Subramonian Poti, Ag. C.J.
1. The respondents in the appeal faced a criminal prosecution and finally they were acquitted. On the same set of facts which led to the criminal prosecution they were again charged in disciplinary proceedings. They objected to this, But the proceedings were continued. Thereupon they challenged the proceedings in this Court. The learned single Judge whose judgment is under challenge in this appeal relied on Rule (10)(b) of the Kerala Police Departmental Inquiries, Punishment and Appeal Rules, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules) to find that the proceedings cannot be continued. It is useful to set down the rule here:
10. Departmental Inquiry regarding matters before a Court:
(a) x x x(b) If the question of departmental action arises against the conduct of an Officer, who has already been tried in a Criminal Court on the facts which form the basis of the charge against him the following rules shall be observed :
(i) If on a full consideration of the same facts, a Criminal Court has arrived at a definite decision, which is neither reversed nor modified in appeal, the Department shall not take any further proceedings on the basis that the proceedings in the Criminal Court were misconceived or that the judgment was erroneous.
(ii) If, however, certain facts which fall for departmental action are not relevant to the charge before the Criminal Court and as such, were not placed before the Court, there shall be no objection to departmental action being taken on such facts.
Evidently on a reading of the rule we have no hesitation to agree with the learned single Judge. A Criminal Court has acquitted the accused on charges based on the same set of facts and that has become final. The case of the Department here is that the standard of proof in a criminal case differs from that in a disciplinary proceedings and therefore, on the same set of facts the finding could be adverse to the respondents in the disciplinary proceedings though such evidence may not be sufficient to secure a conviction against them. Of course the principle of autrefois convict and autrefois acquit would not be applicable to the holding of disciplinary enquiry after the acquittal in criminal proceeding. Even so the High Court of Madras in the decision in J.D. Silva v. R.T.A. : AIR1952Mad853 , held the view that a domestic forum when it exercises the disciplinary jurisdiction would not be right in taking a view different from that taken by a Criminal Court on the same set of facts. We are not called upon here to consider whether this view is right or not. That is because de hors any ruling on the subject, now that Rule 10(b)(i) operates to bar further proceedings by way of disciplinary action such disciplinary action cannot be resorted to. In other words it is the statutory bar created by the rule that now operates and not any rule of autrefois convict or autrefois acquit or not even any rule of prudence.
2. We are aware that our learned brother Vadakkel, J., in Nanappan Pillai v. State of Kerala (1977) KLT 298, took a slightly different view. The learned Judge did not agree with the view expressed by the Madras High Court in J. D'Silva case (supra) followed in several other later decisions and that was evidently because the learned Judge took the view that after the decision of the Supreme Court in Maqbool Hussain v. State of Bombay : 1983ECR1598D(SC) and Venkataraman v. Union of India : 1954CriLJ993 , the view expressed by the Madras High Court cannot be good law. We once again desire to point out that there would have been no bar to holding disciplinary proceedings on the same set of facts merely because a Criminal Court had in a prosecution found in favour of the officers charged with the offence. But the position is different when the rule-making authority has chosen to incorporate a rule creating an express bar in continuing such proceedings. Evidently the learned Judge missed to notice the significance of this provision. No doubt in paragraph 6 of the judgment the learned Judge has referred to the bar being only a bar of issue estoppel. But we do not find any reason to consider the scope of the rule as enabling further proceedings to be taken when once the earlier proceedings had adjudicated on the question one way or the other.
3. In the above view we are in agreement with learned single Judge that in the case of the respondents no action could be taken on the same set of facts as that which led to a prosecution against them, a prosecution which ultimately ended in acquittal. The appeal is dismissed. No costs.