Commr. Vs. Radha K. Moorthy  INSC 627 (1 December 1994)
Reddy, B.P. (J) Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J) Sen, S.C. (J)
1995 SCC (1) 332 JT 1994 (7) 744 1994 SCALE (5)59
Judgment of the Court was delivered by B.P JEEVAN REDDY, J.- Leave granted.
Heard counsel for both the parties.
appeal is preferred against the judgment of the Tamil Nadu Administrative
Tribunal allowing the original application filed by the respondent and quashing
the memo of charges communicated to the respondent.
respondent Radha Krishna Moorthy was working as the Additional Regional
Transport Officer, Madras (Central) during the period 20-6-1984 to 20-3-1985. In
September 1985 he was promoted as Deputy Transport Commissioner. Sometime in
the first half of 1989, a Special Audit Wing of the Transport Department
detected and reported misappropriation of a large amount of Government money in
the office of the Regional Transport Officer, Madras (Central) during the years 1983-84 and 1984-85. On the
basis of the said report a memo of charges dated 4-6-1989 was communicated to the respondent.
4.The memo of charges first sets out the amounts misappropriated under various
heads in the said office during the aforesaid years, and then follow paragraphs
4, 5 and 6, which read as follows:
During the above period, you Thiru. A. Radhakrishnamoorthy were performing the
duties and responsibilities in the above office as Additional Regional
Transport Officer. Your duties included money transactions and ensuing that
accounts were prepared correctly and preserved for production before the audit
party whenever necessary. You have failed i n your duties. Consequently
embezzlement has occurred resulting in loss of revenue to Government to the tune
of Rs 5,54,124 in the year 1983-84. Thus you have committed grave offence. The
following charges are therefore framed against you under Rule 17(b) of the
Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules.
That you indulged along with eight other officials referred to above in the act
of misappropriation of Government funds by falsification of accounts by
indicating false amounts of fees in the triplicate copies of cash receipts
which were lesser than the amounts which were actually collected from the
public and noted in the duplicate copies of cash receipts received along with
the respective applications to make it appear that only appropriate permit fees
due to Government were collected. You with the connivance of other officials
with the mala fide intention of cheating the Government have thus
misappropriated Government money.
That by the fraudulent removal of cash receipt books and cash books from the
premises of Regional Transport Officer, Madras (Central) and also by your intentional failure in arranging to produce
the relevant accounts before the officials from unearthing proof of further
misappropriation of Government money.
And that you and other officials are responsible for pecuniary loss caused to
the State Government by above acts of misappropriation and are thus liable for
recovery of the amounts i.e. Rs 5,54,124 in the year 1983-84 and Rs 5,21,914 in
the year 198485.
are hereby directed to submit your written statement of defence to this charge
memo within 15 days from the date of receipt of this memo of charge. You are
also informed that if no written reply is received, it will be presumed that
you have no explanation to offer and further action will be proceeded with, on
prescribed questionnaire form is enclosed and you are directed to furnish
replies to the same indicating specifically whether you desire an oral enquiry
or wish to be heard in person or both."
Though the enquiry commenced into the said charges it was not concluded by the
year 1992, in which year the respondent approached the 335 Tribunal for
quashing the charges. Three grounds were urged by the respondent in support of
his prayer aforesaid:
the charges communicated are vague and are not elucidated by the statement of
particulars or in any other manner;
disciplinary proceedings have been initiated by an authority lower than the
appointing authority of the respondent and, therefore, incompetent;
charges are unsustainable and untrue.
Tribunal has recorded that in spite of due opportunity being given to the
appellant (respondent in the original application) for filing his counter, he
did not file any counter. The Tribunal quashed the charges on all the three
far as the truth and correctness of the charges is concerned, it was not a
matter for the Tribunal to go into more particularly at a stage prior to the
conclusion of the disciplinary enquiry. As pointed out by this Court
repeatedly, even when the matter comes to the Tribunal after the imposition of
punishment, it has no jurisdiction to go into truth of the allegations/charges
except in a case where they are based on no evidence, i.e., where they are
perverse. The jurisdiction of the Tribunal is akin to that of the High Court
under Article 226 of the Constitution. It is power of judicial review. It only
examines the procedural correctness of the decision making process. For this
reason the order of the Tribunal insofar as it goes into or discusses the truth
and correctness of the charges, is unsustainable in law.
Insofar as initiation of enquiry by an officer subordinate to the appointing
authority is concerned, it is well settled now that it is unobjectionable. The
initiation can be by an officer subordinate to the appointing authority. Only
the dismissal/removal shall not be by an authority subordinate to the
it is held that this was not a permissible ground for quashing the charges by
Insofar as the vagueness of the charges is concerned we find that it deserves
acceptance. It is asserted by Shri Vaidyanathan, learned counsel for the
respondent that except the memo of charges dated 4-6-1989, no other particulars of charges or supporting particulars
were supplied. This assertion could not be denied by the learned counsel for
the appellant. A reading of charges would show that they are not specific and
clear. They do not point out clearly the precise charge against the respondent,
which he was expected to meet. One can understand the charges being accompanied
by a statement of particulars or other statement furnishing the particulars of
the aforesaid charges but that was not done. The charges are general in nature
to the effect that the respondent along with eight other officials indulged in
misappropriation by falsification of accounts. What part did the respondent
play, which account did he falsify or help falsify, which amount did he
individually or together with other named persons misappropriate, are not particularised.
The charge is a general one. It is significant to notice that 336 respondent
has been objecting to the charges on the ground of vagueness from the earliest
stage and yet he was not furnished with the particulars. It is brought to our
notice that respondent's name was not included in the schedule appended to GOMs
928 dated 25-4-1988 mentioning the names of officials responsible for
falsification of accounts and misappropriation and that he is also not made an
accused in the criminal proceedings initiated in that behalf.
are, therefore, of the opinion that the judgment of the Tribunal is right
insofar as it holds that the charges communicated to the respondent are vague.
In the ordinary course we would have directed the disciplinary authority or the
authority which framed the charges to particularise the charges and then to
proceed with the enquiry but it appears that the respondent has hardly about
seven or eight months to go for retirement. Having regard to the facts and
circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion that the matter should end
the appeals are dismissed on the ground indicated above. No costs.