J.P. Jain, J.
1. This is a second appeal against the judgment & decree dated 5-8-71 passed by the District Judge, Jaipur District, Jaipur, by which he, reversing the judgment and decree of the original court, dismissed the plaintiff's suit challenging the order of the Railway Board reducing the plaintiff-appellant to the lower time-scale of the past for a period of five years.
2. Lekhram Saini was a senior travelling ticket examiner at the relevant time in the grade of 150-240 drawing Rs. 212/- per month as his salary, in the Western Railway, posted at Bandikui. He was charge-sheeted for under charging a marriage party and for negligence of duty by the Railway Administration. On inquiry he was found to be negligent in discharge of his duty but the charge of under charging the marriage party was not found proved. The General Manager did not agree with the result of this inquiry and ordered a fresh inquiry against him. There was accordingly a second inquiry but it also brought the same result, that is, Shri Saini was found guilty of negligence of duty only. The General Manager of the Western Railway, however, on scrutiny of the evidence and the findings held him guilty on both the counts and Shri Lekhram Saini was eventually removed from service on 16-1-66. This order was challenged by him in a writ petition in this Court. By its order dated 27-10-67 this Court allowed the writ petition, set aside the order of removal. While agreeing with the finding that the plaintiff was guilty on the charge of negligence of duty only, the case was sent back to the Railway Administration with the direction that after complying with the provisions of Article 311 of the Constitution, the Administration would reconsider the case for imposing an appropriate penalty on the delinquent. In pursuance of this order, the General Manager on 9th February, 68 provisionally came to the conclusion that Shri Lekhram Saini be reduced to the next lower grade of T.T.E. of Rs. 130-212(A) and be fixed on Rs. 175/- per month on the charge of negligence of duty. The plaintiff was served with a show cause notice and advised to file his representation against the proposed action. Mr. Saini submitted his representation and the General Manager after having considered the defence taken up by him, reduced him permanently to the next lower grade of Rs. 130-212(A) and fixed him at Rs. 175/- per month. An appeal was taken against this order by Mr. Saini to the Railway Board. By its order dated 2-6-69 the Railway Board partially allowed the appeal and held the martial available on record that the findings of the disciplinary authority were correct. The penalty of reducing Mr. Saini to the next lower grade of Rs. 130-212 and fixing him at Rs. 175/- was maintained but it was ordered that this reduction shall remain for a period of five years from the date it has taken effect and this period of reduction shall not operate to postpone future increments on his restoration to his original grade.
3. Shri Lekhram Saini filed a suit in the court of Munsiff Magistrate, Bandikui & challenged the order of the Railway Board on a number of grounds A sum of Rs. 709.75 paise was also claimed. Out of this, amount of Rs. 545/- was claimed as loss of pay and allowances on account of the reduction envisaged by the impugned order. The suit was resisted on behalf the Union of India. As many as nine issues were framed by the trial court. The learned trial Judge held the suit within time and the notice Under Section 80 CPC as valid. However it found that the penalty imposed by the General Manager and then by the Railway Board in its capacity as Appellate Authority was beyond their competence: He also observed that the impugned order of the General Manager was not a speaking order in as much as it did not indidated as to what part of defence was accepted and what part of defence was rejected. He decreed the plaintiff's suit in full.
4. The Union of India being aggrieved of this decree preferred an appeal. The learned District Judge Jaipur District, Jaipur, accepted the appeal and set aside the decree passed by the trial Court. The plaintiff has now come in the second appeal challenging the appellate decree.
5. Mr. L.R. Saini died on 25-5-72 during the pendency of this appeal His legal representatives have come on record to pursue this appeal and they are represented by Mr. Shrimali. I have heard Shri Shrimali learned Counsel for the appellants and Shri L.R. Bhansali for Union of India.
6. The contention raised on behalf of the appeallants is that the orders passed by the General Manager and the Railway Board are not speaking orders. As regarde the order passed by the General Manager, it is sufficient to say that on appeal, this order had merged in the appellate order passed by the Railway Board. That apart, it may also be observed that the charge of neglect of duty against the plaintiff was held to be proved and it was maintained by this Court as well. The only question left and which was to be dealt with by the Railway Administration on remand of the case from the High Court was to impose as appropriate penalty. The show cause notice referred to above given by the General Manager is absolutely clear. It indicated quite precisely that he had come to a provisional conclusion to reduce Mr. Saini to the next lower grade of T.T.E. The plaintiff at the relevant time was in the grade of 150-240. The next lower grade was Rs. 130-212. Mr. Saini was also given full opportunity to make his representation which admittedly he availed of. The General Manager by his office order said that he had considered carefully the defence of Shri L.R. Saini T.T.E. and he was satisfied that he was not able to clear himself of the charge of negligence of duty. He was therefore, reduced permanently to the next lower grade of Rs. 130-312 fixing him at Rs. 175/- p.m. This was the order that was conveyed to Shri Saini. I find no infirmity in the order & it can't be said in the circumstances of the case it required any elaborate discussion of the evidence of the defence taken up by Mr. Saini.
7. Now coming to the order of the Railway Board it can hardly be urged on behalf of the appellant that it did not consider the appeal preferred by Mr. Saini. The Railway Board has broadly stated in its order that (a) the procedure laid down in the rules has been complied with in this case; (b) the finding of the disciplinary Authority is warranted by the evidence on record, and (c) the penalty of reduction of the appellant by the General Manager is merited but in view of the general policy to impose a penalty of reduction invariably for a specified period, the General Manager should have specified the period of reduction. These findings clearly indicate that the Railway Board considered the case of Mr. Saini in all its aspects. It even granted relief to him in modifying the penalty of reduction by specifying the period to five years. Under the circumstances of the case it is not possible to accept the contention of the learned Counsel that the order is not a speaking order. These arguments were raised before the lower appellate court as well and in my opinion it was right in repelling them.
8. Another contention of the learned Counsel is that the penalty regarding reduction could be imposed only under Rule 1707(IV) of the Railway Establisment Code. This rule reads as follows:
1707, Nature of penalties--(1) The following penalties may, for good and sufficient reasons and as hereinafter provided be imposed on a railway servant, namely,
(iv) reduction to a lower service, grade or post, or to a lower time-scale or to a lower stage in a time-scale.
9. The submission of Shrimali is that in the present case Shri Saini has not only been reduced to the lower grade but his salary was also reduced from Rs. 212/- to Rs. 175/- and in this manner, he has been doubly punished and it is not contemplated by Rule 1707. This argument was also made before the lower appellate court. But it was over-ruled on the basis of Rule 2024 of the Code, which runs to the following effect:
2024. (F.R. 28),--Pay on reduction to lower post.--The authority which orders the reduction of a railway servant as a penalty from a higher to a lower post or time-scale may allow him to draw any pay, not exceeding the maximum of the lower post, or time-scale which it may think proper.
10. According to this rule when a Railway servant is reduced to a lower time-scale the authority which orders the reduction can allow him to draw any pay which it may think proper. This rule, further contains a prohibition that the authority can not allow the railway servant to draw pay exceeding the maximum of the lower post or time-scale. In the presented case the plaintiff was drawing Rs. 212/- per month. The maximum of the grade to which he was reduced was Rs. 212/-. The authority could not have allowed him to draw any pay beyond the maximum. This situation does not arise in this case. But it was open to the authority to allow him to draw any pay within that grade which he thought proper. It is true, that the authority could have fixed him up at Rs. 212/-, without contravening any rule. But in the discretion of the punishing authority, the plaintiff was fixed at Rs. 175/- in the lower grade of Rs. 130-212 to which he was reduced. The authority clearly acted within this rule and cannot be said that in fixing him at Rs. 175/- per month it had contravened any rule of the Railway Establishment Code. It may, as well, be observed here that when the Railway servant is reduced to a lower grade or to a lower time scale of the post it envisages not only reduction in rank but it also entails, in certain circumstances, a reduction in pay and it cannot be said in the event, his pay is reduced, in view of Rule 2024 extracted above that the railway servant has been awarded more than the penalty prescribed under Rule 1707 (iv). This can be well illustrated. In case the plaintiff had been drawing more than Rs. 212/- that is more than the maximum of the lower grade, his salary was bound to be reduced in terms of Rule 2024. Therefore, the combined effect of the Rules is obviously against the construction sought to be put by Mr. Shrimali of Rule 1707 (iv). In my opinion the case on hand is not a case of double punishment; and the impugned order clearly falls within the ambit of the Rules. The contention has no substance and it must be rejected.
11. No other point has been argued
12. I find no substance in the appeal and it is hereby dismissed. In the circumstances of the case there will be no order as to costs.