T. Ramabhadran, J.C.
1. This petition, under Article 228 of the Constitution arises under the following circumstances:--The petitioner Shri A. D. Bali, Officiating Deputy Superintendent of Police, Bilaspur, is being proceeded against departmentally, by the respondent, on the basis of a charge-sheet dated 27-6-1958 (Annexure 'A'). Along with the original charge-sheet, a statement of allegations has been appended, although the same has not been enclosed with this petition, but it was shown to me during the course of arguments. These allegations are to the effect that when the petitioner was transferred from Chini to Kasumpti, about three years ago, ho drew certain amounts, to which he was not entitled under the Rules, by way of travelling allowance by making false representations.
The petitioner's main contention is that the charge-sheet discloses an offence described in Section 5(1) (d). Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. Since the same is triable exclusively by a Special Judge, as contemplated by Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1952, it is contended that the so-called departmental proceedings are without jurisdiction and are liable to be quashed.
2. I admitted this petition on 14-8-1958 and issued notice to the respondent, staying further proceedings against the petitioner by the respondent, meanwhile.
3. The respondent filed a written statement on the 3rd instant, supported by an affidavit, to the following effect:--It is admitted therein that under the orders of the Lieutenant-Governor, Himachal Pradesh, a charge-sheet, as set forth in Annexure 'A' has been served upon the petitioner. Now, we come to the material point in the case. The respondent has made it clear that the petitioner is being proceeded against departmentally under Rule 15 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1957, (hereinafter referred as 'the Rules').
The respondent has asserted that the petitioner is not being tried of an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the wording of the charge-sheet in the proposed departmental inquiry has followed the language of Section 5(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act only to show clearly what the allegations against the petitioner are. It was contended that since the petitioner is not being prosecuted of any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, no question of taking the case to the Court of the Special Judge arises.
4. The affidavit filed by the Under-Secretary (Home), Himachal Pradesh Administration, is in support of the respondent's written statement.
5. Arguments of the learned counsel for the parties were heard at considerable length on the 11th instant. For reasons to be stated shortly, I have come to the conclusion that this petition must fail.
6. Learned counsel for the petitioner urged, vehemently, that the language of Section 5(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been adopted in the charge-sheet in order that the case against the petitioner may be shown in the worst possible light and in the event of the allegations being established, he may be visited with the maximum penalty permissible under the Rules.
Mr. Chawala submitted that by adopting this course, the respondent has placed the petitioner in a disadvantageous position, without, at the same time, giving him the benefit of a judicial trial. I was, accordingly, requested to issue a writ to the respondent, directing him to forward the case to the Court of the Special Judge for trial under the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.
7. The learned Government Advocate, on the other hand, argued that the respondent cannot be compelled to give up the proposed departmental proceedings and necessarily take the case to the Criminal Court. He pointed out--and with considerable justification--that it was open to the respondent to proceed against the petitioner either departmentally or in the Criminal Court, or in both ways. My attention was invited to S. A. Venkataraman v. Union of India, A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 375 wherein their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed that:
'The language of Article 20 and the words actually used in Article 20(2) afford a clear indication that the proceedings in connection with the prosecution and punishment of a person must be in the nature of a criminal proceeding, before a Court of law or judicial tribunal, and not before a tribunal, which entertains a departmental or an administrative inquiry even though set up by a statute, but which is not required by law to try a matter judicially and on legal evidence.'
'It is true that the Commissioner appointed to make an inquiry under the Public Servants (Inquiries) Act, 1850, is invested with some of the powers of a Court, particularly in the matter of summoning witnesses and compelling the production of documents and the report, which he has to make, has to be made on legal evidence, adduced under sanction of oath and tested by cross-examination. But from these facts alone, the conclusion does not necessarily follow that an inquiry made and concluded under that Act amounts to prosecution and punishment for an offence as contemplated by Article 20 (2) of the Constitution.'
'In an inquiry under the Public Servants (Inquiries) Act, 1850, there is neither any question of investigating an offence in the sense of an act or omission punishable by any law for the time being in force, nor is there any question of imposing punishment prescribed by the law which makes that act or omission an offence.'
8. In S. Dalmer Singh v. State of Pepsu, AIR 1955 Pepsu 97--cited by the learned Government Advocate--Chopra. J., remarked that:
'The choice between departmental inquiry or criminal trial, on a charge brought against one of its officials, lies with the Government and it is not a matter where Court can force its own opinion. The above provisions go no further than saying that an action in the way of dismissal, removal or reduction-in-rank need not be preceded by a show-cause-notice or departmental inquiry, if the public servant concerned has, on the facts alleged against him, been tried and convicted by a Criminal Court. The converse of it is not prescribed by any of these provisions.'
9. Reliance was also placed on P. Joseph John v. State of Travancore-Cochin, (S) A.I.R. 1955 S.C. 160, wherein their Lordships of the Supreme Court, while upholding the decision of the Travancore-Cochin High Court in Joseph John v. State of TraCo., AIR 1953 Trav.-Co. 130, indicated as follows:
'It is only in respect of civil and criminal proceedings that the sanction of the Rajpramukh is required under Article 20 of the Covenant. The disciplinary proceedings against a Government servant in respect of his misconduct before the Inquiry Commissioner are not criminal proceedings though they partake of the nature of criminal proceedings and hence Article 20 of the Covenant does not apply to those proceedings.'
The contention put forward on behalf of the petitioner stands repelled also by the decision, reported in Karuppa Udayar v. State of Madras, A.I.R. 1956 Mad 460, where a learned Judge of that High Court expressed himself in the following terms:
'The fact that the charges framed against a public servant make out the ingredients of an offence punishable under Penal Code and that the person can be prosecuted in a criminal Court does not affect the jurisdiction of his superior officers to enquire into the truth of the charges in a departmental inquiry or to punish him, if the charges are proved, without recourse to a criminal Court.'
10. Learned counsel for the petitioner was unable to cite any authority, in support of his contention that the proposed departmental inquiries against the petitioner, on the basis of the charge-sheet (Annexure 'A') were bad, because the wording of the charge-sheet closely follow that of Section 5(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.
11. Under these circumstances, I am clearly of the opinion that at the present stage there is no ground for interference with the proposed departmental proceedings against the petitioner, in the exercise of this Court's extraordinary powers conferred by Article 226 of the Constitution. Accordingly, this petition must fail.
12. I dismiss the writ petition.
13. There remains the question of costs. Thisis the first case of this kind that has come beforethis Court. Further, the petitioner is now facedwith a departmental inquiry. Under these circumstances, I make no order as to the costs of thispetition.