Raveendranathan Vs. District Collector [Kerala High Court, 01-02-1984]

Kerala Civil Service (Classification Control and Appeal) Rules 1960 – Rule 15 – If the imposition of a minor penalty in the present case was after holding an enquiry under R.15, and the charge having been found proved as in that case, there could have been no ground for feeling aggrieved so far as the petitioner was concerned.

Enquiry

1984 KLT 564 : 1984 KLJ 268

IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM

K. Bhaskaran (ACJ) and P.C. Balakrishna Menon J.

Raveendranathan Vs. District Collector, Palghat & Ors.

O.P. No. 10529 of 1983

01-02-1984

Advocates: For Petitioner: Party in person; For Respondents: Government Pleader

JUDGMENT

K. Bhaskaran, Ag. C.J.

1. The petitioner is an Upper Division Clerk in the service of the Kerala State, in the Revenue Department (now in the office of the Special Tahsildar, Vested Forest Land Assignment, Palghat). He feels aggrieved by the order passed by the 1st respondent, the District Collector, Palghat on 29-10-1983, purported to be in compliance with directions of this Court in the judgment dated 29-6-1983 in O. P. Nos. 827 of 1981 and 7978 of 1982. According to him this order has been passed by the District Collector in violation of the spirit of the direction given by this Court in the judgment dated 29-6-1983 in O. P. Nos. 827 of 1981 and 7978 of 1982. We would extract the relevant portion of the directions contained in that judgment:

“The petitioner is highly aggrieved about this long delay in the completion of the enquiry, as according to him, many of the reliefs to which he is entitled would depend upon the result of the enquiry. He has also a case that the charges have not been framed making clear allegations as observed by this Court in Ext. P12 judgment with reference to Para.8 of the statement of allegations attached to Ext. P2 charge memo (vide paragraph C of Ext. P12 judgment). It is for the respondents to consider whether anything in the light of the observation is to be made or not. Whatever that might be it is extremely important that the enquiry with respect to the alleged conduct of the petitioner for the year 1979 should be complete at least now, without further delay.

I would therefore direct the respondents to ensure that the enquiry, if any pending against the petitioner shall be completed as expeditiously as possible at any rate within three months from the date of the receipt of a copy of this judgment fin the office of the Ist respondent, District Collector, Palghat…

After this judgment, the 1st respondent District Collector is seen to have issued charge memo dated 3-10-1983 inter alia requiring the petitioner to submit his statement of defence within, a week; and it is the admitted case that on 10-10-1983 the petitioner had submitted his statement of explanation. Neither from the counter filed nor from the papers made available to this Court in these proceedings it is seen as to whether anything transpired between 10-10-1983 and 18-10-1983 on which date a show cause notice, order No. A4.77272/82 is seen to have been issued to the petitioner by the 1st respondent Collector. The following paragraphs of that show cause notice would clearly show that no enquiry was conducted between 10-10-1983 and 18-10-1983.

“Sri K. Raveendranathan, U. D. Clerk has submitted his written statement of defence dated 10-10-1983. He had denied all the charges levelled against him. The District Collector has carefully considered the explanation of Sri. Raveendranathan. The explanation is not at all satisfactory. It is found that Sri. Raveendranathan while holding the. post of U.D. Clerk in the office of the Special Tahsildar, PAR, Palghat had delayed putting up of files disobeyed the orders and also misbehaved with the Superior Officers. The charges therefore stand proved.

Naturally this is a case for major penalty. Inefficiency coupled with impertinence has to be put down with a firm hand. But in view of the suspension and the long delay in finalisation of disciplinary proceedings the District Collector takes a lenient view and comes to the provisional conclusion that the increment of Sri. K. Raveendranathan should be stopped for a period of six months, without cumulative effect.

Sri. K. Raveendranathan, U. D. Clerk Office of the Special Tahsildar, PAR, Palghat is hereby directed to show cause in writing, why his increment should not be stopped for a period of six months without cumulative effect, for the above charges, which stand proved. The explanation, if any, to be submitted in response to this notice, should be submitted within 7 days from the date of receipt of this notice and if it is not received within the stipulated time, the matter will be proceeded with on the presumption that he has no explanation in the matter and final orders will be passed accordingly”.

The important question to be decided is whether an enquiry in terms of the directions given in the judgment of this Court dated 29-6-1983 was conducted by the disciplinary authority. As is evident from the petitioner’s reply dated 22-10-1983 to the show cause notice dated 18-10-1983 no enquiry was conducted. The petitioner had also a grievance that no witness list was furnished. and he was not also allowed to peruse the records relevant for the purpose of the enquiry.

2. The Government Pleader sought to support the order dated 29-10-1983 imposing a penalty of stoppage of increment for six months without cumulative effect on the reasoning that it being a minor penalty it was not necessary to conduct an elaborate formal enquiry as contemplated under

R.15 of the Kerala Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1960.

3. We feel quite distressed that the 1st respondent, the District Collector, ought to have thought it fit to circumvent the direction of this Court in the judgment dated 29-6-1983 by resort to the imposition of a minor penalty to obviate the difficulty of holding an enquiry under R.15. This Court actually directed the enquiry to be completed expediously, if necessary, after the clarification of the charges in the light of the statement of facts attached to the charge memo. Thereafter a charge memo was given on 3-10-1983. The petitioner’s statement of defence was submitted on 10-10-1983 and on 18-10-1983 a show cause notice was issued why the proposed punishment should not be imposed on the petitioner. On 22-10-1983 the petitioner submitted his reply stating inter alia that no enquiry was conducted and, therefore, the punishment should not be imposed. In spite of the fact that the petitioner had disputed the correctness of this procedure stating that no enquiry was conducted, on 29-10-1983 the impugned order was passed imposing a punishment of stoppage of increment of six months without cumulative effect.

4. All that is to be decided is whether the punishment imposed under the impugned order is a minor punishment as enumerated in R.11 of the Rules, and whether the disciplinary authority could justify his action in not holding the enquiry with reference to which a direction was given by this Court in the judgment dated 29-10-1983, and, which, as a matter of fact, was even proposed to be held.

5. One of us (Balakrishna Menon, J.) had occasion to consider a case where the allegations in the statement attached to the charge memo warranted an enquiry under R.15 of the Rules for inflicting a major punishment; however, without holding an inquiry under R.15, a minor penalty was imposed. The reference is to the decision of this Court reported in