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Asst. Security Officer, Railway Protection Force, Southern Railway, Olavakkot Division and ors. Vs. K. Kullinga Gounder and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1978)ILLJ117Ker
AppellantAsst. Security Officer, Railway Protection Force, Southern Railway, Olavakkot Division and ors.
RespondentK. Kullinga Gounder and anr.
Cases ReferredThe State of Madras v. G. Sundaram
Excerpt:
.....made by counsel on behalf of the respondents in support of jurisdiction was that the 1st appellant in these appeals must be taken to have been functioning inside the kerala state as well though his office is situate at pothannur because his jurisdiction extended to areas within the kerala state. we, however, wish to go into the matter on the merits as well in order that the judgment may be complete. not only that, we feel that it is necessary to state again the scope and ambit of our jurisdiction under article 226 of the constitution in interfering with findings on questions of fact, where lack of jurisdiction or failure to exercise jurisdiction or excessive exercise of jurisdiction or illegal or improper exercise of jurisdiction or the failure to give an opportunity to be heard to the...........4. this is not a case in which this court could have interfered in proceedings under article 226 of the constitution.5. in the light of the above, we set aside the judgments under appeal and allow these writ appeals and we dismissed the two writ petitions. we direct the parties to bear their respective costs throughout.
Judgment:

P. Govindan Nair, C.J.

1. These appeals relate to the validity of the dismissal of two employees of the Southern Railway. Two important questions arise in these appeals. The first is whether the cause of action in whole or in part arises within the jurisdiction of this Court to sustain an application under Article 226 of the Constitution. The second question is whether grounds have been made out justifying interference in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution. The officer who passed the order of dismissal Ext. P4 in Writ Appeal No. 108 of 1975 and Ext. P5 in Writ Appeal No. 109 of 1975 is the 1st appellant, the Assistant Security Officer, Railway Protection Force, Southern Railway, Olavakkot Division, Pothannur. Appeals had been taken from those orders and the 2nd appellant in these appeals passed the order Exts. R4 and P7 respectively in the two appeals dismissing them. There was a further motion before the 3rd appellant, the Chief Security Officer, Railway Protection Force, Southern Railway, Madras Beach which had also been rejected by that officer. The appellate authority, the 2nd appellant is the Security Officer (South Range). Southern Railway, Tiruchirappalli. It is evident from the description of these authorities that they were not functioning inside the Kerala State nor were there any allegations that the employees dismissed were functioning within the Kerala State or that any act had been done inside the Kerala State which provided in whole or in part the cause of action which could support the petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution, The only submission made by counsel on behalf of the respondents in support of jurisdiction was that the 1st appellant in these appeals must be taken to have been functioning inside the Kerala State as well though his office is situate at Pothannur because his jurisdiction extended to areas within the Kerala State. If the first appellant had done any act inside the Kerala State affecting persons functioning inside the State this Court would have had jurisdiction. There was no such act and his action had not affected any one functioning within the State. All that the decision in Haj Esmail Noor Mohmmad and Co. and Ors. v. Competent Officer, Lucknow and Ors. : [1967]3SCR134 , has said is that the mere fact that a person's office is situate outside the State will not preclude the High Court in that State from issuing the required writ under Article 226 if the cause of action had arisen wholly or in part inside the State Here, we are not able to spell out any such cause of action which had arisen inside the State. On this short ground these appeals will have to be allowed and the judgment under appeal set aside. We, however, wish to go into the matter on the merits as well in order that the judgment may be complete. Not only that, we feel that it is necessary to state again the scope and ambit of our jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution in interfering with findings on questions of fact, where lack of jurisdiction or failure to exercise jurisdiction or excessive exercise of jurisdiction or illegal or improper exercise of jurisdiction or the failure to give an opportunity to be heard to the party affected by the order or the violation of the principles of natural justice are not involved. In regard to findings on questions of fact this Court would be entitled to interfere in cases where there is complete absence of evidence to support the findings. It would also be possible to interfere in cases where the conclusions are arbitrary, perverse or caprecious. These are cases where no reasonable person could possibly have come to the conclusion to which the Inquiry Officer, or the authority who had to enter the findings on a question of fact, had come to. Further in regard to a finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal, a writ of certiorari can be issued 'if it is shown that in recording the said finding, the Tribunal had erroneously refused to admit admissible and material evidence, or had erroneously admitted inadmissible evidence which has influenced the impugned finding' : [1964]5SCR64 . Adequacy or sufficiency of evidence, or the possibility of another conclusion on the same evidence, or even the view of this Court that the finding entered was not proper would not enable this Court to interfere with the finding. With great respect, we think that the learned Judge in the judgment under appeal has interfered with the finding on a question of fact merely on the ground that the finding was improper in that the evidence did not, without any shadow of doubt, show that the charge had been established. This, we are constrained to say, with great respect, is acting beyond the jurisdiction vested in us under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The charge that had been levelled against the respondents reads as follows:

Belt No. 147 Sri Kullinga Gounder RK/CBE is hereby charged with negligence of duty in that on 24-1-71 while he was performing escort duties of Train No. 70 passenger from SLY-JTJ, failed in his duty, which resulted in loss of one gunny bundle due to PWB No. 006761 of 21 1-71 ex. EVK to MKU from wagon No. NR 30838 attached to 70 passenger.

2. An elaborate enquiry had been conducted and a number of witnesses had been examined, and the summary of the evidence has been stated in the Inquiry report which is Ext. P3 in Writ Appeal No. 109 of 1975. After summarising the evidence the reasons for the findings have been stated by the Inquiry authority. The bare facts which have been proven are the following:

3. The two respondents in these appeals entered on duty on the evening in question at Samalpatti; the abbreviation for which station is 'SLY' mentioned in the charge. They were put on duty in passenger No. 70 till it reached Jolarpet. The duties of a Rakshak, the post held by the respondents, was to ensure that the wagons were not tampered with and to protect the goods inside those wagons. These wagons were not only locked but also sealed. It was the duty of the two respondents to see that those seals were intact during the entire period of their escort duty. It is admitted that the wagons were locked and sealed when the train arrived at Samalpatti and when the respondents took charge. It was also established by almost incontrovertible evidence that the wagons arrived at Jolarpet in what has been termed as 'door open condition'. There is a large volume of evidence in relation to this fact and we may mention that the Assistant Station Master has also given evidence about this fact. The wagon was detached at Jolarpet and when an inventory was taken, it was established, that one of the parcels was missing. According to the evidence that was furnished by the parcel clerk who was on duty along with the two respondents, the two respondents requested him to sign what has been called the 'movement order' even when the train reached Tiruppathur, the station before Jolarpet, and he obliged them by granting their request. According to him he did so because he was told by the two respondents that they wanted to leave the train before it stopped to enable them to board the other train which they had to escort that evening from Jolarpet. We are not concerned in this case with the question whether the parcel clerk was properly discharging his duty in so signing the 'movement order'. Whatever that be. the fact remains, that when the train came to a halt at Jolarpet the two Rakshaks were not there. They did not admittedly take the seal book for signature. The signature in the seal book is obtained to show that the wagons arrived with the seals intact at the destination station. They were asked about this at the enquiry and their explanation was that they had not been furnished with any such book. They were also asked why they did not question the parcel clerk about their version that they escorted the train till it reached Jolarpet. Their answer was that they had forgotten to ask him. It was in these circumstances that the conclusion had been reached by the Inquiring authority that the negligence attributed to the two respondents in these appeals had been established and that it was as a result of such negligence that the loss of the parcel occurred. It is not possible to say that such a conclusion was either perverse, arbitrary or caprecious. It may be that a different view was possible because of the reasons mentioned in the judgment under appeal. It is true that doubts may arise in our mind as to the time at which the loss of the parcel occurred; before the train reached Samalpatti or after it left Samalpatti. The learned Judge felt the very same doubt. Reference has been made in the judgment under appeal to the fact that the parcels inside the wagon had not been counted before the two respondents took charge at Samalpatti. Reference has also been made to the fact that between Erode and Doddampatti the wagon had travelled without the door being locked or sealed. These facts relied on by the two respondents had caused genuine doubts in the mind of the learned Judge that the parcel possibly could have disappeared even before the train reached Samalpatti. We are not suggesting that it is not a possible view or that this is not a genuine doubt. But the question is whether such doubts that border on the propriety of the inference drawn would justify interference in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution. The learned Judge has also held that this was a case of no evidence. With respect we cannot agree. This was a case in which there was ample evidence and the view taken is not only a possible view but a plausible view. The finding based on such a view has to be left untouched in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution. We may refer to some pronouncements of the Supreme Court. The rule in Nagendra Nath v. Ommr, of Hills Division A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 399, was quoted with approval by the Supreme Court in the decision in Kaushalya Devi v. Bachittar Singh : AIR1960SC1168 . We shall extract a passage from the judgment therein:

It was pointed out in that case that the principle underlying the jurisdiction to issue a writ or order of certiorari was no more in doubt; but the real difficulty arose, as it often did. in applying the principle to the particular facts of a given case. It was also pointed out that the High Court had exercised its supervisory jurisdiction in that case in respect of errors which could not be said to be errors of law apparent on the face of the record; if at all they were errors, they were errors in appreciation of documentary evidence or affidavits, error in drawing inferences or omission to draw inferences. In other words, it was further observed, these were error which a Court sitting as a court of appeal only, could have examined and, if necessary, corrected

In U.R. Bhatt v. Union of India : AIR1962SC1344 , it was observed:

The order of discharge from service passed against him by order of the Governor General is not liable to be questioned on the ground that the materials may not have justified the passing of that order. It is not within the competence of a civil Court to sit in judgment over the decision of the authority who is competent by law to dismiss a public servant provided he has been afforded an opportunity to defend himself consistently with the substance of the Constitutional guarantee.

In State of Orissa v. Murlidhar A.I.R. 1963 S.C. 404, it was held:

Whether or not the evidence on which the Tribunal relied was satisfactory and sufficient for justifying its conclusion would not fall to be considered in a writ petition. That in effect is the approach initially adopted by the High Court at the beginning of its judgment. However, in subsequent part of the judgment the High Court appears to have been persuaded to appreciate the evidence for itself, and that, in our opinion, is not reasonable or legitimate.

Very recently, in the decision in Syed Yakoob v. K.S. Radhakrishnan and Ors. : [1964]5SCR64 , the Supreme Court expressed thus:

(7) The question about the limits of the jurisdiction of High Courts in issuing a writ of certiorari under Article 226 has been frequently considered by this Court and the true legal position in that behalf is no longer in doubt. A writ of certiorari can be issued for correcting errors of jurisdiction committed by inferior Courts or Tribunals; these are cases where orders are passed by inferior Courts or Tribunals without jurisdiction, or is in excess of it, or as a result of failure to exercise jurisdiction. A writ can similarly be issued where in exercise of jurisdiction conferred on it, the Court or Tribunal acts illegally or improperly, as for instance, it decides a question without giving an opportunity to be heard to the party affected by the order, or where the procedure adopted in dealing with the dispute is opposed to principles of natural justice. There is, however, no doubt that the jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari is a supervisory jurisdiction and the Court exercising it is not entitled to act as an appellate Court. This limitation necessarily means that findings of fact reached by the inferior Court or Tribunal as result of the appreciation of evidence cannot be reopened or questioned in writ proceedings. An error of law which is apparent on the face of the record can be corrected by a writ, but not an error of fact, however grave it may appear to be. In regard to a finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal, a writ of ceritari can be issued if it is shown that in recording the said finding, the Tribunal had erroneously refused to admit admissible and material evidence, or had erroneously admitted inadmissible evidence which has influenced the impugned finding. Similarly, if a finding of fact is based on no evidence, that would be regarded as an error of law which can be corrected by a writ of certiorari. In dealing with this category of cases, however, we must always bear in mind that a finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal cannot be challenged in proceedings for a writ of certorari on the ground that the relevant and material evidence adduced before the Tribunal was insufficient or inadequate to sustain the impugned finding. The adequacy or sufficiency of evidence led on a point and the inference of fact to be drawn from the said finding are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tribunal, and the said points cannot be agitated before a writ Court. It is within these limits that the jurisdiction conferred on the High Courts under Article 226 to issue a writ of certiorari can be legitimately exercised (vide Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaque : [1955]1SCR1104 ; Nagendra Nath v. Commr, of Hills Division. : [1958]1SCR1240 and Kaushalya Devi v. Bachittar Singh : AIR1960SC1168 .

To the same effect is the observation of the Supreme Court in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the judgment in The State of Madras v. G. Sundaram : AIR1965SC1103 .

4. This is not a case in which this Court could have interfered in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution.

5. In the light of the above, we set aside the judgments under appeal and allow these writ appeals and we dismissed the two writ petitions. We direct the parties to bear their respective costs throughout.


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