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Mohinder Lal Bagai Vs. the Delhi Administration - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1970CriLJ793
AppellantMohinder Lal Bagai
RespondentThe Delhi Administration
Cases ReferredMulshankar Maganlal Vyas v. Government of Bombay
Excerpt:
.....been committed before it was created the essential requirements of section 5(2) were nto satisfied. the appellant, however, was a public servant on the day he demolished the structure as well as on the day he accepted the bribe. in any case, the acceptance of bribe is clearly established to have been done by corrupt or illegal means. anthony was that the demolition having taken place before the acceptance of the bribe the requirements of section 161, indian penal code, were nto satisfied as the gratification, toher than the legal remuneration as a reward must be for doing some act in future and if a reward or gratification is accepted for having already done an act or shown a favor section 161 will nto apply......of delhi and names of 51 persons were recommended by the employment exchange. on 2nd may 1962 the deputy commissioner directed the constitution of a board for interviewing the candidates, the said order is exhibit p. w. 13/b. the board was accordingly constituted. the board interviewed the candidates and a panel of 29 persons (exhibit p. w. 13/c) was prepared. appellant's name appears at item no. 9. on may 25, 1962, the administrative officer of the corporation put up a proposal to the deputy commissioner that appointment letters be issued to six candidates (exhibit p. w. 13/d). the name of the appellant was nto among the said six candidates. the deputy commissioner approved the proposal on june 2, 1962 and the endorsement by the deputy commissioner (exhibit p. w. 13/d1) (as proved by.....
Judgment:

S.K. Kapur, J.

1. The case of the prosecution admits of statement in a very moderate compass, I proceed to state the same. Mohinder Lal bagsi, appellant, was charged under Section 5(2) read with Section 5 (I) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code and was convicted by the learned special Judge, Delhi, on btoh the charges, by judgment, dated August 8, 1967. He was sentenced to three years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2,000 under Section 5(2) read with Section 5 (I) (d) of the prevention of Corruption Act and three year's rigorous imprisonment under Section 161, Indian Penal Code. The two sentences were to run concurrently. He was to suffer a further six months' rigorous imprisonment for default in payment of fine.

2. The substance of the charge against the appellant is that on March 24, 1966, while a public servant working in the capacity of Demolition Inspector (Building) under Municipal Corporation, Delhi, he obtained illegal gratification of Rs. 800 and of a cheque for Rs. 1,000 from Suresh Kanwar of Messrs. United Mtoor Agency, Kashmere Gate, Delhi, as a reward for having demolished on January 22, 1966 an unauthorised construction on the plto occupied by United Mtoor Agency.

xxx xxx xxx

(After considering the evidence, the Judge proceeded--Ed.)

3. Having dealt with the evidence and the factual aspects of the case, I now deal with the legal pleas raised by Mr. Anthony, the learned Counsel for the appellant. The first question pressed by Mr. Anthony relates to the validity of the sanction. It is necessary to recite a few facts for dealing with this contention.

4. In the year 1962, four posts of Surveyors were lying vacant in the office of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and names of 51 persons were recommended by the Employment Exchange. On 2nd May 1962 the Deputy Commissioner directed the constitution of a board for interviewing the candidates, The said order is Exhibit P. W. 13/B. The board was accordingly constituted. The board interviewed the candidates and a panel of 29 persons (Exhibit P. W. 13/C) was prepared. Appellant's name appears at item No. 9. On May 25, 1962, the Administrative Officer of the Corporation put up a proposal to the Deputy Commissioner that appointment letters be issued to six candidates (Exhibit P. W. 13/D). The name of the appellant was nto among the said six candidates. The Deputy Commissioner approved the proposal on June 2, 1962 and the endorsement by the Deputy Commissioner (Exhibit P. W. 13/D1) (as proved by T.N. Singal, P. W. 14) bears the initials of the Deputy Commissioner. On January 8, 1964, the Commissioner delegated all his powers vide Exhibit PH to Mr. Tandon, the Deputy Commissioner. It is appropriate to read the said document--

In exercise of the powers vested in me under Section 491 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, I hereby direct that all the powers conferred on me under the various provisions of the said Act, shall, subject to my supervision, control and revision, be also exercised by Shri N.N. Tandon, I.A.S., Deputy Commissioner.

5. The Administrative Officer issued letter, Exhibit P. W. 13/E, to the appellant on 22nd June, 1964 offering the post of a Surveyor. It was stated in the said letter that if the conditions of the proposed appointment were acceptable to the appellant he should report to the Administrative Officer by 26th June, 1964. The various terms and conditions of appointment are set out in the letter. The time for joining duty was, at the instance of the appellant, extended up to 12th July, 1964 and on 16th July, 1964, the Administrative Officer issued order, Exhibit P. W. 13/J, posting the appellant as Surveyor in the Town Planning Department. By February 1965 the standing Committee of the Municipal Committee had decided to reduce the number of Surveyors from 42 to 25 necessitating retrenchment of 15 persons. One of them was, however, absorbed as a section Officer leaving fourteen employees to be retrenched. On February 27, 1965, retrenchment ntoice was issued to the appellant (Ext. P. W. 13/ K) under the signatures of the Deputy Commissioner informing the appellant that his services were nto required after 31-3-1965. This ntoice was served on the appellant on March 4, 1965 and on March 5, 1965, the Administrative Officer, on the advice of Assistant Commissioner (West), put up a ntoe (Exhibit P. W. 13/Q) proposing that the 114 retrenched Surveyors might be absorbed in the post of draftsman grades I, if and III. The proposal was examined by the Chief Accountant and Planning and Municipal Engineer and was agreed to. The Chief Accountant, however, introduced a condition that the maximum scale of pay will, in case of such employees, nto exceed that of a draftsman, grade III. The proposal was then put up before the Deputy Commissioner and he approved the same on March 6, 1965, vide Exhibit P. W. 13/S. The endorsement made by the Deputy Commissioner is 'Seen.' The signatures of the Deputy Commissioner (P. W. 13/S) have been proved by R.K. Dua (P. W. 13).

6. In pursuance of this approval by the Deputy Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner issued to the appellant, on March 10, 1965, letter (Exhibit P. W. 13/ L) offering the post of draftsman, grade III. This appointment was accepted by the appellant but some Surveyors made representations that there were vacancies available in the building department and they should be posted as Surveyors in that department. A ntoe was put up supporting the representation of the draftsmen and was approved by the Deputy Commissioner on September 22, 1965. That is how the appellant was appointed in the building department as Demolition Inspector. Letter (Exhibit P. W. 13/M) was issued to eight persons working as draftsman including the appellant in which it is inter alias stated--

The Deputy Commissioner (E) vide his orders dated 22-9-1965 has approved the promtoion of the following retrenched 8 Surveyors now working as Draftsmen Grade III as Surveyors.... and shall work as Demolition Inspectors.

7. From 1-10-1965 to 28-2-1966 the appellant worked as Demolition Inspector. On January 28. 1968, in the meantime, a retrenchment ntoice, under the signatures of the Deputy Commissioner, had been issued to the appellant saying that his services shall stand terminated on expiry of one calendar month from the date of service of the ntoice. On 28-2-1966 the order, Exhibit DH, was passed by the Zonal Engineer, in which it was stated that in pursuance of the Executive Engineer's office order 'Shri M, L. bagsi, Demolition Inspector (Draftsman) is hereby relieved today i. e. 28-2-1966 (A. N.) He is directed to report himself to J. J. S. (Jhugi Jonpri Scheme) for duty.' On March 1, 1966, the appellant was, by order Exhibit DJ which is signed by the Deputy Commissioner, placed under suspension. In the said letter the appellant is mentioned as 'Surveyor now working in the building department.'

8. The first contention raised by Mr. Anthony, the learned Counsel for the appellant, was that the power of making appointment to posts carrying minimum monthly salary of less than Rs. 350 vested in the Commissioner and that power could nto be delegated under Section 491 of the said Act with the result that the removing authority could by virtue of the first proviso to Section 95 (I) be the Commissioner and nto his delegate because under the said proviso no employee could be removed or dismissed by any authority 'subordinate to that by which he was appointed'. In short, the argument was that since the power to appoint could nto be delegated by the Commissioner and since the authority competent to remove could nto be subordinate to the authority which made the appointment the Commissioner and nto the Deputy Commissioner would be the removing authority and consequently the authority competent to accord sanction for the prosecution under Section 6(1)(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It is true that if the appellant had been appointed by the Commissioner the first proviso to Section 95(1) would come into play and the Commissioner alone would be the authority competent to remove and consequently the authority competent to give sanction for the prosecution. Ancillary to this would be the question that if the appointment had been made by the Commissioner could it be open to the Commissioner to delegate his authority of removing an employee under Section 491 to an authority subordinate to the Commissioner. The position that emerges from the narration of facts given hereinbefore is that the appointment of the appellant as Building Inspector was made by the Deputy Commissioner as a delegate of the Commissioner in pursuance of the order dated 8-1-1964 (Exhibit PH). In my opinion, such a power could be delegated to the Deputy Commissioner under Section 491 which is ample enough in this behalf. There is no limitation on the power of the Commissioner to delegate all or any of his powers or duties to any Municipal Officer or toher employee specified in the order. It must, thereforee, be held that the delegation of power by the Commissioner for making appointment of the appellant was validly made.

9. Under the first proviso to Section 95 the power to remove can be exercised by an authority, authorised in this behalf by the regulations, subject to the limitation that such authority should nto be an authority subordinate to that by which the particular employee was appointed. The said proviso, thereforee, proceeds on the premise that the removing authority should nto be subordinate to the authority that factually appointed the employee, which in this case was the Deputy Commissioner. Under Regulation 7 of the Control and Appeal Regulations, 1959, read with the Schedule, the Deputy Commissioner is competent to remove the employees in the category of the appellant, fie himself having appointed the appellant, the first proviso to Section 95 of the Municipal Corporation Act.is nto violated. The Deputy Commissioner, thereforee, would be competent authority to remove the appellant. Of course, different situation would arise if appointment of the appellant had been made by the Commissioner and thereafter the power of removal had been delegated to an authority subordinate to him. Such delegation would nto be permissible in view of the first proviso to Section 95(1) of the Municipal Corporation Act. Since the appellant had been appointed by the Deputy Commissioner, a delegate of the Commissioner, proviso to Section 95(1) will nto stand in the way of delegation to the Deputy Commissioner of the power to remove. Mr. Anthony, in prayer for aid of the appellant that neither the power to appoint nor the power to remove could be delegated, placed reliance on a Division Bench decision of the Punjab High Court in Munna Lal Gupta v. Delhi Municipal Corporation, LPA No. 62-D of 1964, D/- 11-10-1966. That decision is of no assistance to Mr. Anthony because in that case it was admitted that the employee concerned had been appointed to the post after the coming into force of the Act and that appointment could be made only by the Commissioner. In that situation, the power could nto, of course, be delegated in view of the bar of the proviso to Section 95 (D) to an authority subordinate to the Commissioner.

10. I am nto unmindful of the fact that for the purposes of the grant of sanction under Section 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act we are concerned only with the authority competent to remove and nto the authority competent to appoint but the question about the appointing authority arises for the purposes of determining the status of the authority competent to remove which cannto be subordinate to the authority that had made the appointment. In the result it must be held that the Deputy Commissioner having made the appointment he was the competent removing authority and, thereforee, the sanction accorded by him was valid. Mr. Anthony also argued that the original appointment of the appellant as a draftsman having been made by the Assistant Commissioner, it must be taken in the absence of delegation in favor of the Assistant Commissioner, as an appointment by the Commissioner rendering the Deputy Commissioner incompetent to remove the appellant. It is the appointment to the post held by the employees concerned at the time of his removal that has to be taken into consideration and since that appointment was made by the Deputy Commissioner, the contention of Mr. Anthony loses all force.

11. Mr. R.L. Mehta, the learned Counsel for the respondent argued that even if the original appointment was taken into consideration; that having been made by the Assistant Commissioner and the Commissioner nto having come into the picture at all, the Deputy Commissioner, an officer senior to the Assistant Commissioner, could be competently delegated the power to remove the appellant. He'' also drew our attention to Section 2.1 (xii), Explanationn 2, of the Indian Penal Code and argued that ntowithstanding any defect in the appointment which may arise due to the incompetence of the Assistant Commissioner in making the appointment of the appellant as a draftsman he would still be a public servant. As to the question raised by the first contention of Mr. Mehta, it stands answered by the finding recorded by me that the appellant was, in fact, appointed by the Deputy Commissioner. The toher contention, namely, his being a public servant on the relevant date would be dealt with a little later.

12. The next contention of Mr. Anthony is based on the order (Exhibit DH) dated the 28th February, 1960, mention of which has already been made. From that order it appears that the appellant was nto relieved of his post then held by him and re-appointed as contended by Mr. Frank Anthony but he was merely relieved of his duties as Demolition Inspector and transferred to the Jhugi Jonpri Scheme. The crucial, post for the purpose of determining the authority competent to remove would, thereforee. be the appellant's post as Surveyor to which he was appointed by the Deputy Commissioner.

13. I will now deal with the argument of Mr. Anthony that Section 491 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act did nto authorise a blanket delegation and in terms provided for delegation 'in such circumstances and under such conditions, if any, as may be specified in the order.' Mr. Anthony said that delegation of all powers or duties without specification of the circumstances and the conditions was nto within the competence of the Commissioner, This argument proceeds, in my opinion, on the wrong reading of Section 491. The words qutoed from Section 491 above merely authorised the Commissioner to make limited delegation but do nto rule out the power to make general delegation of all powers or duties. The delegation, thereforee, was in my opinion, validly made.

14. Mr. Anthony then argued that the appellant having been suspended on 1-3-1966, he was nto a public servant on the date he received the bribe. That argument has also no force as an order of suspension does nto operate to relieve the person concerned from the post but merely suspends his capacity to function in the post. Ntowithstanding suspension, an employee would continue to be in service. Mr. Anthony also argued that on the date the appellant is alleged to have received bribe he was, by reason of his suspension, nto holding any active official position which he could abuse as a public servant. According to Mr. Anthony that argument would be available to him even in the case of suspension which renders an employee imptoent qua his official position. He relied on Mulshankar Maganlal Vyas v. Government of Bombay : AIR1951Bom233 . In that case the position as a public servant was alleged to have been abused before the coming into force of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It was in these circumstances held that the alleged offence of abusing position as a public servant having been committed before it was created the essential requirements of Section 5(2) were nto satisfied. The appellant, however, was a public servant on the day he demolished the structure as well as on the day he accepted the bribe. The concatenation of events leads, unmistakably, to the conclusion that the appellant took bribe by abusing his position as a public servant. In any case, the acceptance of bribe is clearly established to have been done by corrupt or illegal means.

15. The last contention of Mr. Anthony was that the demolition having taken place before the acceptance of the bribe the requirements of Section 161, Indian Penal Code, were nto satisfied as the gratification, toher than the legal remuneration as a reward must be for doing some act in future and if a reward or gratification is accepted for having already done an act or shown a favor Section 161 will nto apply. This contention is against the plain reading of Section 161 and, in my opinion, the reward or illegal gratification accepted either before or after the doing of the act would be covered by Section 161, Indian Penal Code, A payment of a sum to a public servant, whether paid before or after the doing of the official act, would constitute bribe within Section 161, Indian Penal Code.

16. In the result, this appeal fails and is dismissed.

S.N. Shankar, J.

17. I agree.


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