A.S. Qureshi, J.
1. This is the group of five petitions involving a common question of law and hence at the request of the learned Counsel for the parties they been heard together and disposed of by this common judgment. In the petition No. 5013/82 the petitioner is a Head Constable and in the rest of the petitions the petitioners are Constables. The petitioners have been trained as drivers and have been given the duty of driving motor vehicle for which an additional pay of Rs. 50/- per month as special allowance is paid for driving duty. Each of these petitioners was involved in an accident except the petitioner in petition No. 2435/82 where the petitioner was charged for illicit drinking. The petitioner have been ordered to go back to their duties as Constables and were deprived of their duties as drivers with a consequent loss of earning of Rs. 50/- per month.
2. In all these petitions the orders have been challenged on various grounds including the ground that the impugned order calling upon the petitioners to go back to their duties as Constables depriving them of their work as drivers resulting in their loss of earning of Rs. 50/-p. m. is penal in nature and the said orders are not sustainable as the petitioners have not been given an opportunity to be heard before such orders were passed against them.
3. Mr. I.S. Supehia, the learned Counsel for the petitioner in each of the petitions has submitted that the impugned order is illegal and void as the order which has resulted in the financial loss of the petitioners has been passed against the petitioners without giving them an opportunity to be heard. He has further argued that if the petitioners were given an opportunity they would have been able to clear themselves and the impugned punitive order would not have been passed. Mr. Supehia has also urged that in the very nature of thing the impugned order is penal because not only it deprives the petitioners of earning the special driving allowance but also it adversely affects the future prospects of the petitioners as regards the promotion and other things. Mr. M. A. Panchal, the learned Counsel for the respondents in each of the five matters has urged that the petitioners have no reason to challenge the impugned order because it does not materially alter their position. He has argued that the substantial post of the petitioner is that of the Constable and by the impugned order their status remains unaffected. The fact that they get an additional driving allowance is only by virtue of their doing the work of a driver. Sending the petitioners back to their duties as Constables does not amount to any punishment.
4. As regards the penal nature of the impugned order there can be no doubt because the petitioner having been trained to work as motor drivers with an allowance of Rs. 50/- p.m. for a small salaried constable it would certainly affect his material position. Any financial loss however small it may be, must be held to be punitive. Moreover, it appears that Constables who are assigned driving duties have different avenues for promotion which would also adversely affect their future prospects. Hence, it is quite obvious that the impugned order is penal in nature, and hence the petitioners in each of the petitions is entitled to be heard before such an order is passed against each one of them. Hence the impugned order in each case deserves to be set aside.
It is hereby directed that those petitioners who have been deprived of their duties as drivers would be entitled to be assigned the driving duty and get the allowance for the same. They will also be paid the driving allowance for the period they have been prevented from performing their duties as drivers by virtue of the impugned orders. The said amount will be paid within a period of three months from today.
5. In the result, the impugned order in each case is quashed and set aside. Rule is made absolute in each case with no order as to costs.