1. These three petitions relate to the same matter and can be dealt with together. The writ petitions are filed for the issue of a writ of certiorari calling, for the records of the Executive Engineer, Public Works Department, Cauveri Division, Tanjore, relating to the suspension order of the petitioners and for quashing the same. As the facts are similar in all the three writ petitions, Writ Petition No. 3971 of 1966 will be dealt with,
2. The petitioner was working as head lascar In Public Works Department, Valangaiman section at Sakkottal. The Executive Engineer, Public Works Department, Cauveri Division, by his order No. 5015-M, dated 30 September 1964, transferred the petitioner from Valangalman to Sirkall. This order was served on the petitioner on 2 October 1964. The petitioner met the Executive Engineer in person on 3 October 1964, and requested him to cancel the orders of transfer and permit him to continue in Valangalmaa section Itself. On 6 October 1964 the petitioner wrote to the Chief -Engineer praying that the order of transfer might be deferred. On 7 November 1964 there was an Incident In which the section officer of Valangalman was assaulted by the petitioner herein and the petitioners In the other two petitions, Writ Petitions Nos. 3972 and 3973 of 1965. The section officer sent a telegram to the Superintending Engineer, and the Superintending Engineer reported the matter to the Chief Engineer on 9 November 1964. The Superintending Engineer by his order, dated 9 November 1964, placed the petitioners under suspension pending enquiry. The suspension order was forwarded to the section officer, Valangalman, on 10 November 1964. The petitioner was served only on 19 February 1965, while the petitioners In Writ Petitions Nos. 3972 and 3973 of 1985 were served with the suspension order soon after It was made. A criminal complaint was also preferred and the District Magistrate (Judicial), Kumbakonam, acquitted the petitioner herein and the petitioners In Writ Petitions Nos. 3972 and 3973 of 1965 on 27 February 1965. The department did not revoke the order of suspension, as departmental proceedings were in contemplation under the directions of the Superintending Engineer by his letter, dated 18 June 1965. After the order of acquittal by the District Magistrate, the petitioners applied to the Executive Engineer for cancellation of the order of suspension on 22 March 1965. On 24 July 1965, the petitioners In Writ Petitions NOB. 3971 to 3973 of 1965, addressed a letter to the Chief Engineer praying for cancellation of the order of suspension. The petitioners, not having received any reply from the authorities, have preferred these writ petitions.
3. The main contention in the writ petitions Is that on identical facts and charges the petitioners were acquitted by the District Magistrate and, therefore, the department la not Justified in embarking on a fresh enquiry on the same facts. On the materials on record I am unable to say that the enquiry contemplated is on the same facts on which the petitioners were tried by the criminal Court. Apart from the order of suspension, no charge memorandum has yet been given to the petitioners. Till a charge memorandum is given, It cannot be said on what facts the departmental enquiry la based. It is, therefore, too early to accept the contention of the petitioners that the departmental proceedings are based on' the same facts on which the petitioners were acquitted by the District Magistrate. It has been held that a finding of a criminal Court Is not always binding on a disciplinary tribunal. In this connexion, the decision of the Supreme Court In State of Andhra Pradesh v. Sri Rama Rao : (1964)IILLJ150SC may be referred to. In that case, the sub-magistrate found that one Durgalu, the only eye-witness, who spoke to the torture of Raddi Simaaohalam, turned hostile and that his evidence could not be accepted. In his earlier statement, Durgalu Btated that he was an eye-witness to the torture of Reddi Simhachalam. Dargalu stated before the sub-magistrate that he had escaped from the custody before he reached the police station on 5 March 1954 and that he was re-arrested only on 8 March 1954. The torture of Reddi Simhaohalam was on 7 March 1954. On revision, the learned Sessions Judge declined to accept the evidence of Durgalu that he escaped on 5 March 1954. In the departmental enquiry against the respondent for misconduct, the enquiry officer declined to accept the finding of the magistrate. In the circumstances, the Supreme Court observed as follows at p. 164:
The enquiry officer appears to have stated that the judgment of the magistrate holding a criminal trial against a public servant could not always be regarded as binding In a departmental enquiry against that public servant. In so stating the enquiry officer did not commit any error.
In R.P. Kapur v. Union of India : (1966)IILLJ164SC , the Supreme Court observed as follows at p. 171:
If the trial of the criminal charge results In conviction, disciplinary proceedings are bound to follow against the public servant BO convicted; even In case of acquittal, proceedings may follow where the acquittal is other than honourable. The usual practice IB that where a public servant la being tried on a criminal charge, the Government postpones holding a departmental enquiry and awaits the result of the criminal trial and departmental proceedings follow on the result of the criminal trial.
The two decisions above cited make It clear that It cannot be said that In the case of an acquittal by a criminal Court, the departmental proceedings cannot be initiated on the same facts. Even in the case of acquittals, the departmental proceedings may follow when the acquittal is 'other than honourable.' As to how far a departmental enquiry Is competent, when the officer Is acquitted on the same facts by a criminal Court, is dealt with in Shaik Kasim v. Superintendent of Post Offices : (1965)ILLJ197Mad and by a Bench of this Court in Krishnamurthi v. Chief Engineer, Southern Railway 1966 I L.L.J. 697, It has been held In Jerome de Silva v. Regional Transport Authority (1952) 1 M.L J. 3 :
As primarily the criminal Courts of the land are entrusted with enquiry Into offence it is desirable that the findings and orders of the criminal Courts should be treated as conclusive In proceedings before quasi-Judicial tribunals.
The Bench In Krishnamurthi v. Chief Engineer 'Southern Railway : (1966)IILLJ697Mad (vide supra) in dealing with the case in Jerome de Silva v. Regional Transport Authority : AIR1952Mad853 , observed:
The utmost that can be gathered from Jerome de Silva case : AIR1952Mad853 , cited earlier Is that where the charge relates to the Identical subject-matter of the criminal trial, and there has been an acquittal on the merits at that trial, it might not be proper for the departmental authority to arrive at some other finding inconsistent with that acquittal.
No doubt It would-be a strange predicament, If, in spite of a trial by a criminal Court on the same facts, the domestic tribunal were to come to a different consulation on the same facts. But there cannot be a complete prohibition against the tribunal coming to a different conclusion, for it is well-known that the tribunal is not bound by several rules that are binding on appreciation of evidence by a criminal Court. As, for Instance, a criminal Court would not accept the evidence of an accomplice unless corroborated In material particulars, while the departmental enquiry may base Its finding on the uncorroborated testimony of the accomplice. In this connexion, It is significant to note that the Supreme Court has observed In R.P. Kapur v. Union of India : (1966)IILLJ164SC (vide supra), that the departmental proceedings might follow where the acquittal was ' other than honourable.' The question whether the principles of natural justice had been violated in not giving due and proper weight to the finding of the criminal Court can only depend on the facts of each case. As already observed, It is premature to go into this question, as a charge memorandum has not section been given. On this ground, these petitions are dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.