Chatrapal vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh on 15 February, 2024

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Supreme Court of India

Chatrapal vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh on 15 February, 2024

Author: Prashant Kumar Mishra

Bench: Prashant Kumar Mishra, B.R. Gavai

                                                     1


2024 INSC 115
                                                                      REPORTABLE


                                     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                      CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                CIVIL APPEAL NO(s)._______ OF 2024
                                 (Arising out of SLP(C) No. 11975/2019)


             CHATRAPAL                                              …. APPELLANT

                                                 VERSUS

             THE STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH
             & ANR.                                              ... RESPONDENTS




                                             JUDGMENT

PRASHANT KUMAR MISHRA, J.

Leave granted.

2. The present appeal, by special leave, is directed against

the judgment and order dated 08.01.2019 passed by the High
Signature Not Verified

Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Writ Petition (C) No. 297 of
Digitally signed by
NITIN TALREJA
Date: 2024.02.15
17:23:27 IST
Reason:
2

2008, whereby the High Court has dismissed the petition of the

appellant being devoid of merit.

3. The facts, briefly stated, are that the appellant was

appointed on permanent basis on the post of Ardly (a class IV

Post) in the Bareilly Judgeship. The appellant was transferred

and posted as Process Server in the Nazarat of outlying court

of Baheri, District Bareilly on 24.08.2001. In compliance of the

transfer order, the appellant joined the Nazarat Branch in

Baheri, District Bareilly as Process Server on 31.08.2001 but he

was being paid the remuneration of Ardly.

3.1 Being aggrieved, the appellant made a

representation on 20.01.2003 to the District Judge to pay the

salary due to the post of Process Server. The said

representation was duly considered by the competent authority

and a report from the Munsarim in the office of Civil Judge,

Baheri, Bareilly was called for. As per the report of Munsarim

dated 27.02.2003, the appellant joined the post of Process

Server in the Court of Civil Judge, Baheri, Bareilly on

31.08.2001 and since then is working on the said post.
3

Allegedly, after submission of the said report, the Central Nazir

started harassing the appellant and demanded illegal amount

of gratification for settling his dues.

3.2 Since the grievance of the appellant was not being

redressed, he made a representation dated 05.06.2003 to the

Janapad Nyaayaadeesh inter alia stating that he is deprived of

the allowance that is admissible to the incumbents who are

posted at an outlying court as Process Server. It is further

stated that when the appellant went to meet the Central Nazir

on 04.06.2003, he demanded bribe to get his work done. The

District Judge, Bareilly sought an explanation from the Central

Nazir, Bareilly Judgeship who in turn admitted that by mistake

the salary of the appellant has been shown as against the post

of Ardly, however, he denied having demanded illegal

gratification from the appellant.

3.3 The District Judge placed the appellant under

suspension vide order dated 21.06.2003 and initiated a

departmental inquiry. The Inquiry Officer vide memorandum

dated 22.08.2003 served the charge sheet on the appellant on

the charges firstly, the appellant vide communication dated
4

05.06.2003 had used inappropriate, derogatory and

objectionable language and made false allegations against the

officers including the District Judge as well as against the

Presiding Officer of Aonla Court and secondly, the appellant

communicated letters and representations to the Registrar

General of High Court and other officials of the State

Government including the then Chief Minister without routing

the same through proper channel. The Inquiry Officer, upon

completion of enquiry, recorded in his report dated 21.04.2006

that the charges levelled against the appellant are duly

established. The District Judge, Bareilly accepted the inquiry

report dated 21.04.2006 and vide order dated 30.04.2007

dismissed the appellant which was challenged in appeal before

the High Court and the same was dismissed vide order dated

19.09.2007 being devoid of any substance while affirming the

order dated 30.04.2007 passed by the Disciplinary Authority

imposing punishment of dismissal.

3.4 Being aggrieved by the order dated 19.09.2007

passed by the Administrative Judge of the High Court of

Allahabad, the appellant filed the Writ Petition (C) No. 297 of
5

2008 before the High Court which attained the same fate as

that of the appeal. Hence, the present appeal.

4. Learned counsel for the appellant would submit that the

first charge, in particular, is vague as no finding has been

recorded by the Inquiry Officer with regard to the allegations

made in the letter dated 05.06.2003 against the officials.

Learned counsel would further submit that if it is presumed

that the language used in the complaint constitutes flagrant

breach of Rule 3 of the U.P. Government Servant Conduct

Rules, the quantum of punishment imposed on the appellant is

not commensurate to the guilt. Learned counsel for the

appellant next submits that the appellant was not supplied

copy of various documents including proposed evidence and

thus he was prejudiced. It is lastly argued that the findings of

guilt recorded by the enquiry officer is perverse.

In support of his submissions, learned counsel for the

appellant has placed reliance on the decisions of this Court
6

rendered in ‘Sawai Singh vs. State of Rajasthan’1 and

‘Santosh Bakshi vs. State of Punjab2’

5. On the contrary, the learned counsel for the High Court

would submit that the appellant is habitual of making false

allegations against the senior officers including the District

Judge and the charges framed against him are specific and

definite and not vague.

6. We have heard learned counsel for the parties at length

and perused the case papers.

7. The appellant was subjected to the departmental inquiry

on two charges of misconduct and insubordination. For the first

charge, it was alleged that he used inappropriate, derogatory

and objectional language and made false allegations against

the Central Nazir and higher officials and earlier also he had

lodged a false report against the Presiding Officer of

Aonla Court. For the second charge, he allegedly sent a

representation dated 05.06.2003 to the Registrar General of

the High Court and Harijan Society Welfare Minister as also to

AIR 1986 SC 995
1
2
AIR 2014 SC 2966
7

the Chief Minister without using the proper channel and without

permission of the Head of the Department.

8. The Inquiry Officer has found both the charges to be

proved. In the discussion with respect to the first charge, it is

mentioned in the inquiry report that the appellant’s statement

in his letter dated 05.06.2003 that he met the Central Nazir,

Bareilly number of times between 24.08.2001 to 15.01.2003 is

false because from the order dated 21.06.2003 of the District

Judge, Bareilly it is clear that the Central Nazir took charge at

Bareilly on 23.07.2002, therefore, he could not have met the

Central Nazir, Bareilly before 23.07.2002.

9. However, the finding of the Inquiry Officer that the

appellant’s statement in his application dated 05.06.2003 that

he met the Central Nazir number of times between 24.08.2001

to 15.01.2003 is not reflected in appellant’s representation. In

fact, the application dated 05.06.2003 was addressed to the

Janapad Nyaayaadeesh and the relevant statement is that the

applicant met the addressee i.e. Janapad Nyaayaadeesh

number of times between 24.08.2001 to 15.01.2003. There is

no statement that he met the Central Nazir during this period.
8

In respect of meeting the Central Nazir, his statement is that

he met him on 04.06.2003. Thus, the finding of making false

statement and allegation in his representation dated

05.06.2003 is not borne out from the record. Since, this finding

is the fulcrum of the reasoning to hold that charge no. 1 is

proved, in our considered view, this finding in the inquiry

report is perverse.

10. Insofar as the allegation that the appellant made false

allegations of discrimination on caste basis, it is significant to

notice that the appellant himself has not made any such

allegation in his letter dated 05.06.2003. In the said letter, he

has stated that it was the Central Nazir who told him that the

District Judge is saying that the appellant is a Harijan

employee, and he hates the people of such community. Thus, it

is clear that the appellant himself has not made any such

allegation against the District Judge but it was the Central

Nazir who made that statement. The Inquiry Officer had

referred to the report of the Central Nazir dated 20.06.2003

which is available on record. Regarding the above statement,

the Central Nazir has not denied specifically. He has only stated
9

that the charges levelled by the appellant are false and

baseless. The Central Nazir has neither made any specific

denial that he has not demanded illegal gratification of Rs.

3,000/- from the appellant. Even though, in his letter dated

05.06.2003, the appellant has made specific allegation to this

effect against the Central Nazir.

11. The charge no. 2 against the appellant concerns directly

sending the representations to the High Court and Hon’ble

Chief Minister/Minister without routing the same through

proper channel. In this regard, it is suffice to observe that

Class-IV employee, when in financial hardship, may represent

directly to the superior but that by itself cannot amount to

major misconduct for which punishment of termination from

service should be imposed. Even otherwise, the appellant has

cited examples of other employees of the District Court,

Bareilly who have sent representations directly to the

superiors, but no action has been taken against them.

12. It is trite law that ordinarily the findings recorded by the

Inquiry Officer should not be interfered by the appellate

authority or by the writ court. However, when the finding of
10

guilt recorded by the Inquiry Officer is based on perverse

finding the same can always be interfered as held in Union of

India vs. P. Gunasekaran3, State of Haryana vs. Rattan

Singh4 and Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and

Sewerage Board vs. T.T. Murali Babu5. In P. Gunasekaran

(supra), the following has been held by this Court in para nos.

12, 13, 16 & 17:

“12. Despite the well-settled position, it is painfully
disturbing to note that the High Court has acted as
an appellate authority in the disciplinary
proceedings, reappreciating even the evidence
before the enquiry officer. The finding on Charge I
was accepted by the disciplinary authority and was
also endorsed by the Central Administrative
Tribunal. In disciplinary proceedings, the High Court
is not and cannot act as a second court of first
appeal. The High Court, in exercise of its powers
under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India,
shall not venture into reappreciation of the
evidence. The High Court can only see whether:

(a) the enquiry is held by a competent authority;

(b) the enquiry is held according to the
procedure prescribed in that behalf;

(c) there is violation of the principles of natural
justice in conducting the proceedings;

(d) the authorities have disabled themselves
from reaching a fair conclusion by some
considerations extraneous to the evidence and
merits of the case;

3

(2015) 2 SCC 610
4
(1977) 2 SCC 491
5
(2014) 4 SCC 108
11

(e) the authorities have allowed themselves to
be influenced by irrelevant or extraneous
considerations;

(f) the conclusion, on the very face of it, is so
wholly arbitrary and capricious that no
reasonable person could ever have arrived at
such conclusion;

(g) the disciplinary authority had erroneously
failed to admit the admissible and material
evidence;

(h) the disciplinary authority had erroneously
admitted inadmissible evidence which influenced
the finding;

(i) the finding of fact is based on no evidence.

13. Under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of
India, the High Court shall not:

(i) reappreciate the evidence;

(ii) interfere with the conclusions in the enquiry,
in case the same has been conducted in
accordance with law;

(iii) go into the adequacy of the evidence;

(iv) go into the reliability of the evidence;

(v) interfere, if there be some legal evidence on
which findings can be based.

(vi) correct the error of fact however grave it
may appear to be;

(vii) go into the proportionality of punishment
unless it shocks its conscience.

16. These principles have been succinctly summed
up by the living legend and centenarian V.R.
Krishna Iyer, J. in State of Haryana v. Rattan
Singh [(1977) 2 SCC 491 : 1977 SCC (L&S) 298] .
To quote the unparalleled and inimitable
expressions: (SCC p. 493, para 4)
“4. … in a domestic enquiry the strict and
sophisticated rules of evidence under the Indian
12

Evidence Act may not apply. All materials which
are logically probative for a prudent mind are
permissible. There is no allergy to hearsay
evidence provided it has reasonable nexus and
credibility. It is true that departmental
authorities and administrative tribunals must be
careful in evaluating such material and should
not glibly swallow what is strictly speaking not
relevant under the Indian Evidence Act. For this
proposition it is not necessary to cite decisions
nor textbooks, although we have been taken
through case law and other authorities by
counsel on both sides. The essence of a judicial
approach is objectivity, exclusion of extraneous
materials or considerations and observance of
rules of natural justice. Of course, fair play is the
basis and if perversity or arbitrariness, bias or
surrender of independence of judgment vitiate
the conclusions reached, such finding, even
though of a domestic tribunal, cannot be held
good.” (emphasis supplied)

17. In all the subsequent decisions of this Court up
to the latest in Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply
and Sewerage Board v. T.T. Murali Babu (2014) 4
SCC 108: (2014) 1 SCC (L&S) 38, these principles
have been consistently followed adding practically
nothing more or altering anything.”

13. Having considered the entire material available on record

and keeping in view that the appellant is a Class-IV employee

against whom charge no. 1 was found proved on the basis of

perverse finding and charge no. 2 is only about sending the

representation to the High Court directly without availing the
13

proper channel, we deem it appropriate to set-aside the

impugned judgment of the High Court as well as the order

dated 30.04.2007 whereby the appellant was terminated from

service. Consequently, the appellant is reinstated in service

with all consequential benefits. The appeal is allowed.

………………………………………J.
(B.R. GAVAI)

………………………………………J.
(PRASHANT KUMAR MISHRA)
FEBRUARY 15, 2024
NEW DELHI.

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