1 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JHARKHAND AT RANCHI W.P. (S) No. 4568 of 2015 Subhash Chandra Sahu son of Late Mahabir Prasad, resident of Village Lahna, P.O. and P.S. Ratu, District Ranchi, Jharkhand. .... Petitioner Versus 1. The State of Jharkhand.
2. The Hon'ble Jharkhand High Court through its Registrar General, Doranda, Ranchi, P.O. and P.S. Doranda, Ranchi.
3. The Judicial Commissioner, Civil Court, Ranchi, P.O. Court Compound, P.S. Kotwali, District Ranchi.
4. The Registrar, Civil Court, Ranchi, P.O. Court Compound, P.S. Kotwali, District Ranchi. .... Respondents --- CORAM : HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE PRAMATH PATNAIK --- For the Petitioner : Mr. Binay Kr. Sahay, Advocate For the Respondents : Ms Shruti Shreshtha, JC to AG ----- CAV on 19/05/2016 Pronounced on 30/09/2016 Per Pramath Patnaik, J.
In the accompanied writ application, the petitioner has prayed for quashing of the order dated 03.01.2014 (Annexure-8) passed under Rule 2 (VIII), Bihar-Orissa Subordinate Service (Disciplinary and Appeal) Rules, 1935 and for quashing of the order dated 29.07.2015 (Annexure-10) passed on appeal by the Hon'ble High Court in Administrative Side preferred by the petitioner.
2. The facts as emanated from the writ application, in a nutshell is that the petitioner while posted as Bench Clerk in the court of learned District Judge- XII-cum-Special Judge, C.B.I. (A.H.D.), Ranchi. On 16.01.2012, the 2 judgment was pronounced by the Presiding Officer in Case No. RC/52- A/1996 and it is alleged that the petitioner demanded money from the accused persons for supply of the free copy of judgment. It is further stated in the writ petition that A.W.-5, who happens to be photo journalist of Dainik Bhaskar, daily news paper, snapped some photographs and published on the front page of the aforesaid daily news paper, depicting P.W.-2 and P.W.-6 giving currency notes to the petitioner, who received the currency notes as evident from Annexure-1 to the writ application. By virtue on the order of learned Judicial Commissioner, Civil Court, Ranchi, the Registrar, Civil Court, Ranchi conducted the preliminary inquiry and examined five witnesses and the copies of the deposition of the petitioner has been annexed as Annexure-2 to the writ application and after recording the statement of the witnesses the Registrar, Civil Court, Ranchi submitted his report to the learned Judicial Commissioner, Ranchi and the report of the Registrar, Civil Court, Ranchi has been annexed as Annexure-3 to the writ application. Thereafter, the petitioner was placed under suspension and a Departmental Inquiry no.2/12 was initiated by the learned Judicial Commissioner, Ranchi vide order dated 25.01.2012 and learned District Judge no.XVI-cum-Special Judge-I, C.B.I. (A.H.D Scam), Ranchi was entrusted to conduct the inquiry and Registrar, Civil Court, Ranchi was appointed Presenting Officer and charge was framed against the petitioner and necessary papers were supplied to the petitioner. On receipt of the charges, the petitioner submitted his show cause by denying the allegations levelled against him. During the pendency of the departmental proceeding, the inquiry officer was transferred and new incumbent was entrusted to hold the inquiry. After examination of witnesses, it was found, none of the witnesses examined on behalf of the Administration 3 supported the charge except P.W.-5, photo journalist and inquiry officer also did not consider the evidence of P.W.-5 to be trustworthy and submitted his report on 01.05.2013, holding the petitioner not guilty as per Annexure-6 to the writ application and the learned Judicial Commissioner, Ranchi who is the disciplinary authority as per the Rule 54 Bihar Civil Court, Staff (Class- III and Class-IV) Rules, 1992, disagreed/differed with the report and by order dated 18.11.2013, issued show cause notice to the petitioner, asking him to submit his reply and in pursuance to the said notice, the petitioner submitted his show cause reply. The disciplinary authority was not satisfied with the show cause reply and passed the order of dismissal from services vide Annexure-8 to the writ application. Thereafter, the petitioner submitted his departmental appeal on 29.01.2014, which has also been dismissed vide order dated 29.07.2015 vide Annexure-10 to the writ application. Being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned order of punishment of the dismissal from services, being affirmed by the appellate authority, the petitioner left with no other alternative efficacious and speedy remedy, has approached this Court invoking extra-ordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for redressal of his grievances.
3. Learned counsel for the petitioner has strenuously urged that the impugned orders passed by the disciplinary authority being affirmed by the appellate authority suffers from illegality being not consistent with the material facts of the case although the disciplinary authority has jurisdiction to agree or to disagree with the findings of the inquiry officer, but in the case in hand, the report of the inquiry officer which was based on the materials available on the records has not been accepted by the disciplinary authority not on any justifiable grounds. Learned counsel for the petitioner further submits that the witnesses 4 examined during course of inquiry did not support the charge in the departmental inquiry except the photo journalist, P.W.-5 of the Dainik Bhaskar whose evidence could not be described as impeachable and trustworthy so as to bring home the charge against the petitioner. Learned counsel for the petitioner further submits charge which have been levellled against the petitioner does not specify the place and the time of misconduct nor from whom demand of illegal gratification has been mentioned in the charge. Therefore, learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the charge which was levelled against the petitioner was replete with lack of sufficient particularity. Learned counsel for the petitioner further submits that the findings of the disciplinary authority is based on mere probabilities and the charge of illegal gratification was required to be proved beyond any shadow of doubt and to the hilt. But the finding arrived by the disciplinary authority is based on mere suspicion and conjectures which is against the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court reported in (2009) 12 SCC78in the case of Union of India And Others Vs. Gyan Chand Chattar and also reported in AIR1964SC364in the case of Union of India Vs. H.C. Goel. Learned counsel for the petitioner further submits that before infliction of punishment, no notice on proposed punishment was made thereby the petitioner has been denied the opportunity of being heard. Apart from the aforesaid ground, learned counsel for the petitioner further submits that the impugned order is harsh, disproportionate and excessive to the alleged charges so as to call for interference by this Court.
4. Per-contra controverting the averments made in the writ application, a counter-affidavit has been filed by respondent nos.3 and 4. Learned counsel for the respondents-State has reiterated the submissions made in the counter- affidavit. Learned counsel for the respondents-State has assiduously 5 submitted that it is not the duty of the Bench Clerk to call out the names of the convicts nor he is supposed to leave his seat during the court hours. No person is allowed to leave the court-room after being pronounced guilty and convicted in any criminal case. It has falsely been stated that the convicts of fodder scam left the court room which is said to be a common practice after being pronounced guilty. Such practice against the procedure has never been reported or complained by any of the staff or court in the judgeship. It has further been stated that the photographer Sanjay Karparkar in his statement during the preliminary enquiry as well in the departmental enquiry reiterated that he took the photographs of the event that took place outside and court- room. He has withstood the test of cross-examination and nothing has been brought on record to disbelieve his statement. The said photographer has the highlighted portion in it. Thus the authenticity and genuineness of the photograph was never ever challenged during the entire proceeding and the petitioner during the departmental proceeding failed completely to explain the presence of currency notes in his hands or in the hands of A.W.6 Ranjeet Mishra. The depositions of Ranjeet Mishra and Sanjay Karparkar corroborated that they were carrying currency notes at that time. It has been established from the materials and evidences brought on record that the true copy of judgment was not furnished to the convicts sentenced below three years and transaction of money had taken place between the convicts and the appellant. It has further been stated that the photographs are not to be viewed in isolation but the entire photographs, newspaper reports, deposition of administration as well as defense witnesses and materials brought on record are to be seen as a whole which clearly establish that illegal gratification was accepted by the petitioner for supply of free copies of judgment pronounced 6 in RC/52-A/1996. It has further been submitted that the order dated 03.01.2014 indicates that the show cause, reply submitted by the petitioner was duly considered and the same did not put-forth any cogent, reasonable and fresh ground for reconsideration and reappraisal of the findings in order to exonerate him of the charge against him. Therefore, the evidence on record point to the complicity of the petitioner and his conduct was unbecoming of a Government servant.
5. Having heard learned counsel for the respective parties and on bestowing my anxious consideration to the evidences on record, I am of the considered view that the petitioner has not been able to make out a case for interference due to the following facts and reasons stated hereinbelow:- (i) That in the instant case, a departmental proceeding in terms of Rule 3 Bihar Government Servant's Conduct Rules, 1976, under Rule 18 of Bihar Civil Courts and Staff (Class III and Class IV) Rules, 1998 read with Rule 167 of Bihar Boards Miscellaneous Rules, 1958 was initiated against the petitioner on the charge of having demanded and accepted illegal gratification and free copies RC Case No.52A/1996. Initially the charges levelled against the petitioner was not proved by the inquiry officer but the disciplinary authority in terms of under Rule 18 of Bihar Civil Courts and Staff (Class III and Class IV) Rules, 1998 found the inquiry report to be deficient on several counts and the notice of second show cause was issued to the petitioner alongwith the reasons of disagreement and on perusal of the documents submitted by the petitioner, the disciplinary authority was of the view that the petitioner did not put forth any reason on fresh ground for reconsideration nor show cause reply is completely on the quantum of punishment or any 7 sign of omissions of misconduct. Therefore, the disciplinary authority considering into the seriousness of the charge of gross misconduct passed an order of dismissal from services under Rule 2 (VIII) of the Bihar and Orissa Sub-ordinate Services (Disciplinary and Appeal Rules) 1935 vide order dated 03.01.2014 (Annexure-8) which has been affirmed by the Court reasoned order vide Annexure-10 to the appeal preferred by the petitioner. Therefore, there is absolutely no ground for interference. (ii) In the case in hand, in view of the seriousness of allegation and misconduct committed by the petitioner, the power of judicial review cannot be applied. Moreover, finding arrived by disciplinary and appellate authority cannot be interfered with, as has been held by the Apex Court in the case of Uttar of Pradesh and Another Vs. Man Mohan Nath Sinha & Another as reported in (2009) 8 SCC310, in paragraph 15 held as under:-
“15. The legal position is well settled that the power of judicial review is not directed against the decision but is confined to the decision-making process. The court does not sit in judgment on merits of the decision. It is not open to the High Court to reappreciate and reappraise the evidence led before the inquiry officer and examine the findings recorded by the inquiry officer as a court of appeal and reach its own conclusions....” (iii) There is absolutely no quarrel over the proposition to the decision cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner, but in the facts and circumstances of the case, the aforesaid decisions are not applicable in the case at hand. 8 6. In view of the reasons stated in the foregoing paragraphs, the impugned orders dated 03.01.2014 (Annexure-8) passed by the disciplinary authority and also the order dated 29.07.2015 (Annexure-10) passed by the appellate authority do not warrant any interference by this Court. Accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed being devoid of merit. (Pramath Patnaik, J.) RKM/- N.A.F.R.