G.C. Jain, J.
(1) This judgment would also dispose of Civil Writ No.756 of 1972 (ChandKumarv. Municipal Corporation of Delhi and others) as the questions involved in both the writ petitions are same.
(2) Municipal Corporation of Delhi (for short 'the Corporation'),respondent No. 1, is maintaining a number of primary schools. For purposes of supervision and control of the educational activities the area of the Corporation is divided into zones. The examinations of fifth class students of their primary schools in four subjects, namely, Arithmatic, Hindi, Social Studies and General Science are conducted by an examination board constituted by the Corporation. The test for the fifth subject, namely. Art, is taken by the teachers in the Schools itself After compiling the results the result sheets are sent to the Zonal Office by the examination board. From there these are collected by the Headmasters concerned or by the teach reauthorized by them. After the result is brought to the school the marks obtained by the students in the Art subject are added in the result sheet.Marks of all the subjects are then entered in a register maintained by theschools. The register is then taken to the Zonal Office for checking andapproval. After the result is approved by the area Inspector of Schools(Zonal) it is announced by the Headmasters of the schools concerned.
(3) One Suraj Bhan and the petitioners in the petitions were employed as Assistant Teachers in Municipal Corporation Middle School, Moti NagarEast-11, in the year 1968-69. Shri Sant Ram Bhardwaj was the Headmaster of the said School. The result of the fifth class for the academic year 196869 was announced as usual probably on 30/04/1969. After .some days ant Ram Bhardwaj, Headmaster, was called in the office by the School Inspector concerned along with his result sheet. On reaching there the Inspector expressed some doubts about the marks of Hindi subject obtained by his student with roll No. 14341 and asked the Headmaster to get thisclarified. The result sheet was compared with the duplicate copy by Mr.A.N. Khose and it was found that there was a change in the marks of students with roll numbers 15236, 15235, 15315, 15336, 15339 besides 15341.After a preliminary enquiry the petitioners and one Suraj Bhan were charged for having, in collaboration amongst themselves, increased the marks obtained by students with the above roll numbers and given illegal promotion to them.The enquiry was held by Shri Randhir Singh who vide his report (AnnexureA) exonerated Suraj Bhan. He, however, found the charges proved against the present petitioners.
(4) On examining the report of the enquiry officer and the enquiry proceedings the Deputy Commissioner of the Corporation served a notice on the petitioners to show cause as to why the penalty of remount from service be not inflicted upon them. The petitioners submitted their reply in response to the show cause notice. The proposed punishment was however confirmed by the Deputy Commissioner vide order (Annexure G). In appeal theCommissioner, however, reduced the penalty to stoppage of three annual increments with future effect, vide order dated January 9, 1971 communicated to the petitioners by letter dated 16/01/1971.
(5) Feeling aggrieved the petitioners filed these writ petitions for quashing the impugned orders The main ground raised by Bhagwan Das,petitioner, is that there was no evidence to prove that he had tampered with the result sheet. The finding arrived at was perverse and could not be reached by any reasonable man on the basis of the evidence before the enquiry officer. Chand Kumar, besides the above plea, also alleged that the suspension was vocative of Article 5 of the Service Regulations and that the Deputy Commissioner was not competent to impose the penalty of removal from service. The orders made by the dismissing authority and the appellate authority were not speaking orders and the enquiry was vocative of the principles of natural justice.
(6) These petitions were opposed by the Corporation. It was averred that there was no error of law or fact apparent on the face of the record.The powers had been exercised by the respondents within their jurisdiction.The departmental enquiry had been held in accordance with the relevant rules and principles of natural justice and the findings of the departmental authorities were final and the writ petition was not maintainable. The material averments made by the petitioners were denied. It was averred that these petitioners handled the result sheets at various stages. The marks of Art subject in the result sheets were added by them. They checked and signed the result sheets. The findings of the enquiry officer were based onevidence.
(7) The main contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners is that the findings of the enquiry officer were perverse and could not be recorded by any reasonable person on the evidence before him.
(8) It is settled law that the High Court in its writ jurisdiction cannot sit as a court of appeal against the orders of disciplinary authorities. It cannot go into the disputed questions of fact and give a finding of the truth or otherwise of an allegation or counter-allegation. It cannot even consider the question whether the evidence was sufficient or adequate to support a particular conclusion. This is a matter within the competence of the authority which dealt with the case. However, the High Court must enquire whether there is any evidence at all in support of the impugned finding or the conclusion reached. The proceedings before the disciplinary authority are quasi-judicial in nature and the High Court can definitely enquire whether the order is based on no evidence. It is not necessary that in order to attack the impugned order on the ground that it is based on no evidence mala fide exercise of power by the disciplinary authority should be alleged.(See Union of India v. H.C. Gael, : (1964)ILLJ38SC ).
(9) As observed above, the charge against the petitioners and SurajBhan was that they in collaboration amongst themselves increased the marks obtained by six students of class fifth examination held in April 1969 and gave illegal promotion to the said students. Admittedly there was no direct evidence to prove that any of the petitioners tampered with the record and increased the marks. The finding of the enquiry officer is based on circumstantial evidence. At the outset I would state that in a departmental enquiry it is not necessary that the circumstantial evidence should be of such a character that it was wholly inconsistent with the innocence of the delinquent employees and was consistent only with the guilt as was required in a criminal case. At the same time it should be such that a reasonable person can base a finding on it. In the present case the finding of the enquiry officers based on three circumstances, namely, (i) the petitioner went to the Zonal Office to collect the result, (ii) they tabulated the result and for that purpose sheet was handed over to them and (iii) both of them checked the result and signed as checkers on the result sheets. Passingly it was also observed that Chand Kumar had also gone to the Zonal Office to collect the result without any directions to that effect from the Headmaster. It may be noted that the Headmaster had admitted that he had been paid his conveyance allowance for the purpose.
(10) Now it is to be determined whether a presumption of guilt can be raised against the petitioners on the basis of the above-mentioned threecircumstances. These circumstances only lead to the conclusion that the result sheet in question was handled by the petitioners and they had the opportunity to tamper with the same. From this alone it cannot be said that it was tampered with by them independently or in collaboration with eachother. Admittedly the result is prepared by the examination board. In other words the copy of the result which was sent to the Zonal Office was prepared by the examination board. After preparing the result sheet it was sent to the Zonal Office. After reaching the Zonal Office it was handed over to the petitioners. The petitioners admittedly handed over the result sheets to the Head masters There was possibility of tampering with it at any of these stages. thereforee, no presumption can be raised that the tampering with was done by the petitioners independently or in collaboration with each other. The finding of the enquiry officer, in my view, is perverse,being based on no evidence. The impugned orders were, thereforee, liable to be quashed.
(11) In conclusion, I accept the writ petitions and quash the impugned orders. The increments of the petitioners stopped because of the impugned orders would be allowed and they would be paid their arrears of pay within six months from the date of this order. The parties are, however, left to bear their own costs.