State of Punjab and Anr. : (1974)IILLJ465SC . Even so, Mr. A.K. Sen appearing on behalf of the respondent submits that there is still an area which has not been covered by the said decision. Mr. Sen submits that hearing of an' appeal under a statutory rule, as in this case, is a quasi-judicial act and, therefore it cannot be delegated by the President to the Minister.

7. It is, however, clear that in Samsher Singh's case the question related to the termination of service of a subordinate Judge under Rule 9 of the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1952 and that of another officer in the Punjab Civil Service (Judicial Branch) under Rule 7(3) in Part D. of the Punjab Civil Services (Judicial Branch) Rules 1951 as amended from time to time. It is not disputed that the above two Rules under which the termination took place are statutory Rules.

8. The question which is raised in this appeal relates to the domain of appointment or dismissal of a Government servant. Such a question falls within the ambit of a purely executive functions of the President in the case of the Union Government and of the Governor in the case of a State. In the present case, such a function being ultimately an executive function of the President, the fact that the final order is preceded or accompanied by a quasi-judicial enquiry held by the Minister does not affect the character of the exercise of that function by the President. There is, therefore, nothing in principle which can be distinguished in the appeal from the ratio of the decision in Samsher Singh's case. The legal position is brought out very clearly in paragraph 57 of the report in Shamsher Singh (supra) in the following extracts :

Appointment or dismissal or removal of persons belonging to the Judicial Service of the State is not a personal function but is an executive function of the Governor exercised in accordance with the rules in that behalf under the Constitution.

Again in para 48 the Court observed :

The President as well as the Governor is the Constitutional or formal head. The President as well as the Governor exercise his powers and functions conferred on him by or under the Constitution on the aid and advice of his Council of Ministers, save in spheres where the Governor is required by or under the Constitution to exercise his-functions in his discretion. Wherever the Constitution requires the satisfaction of the President or the Governor for the exercise by the: President or the Governor of any power or function, the satisfaction required by the Constitution is not the personal satisfaction of the President or Governor but the satisfaction of the President or Governor in the Constitutional sense in the Cabinet system of Government, that is, satisfaction of his Council of Ministers on whose aid and advice the President or the Governor generally exercise all his powers and functions. The decision of any Minister or Officer under rules of business made under any of these two Articles 77(3) and 166(3) is the decision of the President or the Governor respectively. These articles did not provide for any delegation. Therefore, the decision of Minister or officer under the rules of business is the decision of the President or the Governor.

We are, therefore, unable to see how the present case of the respondent can get out of the rule laid down in Samsher Singh's case (supra).

9. In the history of the entire background of the Constitutional development of our country, when the Constitution conclusively contemplates a Constitutional President it is not permissible nor is it even intended to invest upon the President a different rule of a ruling monarch. Any reference to the President under any rule made under the Constitution must need be to the President as the Constitutional head, as envisaged in the Constitution acting with the aid and service of the Council of Ministers.

10. Disposal of the appeal by the Minister under Rule 23(2)(b) of the Rules is, therefore a proper and legal disposal of the appeal to the President who has acted on the advice of the Minister in confirming the impugned order of dismissal. There is no question of delegation involved in such a matter. We find no Constitutional infirmity in the impugned order of May 9, 1969.

11. In the result the appeal is allowed. The judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court is set aside. We will, however, make no order as to costs.


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