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G. Gabriel Vs. the State Housing Board by Its Chairman and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1968)2MLJ226
AppellantG. Gabriel
RespondentThe State Housing Board by Its Chairman and anr.
Cases ReferredState of Orissa v. Bidhvabhusan
Excerpt:
- .....madras housing unit for the issue of a writ of certiorari against the order of the chairman of the state housing board dated 26th november, 1965 as confirmed by its order dated 9th february, 1966, dismissing him from service. the petitioner was appointed as a lascar in the city improvement trust on 7th february, 1958. he was confirmed as a sevakar in the madras - housing unit on 14th february, 1961. on 26th august, 1959, the board allotted a low cost tenement in c.i.t. nagar on a rental basis in terms of a lease deed dated 26th august, 1958. the petitioner was also allotted on rental basis, plot no. 624, in pursuance of a memo. issued by the state housing unit on 27th march, 1963, and the agreement between the petitioner and the board for sale of this plot was executed on 26th june,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

P.S. Kailasam, J.

1. This petition is filed by a Sevakar in the Madras housing Unit for the issue of a writ of certiorari against the order of the Chairman of the State housing Board dated 26th November, 1965 as confirmed by its order dated 9th February, 1966, dismissing him from service. The petitioner Was appointed as a Lascar in the City Improvement Trust on 7th February, 1958. He was confirmed as a Sevakar in the Madras - housing Unit on 14th February, 1961. On 26th August, 1959, the Board allotted a low cost tenement in C.I.T. Nagar on a rental basis in terms of a lease deed dated 26th August, 1958. The petitioner was also allotted on rental basis, plot No. 624, in pursuance of a memo. issued by the State housing Unit on 27th March, 1963, and the agreement between the petitioner and the Board for sale of this plot was executed on 26th June, 1964. The Board on coming to know that the petitioner had not conformed to the conditions of the agreement issued a show cause notice dated 23rd June, 1965 for having unauthorisedly let out apartment No. 15 C., Model hutment Road to one Gnanambal. Subsequently a memorandum dated 25th August, 1965 Was issued, and in this two charges were framed against the petitioner. Charge No. 1 was that the petitioner had let out unauthorisedly apartment No. 15-C, Model hutment Road, allotted to him on a rent of Rs. 13-50 to one Gnanambal on a rent of Rs. 24. The second charge was that he had leased out unauthorisedly plot No. 624, C.I.T. Nagar allotted to him on hire purchase basis to another person in violation of the conditions of allotment. The enquiry was conducted on 29th October, 1965 and subsequently a show cause notice as to Why the petitioner should not be removed from service was issued on 4th November, 1965. On 26th November, 1965, the petitioner was dismissed by the Chairman of the State housing Board. An appeal to the State housing Board Was dismissed on 9th February, 1966. The Government declined to interfere in the matter,

2. In the lease-cum-sale agreement executed by the petitioner., Clause 4 reads as follows:

The lessee/purchaser Would not be entitled to assign, sub-let or part with possession of the whole or any part of the property without the previous permission, in Writing of the lessor/vendor.

In his first explanation dated 2nd September, 1965, the petitioner admitted that he had given the house to Gnanambal. In the Written statement, he admitted that Gnanambal whom he had known well asked for the houe for some days as it was kept locked. The petitioner out of pity gave the house but did not collect any rent. He regretted that he did not obtain the permission from the Board and that it was his mistake and prayed that he might be excused. In the oral enquiry held on 29th October, 1965, the petitioner admitted that the statement he made on 2nd September, 1965 was correct. The Chairman of the State housing Board has referred to the statement of the petitioner in the first instance and subsequently at the oral enquiry, that he had given the apartment Without the permission of the Board. The Chairman of the Board may not be correct in having stated that in his written statement, the petitioner admitted that he had let out the apartment. By 'letting out', the Chairman did not mean that the house Was let out for hire, but it was only given for occupation. The Chairman has stated that the petitioner has admitted the fact of his having let out the apartment both in his Written statement and at the time of the oral enquiry, While his contention subsequently was that he had given leave and licence for her to be in the premises. Though the first charge as framed against the petitioner is that he let out unauthorisedly the apartment, on his own admission, it is clear that he permitted Gnanambal to stay in the house Which amounted to parting with of possession without the permission of the Board which Would be contrary to the agreement. So far as the second charge is concerned, the petitioner cited two persons out of whom one Was examined. Regarding the charge of letting out plot No. 624, C.I.T. Nagar, the Chairman had acted on the statements given by persons who were in occupation of the portion. The sub-lessees were not examined in the presence of the petitioner and statements recorded in the absence of the petitioner were taken into consideration for establishing the charge. So far as this charge is concerned, the petitioner did not plead guilty and asked for an enquiry Which Was not given. The statements taken in his absence Were relied on Without giving the petitioner an opportunity. The petitioner had been denied a reasonable opportunity of meeting the charge and therefore this charge cannot be sustained. But the petitioner was rightly found guilty of having parted with possession of the premises No. 15-0 Model hutment Road, though it had not been established that it was let out for rent.

3. It has been laid down by the Supreme Court in State of Orissa v. Bidyabhushan : (1963)ILLJ239SC , that the order of dismissal passed by a competent authority on a public servant cannot be interfered With by the Court if the order may be supported on any finding for which the punishment can lawfully be imposed. The mere fact that it had been held that one of the charges had not been made out would not vitiate the order if on the charge that is made out, the authority can impose the punishment. The Supreme Court in a later decision reported in State of Maharashtra v. B. K. Tikkomore : [1967]2SCR583 has affirmed the decision in State of Orissa v. Bidhvabhusan : (1963)ILLJ239SC , holding that it is for the Court to satisfy itself whether the authority would have passed the order on the basis of the relevant and existing grounds to the exclusion of irrelevant and non-existing grounds. On the basis of the charge that is made out against the petitioner, it cannot be stated that the authorities are not competent or would not have imposed the punishment awarded to the petitioner.

4. It was contended by Mr. Subramaniam, learned Counsel for the petitioner that what is found against the petitioner is breach of certain conditions in the agreement viz., parting With possession of the tenement allotted to him and that would not amount to misconduct in the discharge of his duties Which Would justify his dismissal. Section 18 of the Madras State housing Board Act, 1961 provides that the power to dismiss the servants may be exercised by the authorities mentioned in the section for breach of departmental rules or discipline or for carelessness, unfitness, neglect of duty or misconduct or for ' any other sufficient reason '. The learned Counsel appearing for the State housing Board admitted that though the rules regarding promotions, suspensions, dismissal etc., have been framed they have not yet been approved by the Government and as such have not come into force. In the absence of such rules, the Court will have to consider whether the act complained of Would amount to breach of departmental rules or discipline or carelessness, unfitness, neglect of duty or misconduct or ' other sufficient reason '. The function of the State housing Board is execution of housing and improvement schemes. The petitioner availed himself of the concession shown to him and had taken the apartment at a concessional rate. The agreement provided that he should not sublet or part with possession of the same. It is also provided that he Was to submit periodical statements about his being in occupation and that disciplinary action Was also threatened in case of breach of the conditions of the agreement. It Was submitted that the breach of the conditions may be improper and may even be immoral but Would not be a misconduct which would entail dismissal of the public servant. I am unable to accept this contention for, the authorities are at liberty to dismiss a servant of the Board for breach of departmental rules of discipline or for misconduct or for 'other sufficient reason'. The main function of the Board being providing housing accommodation, if a servant abuses his privilege by obtaining a tenement on concession and parts with possession in breach of the conditions, it cannot be stated that the Board would not be justified in pleading that the servant was dismissed for 'sufficient reason '. It may also amount to misconduct and breach of departmental discipline. In coming to this conclusion, I am strengthened by the observations of the Bench of this Court in the decision in Writ Appeal No. 180 of 1963. In that case the head Cashier of the State Bank issued a post dated cheque Which was dishonoured. The Court observed that the Bank in its own interest had imposed a code of conduct or etiquette upon its officers and the good name and the repute of the bank depended very much on the strict observance of these rules and if a responsible officers like the head Cashier had private dealings, particularly borrowings with constituents of the bank, if he himself was permitted to issue post dated cheques which could riot be honoured because of lack of funds in his current account, then the interests of the bank Would be gravely jeopardised. Applying these principles to the present case, if a servant who is serving in the housing Board whose duty is to provide for accommodation, abuses the concessions regarding houses which were given to him it can be said that he is indulging in conduct, adverse to the interests of the housing Board, If a rule had been framed providing that an officer who commits a breach of the rules relating to the allotment of the house, he is liable to be dismissed, it would be perfectly valid. In the absence of such rule, it is for the Court to decide whether the servant was dismissed for any of the grounds under Section 18 of the Madras State housing Board Act. I am unable to say that the reason given is not sufficient. The parting with of possession contrary to the terms of the agreement would amount to misconduct within the meaning of Section 18 of the Act.

5. Mr. Subramaniam, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the petitioner is a Sevakar and the punishment is very severe and out of all proportion to the breach of the conditions of which he Was found guilty. He also submitted that out of the two charges framed, the petitioner will have to be exonerated of the second charge and even as regards the first charge, letting out for rent has not been made out and that it had only been proved that the petitioner had parted with possession and for this offence-if it can be called an offence-the punishment of dismissal from service is totally uncalled for. The learned Counsel may be right in his contention that the punishment is severe, but as pointed out earlier, this Court cannot interfere with the same as the punishment imposed cannot be said to be contrary to the rules. Mr. G. Ramaswamy, learned Counsel appearing for the State housing Board also agreed that the punishment by way of dismissal is severe. I have no doubt that the Board would take all these matters into consideration and may deal with the case leniently as they may deem fit. With these observations, the petition is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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