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Bongaigaon Refinery & P.C. Ltd. & Ors. Versus Girish Chandra Sarmah

2007 (8) TMI 766 - SUPREME COURT

Appeal (civil) 2367 of 2007 - Dated:- 8-8-2007 - A.K. MATHUR & MARKANDEY KATJU JJ. JUDGMENT: A.K. MATHUR, J. 1. This appeal is directed against the order passed by the Division Bench of the Guwahati High Court in Writ Appeal No.248 of 2005 whereby the Division Bench has set aside the order of learned Single Judge dismissing the writ petition and allowed the writ petition of the respondent and set aside the order of reversion passed against the respondent reverting him from his grade of Deput .....

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him and which has found him guilty was perverse and totally illegal. 3. The respondent while working as Deputy General Manager (POL-Marketing) in Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited, Dhaligaon during the year 1998-99 was alleged to have committed serious misconduct for which he was charge-sheeted. The following charges were framed against him which read as under: Article of Charge No.1: Sri G.C.Sarma dishonestly selected and recommended purchase of land at Jorabat on the ground of ec .....

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he firm M/s. ESS Pvt. Ltd., was engaged without process of tendering for determination of soil and rock strata as recommended by Sri G.C.Sarma. The report submitted by Sri I.Sharma was fictitious and misconceived as the land being hilly, rocky and undeveloped was recommended to be suitable for the outlet. Sri G.C.Sarma in connivance with Sri I.Sharma thereby dishonestly recommended the land as suitable. On the basis of these charges a regular inquiry was initiated against the respondent and Shri .....

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grieved against that order the respondent preferred a writ appeal before the Division Bench. The Division Bench allowed the writ appeal of the respondent, set aside the order of learned Single Judge and quashed the order of the disciplinary authority imposing the aforesaid punishment. Hence the present appeal. 4. We have heard learned Mr.Amarendra Sharan, learned Additional Solicitor General for the appellants and Mr.Jaideep Gupta, learned senior counsel for the respondent and perused the record .....

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4 Union of India & Anr. v. K.G.Soni 2. (1995) 6 SCC 749 B.C.Chaturvedi v. Union of India & Ors. 3. (1997) 3 SCC 72 Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. & Anr. v. Ashok Kumar Arora Learned Additional Solicitor General also submitted that the respondent has already given up the plea of perversity before learned Single Judge yet the Division Bench considered the same plea. Learned Additional Solicitor General submitted that once the counsel has already given up the plea of perversity before lear .....

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the matter and found that all the charges have been wrongly proved by the inquiring authority. 7. We have bestowed our best of consideration to the rival submissions of learned counsel. The whole issue started on the basis that Bongaigaon Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd ( for short, BRPL) launched a programme for setting up of a Jubilee Outlet for marketing its finished products. A Tender Committee (Technical) was constituted to finalise the project. Respondent was one of the members of the Te .....

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ined the offers received against the notice inviting the bids and after discussing sixteen eligible offers, four were found to be technically suitable including Jorbat out of the tenders which had been received. It was also decided in the Committee s meeting held on 28.10.1998 to submit the same to the competent authority for consideration and approval for opening the price bid. On the same day the appellant company by order dated 28.10.1998 asked the Tender Committee to carry out the detailed t .....

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rs who had earlier done the work for the appellant company. Therefore, he was found to be suitable valuer. Thereafter, the Central Tender Department awarded the work of valuation of land to Shri I.Sharma on 5.11.1998. On 9.11.1998, Shri I.Sharma, Government approved valuer submitted a report that the fair market value of the land was assessed at ₹ 25/- per sq.ft and the size of the land being 2,17,721.07 sq.ft, the total cost was determined at ₹ 54,43,000.00. Thereafter, the Purchase .....

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uted to negotiate with the land owner. Thereafter the Price Negotiation Committee was constituted which was headed by Shri S.C.Goswami, General Manager ( R & P) and the respondent was one of the members. The Prince Negotiation Committee in its meeting dated 18.12.1998 considered the offer and assessment of the valuer and decided inter alia that a second assessment of price through local source would be necessary because of the high value of the deal and accordingly, deputed the respondent wi .....

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from ₹ 20/- to ₹ 25/- per sq. ft. depending on topography. Accordingly, a joint note was submitted by respondent and Shri P.K.Gogoi recording their findings. The Prince Negotiation Committee negotiated with the land owners on 4th & 5th January, 1999 wherein ₹ 45 lakhs was offered by the Committee against ₹ 61 lakhs demanded by the land owner. Thereafter, the land owner on 21.1.1999 informed the General Manager ( R & P) that ₹ 45 lakhs as offered was not acc .....

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rding receipt of an offer from Shri I.Sarma for determining rock strata. The note also stated that as the value of the work to be done was more than ₹ 25,000/- a tender committee was to be constituted to recommend the said job. The Tender Committee was also constituted and the tender committee on 2.2.1999 decided that the job was of priority and inviting further quotations would cause delay and since Shri I.Sarma has surveyed the land earlier, the work could be done by that person expediti .....

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tor (Commercial) that the land was suitable. The Director (Commercial) gave clearance to the Price Negotiation Committee to proceed for further negotiation. The Price Negotiation Committee after series of discussion, finalized the deal ultimately at ₹ 50.01 lakhs for 5 acres of land which was considered reasonable and recommended the price of the land. Meanwhile, on 11.1.2000 the Officer-on- Special Duty, Revenue Department, Meghalaya informed the Executive Director (Vigilance) of the appe .....

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espondent was charge-sheeted, on the basis of the above charges. The first charge levelled against the respondent was that the respondent submitted a preliminary report being the member of the Tender Committee in which after meeting the land owner he recommended that the land owner was prepared to sell 7 acres of land at ₹ 30 lakhs and that report was directly submitted to the Director (Commercial). The Director (Commercial) was also a member. Shri S.C.Goswami, General Manager (Marketing) .....

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ected at ₹ 50.01 lakhs. Therefore, it is not a case that the respondent alone was responsible. He had recommended in the preliminary report along with Shri P.K.Gogoi, Senior Manager (Project) which was placed before the Director (Commercial). It was within the knowledge of the General Manager (Marketing) and he has admitted that they did not consider bid offers which had been received. Thus as per the facts mentioned above, it appears that it was the joint decision which has passed through .....

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S.C.Goswami, General Manager (Marketing) was Chairman, Shri P.K.Baruah, Deputy General Manager (Project/GM) (HRD),Shri D.B.Das, Deputy General Manager; Shri T.V.John, CM/DGM (Finance) and Shri P.K.Gogoi, SM/CM (Project-Civil) were the members along with the respondent. All these three Committees have processed the deal and it is only the respondent has been made a scapegoat. After going through the report and the finding recorded by the Division Bench of the High Court, we are of opinion that in .....

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stink, pick one and say it stinks only is unfair in the matter of unanimous decision of the Committee. In all the three charges, the respondent has been found to be guilty for not assessing the reasonable price in his report submitted by him where the price indicated by the owner of the land was ₹ 30 lakhs. The appointment of Shri I.Sharma as a valuer for land valuation was not also the decision of the respondent alone and the exploration of soil and rock strata given to the company, M/s. .....

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₹ 50.01 lakhs. The preliminary report submitted by the respondent to the Director (Commercial) was after discussion with the land owner at the cost of ₹ 30 lakhs yet this cannot work as an estoppel against the land owner. May be the land owner at one point of time might have offered the land at ₹ 30 lakhs but that report cannot operate as estoppel against the land owner that she cannot jag up the price for the land. In fact when the Price Negotiating Committee asked for written .....

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rong. 8. So far as the legal proposition as contended by learned Additional Solicitor General with regard to appreciation of evidence is concerned, there is no quarrel that the Courts cannot sit as appellate authority over the domestic enquiries but in the present case what appears us is that the respondent has become a scapegoat in order to make someone responsible for no fault of his. He alone was targeted for the simple reason that he submitted preliminary report where the price of the land p .....

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iven by the landowner as ₹ 30 lakhs for 7 acres of land, that does not bind the land owner to sell the land for similar price, later on if she wriggles out, for which the officer of the appellant company who had inquired from the land owner cannot be found guilty. The respondent cannot be held responsible for the same and more so in the present case the price has been negotiated by the Price Negotiating Committee. Therefore, simply because a preliminary report was submitted by the responde .....

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