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S.C. Gupta Vs. Food Corporation of India - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Appeal No. 620 of 1981
Reported inILR1984Delhi103; 1984(2)SLJ392(Delhi)
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Food Corporation of India (Staff) Regulations, 1971 - Regulation 32
AppellantS.C. Gupta
RespondentFood Corporation of India
Advocates: P.K. Agarwal and ; C.L. Nasimhan, Advs
Cases ReferredRowell vs. Pratt
(i) constitution of india - articles 226 & 311--domestic enquiry--appreciation of evidence--opinion of hand writing expert--value of evidence in an enquiry--on the evidence available on record, a reasonable view was taken by the enquiry officer--court cannot sit in appeal over the decision of the enquiry officer.; (ii) food corporation of india staff regulations 1977 - regulation 32--conduct unbecoming of an employee--letter making allegation against an officer of equal rank, with intention of causing harm--conduct is unsuitable and unfit--regulation imposes a self-control over the behavior, conduct and activities of employee thereby curtailing the freedom of the employee to do what he likes.; g and k were employed in f.c.i. as managers, cost and accounts respectively. k was selected.....avadh behari rohatgi, j.(1) the petitioner s. c. gupta was employed in the respondent. food corporation of india (the corporation). at the relevant time he was manager (costs). a manager is the head of his division. so in the cost division he was the head. with him another officer of equal rank, dne s. k. khosia, was also working as manager (accou'nts) - he was also the head of his division. there was inter-s'ervice jealousy and rivalry between them. the government of zambia advertised some posts for group accountant, area accountant, cost accountant, expenditure accountant, financial accountant etc. for their country. both khosla's and gupta's names were sponfibred for those posts. but none was taken for any of the advertised posts. khosla, however, managed to get an assignment of.....

Avadh Behari Rohatgi, J.

(1) The petitioner S. C. Gupta was employed in the respondent. Food Corporation of India (the Corporation). At the relevant time he was Manager (Costs). A manager is the head Of his division. So in the Cost Division he was the head. With him another officer of equal rank, Dne S. K. Khosia, was also working as Manager (Accou'nts) - He was also the head of his division. There was inter-s'ervice jealousy and rivalry between them. The Government of Zambia advertised some posts for Group Accountant, Area Accountant, Cost Accountant, Expenditure Accountant, Financial Accountant etc. for their country. Both Khosla's and Gupta's names were sponfibred for those posts. But none was taken fOr any of the advertised posts. Khosla, however, managed to get an assignment of Fmancial Cctotroller in the National Agricultural Marketing Board of Zambia. He left India and joined the post under the Zambian Government in 1977.

(2) A letter dated 1-2-1977 purporting to be written from lj53 Charbagh, Lukhnow was received at the Indian High Commission at Lusaka. The subject-matte of the letter was S. K. Khosia. The letter reads:

1/53,,CHARBagh, Lucknow 1-2-77. May it please your Excellency, Re : Mr. S. K. Khosla I understand that the above named person is trying to get a job in Zambia. May I respectfully inform you that there is a warrant for arrest and he is now on a bail in a criminal case filed by me at Lucknow in the Court of Mr. S. M. Abbas, Judge, Lucknow. The warrant for arrest was issued on 26-7-76. It is now learnt that he is going to jump the bail and go to Zambia. You may like to inform Zambian Government to cancel his appointment lest it spoils the relations later. It is learnt that Shri Khosla secretly visited Lusaka towards the end of December 1976. The fact of his arrest can be verified from Shri A.P. Singh, I.A.S., Sr. Regl. Manager, Food Corporation of India, Lucknow, under whom Shri Khosla is working. With Jai Hind. Yours faithfully, Sdlnlegible HCD|83 8 106 .To The Indian High Commission, Zambia, Lusaka.'

(3) This letter was written by the writer in his own hand. Though the address is clear, the writer's signatures and his name are wholly illegible. Of this later..

(4) To resume the narrative. The letter reached the High Commission of India in Lusaka. The High Commission on 17-2-1977 addressed a letter to Shri A. P. Singh, Zonal Manager of the Corporation at Lucknow. The letter says:

WE enclose herewith, in original, presumably an anonymous complaint against Shri S. K. Khosia of your Organisation for your information. If there is evidence of Shri Khosla's involvement, you may kindly consider requesting the High Commissioner of the Republic of Zambia, L-Hauz Khas, New Delhi, to embargo any appointment proposed to be offered to Shri Khosia or even entry to Zambia.

(5) On 8-3-83 Mr. A. P. Singh in his turn- forwarded this letter to the Managing Director of the Corporation at New Delhi together with the letter in original. He expressed his ignorance about the facts mentioned in the complaint except that he was aware of some litigation going on between Khosla and his relative and that warrant of arrest of Khosla had been issued. He asked the management to look into the allegations made in the complaint. ,

(6) It appears that a humiliated Khosla came back from Zambia to the Corporation in July 1979. At once he made a complaint to the Managing Directcfl-. He told him that some Dersons were writing anonymous[pseudonymous complaints against him to the High Commission Of India at Zambia which Were saint to the Corporation in India. He also told him this:

A colleague of mine in that managerial cadre appeared with me for interview in the Zambia High Commission on 19th[20th October, 1977 and the complaints I am given to understand started immediately thereafter to the Zambia High Commission, New Delhi and Indian High Commissioner in Lusaka. ...As these complaints have caused to me irreparable damage. I request that the matter may be investigated and action, as considered appropriate, be taken.

(7) So the Corporation started looking into this matter. The Managing Director asked .Brigadier Harnam Singh, Manager (Vigilance) to find out who was the author of this letter which. was supposed to have been written from 1|53 Char Bagh, Lucknow.

(8) Brigadier Harnam Singh called Khosla and enquired from him who, in' his opinion, could have written this letter. Khosla told him that he had a strong suspicion that the letter in question was written by Gupta. So Brigadier asked him to bring some file from the Finance Division from which a comparison of the hand- writing of Gupta could be made with the letter dated 1-2-1977. Khosla gave him one file which contained extensive nothings in the handwriting of Gupta. He asked Khosla whether he was prepared to get a report from a private handwriting-expert on the question whether the writer of the letter is the same man who had written notes on the office file. Khosla agreed. He engaged an handwriting expert. The expert gave his opinion that the same person who had written office notes had written the letter in question. With this preliminary investigation report Brigadier sent the matter to the Managing Director for further orders.

(9) On 30-1-1980|1-2-1980 a memorandum was issued to Gupta Informing him that it was alleged that he had written a pseudonymous letter to Indian High Commission in Lusaka dated 1-2-1977 making wild allegations against Khosla. As a result of expert investigation, the memorandum said, it is believed' that the letter in question was written by him, that is, S.C. Gupta. This act was thought to be a violation of the Regn. 32 of the Staff Regulations, 1971 of the Corporation inasmuch as it amounted to a conduct 'unbecoming of a corporation employee'. Gupta was asked to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for the violation of the Staff Regulations.

(10) On 15-2-1980 Gupta sent his reply. He denied the authorship of the letter and claimed that someone had forged his writing and this forgery had been done 'in such a claver manner that even an handwriting expert cannot detect the same'. Not only did he repudiate the authorship, he invited the Corporation to make a full investigation into the matter and to brine the person responsible for maligning him to book.

(11) The Corporation did not know what to do unless they get the opinion of an independent expert. So they decided to send this letter to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory and asked the Government expert, Mr. M. K. Jain, to give his opinion on the authorship of the letter. Mr. Jain sent his report dated 31-3-1980. He was of the opinion that the writer of the -office notes and the letter was the same person. On the signatures which appear at the end of the letter he was unable to give any definite opinion on the basis of the material placed before him.

(12) Armed with this opinion of the Government expert the Managing Director decided to launch disciplinary proceedings against Gupta. The following article of charge was framed:

SHRIS. C. Gupta, while functioning as Manager (Cost) in the Head Office of the Food Corporation of India at New Delhi, addressed a pseudonymous letter on 1-2-1977 to the Indian High Commission in Lusaka * (Zambia) making certain allegations against Shri India, New Delhi, with the sole and malafide intention of causing annoyance and injury to the officer of the same rank in the Corporation. Shri S. C. Gupta by his above action, has involved himself in an act unbecoming of a Corporation employee thereby violating Regulation 32 of the Food Corporation of India, Staff Regulations, 1977.

(13) It is pertinent at this stage to notice Regulation 32. Regn. 32 is one of the Staff Regulations framed in 1971 by the Corporation in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 45 of the Food Corporation Act, 1964. The regulations thereforee have statutory force. Regn. 32 says':

EVERY employee shall serve the Corporation honestly and faithfully and shall endeavor his utmost to promote the interest of the Corporation. He shall show courtesy and attention in all transactions and not do anything which is unbecoming of a Corporation employee.

(14) This was the charge which Gupta was asked to face in the departmental inquiry. Shri Devender Singh, Commissioner for Departmental Inquiries, was appointed as the Inquiry Officer.

(15) Before the inquiry officer the Corporation examined two witnesses. One of them .was Mr. M. K. Jain, Senior Scientific Adviser of the C.F.S.L.,New Delhi. On behalf of Gupta nine witnesses were examined. One of them Was a handwriting expert. After recording the evidence the enquiry officer made his report on 24-11-1980. He .held that the article of charge against Gupta was proved. 'The inquiry report was submitted to the Board of Directors of the Corporation. They are the highest body in the corporate structure. They met on two days, 18th and 19th March, 1981. They agreed with the inquiry officer that Gupta had written the pseudonymous letter dated 1-2-1977 to the Indian High Commission in Lusaka containing allegations against Khosla. They were also

CONVICTED that this letter had been written by Shri S. C. Gupta with the sole and mala fide intention of causing annoyance and injure to another officer of the same rank in the Corporation.

They passed a resolution imposing the major penalty of compulsory retirement on Gupta.

(16) After this resolution was passed, the Managing Director of the Corporation made a formal order dated 19-3-1981 saying that

THE Board of Directors of the Corporation, after having agreed with the inquiry officer to the effect that the said Shri Gupta made motivated allegation against Shri Khosla to gain undue advantage for himself in service, have come to the conclusion that the said Shri Gupta has behaved in a manner unbecoming of a senior officer of the Corporation.

NOW, thereforee, the Board of Directors do hereby impose on. the said Shri S. C. Gupta the penalty of compulsory retirement from service of the Food Corporation of India.

(17) So this was the outcome of the inquiry. Gupta brought this petition on 25-3-1981 impugning the decision of the Board of Directors compulsorily retiring him from the service of the Corporation.

(18) Mr. P. K. Aggarwal on behalf of Gupta has raised substantially two points before me: (1) on the findings of the inquiry officer in the report and (2) as to the competence of the authority of the Managing Director to initiate the disciplinary proceedings against Gupta. On the first point he has challenged the inquiry proceedings mainly on three grounds. Firstly, he says that the letter was not an anonymous letter nor pseudonymous because the address of the writer is given at the right hand corner of the document, that is, 1/53, Char Bagh Lucknow. Secondly, he says that the best evidence of the occupant of the Char Bagh has been withheld by the Corporation. Thirdly he submits that the uncorroborated testimony of the Government handwriting expert cannot be the sole basis of an adverse finding against Gupta and more so when a contrary opinion had been given by another expert before him. Elaborating the first ground counsel says that when the letter was sent from the High Commission in Lusaka to Mr. A. P. Singh it was referred to as an 'anonymous' letter and it is only later on that in the correspondence it is referred to as a 'pseudonymous' letter. On this basis he submitted that the letter which was produced before the inquiry officer was a 'planted' letter because the original letter along with the nothings of Gupta was handed over by Brigadier to Khosla for obtaining the opinion of a handwriting expert.

(19) Much capital was sought to be made of the expressions 'anonymous' and 'pseudonymous' as have been used in .the correspondence. The. High Commission while sending this letter to Mr. A. P. Singh has referred to it as 'presumably anonymous'. In the charge it is referred to as 'pseudonymous'. I do not think there is much difference between the two terms so far as this Letter is concerned. (The fact remains that the name of the author of the letter remains unknown because the signatures which he has put at the end of the letter cannot be deciphered.

(20) The word 'anonymous' means that the writer is unknown or unrevealed. There is a complete absence or lack of identification of the man. Because he is nameless. There is no indication of name or insignia of the writer. 'Pseudonymous' means that the writer has assumed a false or fictitious name in so far as his individuality or personality is concerned. But if the writer of the letter scribbles some words purporting to be his signatures which no one can decipher it must be said that it is anonymous for. all practical purposes because the writer is hiding behind his anonymity. He has, it is true, purported to put his signatures but has chosen to remain anonymous. That is a case of unavowed authorship for all practical purposes because he is not prepared to give his name which would enable another person to identify him. To say that this letter was planted because it was to begin .with 'anonymous' and later on became 'pseudonymous' is playing upon these two words of the English language. This argument that the letter was planted was raised before the inquiry officer. But he rejected it.

(21) The second and the third grounds on which Mr. Aggarwal challenges these inquiry proceedings' rates the question whether the opinion of the Government handwriting expert which was accepted by the inquiry officer was the best evidence in the case and was solid enough to arrive at a finding adverse to Gupta. Mr. Aggarwal says that in addition to the opinion of the handwriting expert it was essential for the Inquiry Officer to examine the occupant of Char Bagh whose address was given. The infirmity in the whole case, according to him, is that Char Bagh occupant has not been examined in this case. He referred to Central Bank of India vs . Prakash Chand Jain : (1969)IILLJ377SC (1), in support of his submission that the rules of evidence are not technical rules but contain principles of natural justice. I am unable to accept this broad contention. The enquiry officer had all the evidence before him as was adduced by the parties. He weighed that evidence. On the principle of 'preponderance of probability' he came to the conclusion that Gupta was the writer of the letter in question. I was referred to Magan Behari Lal vs . State of Punjab : 1977CriLJ711. It was there held that it is unsafe to base a codification solely on expert opinion without substantial corroboration. That rule is applicable in criminal cases. This was a civil enquiry and the enquiring officer correctly applied the principle of preponderance of probability.

(22) The enquiry .officer has adduced several reasons for his view. One is the admission of Gupta himself that there was a 'long history of inter-service jealously and rivalry between him and Khosla'. Then the fact that Gupta knew all about the criminal case against Khosla and he was taking an unusual interest in ascertaining the facts about that litigation with a view to establish the truth of the allegations made in the letter. Gupta argued before the enquiry officer that only subsequently he had ' ascertained this information. But this did not impress him. Then out of the two opinions of the handwriting experts he accepted the opinion of the Government expert because that opinion appeared to be more convincing to him. Finally, he himself compared the letter with the admitted writing of Gupta and formed his own opinion on the authorship of the letter. That opinion of his coincided with the opinion of the government expert. He, thereforee, concluded that the 'writer of the pseudonymous letter is no other than the charged officer himself'.

(23) The crucial issue before the enquiry officer was whether the letter dated 1-2-1977 is or is not in the handwriting of Gupta. On this he formed clear and unambiguous opinion that Gupta was the author of the letter. He took into account oral, documentary and circumstantial evidence. This was a matter largely for him to decide and he came to a conclusion adverse to Gupta. It is not for this Court to evaluate the evidence. It is not the case of Gupta that there was any breach of the principles of natural justice or that he was not heard or that any of his witness was not examined. That the inquiry officer came to a conclusion adverse to Gupta on the testimony produced before him cannot be the basis of the argument that the best evidence rule has not been followed. Whatever evidence the parties wished to adduce the inquiry officer recorded. On that evidence he was entitled to come to a conclusion one way or the other.

(24) This brings me to the argument of Mr. Aggarwal that the occupant of Char Bagh ought to have been examined in this case because, according to him, that was the best evidence. I have heard lengthy arguments on this point and have come to the conclusion that this argument must be rejected. Firstly, we do not know the name of the occupant. How can then the occupant be summoned? There may be one occupant. There may be many occupants of that place. From the anonymous mass of mankind how can we know who was the particular occupant in 1977 who wrote the letter.

(25) The Corporation was solely relying on the Government expert's evidence and the circumstances of the case. If Gupta wanted to examine the occupant he was free to do so. He could have made his investigation into the matter and requested the inquiry officer to summon him as a witness in -his defense. But that occupant was never named as a witness in the list given to the inquiry officer. Nor is this the case of Mr. Aggarwal that the inquiry officer refused to examine a witness whom Gupta wanted to examine. The occupant of Char Bagh was not a witness of attack. He was a witness, if witness he can be called, of defense.

(26) But even this .in my opinion will not be conclusive. Suppose the occupant comes into the witness box and admits the writing and the signatures'. Will that absolve Gupta of the charge? That witness may try to shield Gupta and take upon himself the blame. The matter cannot be allowed to rest there. The veracity of his testimony will have to be judged again by. comparing the admitted had writing of Gupta with the handwriting of the writer of the letter. Mere word of the mouth of the witness cannot be accepted as the gospel truth. When there are two writings one admitted and one disputed one way of determining the writer of the letter is to compare them. Whatever other evidence may be taken into account this comparison of handwriting cannot be excluded.

(27) In the opinion of the inquiry officer there were strong circumstances to suggest that Gupta was the author of the letter and this is the conclusion be arrived at in his report. Even if the occupant of Char Bagh had been summoned, no assistance could be derived from his testimony. After his appearance is secured, he either admits or denies the authorship of the letter. In either case the question is Where do we go from here? Back to the opinion of the handwriting experts. So in my opinion there is neither any breach of principles of natural justice in this case nor has the best evidence rule been broken.

(28) The other part of Mr. Aggarwal's argument on the charge is that there was no evidence for the finding that the letter was written by Gupta with a mala fide intention. He disputed that the letter was written 'with the sole and mala fide intention of causing annoyance and injury to the officer of the same rank in the Corpciration', to use the words of the charge. He said that it was? a bona fide letter honestly written by Gupta with a view to inform our High Commission in Lusaka that Khosla is going to jump bail and going to Zambia. You may like to inform Zambian Government to cancel his appointment lest it spoils the relations later. This is the substance of the complaint It is based on a warrant of arrest said to have been issued on 26-7-1976.

(29) I cannot see anything in this allegation except vilification of Khosla. It says that he is not a desirable person. He is a fugitive from justice. He is trying to elude justice. He is not a fit and proper person to be employed by the Zambian Government. It refers to the fact that Khosla had been accused of a crime in one jurisdiction and will escape to another country with a view to avoid .punishment. Even though on the date of the letter Khosia had not jumped bail the writer of the. letter hazarded his guests and suggested to the High Commission that his appointment should be cancelled by the Zambian Government. The letter refers to Khosla as a fleeing officer from justice and So paints him as a despicable and abominable person. His personal character has been vilified. It does not extol his virtues. It degrades and. maligns him. It does not glorify his achievement. Nor does it enhance his prestige in the eyes of the foreign employer. So on this part of the case I am of the view that once the authorship is established, it cannot be denied that the letter in question was written with the sole and malafide intention of causing annoyance and injury to the officer of the same' rank in 'the Corporation.

(30) Mr. Aggarwal invited my attention to the,formal order drawn up by the Managing Director dated 19-3-1981. There it is said that the allegations were made by Gupta 'to gain undue advantage for him self in service. There is no difference in substance in what is said in the order and what has been said in the resolution passed by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors in their resolution say in no uncertain terms that they are convinced that this letter had been written with the sole and mala fide intention of causing annoyance and injury to the another officer of the same rank in the Corporation. The Managing Director paraphrased these words and said that it was done by Gupta to gain undue advantage in service. If Khosla is out of the way for one reason or the other, it will advance the chances of Gupta because both hold equal rank in the Corporation So a change of phraseology is not making any difference to the substance of the charge and the finding thereon.

(31) Next Mr. Aggarwal argued that in any event the writer of the letter cannot be said to have violated Regn. 32 of the Staff Regulations and cannot be charged with conduct 'unbecoming of a Corporation employee. He submitted that these words call for an interpretation at the hands of this court. He referred me to the order of Goswami J. dated 7-7-1982 where the learned judge thought when the matter was before him that this point required to be decided by a larger bench as there is no decided case on this subject. Larger bench was not constituted because it so happened that subsequently this cas'e came before Wad J. Counsel for both parties agreed before him that the matter need not go to a larger bench and can be decided by him sitting as a single judge. But Wad J. also could not decide the case because of change in the roster. so it has now fallen to me to decide this point.

(32) REGO. 32 is a statutory regulation. Regulations 31 and 32 emphasise integrity and duty. They are designed to ensure moral integrity of the man and earnestness and zeal in the performance of duties. The stress is on uprightness, honesty and devotion of such talents as the man possesses to the public service. The corporate bodies such as the Food Corporation of India exercise functions of a legislative nature delegated to them by legislative bodies. In essence they are subordinate legislative bodies but in truth they are what Lord Maugham described in Rowell vs. Pratt (1938) A.C. 101 (3) as domestic bodies which the legislature has thought fit in public interest to entrust with important statutory powers. The Staff Regulations of 1971 have the force of a statute. (See Kailash Nath vs . State of U. P. : AIR1957SC790.

(33) Regulation 32 being of a statutory character the question arises what is the meaning of the words : conduct 'unbecoming of a Corporation employees'. Mr. AggarWal's argument is that as a free citizen it was open to Gupta to write this letter because it was done with the honest intention of promoting the interests of our country with Zambia. I cannot accept this argument. The question is Was the conduct in writing an anonymous letter damning, a fellow official indecorous, improper and inappropriate? The right question to ask will be this Was the conduct in question in a particular case right with respect to what is required or expected of a corporation employee under the circumstances or demanded of the office or position that he occupies in the framework of the Corporation? If his conduct is unsuitable and unfit the regulation applies. The regulation has an ethical flavour. It gives to the corporate employer a measure of control over the behavior, conduct and activities of its employees. It expects him to observe a , of self-imposed discipline and to that extent our tails his freedom to do what he likes. It imports moral values such as loyalty, duty, truth, integrity .etc. Becoming or unbecoming conduct has to be decided in the light of the corporate good.

(34) It is difficult to define in the abstract what conduct would be 'unbecoming of a Corporation employees'. If can be answered comely in the concrete circumstances of a particular case. What behavior is so unbecoming an officer of the Corporation as to come within Regn. 32 will always be a question of fact. What may be an unbecoming conduct in one set of circumstances may not be unbecoming in another combination of circumstances. It all depends on the particular facts of each case. No cut and dried definition of unbecoming conduct can be offered. 118

(35) In this case the Board of Director took a serious view of the matter. They thought that Gupta's conduct was unbecoming of an officer of his rank vis-a-vis an officer of equal rank. This proved to be Gupta's undoing and led to his downfall. Gupta was blown up by his own bomb. He was ruined by his own devices against Khosla. This letter was his ruin. In fact brought ruin to both of them, Gupta and Khosla. I was informed at the bar that subsequently Khosla's services were summarily terminated under Regn. 19 of the Staff Regulations. Khosla has brought his own writ petition thereforee, it is not proper to say anything more about him because he is not before me.

(36) But the fact remains that no one profited from 'inter-service jealously and rivalry'. To Gupta it ruined his chances' of retention in service as he was compulsorily retired. His behavior was considered unbecoming of an officer of the Corporation on two counts contained in the charge. The charge can be divided into two parts : (1) Was he the author of the pseudonymous tatter dated 1-2-1977 (2) Was it written with the mala .fide intention of causing harm to an officer of equal rank in the Corporation? Both these were found agains't Gupta. this was considered to be conduct unbecoming of a high ranking officer. So he was compulsorily retired.

(37) This was, it has to be remembered, a domestic inquiry. In a domestic inquiry the powers of the court are limited. All that it has to see is that the principles of natural justice have been observed and there is no violation of any statutory provisions in this regad. It is not the Function of this court under .Art. 226 to sit in judgment over the conclusions arrived at by the authority. That would transform this court in to an appellate tribunal, It is perfectly possible that on the material before the authority the court would have come to a diametrically opposite concinsioh. But the court cannot weigh the evidence. It most take the evidence as it stands. If on evidence a reasonably possible view has been taken by the authority the court cannot sit in appeal over that decision and decide whether the court it self would have taken that view or not. (See Union of India vs . H. C. Goel, : (1964)ILLJ38SC , State of Andhra fades vs . Shri Rama Rao : (1964)IILLJ150SC ).

(38) Gupta at the stage of the disciplinary proceedings tried to prove the truth of the contents of the letter. .The inquiry officer did not allow him to do so Mr. Aggarwal says that truth is a good defense. In my opinion, the inquiry officer rightly disallowed him to prove the truth of the allegations. The Corporation is .in. no position to judge the truth or otherwise of the allegations because a domestic body like the Corporation has no means to ascertain the truth. The truth of the allegation is not the .question. The question is of 'unbecoming conduct'. When a citizen accepts service under employer he cannot act as a free-lance. He accepts a code of conduct, unwritten though it may be. He agrees to act in a manner which will not discredit the Corporation. His conduct shall not be inappropriate, unfitting or unsuitable so far as the employer is concerned. There are some recognised norms of service. Service does not mean servitude, it is true. But it means curtailment of freedom to do what one likes or to say what one likes. If he wants freedom let him riot serve under any master. 'Better to reign in hell then to serve in heaven', says a wise proverb. The recognised charnel of communication for the employee to ventilate grievances is through the proper channel, namely, through the employer. This is a recognised norm.

(39) Lastly Mr. Aggarwal argued that the Managing Director had no authority to initiate the proceedings against Gupta. The relevant regulation in this regard is Regri. 56 read with Appendix II. This Appendix Ii was amended on 23-6-1979 by Sixty-Third Amendment Regulations. Now in the case of heads of division - both the Board as well as the Managing Director have been named as authorities competent to impose penalties. The Board can inflict all penalties. The Managing Director can inflict all penalties except dismissal and removal. If the Board inflicts a penalty there is no appeal because the Board is the highest body. If the Managing Director inflicts the punishment, appeal lies to the Chairman. In this case it is not disputed that the Managing Director initiated the disciplinary proceedings. He was entitled to do so. Bat the penalty of compulsory retirement was inflicted by the Board and not by the Managing Director.

(40) REGN. 57(2) is the answer. A disciplinary authority like the managing director not competent to impose the penalty of compulsory retirement can initiate disciplinary proceedings; under Regn. 57(2). But the question of imposition of penalty was rightly left to be, decided by the Board. 'That the Board was competent to inflict the penalty of compulsory retirement has not been disputed before me.

(41) Mr. Aggarwal says that only the Managing Director could have inflicted the penalty and not the Board since the initiating authority was the Managing Director. I do not agree. The Board is the highest authority of this Public Service Corporation. It is higher than 'the Managing Director. The matter went to the Board of Directors after the inquiry officer had submitted his report. The Board can impose the penalty. The petitioner cannot complain of any prejudice. Mr. Aggarwal says that it has taken away Gupta's right of appeal. A right of appeal is the creature of the statute. There cannot be any appeal from the decision of the Board in the corporate structure. They take the final decision. The appellate authority is also the Board'. The punishing authority is also the Board. So the punishment was awarded by the Board. That was the competent authority. Regn. 67 says ' no appeal shall lie against any order made by the Board'. so I find no infirmity in the authority in initiating disciplinary proceedings in this case.

(42) For these reasons the writ petition is dismissed. In the circumstances I make no order as to costs.

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