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Union of India and Ors. Versus R.P. Singh

2014 (5) TMI 1160 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Denial of natural justice - Whether the High Court is justified in issuing the directionse solely on the ground that non-supply of the advice obtained by the disciplinary authority from the UPSC and acting on the same amounts to violation of principles of natural justice? - Held that:- In view of the aforesaid, we respectfully agree with the decision rendered in S.K. Kapoor's case [2011 (3) TMI 1633 - SUPREME COURT] wherein held although Article 320(3)(c) is not mandatory, if the authorities do .....

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isra And N.V. Ramana, JJ. For the Appellant: K. Radhakrishnan, Sr. Adv., W.A. Qadri, Rekha Pandey, A. Deb Kumar and Sushma Suri, Advs. For the Respondents: Vasudevan Raghavan, Adv. JUDGMENT Dipak Misra, J. 1. Calling in question the legal defensibility of the judgment and order dated 19.01.2007 passed by the High .....

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rtmental proceeding in respect of two charges which read as follows: (a) 540 bags of cement were got issued for the above stated work from the Central Stores on 31.3.97. The said Shri R.P. Singh allowed Shri N.K. Sarin, Junior Engineer to issue 89 bags of cement within 24 hours of receipt of the cement from the Central Stores without giving any written permission to the Junior Engineer and without authenticating the said issue of cement, thereby violating the instructions contained in Para 3(d) .....

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nquiry Report. The disciplinary authority after expressing the disagreement, called for a representation from the Respondent communicating the Inquiry Report as well as the opinion for disagreement requiring him to submit his explanation. The Respondent submitted his explanation and thereafter the disciplinary authority sought advice from the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) by proposing to impose penalty of reduction of pay by two stages in the time scale of pay of the charged officer for .....

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was assailed by the Respondent before the tribunal on many a ground and the principal ground propounded was that the advice of the UPSC was not furnished to him before imposing the penalty and, therefore, there had been violation of principles of natural justice. The tribunal negatived the said stand on the ground that no prejudice was caused to him. 5. Being dissatisfied with the said order, the Respondent preferred the writ petition and the High Court placing reliance mainly on the decision in .....

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ation in respect of the UPSC advice, which was made available to him along with the order dated 28.1.2003 imposing punishment. The representation of the Petitioner be duly considered and the Disciplinary Authority to take a decision afresh, taking into account the representation with regard to the disciplinary proceedings within a period of two months. 6. We have heard Mr. K. Radhakrishnan, learned Counsel assisted by Mr. W.A. Qadri and Ms. Rekha Pandey for the Appellant and Mr. Vasudevan Raghav .....

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same amounts to violation of principles of natural justice. Learned Counsel for the Appellants has placed reliance on Rule 32 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965 (for brevity "the CCS Rules"). The said Rule reads as under: 32. Supply of copy of Commission's advice. Whenever the Commission is consulted as provided in these rules, a copy of the advice by the Commission and where such advice has not been accepted, also a brief statement of t .....

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the delinquent officer. In support of the said submission, our attention has been drawn to the decision in Union of India and Anr. v. T.V. Patel (2007) 4 SCC 785 wherein a two-Judge Bench, appreciating the Rule position, has held as follows: Rule 32 of the Rules deals with the supply of a copy of Commission's advice. Rules as read as it is mandatory in character. Rule contemplates that whenever a Commission is consulted, as provided under the Rules, a copy of the advice of the Commission an .....

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cond situation is that if a copy of the advice tendered by the Commission has not been accepted, a copy of which along with a brief statement of the reasons for such non-acceptance shall also be furnished to the government servant along with a copy of the order passed in the case, by the authority making the order. In our view, the language employed in Rule 32, namely "along with a copy of the order passed in the case, by the authority making the order" would mean the final order passe .....

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ndia are not mandatory and they do not confer any rights on the public servant so that the absence of consultation or any irregularity in consultation process or furnishing a copy of the advice tendered by the UPSC, if any, does not afford the delinquent government servant a cause of action in a court of law. 10. It is also necessary to mention here that the learned Judges distinguished the pronouncements in D.C. Aggarwal and Anr. (supra) and MD, ECIL v. B. Karunakar (1993) 4 SCC 727. 11. Mr. Va .....

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it has been reported later on. 12. In the case of S.N. Narula, the Court took note of the fact that the proceedings therein were sent for information of the UPSC and the UPSC had given the advice indicating certain punishment and the said advice was accepted by the disciplinary authority who, on that basis, had imposed punishment. Thereafter the Court took note of the factual score how the disciplinary authority had acted. We think it seemly to reproduce the same: 3. It is to be noticed that th .....

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Public Service Commission was not communicated to the Appellant before the final order was passed. Therefore, the Appellant was unable to make an effective representation before the disciplinary authority as regards the punishment imposed. 7. We find that the stand taken by the Central Administrative Tribunal was correct and the High Court was not justified in interfering with the order. Therefore, we set aside the judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court and direct that the disciplinary .....

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ecause the tribunal had set aside the order of the disciplinary authority on the ground that it was a non-speaking order. Be that as it may, when the issue was raised before this Court and there has been an advertence to the same, we are unable to accept the submission of Mr. Qadri. The said decision is an authority for the proposition that the advice of UPSC, if sought and accepted, the same, regard being had to the principles of natural justice, is to be communicated before imposition of punis .....

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rvice Commission and rely on the report of the commission for taking disciplinary action, then the principles of natural justice require that a copy of the report must be supplied in advance to the employee concerned so that he may have an opportunity of rebuttal. Thus, in our view, the aforesaid decision in T.V. Patel's case is clearly distinguishable. 15. After so stating the two-Judge Bench opined that when the disciplinary authority does not rely on the report of the UPSC then it is not .....

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supra). It is well settled that if a subsequent co-ordinate bench of equal strength wants to take a different view, it can only refer the matter to a larger bench, otherwise the prior decision of a co-ordinate bench is binding on the subsequent bench of equal strength. Since, the decision in S.N. Narula's case (supra) was not noticed in T.V. Patel's case (supra), the latter decision is a judgment per incuriam. The decision in S.N. Narula's case (supra) was binding on the subsequent b .....

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e judgment in S.N. Narula's case was not brought to the notice of their Lordships deciding the lis in T.V. Patel (supra). There cannot be a shadow of doubt that the judgment in S.N. Narula (supra) is a binding precedent to be followed by the later Division Bench. In this context, we may fruitfully refer to the decision in Union of India v. Raghubir Singh (dead) by L.Rs. and Ors. (1989) 2 SCC 754, wherein the Constitution Bench has held as follows: We are of opinion that a pronouncement of la .....

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n error in taking the view that the decision of this Court in Municipal Corporation, Indore v. Ratna Prabha (1976) 4 SCC 622 was not binding on it. In doing so, the Division Bench of the High Court did something which even a later co-equal Bench of this Court did not and could not do. 18. In Chandra Prakash and Ors. v. State of U.P. and Anr. (2002) 4 SCC 234, the Constitution Bench has reiterated the principle that has already been stated in Raghubir Singh (supra). 19. Thus perceived, it can be .....

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of some inconsistent statutory provision or of some authority binding on the court concerned, so that in such cases some part of the decision or some step in the reasoning on which it is based, is found, on that account to be demonstrably wrong. At a subsequent stage of the said decision it has been observed as follows: ...It is a settled rule that if a decision has been given per incuriam the court can ignore it. 21. In Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra and Ors. AIR 2011 SC 3 .....

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ing on a Bench of Judges of co-equal strength. In the instant case, judgments mentioned in paragraphs 135 and 136 are by two or three judges of this Court. These judgments have clearly ignored a Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in Sibbia's case (supra) which has comprehensively dealt with all the facets of anticipatory bail enumerated Under Section 438 of Code of Criminal Procedure Consequently, judgments mentioned in paragraphs 135 and 136 of this judgment are per incuriam. 22. Tes .....

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dispute that the said Rule from the very inception is a part of the 1965 Rules. With the efflux of time, there has been a change of perception as regards the applicability of the principles of natural justice. An Inquiry Report in a disciplinary proceeding is required to be furnished to the delinquent employee so that he can make an adequate representation explaining his own stand/stance. That is what precisely has been laid down in the B. Karunakar's case. We may reproduce the relevant pass .....

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's report before the disciplinary authority takes its decision on the charges, is a denial of reasonable opportunity to the employee to prove his innocence and is a breach of the principles of natural justice. 24. We will be failing in our duty if we do not refer to another passage which deals with the effect of non-supply of the enquiry report on the punishment. It reads as follows: [v] The next question to be answered is what is the effect on the order of punishment when the report of the .....

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nstatement of the employee with back-wages in all cases is to reduce the rules of justice to a mechanical ritual. The theory of reasonable opportunity and the principles of natural justice have been evolved to uphold the rule of law and to assist the individual to vindicate his just rights. They are not incantations to be invoked nor rites to be performed on all and sundry occasions. Whether in fact, prejudice has been caused to the employee or not on account of the denial to him of the report, .....

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n itself is antithetical to justice. 25. After so stating, the larger Bench proceeded to state that the court/tribunal should not mechanically set aside the order of punishment on the ground that the report was not furnished. The courts/tribunals would apply their judicial mind to the question and give their reasons for setting aside or not setting aside the order of punishment. It is only if the court/tribunal finds that the furnishing of report could have made a difference to the result in the .....

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nefits from the date of dismissal to the date of reinstatement, if ultimately ordered, should invariably left to be decided by the authority concerned according to law, after the culmination of the proceedings and depending on the final outcome. 26. We have referred to the aforesaid decision in extenso as we find that in the said case it has been opined by the Constitution Bench that non-supply of the enquiry report is a breach of the principle of natural justice. Advice from the UPSC, needless .....

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Counsel for the Respondent, that after the decision in S.K. Kapoor's case, the Government of India, Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pensions, Department of Personnel & Training vide Office Memorandum dated 06.01.2014 has issued the following directions: 4. Accordingly, it has been decided that in all disciplinary cases where the Commission is to be consulted, the following procedure may be adopted: (i) On receipt of the Inquiry Report, the DA may examine the same and forward it to the C .....

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