Sri Veerabhadraiah vs The State Of Karnataka on 14 February, 2024

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Karnataka High Court

Sri Veerabhadraiah vs The State Of Karnataka on 14 February, 2024

Author: Krishna S Dixit

Bench: Krishna S Dixit

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                                                        WP No. 10390 of 2021
                                                    C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021



                        IN THE HIGH COURT OF KARNATAKA AT BENGALURU

                          DATED THIS THE 14TH DAY OF FEBRUARY, 2024

                                           PRESENT
                           THE HON'BLE MR JUSTICE KRISHNA S DIXIT
                                              AND
                            THE HON'BLE MR JUSTICE G BASAVARAJA
                            WRIT PETITION NO. 10390 OF 2021 (S-KSAT)
                                              C/W
                            WRIT PETITION .NO.15168 OF 2021(S-KSAT)
                   IN W.P.NO.10390/2021

                   BETWEEN:

                   SRI VEERABHADRAIAH
                   S/O LATE SRI CHIKKAVEERAIAH
                   AGED 58 YEARS
                   ASSISTANT ENGINEER
                   BOMMANAHALLI SUB DIVISION
                   KODICHIKKANAHALLI MAIN ROAD
                   BENGALURU - 560 076

Digitally signed   PERMANENT R/AT 304
by SHARADA
VANI B             CHUNCHAGATTA VILLAGE
Location:          KONANAKUNTE POST
HIGH COURT         NEAR RENKUKA YELLAMMA TEMPLE
OF
KARNATAKA          BANGALURU - 560 052
                                                                ...PETITIONER
                   (BY SRI. NAGARAJAPPA A., ADVOCATE)

                   AND:

                   1.   THE STATE OF KARNATAKA
                        REPRESENTED BY ITS ADDITIONAL CHIEF SECRETARY
                        TO GOVERNMENT OF KARNATAKA
                        DEPARTMENT OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT
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                                     WP No. 10390 of 2021
                                 C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021



     VIKASA SOUDHA
     BANGALURU - 560 001

2.   THE STATE OF KARNATAKA
     REPRESENTED BY ITS ADDITIONAL CHIEF SECRETARY
     DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
     PORTS AND INLAND WATER TRANSPORT
     VIKASA SOUDHA
     BENGALURU - 560 001

3.   THE HON'BLE ADDITIONAL REGISTRAR
     OF INQUIRIES-14
     KARNATAKA LOKAYUKTHA
     MULTISTORIED BUILDING
     K R CIRCLE
     BANGALURU - 560 001
                                           ...RESPONDENTS
(BY SRI.KHAMROZ KHAN, AGA FOR R1 & R2;
    SRI ASHWIN S HALAY ADVOCATE FOR R3)

     THIS W.P. IS FILED UNDER ARTICLE 227 OF THE
CONSTITUTION OF INDIA PRAYING TO QUASH THE ORDER OF
THE KARNATAKA STATE ADMINSITRATIVE TRIBUNAL AT
BANGALORE DTD:18.09.2020 IN APPLICATION NO.4414/2019
VIDE ANNX-C GOVERNMENT ORDER DTD:28.04.2017 PASSED
BY   THE   R-1   IMPUGNED   ARTICLES   OF   CHARGES
DTD:31.05.2017 PASSED BY THE R-3, IMPUGNED ENQUIRY
REPORT DTD:17.10.2018 PASSED BY THE R-3 IMPUGNED
GOVERNMENT ORDER DTD:07.06.2018 PASSED BY THE R-1
AND THE IMPUGNED CORRIGENDUM GOVERNMENT ORDER
DTD:13.06.2019 PASSED BY THE R-1 VIDE ANNX-A28, A30,
A38, A40 AND A41 OF ANNEXURE-A AND SET ASIDE ALL THE
ABOVE IN SO FAR AS IT RELATES TO THE PETITIONER AND
ALSO DIRECT THE RESPONDENTS TO EXTEND ALL
CONSEQUENTIAL BENEFITS & ETC.

IN W.P.NO.15168/2021

BETWEEN:

SRI.A RAVINDRA BABU
S/O LATE SRI ASHWATHARAYANA REDDY
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                                    WP No. 10390 of 2021
                                C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021



AGED 57 YEARS
ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE ENGINEER
OFFICE OF EXECUTIVE ENGINEER,
MARKETING DIVISION
BANGALORE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
KUMARA PARK WEST.CHOWDAIAH ROAD
BANGALORE - 560 020.

PERMANENT RESIDENT OF NO.711
MUNNEKOLA VILLAGE MAIN ROAD
ITTINA ABHA APARTMENTS
MARATHHALLI POST
BANGALORE - 560 037.
                                            ...PETITIONER
(BY SRI. NAGARAJAPPA A., ADVOCATE)

AND:

1.   THE STATE OF KARNATAKA
     REPRESENTED BY ITS ADDITIONAL CHIEF SECRETARY
     TO GOVERNMENT OF KARNATAKA
     DEPARTMENT OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT
     VIKASA SOUDHA
     BANGALURU - 560 001

2.   THE STATE OF KARNATAKA
     REPRESENTED BY ITS ADDITIONAL CHIEF SECRETARY
     DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
     PORTS AND INLAND WATER TRANSPORT
     VIKASA SOUDHA
     BENGALURU - 560 001

3.   THE HON'BLE ADDITIONAL REGISTRAR
     OF INQUIRIES-14
     KARNATAKA LOKAYUKTHA
     MULTISTORIED BUILDING
     K R CIRCLE
     BANGALURU - 560 001
                                          ...RESPONDENTS
(BY SRI.KHAMROZ KHAN, AGA FOR R1 & R2;
    SRI ASHWIN S HALAY ADVOCATE FOR R3)
                                   -4-
                                              NC: 2024:KHC:6313-DB
                                             WP No. 10390 of 2021
                                         C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021



     THIS W.P. IS FILED UNDER ARTICLE 227 OF THE
CONSTITUTION OF INDIA PRAYING TO QUASH THE ORDER OF
THE KARNATAKA STATE ADMINSITRATIVE TRIBUNAL AT
BANGALORE DTD:18.09.2020 IN APPLICATION NO.4413/2019
VIDE ANNX-C GOVERNMENT ORDER DTD:28.04.2017 PASSED
BY THE R-1 IMPUGNED ARTICLES OF CHARGES BEARING DTD
31.05.2017 PASSED BY THE R-3, IMPUGNED ENQUIRY REPORT
BEARING DTD:17.10.2018 PASSED BY THE R-3 IMPUGNED
GOVERNMENT ORDER BEARING DTD:07.06.2018 PASSED BY
THE R-1 AND THE IMPUGNED CORRIGENDUM GOVERNMENT
ORDER BEARING DTD:13.06.2019 PASSED BY THE R-1 VIDE
ANNX-A28, A38, A40 AND A41 OF ANNEXURE-A AND SET
ASIDE ALL THE ABOVE IN SO FAR AS IT RELATES TO THE
PETITIONER AND ALSO DIRECT THE RESPONDENTS TO
EXTEND ALL CONSEQUENTIAL BENEFITS & ETC.

     THESE PETITIONS, COMING ON FOR PRELIMINARY
HEARING 'B' GROUP, THIS DAY, KRISHNA S. DIXIT.J., MADE
THE FOLLOWING:

                             ORDER

Petitioner in W.P.No.10390/2021 and the Petitioner

in companion W.P.No.15168/2021 are knocking at the

doors of Writ Court for assailing the Karnataka State

Administrative Tribunal’s Common Order dated

18.09.2020 whereby, their challenge to the Punishment

Order in disciplinary proceeding has been turned down.

After holding the disciplinary enquiry, against these

Petitioners who are on deputation to the BMP, a
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C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021

punishment of withholding of four annual increments with

cumulative effect has been levied.

2. Learned counsel for the Petitioners vehemently

argues that though he would not much say on the findings

of the Enquiry Report, regard being had to the

jurisdictional constraints of this court, he would

vehemently press into service the doctrine of

proportionality for faltering the award of punishment. He

invokes the Apex Court decision in K.P.SINGH vs. STATE

(NCT OF DELHI), (2015) 15 SCC 497 in support of his

contention. He further submits that the Petitioners had

visited the construction sites in question periodically and

further, instructed the site owners to halt the ongoing

construction inasmuch as they were violating the terms of

sanctioned plans & Building Licenses. Lastly, he argues

that both the Petitioners have retired having put in a long

& spotless service barring the enquiry in question and

therefore, lenient view of the matter ought to have been

taken by the Disciplinary Authority or at least by the
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C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021

Tribunal. So arguing, he seeks allowing of the Writ

Petitions and voiding of punishment.

3. Learned AGA appearing for the Respondent –

State and learned Panel Counsel appearing for the 3rd

Respondent – Office of the Lokayukta, vehemently oppose

the Petitions making submission in justification of the

Tribunal’s order and the reasons on which it has been

structured. They highlight the limitations which this court

has in its supervisory jurisdiction constitutionally vested

u/a 226. They draw attention of the Court to the Enquiry

Report, to the reply of Petitioners thereto and due

consideration thereof at the hands of the Disciplinary

Authority which is none other than the State Government.

So contending, they seek dismissal of the Writ Petitions.

4. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties

and having perused the Petition papers, this Court is

inclined to grant a limited indulgence in the matter

inasmuch as, the Petitioner-Ravindra Babu has put in a
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C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021

very long & spotless service of 36 years; similarly,

Petitioner Veerabhadraiah too has put in a long & spotless

service of about two decades. Both they have demitted

office on attaining the age of superannuation and that they

are now in the evening of their lives. Learned counsel for

the Petitioners is more than justified in contending that

long & spotless service should figure as a mitigating factor

in awarding punishment to the delinquents; This aspect

having not been adverted to by the Disciplinary Authority

nor by the Tribunal, there is error apparent on the face of

the record, warranting interference of this Court.

5. There is also force in the submission of learned

counsel for the Petitioners that his clients had undertaken

periodical visits and they had orally instructed the owners

of the sites in question to adhere to the terms of

sanctioned plan and the building license. However, in

matters like this, oral instructions scarcely serve the

purpose; the law prescribes written orders to be issued to

the violators of building bye-laws. Thus, the contention
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that the Petitioners are innocent and therefore, they

should be exonerated from the charges by setting aside

the penalty orders, cannot be countenanced. It is more so

when a full-fledged enquiry has found him guilty of

charges and the Enquiry Report having been acted upon

after notice to the Petitioners, the Disciplinary Authority

has levied a penalty of withholding of four annual

increments with cumulative effect, in toto.

6. The above being said, this court cannot turn a

Nelson’s eye to the pleaded doctrine of proportionality;

award of punishment of withholding of four annual

increments that too with cumulative effect sounds too

harsh; it hardly needs to be reiterated that the

punishment should accord with the gravity of proven

misconduct. It is not that Petitioners have committed any

grave misconduct like bribery, corruption,

misappropriation or loss to the Exchequer. They were

charged with the allegations of not undertaking periodic

visits to the construction sites and not taking remedial
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C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021

measures within a reasonable time as provided under

Section 321 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act,

1976. In the totality of the circumstances, the punishment

needs to be modified by scaling down number of

increments from four to two. An argument to the contrary

would offend the rule of proportionality and sense of

justice. While doing this modification, we have also borne

in mind the principle that ordinarily, it is for the

Disciplinary Authority to decide what the punishment

should be. However, it is not a Thumb Rule. The matter

also cannot be now remanded for consideration afresh,

both the Petitioners having already retired from service.

In the above circumstances, these Writ Petitions

having been allowed in part with the following directions:

[i] The impugned order of the Tribunal is quashed
and the impugned order of punishment is modified to the
effect that two annual increments be withheld with
cumulative effect, instead of four, as was ordered by the
Disciplinary Authority.

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WP No. 10390 of 2021
C/w W.P.No.15168 of 2021

[ii] The jurisdictional Respondents shall, in accord

with modified punishment, as directed in the immediately

preceding paragraph, refix the pension & terminal benefits

of the Petitioners and further, shall pay the differentials on

account of such refixation, within a period of three

months.

[iii] If delay is brooked, the amount payable to the

Petitioners shall carry interest at the rate of 2% per

mensum which may be recovered from the erring officials

concerned personally.

Now no costs.

Sd/-

JUDGE

Sd/-

JUDGE

BSV
List No.: 1 Sl No.: 27

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