Skip to content

Hareram Samanta Vs. Superintendent of Police and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Reported in1962CriLJ529
AppellantHareram Samanta
RespondentSuperintendent of Police and ors.
Cases ReferredKhem Chand v. Union of India
- .....of suspension.'the petitioner, thereafter, preferred an appeal against the penalty before the deputy inspector-general of police, western range. instead of disposing of the appeal, the said deputy inspector-genera; exercised his power of revision, under regulation 884 of the police regulations and called upon the petitioner to show cause why he should not be dismissed. the material portion of the order is hereinbelow set out:i am really painfully surprised at the finding and order of the then s.p. if the charge of dishonesty is established, there is one and only one punishment for the delinquent. vneither is the delinquent's record brilliant. all his later punishments tend to show a tendency on his part which is (scarcely to be expected of a brilliant officer. then again, a.....

B.N. Banerjee, J.

1. The petitioner was appointed a constable, in the Bengal Police Service, in the year 1934. He passed Certain departmental examinations, worked his way up and intimately, on July 20, 1956, took over charge of the Mai-Khana and cash as the Senior Court Sub-Inspector of Serampur Court.

2. While serving as such, he was suspended on certain allegations of misconduct. There was a preliminary enquiry into the allegations and a report of enquiry was submitted. On the basis of the report, the petitioner was served with a charge sheet to the following effect:

1. On U-l-56 two receipts of route permit and tax; token receipt wsra forwarded to Serampore Court in contexion with Serampore P. S. Won F.I.R. Case No. 19/56 Under Section 468 I.P.C. against accused Sher Taj Singh, Shib Latisn-man and Shardar Sher Singh and these documents were entered in Serampore Court malkhana register under item) Wo. 50/56- Although the said case is pending trial in1 court and the next date of hearing has been fixed tot 22-12-56, you being the conducting C.S.I, of the case, made a wrong entry in the Malkhana register against item o, 50/56 to the effect that the accused persons were convicted in the case by the S.D.O. Serampore and thus 'you tampered the official records.

2. On 21-7-56 you obtained orders from S.D.O. Serampore for destruction of the aiamats as mentioned in charge jo, 1 (M. R. Item No. 50/56) and you had actually destroyed the said aiamats which were to be exhibited in the-said case.

3. On 9-10-56, you being in charge of Serampore Court Malkhana produced one cycle, an alamat of Serampore P. S. Non G. R. No. 235/56 Under Section 4 B.C.L.A. Act. (Item No. 2 of Serampore Court Malkhana register No. 6///56) before Court Inspector Shri R. N. Sen for auction sale although) there were 2 cycles for auction sale as ordered Dy the trying magistrate in connection with the said case and you' 'set apart the other cycle (item No. 1 of Serampore Court (malkhana register No. 677/56) which you did not produce before the Court Inspector, at the time of auction, this cycle (Item No. I of M. R. No. 677/56) was removed by you from the malkhana sometimes between 940-56 and 24-1U-',56 and taken at your instance to your residence at Chinsuratr with the help of C/977 Jogendra Chaudhury and C/Lalon Misir both of Serampore Court.

4. On 24-10-56 you deposited Rs. 65/- to the Seram-ijiore Treasury as per Serampore T. V. No. 84 dated 24-10-55 R. V. No. 11(10) 56 as the sale proceeds of both the cycles (as stated in charge No. 4) after tampering the: (relevant receipt cheque, Cash Account, bid list and the' malkhana register in order to make it appear that botlr the cycles were sold in auction, one Rs. 50/- and the other for Rs. 15/-.

5 On 30-8-5S a pieca of gold sheet weighing about 3 as. and 2| pies was received by you as personal property of one Panchanan Chatterjea, accused of Jagipara P. S. Case No. 10 dated 27-6-56 (vide Serampore Court M. R. No. 1368/56) and on the same date you obtained orders from the trying Magistrate for sending the said piece of gold to the accused who was released on bail and you showed the said item as disposed of in the malkhana register after obtaining L.T.I, of an unknown person, but 'actually you delivered the said personal property to Panchanan Chatterjee on 30-10-56, when he claimed it.

6. On 31-7-56 you had shown a silk saree (Ref. Seram-.pore Court M. R. No. 240/56) as disposed of in the malkhana tegister on a forged LT.l. whereas you actually made it over to the rightful owner Shri Debu' Mondal of Roy Ghat lane, P. S. Serampore on 13-9-56 after taking a receipt from him.

3. The petitioner denied the charges levelled against film. As a result of a departmental enquiry into the charges, however, the petitioner was found guilty of all the charges.

Mr. A. C. Sen, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, who con-ducted the enquiry, however, observed as follows:

The previous character of the delinquent was however good. He has so far earned 112 rewards against 13 minor punishments. In view of ail this, I would suggest that a somewnat lenient view may be tanen of the offence done by the delinquent , and would recommend that the delinquent be reverted to the rank of A.S.I, for a period of three years to be spent on duty.

He should be released from suspension immediately. The period spent in suspension should be treated as spent on duty.

the petitioner submitted a lengthy representation against the proposed punishment. The matter was, thereafter, finally dealt with by Mr. M. Dhar, Superintendent of Police, Hooghiy, Who by his order, dated August 10, 1957, imposed the following penalty on the petitioner:

I, however, find that the record of the delinquent is really brilliant in that he has earned 112 rewards against only 13 minor punishments during 23 years of service. He has ' passed out from D.T.S. He has earned Rs. 150 as special reward as best prosecuting C.S.I, in the Western Range in 1956. He would have drawn Rs.l82/-on 1.4.57 had he not been put under suspension. I, therefore, order that his pay to reduced by Rs. 12/- a month for a period of three years with effect from 1.8.57, entailing a total pecuniary loss of Rs. 432/- only. This will not affect his future increments. 'He is released from suspension with immediate effect. During 'Suspension he will draw half pay in addition to what he has already drawn that is he will lose half of his pay during the period of suspension.

'The petitioner, thereafter, preferred an appeal against the penalty before the Deputy Inspector-General of police, Western Range. Instead of disposing of the appeal, the said Deputy Inspector-Genera; exercised his power of revision, under Regulation 884 of the Police Regulations and called upon the petitioner to show cause why he should not be dismissed. The material portion of the order is hereinbelow set out:

I am really painfully surprised at the finding and order of the then S.P. If the charge of dishonesty is established, there is one and only one punishment for the delinquent. vNeither is the delinquent's record brilliant. All his later punishments tend to show a tendency on his part which is (Scarcely to be expected of a brilliant officer. Then again, a .thousand brilliancies in other directions may not wash out the moral turpitude on one. Will a brilliant academician go scot-free if he commits a murder?

I do not feel that adequate justice has been done in the dase and in exercise of my revisional power, I call upon the delinquent to show cause by 15.11.57 why he shouin not be dismissed from the force.

4. The petitioner showed cause against the proposed enhancement of penalty. Nevertheless, by an order, dated January 20, 1958, the Deputy Insp,ector-General dismissed ,him from service.

5. The petitioner, thereafter, appealed against the enhanced penalty before the Inspector-General of Police and also sent a memorial to the State Government, but failed to get relief.

6. It was in these circumstances that the petitioner moved this Court, under Article 226 of the constitution, and obtained this Rule.

7. To point were urged by Mr. Kashi Kanta Maitra, learned Advocate for the petitioner, in support of the Rule. He contended, in the first place, that the petitioner's appeal was not disposed of by any body and the petitioner shows not have ben dismissed, by way of enhancement of penalty, while his appeal was pending. He contended, in the next place, that regard being had to the language of the notice, calling upon the petitioner to show cause against proposed enhancement of penalty, the Deputy Inspector-General must -have been exceedingly biased against the petitioner and I was not an impartial tribunal for him. The enhancement of penalty imposed on the petitioner, therefore, deserved to pa set aside.

8. The first contention of Mr. Maitra may be shortly 'disposed of. Annexure I to the petition is the copy of the order passed by the Deputy inspector-General of Police, which was forwarded to the petitioner by Superintendent of Police, Hooghiy. The said document opens with the words

the following order is passed by the D.I.G., Western Range, on 20-1-58 on the appeal submitted by petition (Hareram Samanta.

ThereafLer follows the order of enhancement of penalty. wan ,the Deputy Inspector General of Police did was to exercise his power of enhancement of penalty in the appeal filed by the petitioner. It would have been better if the -Deputy Inspector-General would have at first dismissed the appeal and then called upon the petitioner, on his findings in the appeal, to show cause against enhancement of penalty proposed. Nevertheless, what he did was within his com petency. The first contention of Mr. Maitra, therefore, fails.

9. Turning now to the argument based on the theory of bias, on the part of the Deputy Inspector-General 0' Police, I feel that the argument deserves consideration.

10. Bias is a one-sided inclination of mind, for example, prejudice. A biased man does not hold so much to his opinion as his opinion holds him, Therefore, he can. not have an impartial mind and as such may be unworthy I as a tribunal.

11. But the bias which disqualifies an administrative tribunal or a disciplinary authority must be one in the matter to be litigated. A mere general bias or interest in the gene ral object to be pursued will not disqu'alify an administratIve tribunal or a disciplinary authority. The interest or bias which disqualifies is an interest in the particular case, something reasonably likely to bias or influence the mind of the tribunal, the disciplinary authority or the Court in the particular case. This is the view which was also expressed by Field, J. in Reg v. Deal (Mayor and JJ.) (115151) 45 LT 439.

12. About disqualification on account of bias, I can that resist the temptation of quoting a passage from the 'opinion delivered by Lord Thankerton in the well-known case of Franklin v. Minister of Town and Country, Planning (19415) AC 87:

My Lords, I could wish that the use of the word 'bias' should be confined to its proper sphere. Its proper sag nuisance, in my opinion, is to denote a departure from the standard of even-handed justice which the law requires from those who occupy judicial office, or those who are commonly regarded as holding a quasi-judicial Dative, sun ,as an arbitrator. The reason for this clearly is that, having to adjudicate as between two or more parties, he must come to his adjudication with an independent mind, with 'out any inclination or bias towards one side or other ill 'the dispute. As Lord Cranworth, L.C., says in Ranger v.

Great Western Railway Co. (1854) 5 HLC 72 (89):

3 judge ought to be, and is supposed to be, 'Mine rent between the parties. He has, or is supposed to ,have no bias inducing him to lean to the one than to the other. In ordinary cases it is a just ground Of exception to a judge that he is not indifferent, and the fact that he is himself a party, or interested as a party, affords the strongest proof that he cannot be indifferent.' , To this may be added the statement by Lord Hewart, ?. J., in R. v. Sussex JJ; Ex parte Me earthy (1924) 1 KB 256 (258):

It is said, and no doubt, truly, that when that gentleman (the deputy clerk) retired in the usual way with the justices, taking with him the notes of the evidence in case the justices might desire to consult him, the justices came to a conclusion without consulting him, and that he scrupulously abstained from referring to the case in any way. But while that is so, a long line of cases shows that it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental Importance that justice should not only be done, but should {manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. The question, therefore, is not whether in this case the deputy ,clerk made any observation or offered any criticism which vhe might not properly have made or offered; the question sis whether he was so related to the case in its civil aspect as to be unfit to act as clerk to the justices in ihs criminal matter, The answer to that question depends not upon what actually was done but upon what might appear to be done.This was followed in R. v. Essex Justices, Ex parte Perms (1927) 2 KB 475, but, in the present case, the respondent having no judicial duty the only question is what the respondent actually did, i.e. whether, in f Act. he did [genuinely consider the report and the objections.

The same view was reiterated by the Supreme Court in Manak Lai v. Dr. Prem Chand : [1957]1SCR575 , which set out below:

It is well settled that every member of a tribunal (that is called upon to try issues in judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings must be able to act judicially; and it is of the essence of judicial decisions and judicial administration that judges should be able to act impartially, objectively and without any bias. In such cases the test is not whether |n fact a bias has affected the judgment; the test always is and must be whether a litigant could reasonably apprehend that a bias attributable to a member of the tribunal might have operated against him in the final decision of the tribunal. It is in this sense that it is often said that justice must not only be done but must also appear to l e done. As Viscount Cave L.C. has observed in From United Breweries Co. v. Bath Justices 1926 AC 586 at p. 590:

This rule has been asserted, not only in the case of (Courts of justice and other judicial tribunals, but in the case of authorities which, though in no sense to be called Courts, have to act as judges of the rights of others.In dealing with cases of bias attributed to members constituting tribunals, it is necessary to make a distinction between pecuniary interest and prejudice so attributed. It 'is1 obvious that pecuniary interest, however small it may be In a subject-matter of the proceedings, would wholly disqualify a member from acting as a judge. But where pecuniary interest is not attributed but instead a bias is suggested, it often becomes necessary to consider whether there is a reasonable ground for assuming the possibility of a bias and whether it is likely to produce in the minds f the litigant or the public at large a reasonable doubt about the fairness of the administration of justice. It would always be a question of fact to be decided in each case. 'The principle', says Halsbury, 'nemo dabet esse ijudex in causa propria sua precludes a justice, who is in- terested in the subject-matter of a dispute, from acting as a justice therein.' (Halsbury's Laws of England Vol. XXI, p. 535, para 952). In our opinion, there is and can be no doubt about the validity of this principle and we are prepared to assume that this principle applies not only to the justices as mentioned by Halsbury but to all tribunals and bodies which are given jurisdiction to determine judicially the rights of parties.

13. But bias is a thing which can seldom be demonstrably proved. Therefore, if there are good reasons to think that the mind of the tribunal or the authority was prejudiced against the person whose conduct was subject to j scrutiny, by reason of something preceding it, then the finding made by the tribunal or the authority should not' be allowed to stand.

14. Bearing in mind the legal position as stated above, I now proceed to examine the allegation that the mind of the Deputy Inspector-General was biased against the petitioner. In his notice to the petitioner to show cause against the proposed enhancement of penalty, the Deputy Inspector General gave some indication as to how his mind was working. He stated that he was 'really painfully surprised at the finding and order of the then S.P.'. This is strong language of dissent but not very well-expressed. With the findings of the Superintendent of Police, he had agreed. 'Therefore, there was little, for him to be surprised with the findings. What he meant to express was that the finding /Of the Superintendent of Police being that the petitioner was guilty of all the charges, he was surprised with the penalty imposed, which he considered to be too lenient. So much so, that the leniency 'really painfully surprised' ;him. He went on to add, 'If the charge of dishonesty is established, there is one and only one punishment for the delinquent' and he indicated that the said punishment was the extreme penalty of dismissal. He illustrated his view by saying, 'a thousand brilliancies in other directions may not wash out the moral turpitude on one. Will a brilliant academician go scot-free, if he commits a murder?'

15. In expressing his extreme view, the Deputy inspector-General of the Police totally ignored Regulations 856 and 857 of the Police Regulations, which are quoted below:

856. Officers shall avoid undue harshness in awarding punishments and shall discriminate carefully between offences connoting moral turpitude and minor offences. Every .effort shall be made to maintain discipline and to correct the minor faults of police officers by instructions and by warnings without resorting to more severe punishments.

In awarding punishment, the general character of the offender and nature of his past service shall be taken into consideration. No major punishment shall be awarded to a police officer, until proceedings, as prescribed hereinafter have been drawn up against him .' ; '857. Punishments are divided into major and minor. 'Major punishments include dismissal, removal from .service, reduction, deprivation of approved service increment, removal from any office of distinction or special emolument find award of black marks. Minor punishments include warnings, censures (reprimands for misconduct), extra drill, extra fatigue duty and confinement to quarters with or without punishment drill, extra guard fatigue or other duty.

16. After having expressed his above quoted view, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, no doubt, called upon the petitioner to show cause why he should not be dismissed from the Police force. But the question is with what frame of mind, It was certainly open to him to differ from the penalty imposed by the Superintendent of Police on the petitioner. He was at liberty, at that stage, to be of the opinion that a severer penalty than what had been Imposed upon 1)i8 petitioner was called for, regard being had to Jiature of the charges proved against the delinquent. But Regulation 857 provided for several major punishments. Could the Deputy Inspector-General decide, at that stage, that the punishment of dismissal alone must be imposed 'on the petitioner and thereafter, as a' matter of form, call upon the petitioner to show cause against that?

17. Dealing' with the propriety of giving a second opportunity to show cause against the penalty proposed, the Supreme Court observed as follows, in the case of Khem Chand v. Union of India : (1959)ILLJ167SC :

A close perusal of the judgment of the Judicial Com- mittee in I. M. Lall's case, will, however, show that the decision in that case did not proceed on the ground that an opportunity had not been given to I. M. Lai I against the proposed punishment merely because in the notice several punishments were included, but the decision proceeded really on the ground that this opportunity should have been given after a stage had been reached where the charges had been established and the competent authority had applied its mind to the gravity or otherwise of the proved charge tentatively and proposed a particular punishment.

This procedure also has the merit of giving some assurance to the officer concerned that the competent authority maintains an open mind with regard to him., If the competent authority were to determine, before the charges were proved that a particular punishment would be meted out to the Government servant concerned, the latter may well feel that the competent authority had formed an opinion against him, generally on the subject-matter of the charge or, at any rate, as regards the punishment itself.

The observations apply with equal force to cases where a superior disciplinary authority proposes to impose a penalty, in exercise of revisional power, higher than the penalty 'originally imposed on a delinquent. That authority is at 'liberty to propose one of the more severe penalties but only tentatively and must keep an open mind, until considerate of the cause shown by the delinquent against the proposed penalty, whether or not to impose that penalty or any other major penalty. If before consideration of the cause to be shown against enhancement of penalty, the authority makes up his mind that a particular penalty and .nothing less than that must be imposed on the delinquent, then to ask the delinquent to show cause why that penalty must not be imposed becomes a matter of form and not of substance.

18. The idea of the Deputy Inspector-General that all delinquents guilty of dishonesty must be visited with the extreme penalty of dismissal may be a matter of general bias or of ignorance of the provisions of Regulations 856 and 857 of the Police Regulations. If that had been only so, I would not have interfered in this matter because, as I have already observed, a general bias does not disqualify an administrative tribunal or a disciplinary authority. But he imported that general bias of his to facts of the case before him. In his own language he was 'really painfully surprised' at the leniency of the penalty imposed on the petitioner. A pained and a surprised mind is not a Judicial mind. In enhancing the penalty imposed on the petitioner, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police was required to act judicially. He revealed a mental condition, which was already too much weighed against the petitioner and distressed at the leniency of the sentence imposed ;upon the petitioner. I could understand the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, if he had merely doubted the sufficiency of penalty imposed upon the petitioner. But his pain and surprise, before hearing the petitioner, is difficult to appreciate. For the reasons, aforesaid I believe that the 'mind of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police was biased .against the petitioner, when he issued the notice of proposed enhancement of penalty. That made him unworthy as an impartial tribunal.

19. The enhacement of penalty by such a biased. disciplinary authority should not be maintained. The orders iby the appellate authority namely, the Inspector-General of Police and also the order of State Government affirming the order of the Deputy Inspector-General must also be set aside because the order of the Deputy Inspector-General, violating as it did a most fundamental principle of natural justice, was unworthy of being affirmed. In the result, I quash the order made by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, enhancing the penalty and dismissing the petitioner from service as also the orders affirming the same. The authorities will however be at liberty to proceed against the petitioner afresh according to law. let a Writ of certiorari issue accordingly.

20. This Rule is made absolute without any order as to costs.

Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //