A.D. Koshal, J.
1. The petitioner is a member of the permanent staff of the Transport Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu (here in after referred to as the parent department). In the year 1964, he was sent on a deputation to the Civil Supplies Department of the same Government (here in after referred to as the borrowing department) and worked therein till the year 1966 when he went back to the parent department. About a year and a half later, he was asked to explain certain matters in relation to the performance of his duties in the borrowing department during the period when he had worked there as manager of a ration depot. Ultimately the matter culminated in an order dated 12th of August, 1970 passed by the Deputy Commissioner of Civil Supplies, Madras and holding the petitioner responsible for payment to the borrowing department of a sum of Rs. 776.39 and directing that the sum be recovered from him in fifteen monthly installments, another order dated 30th of April, 1971 passed by the City Supply Officer, Madras and holding the petitioner responsible for shortages to the tune of Rs. 173.11 and directing that the said amount be recovered from the petitioner in eleven installments, and still another order dated the 6th of May, 1971 passed by the Officer last mentioned and holding the petitioner responsible for further shortages valued at Rs. 1,000.60 which the petitioner was directed to make good to the borrowing department in twenty installments.
The petitioner filed before the Commissioner of Civil Supplies, Madras, an appeal against all the three orders above-mentioned, but the same was dismissed by an order dated the 6th of July, 1972 which, along with the three original orders is challenged by the petitioner under Article 226 of the Constitution of India with a prayer that they be quashed by a writ of certiorari.
2. The sole ground put forward in support of the petition is that after the petitioner had left the borrowing department and gone back to the parent department, the officers of the borrowing department had no jurisdiction to take any disciplinary proceedings against him. That an order directing recovery of any amounts on account of shortages etc., is one imposing a minor punishment on the concerned employee is admitted on all hands and it is the case of the borrowing department, which is represented before me by four of its officers, that Rule 16 of the Madras Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules justifies disciplinary action against the petitioner by the borrowing department in so far as minor punishments such as recovery for shortages are concerned. The relevant part of that rule states:
16. Where a person to be punished has been lent to the punishing authority: (i) the power to impose the penalty of compulsory retirement or removal or dismissal shall not lie with any authority other than the lending authority; the borrowing authority shall in a case where it considers that the punishment of compulsory retirement, removal or dismissal should be imposed, complete the inquiry and revert the person concerned to the lending authority for such action as that authority may consider necessary.
The rule no doubt gives the power of inflicting minor punishments to a borrowing department. But then that power is made available to a borrowing department only so long as the concerned officer is serving in it and not after he has gone back to the parent department. This is made clear by the direction contained in the rule that after completion of an enquiry in a case where the borrowing department considers that the punishment of compulsory retirement, removal or dismissal should be imposed, it shall revert the person concerned to the lending authority. The question of reversion, can only crop up if the concerned employee is still with the borrowing department. The rule, therefore, is of no help to a borrowing department after the reversion of the employee has already taken place, in which case the lending authority alone would be competent to inflict, a punishment, whether it is of a major or a minor character, on such employee. In this view of the matter my finding is that the borrowing department had no jurisdiction to inflict the punishment of recovery of moneys on account of loss caused to it by the negligence or misconduct of the petitioner while he was working under the borrowing department.
3. In the result the petition succeeds and is accepted and the impugned orders are quashed as being without jurisdiction. Further the respondents are directed to refund to the petitioner any amount Or amounts which may have been recovered from him under the said orders. The parties are, however, left to bear their own costs.