S. Mohan, J.
1. The petitioner was working as a Wireless Operator (Head Constable), Police Radio Station, Pondicherry. While he was so serving as Wireless Operator he was deputed for bandobust duty in connection with a Very Very Important Person's visit on 15/16th April, 1976. On 15th April, 1976, after rehearsal in connection with the VVIP visit, he reported that his wireless L.V.M. 208 Man pack set was not working properly and on report about the same, the Radio Supervisor one Murugesan, Police Radio Branch, Pondicherry requested him to report at 09-00 hours on 16th April, 1976, at the Police Radio Station to receive the set and instructions as to how to operate the set. He failed to report at 09-00 hours on 16th April, 1976, as required and thus neglected to obey the duty instructions by absenting himself without reporting for duty. When he was enquired about his absence to receive instructions during the visit of VVIP, the petitioner appeared in the O. R. of the Commandant, PAP on 19th April, 1976, and stated that he would give preference to domestic work rather than official duty and further stated that he was prepared to resign from the post and thus misbehaved with his immediate superior.
2. The disciplinary authority on coming to know about the incident by order, dated 23rd April, 1976, in his proceedings No. 7021/76/DE/A4/12 ordered a departmental enquiry. Accordingly the authority has initiated disciplinary proceedings and framed charges against the petitioner for gross neglect of duty and indiscipline, for having absented himself without reporting for duty on 16th April, 1976, at 09-00 hours during the visit of VVIP and for miscondut and misbehaviour towards his superior on 19th April, 1976. The disciplinary authority caused the charge and summary of the misconduct served on the petitioner on 1st May, 1976, and the petitioner has also perused and has also taken the copies of the documents mentioned in the charge and summary of misconduct.
3. The Enquiry Officer conducted the enquiry and provided due opportunity to the petitioner. The petitioner, after cross-examining all the prosecution witnesses, furnished a list of witnesses to be examined on his side and accordingly he was allowed to examine the witnesses cited by him. Meanwhile, the petitioner made representation to the effect that some of the witnesses, namely, the Inspector of Police Thiru. Niaz and P.C. 422 Mazhino Nagappan had to speak about the fact that his set was not working on 15th April, 1976. Since there was no dispute as to the fact that the set was not working properly the enquiry authority was of the view, that these witnesses who had to come all along from Karaikal to speak about the functioning of the set may be dispensed with.
4. After examining the defence witnesses, the petitioner appeared to have made a complaint that his request to examine Inspector Niaz was rejected. Consequently, the Enquiry Officer was again directed to reexamine P.W. 1 Murugesan, Radio Supervisor, P.W.D. Thiru R. Krishnaraj, Commandant, PAP and Inspector Thiru Niaz and accordingly, the Enquiry Officer examined those witnesses as desired by the petitioner.
5. After examining those witnesses as desired by the petitioner, the Enquiry Officer concluded the enquiry and after considering all the materials, evidence on record and explanations given by the parties, came to the conclusion that the charges framed against the petitioner were proved and submitted his report to the disciplinary authority. In pursuance of such report, the disciplinary authority by his proceedings No. 7621/76/DE/A4/12, dated 24th December, 1976, issued a show cause notice to the petitioner calling upon him to show cause why the proposed penalty of removing him from service should not be inflicted upon him and requesting him to submit his reply therefor within IS days from the date of receipt of the said show cause notice.
6. The petitioner made his representation on 6th January, 1979, to the second show cause notice. The Disciplinary Authority, after going through all the representations as well as the reply to the second show cause notice submitted by the petitioner, found that the departmental enquiry has been conducted thoroughly in a just and fair manner and the petitioner was given due opportunity at every stage of the enquiry to defend himself and on consideration of all the factors, the disciplinary authority not being satisfied with the explanations of the petitioner as to the proposed penalty, took a lenient view and by order, dated 15th February, 1977, in his proceedings No. 7621/76/DE/A4/12 imposed the penalty by reducing the petitioner to the rank of the P.C., Radio Operator. The petitioner than preferred an appeal to the Appellate Authority under the Pondicherry Police Subordinate Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rule, 1968. The Appellate Authority by order, dated 10th October, 1977, in his proceedings No. 15-6-77, Home, after considering all the representations made by the petitioner and the entire materials on record found that there was no justification for altering the penalty imposed by the disciplinary authority and consequently rejected the appeal.
7. It is against this order the petitioner has come up to this Court by way of this writ petition for a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the disciplinary authority in its proceedings, dated 15th February, 1977, which was confirmed by the appellate authority in its proceedings dated 10the October, 1977.
8. Mr. T. Chengalvarayan, the llearned Counsel for the petitioner urges the following for my consideration. This is a case in which the petitioner was asked by Inspector Niaz to report for duty at 2 P.M. on 16th April, 1976. Where there is a countermanding of the order by the Radio Supervisor requiring him to report for duty at 9 A.M. certainly it cannot be said that the Radio Supervisor should have intended to pass an order and after all it might be merely a direction. Therefore, the disobedience of the direction cannot entail punishment. Then again as to what exactly was the status of the Radio Supervisor to direct the petitioner when he was being put in charge of the bandobust duty in view of the arrival of a VVIP, questions in this regard were put but they were disallowed. This has clearly prejudiced the petitioner. In any event, having regard to the nature of the direction at best the petitioner could be said to have been very un-cooperative as laid down in Edwards v. Sogat (1970) 3 All. E.R. 689 . Even on equitable grounds, the petitioner who has put in nearly 14 years of unblemished service should not be penalised for ever by reducing him to the rank of a police constable on account of this solitary instance of so-called disobedience. Therefore, he prays the writ petition may be allowed.
9. In opposition to this, the Government Pleader for Pondicherry would bring to my notice that, in view of the categoric stand of the Inspector Niaz that during the relevant time the petitioner was off duty and was not under his control and that normally the petitioner would be under the control of the Radio Supervisor, he being a Head Constable attached to the Police Radio Branch, any direction given by the Radio Supervisor ought to have been obeyed. This is all the more so in view of Exhibit P-6 wherein Clause 12, while categorizing the duties of the Head Constable Operator states that he is directly responsible to the Radio Supervisor, who is in-charge of the Radio net-work in the State. Having regard to the punishment imposed on the petitioner, namely reduction in rank, it certainly cannot be considered to be severe especially in a force like police where discipline is essential. No interference is warranted. Once the petitioner is proved to be guilty of disobedience, which was the grave-men of the charge against him, this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India may not be inclined to interfere.
10. I have given my very careful consideration to the above arguments. The petitioner was informed by inspector Niaz at the end of the duty on 15th April, 1976, at night to report for duty at 3 P.M. on 16th April, 1976. Tn the meanwhile, the Radio Supervisor had asked him to look him at 9-00 A.M. in the morning since a complaint was made by the petitioner that the wireless set furnished to him was not in order. To that the petitioner seemed to have rebuked and used some abusive language. There are two says of looking at the matter. One is that the petitioner need not have been subjected to this treatment, but could have been administered a severe warning. The other way is to take disciplinary action, however slight the disobedience may be. It is true in a disciplinary force like the police force of the State entrusted with the task of maintaining law and order, no indiscipline can be tolerated. This perhaps is the reason that impelled the authority to take disciplinary action. Whatever it is, the disciplinary action has ultimately resulted in the reduction of the rank of the petitioner. I should rather, under the circumstances, apply respectfully the ratio enunciated by Lord Denning, M.R. in Edwards v. Sogat (1970) 3 All. E.R. 689 . It was observed therein:
In point of law, the plaintiff, I think, was entitled to take the stand he did. He was asked to do something which was outside his proper work as a skilled man; and he refused. Other skilled men were likewise refusing, he said. But I must say, I think that he was being very un-cooperative. Even though it was no part of his contract, I should have thought he might have helped clear the stillages so as to enable the work to proceed.
11. Now, these observations came to be made in connection with the award of damages. But, in the present case, having been specifically told by Inspector of Niaz under whose direct control the petitioner was during the relevant time, the petitioner's attitude should be held as one of un-cooperative as was pointed out in the judgment above. However, since I am exercising extraordinary writ jurisdiction under Article 226, I am not in a position to help the petitioner in any way. Therefore, I am left with no option but to dismiss the writ petition and it is accordingly dismissed.
12. Compassion compels me and equity demands that I should make certain observations in this case. The petitioner seems to have been more misguided in being somewhat furious towards his superior. The Radio Supervisor was his superior to whom the petitioner was directly responsible. On that score he should not be allowed to languish for long. He had to his credit, but for this solitary unfortunate instance, a blemishless record and therefore I should consider that, having regard to the fact that he had suffered the punishment for more than six years, it is high time his due promotion has to be considered at the ear-list and justice rendered to him. Subject to these observations, the writ petition will stand dismissed. No costs.