Central Reserve Police Force Act, 1949 – Central Reserve Police Force Rules, 1955 – Member of the Force left the campus without prior permission, proceeded to the market, consumed liquor and quarrelled with the civilians – When a member of the disciplined force deviates to such an extent from the discipline and behaves in an untoward manner which is not conceived of, it is difficult to hold that the punishment of dismissal as has been imposed is disproportionate and shocking to the judicial conscience – As a member of the disciplined force, the respondent was expected to follow the rules, have control over his mind and passion, guard his instincts and feelings and not allow his feelings to fly in fancy.
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
[Dipak Misra] and [N.V. Ramana] JJ.
June 30, 2016
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1133 OF 2016
(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) 21027 OF 2013)
Union of India & Ors. … Appellants
Diler Singh … Respondent
J U D G M E N T
Dipak Misra, J.
The respondent, a constable in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), was enrolled as such on 1.4.1990. He was posted in the 23 Battalion where he served continuously approximately for fourteen years. Subsequently, he was transferred to 61 Battalion where he served for two years. During the second posting a charge-sheet was served on him alleging that on 22.06.2001 about 11.30 hrs. he left the campus without permission of the competent authority and went to the bazaar and consumed liquor and quarrelled with some civilians. On being informed, S.I. Sheoji Ram, HC Mahabir Singh and Captain Fiyaz Ahmed brought him from bazaar to the campus. On the advice of the competent authority, a medical examination was conducted on the respondent and as per the medical report given by the assistant surgeon, District Hospital, Medak at Sangareddy, it was found that the respondent had consumed liquor.
2. On the basis of the aforesaid report, a departmental enquiry was ordered by Commandant 61-Bn. vide Memo No. P-VIII-8/01-61-EC-II dated 6.7.2001 and the respondent was also placed under suspension with effect from 6.7.2001. The enquiry officer conducted an enquiry and on the base of the material and testimony of the witnesses came to hold that the charges had been proved.
3. The disciplinary authority concurred with the findings recorded by the enquiry officer and came to hold that the charges levelled against the respondent had been proved beyond doubt. Recording concurrence with the findings returned by the enquiry officer, the disciplinary authority opined that the respondent was not fit to continue any more in the Force and accordingly in exercise of power conferred under
Section 11(1) of the Central Reserve Police Force Act, 1949
(for brevity, ‘the Act’) read with Rule 27-A(1) of the
Central Reserve Police Force Rules, 1955
(in short ‘the Rules’) ordered the respondent to be removed from the service. It was further stipulated in the order that except the pay and allowances given to the respondent during suspension period from 7.7.2001 to 12.9.2001, he would not be entitled to any pay or allowances and the period of suspension shall be treated as such. That apart, it was directed that medals and awards, if any, that had been received by the delinquent employee during service period shall be forfeited under the provision of Section 12(1) of the Act.
4. The respondent initiated a civil action by filing Civil Suit No.253/2002/05 in the Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Narnaul seeking a declaration that the orders passed against him by the authorities were illegal. The appellants contested the suit by putting forth a stand that due enquiry was held by the authorities and the charges levelled against the respondent were duly proved and there was no procedural error in the enquiry. 5. Learned Civil Judge framed the following issues:
“1. Whether the impugned order No. P-III-8/2001-61 Stha II dated 12 September, 2001 are wrong, illegal, against facts, arbitrary malafide, against principles of natural justice, null and void and ineffective against the rights of plaintiff?
2. Whether the plaintiff has no cause of action to file the suit?
3. Whether the civil Court has no jurisdiction to try and entertain the present suit?
4. Whether the suit is not maintainable in the present form?”
6. While dealing with the issue number 1, the trial Court took note of the fact that the charges were issued against the delinquent officer under Section 11(1) of the Act, relied on the decision rendered in
Ram Singh Rai v. Union of India, 2003 (1) SCT 523
Rattan Singh v. Union of India & Others, 2003 (1) SCT 59
and came to hold that the disciplinary authority was not entitled in law to convert the charge under Section 11(1), a minor penalty to a major penalty and accordingly opined that the impugned order of dismissal was illegal, null and void. The trial Court further held that it had jurisdiction to try the suit and eventually decreed the suit with costs. It directed for reinstatement of the respondent plaintiff in service with effect from 12.09.2001 along with arrears of pay and allowances and other consequential benefits.
7. Being aggrieved, the aforesaid judgment and decree was called in question by the department in Civil Appeal No.11 of 2009 before the Additional District Judge, Narnaul who by judgment dated 27.03.2010 reversed the judgment of the trial Court and held that the trial Court had no jurisdiction to try the suit, and further the judgment and decree passed by it were not sustainable in view of the decision in
Union of India & others v. Ghulam Mohd. Bhat, (2005) 13 SCC 228
8. The respondent assailed the defensibility of the judgment of the first appellate Court in Regular Second Appeal No.4578/2010. Learned single Judge noted the grounds of challenge, referred to the decision in Ram Singh Rai (supra) and reproduced a passage from the decision in
Deputy Inspector General of Police, CRPF and another v. Akhilesh Kumar, 2007 (6) SLR 438
and came to hold that the controversy is covered by the judgment of the Calcutta High Court rendered in Akhilesh Kumar (supra) and accordingly opined that the allegations levelled against the respondent plaintiff were not of serious nature which would have attracted penalty of dismissal from the services. The aforesaid perception led to acceptance of the appeal and dislodgment of the judgment and decree of the first appellate Court and restoration that of the trial Court.
9. We have heard Mr. Maninder Singh, learned Additional Solicitor General for Union of India and Mr. J.S. Naik, learned counsel for the respondent.
10. To appreciate the controversy, it is relevant to refer to the relevant provisions of the Act. Section 2(c) defines “the Force” to mean the Central Reserve Police Force. Section 2(d) defines “member of the Force” to mean a person who has been appointed to Force by the Commandant, whether before or after the commencement of the Act and in Section 1,3,6,7,16,17,18 and 19, includes also a person appointed to the Force by the Central Government, whether before or after such commencement. Section 7 specifies in general duties of members of the Force. Section 8 provides for superintendence, control and administration of the Force. Section 9 stipulates about more heinous offences. It provides that a member who commits heinous offences shall be punishable with transportation for life for a term of not less than seven years or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years or with fine which may be extended to three months’ pay or with fine to that extent in addition to such sentence of transportation or imprisonment. Section 10 provides for less heinous offences. It states that a member of the Force who commits such offence shall be punishable within imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to three months’ pay, or with both. Thus, the aforesaid provision defines the offences and provides punishment for the same.
11. In the case at hand, we are concerned with the concept of minor punishments as postulated under Section 11 of the Act. Section 11 of the Act reads as follows:-