T.N. Vs. A. Rajapandian  INSC 544 (24 October 1994)
Singh (J) Kuldip Singh (J) Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J)
1995 AIR 561 1995 SCC (1) 216 JT 1994 (7) 492 1994 SCALE (4)690
Judgment of the Court was delivered by KULDIP SINGH, J.- Delay condoned.
Special leave granted.
3. A. Rajapandian,
respondent in the appeal herein, joined service as Sub-Inspector of Police in
the State of Tamil Nadu. He was promoted to the post of
Inspector in the year 1977. The Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings, Madras, held inquiry against him on three
charges out of five framed against him. In the departmental inquiry the
Tribunal found the three charges proved against the respondent and as a
consequence he was dismissed from service by the order dated 7-2-1984. He challenged the order by way of writ petition
before the Madras High Court, The writ petition was subsequently transferred to
the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal. The Administrative Tribunal by its
order dated 4- 9-1991 allowed the transfer petition and
set aside the dismissal order. This appeal by the State of Tamil Nadu is against the order of the
Administrative Tribunal set aside the order of dismissal solely on reappreciation
of the evidence recorded by the inquiring authority and reaching the conclusion
that the evidence was not sufficient to prove the charges against the
respondent. We have no hesitation in holding at the outset that the
Administrative Tribunal fell into patent error in reappreciating and going into
the sufficiency of evidence. It has been authoritatively settled by string of
authorities of this Court that the Administrative Tribunal cannot sit as a
court of appeal over a decision based on the findings of the inquiring
authority in disciplinary proceedings. Where there is some relevant material
which the disciplinary authority has accepted and which material reasonably
supports the conclusion reached by the disciplinary authority, it is not the
function of the Administrative Tribunal to review the same and reach different
finding than that of the disciplinary authority.
Administrative Tribunal, in this case, has found no fault with the proceedings
held by the inquiring authority.
quashed the dismissal order by reappreciating the evidence and reaching a
finding different than that of the inquiring authority.
charges framed against the respondent were as under:
The accused officer had failed to seize cash (Rs 578.53) found on the person of
Christopher, one of the accused in the above case and to treat the same as case
property, but treated it as personal cash.
actuated by corrupt motive and in abuse of his position and authority when he
was working as Sub-Inspector of Police (Crime) D-2 Anna Salai Police Station,
Madras demanded and received an illegal gratification of Rs 100 on 6-4-1974 at
about 6 p.m. outside the D-2 Anna Salai Police Station, Madras-2 from Mr KR. Padmanabhan
(mentioned under Charge 1) for arresting the absconding accused involved in
Crime No. 427/74 under Section 420 IPC of D-2 Anna Salai Police Station,
Madras-2 and also for investigation of the case.
IV: 1 That actuated by corrupt motive and in abuse of his position and
authority, when he (accused officer) was working as Sub-Inspector of Police
(Crime) D-2 Police Station, Madras, he (accused officer) demanded an illegal
gratification of Rs 2000 from Mr K.R. Padmanabhan, witness mentioned under
Charge 1, when he came to D-2 Police Station after two days of registration of
the case' (Cr. No. 427/74) under Section 420 IPC D-2 Anna Salai Police Station,
Madras to find out the progress of his case, to go to Tirunelveli and other
places in search of the absconding accused, concerned in Cr. No. 427/74 of D-2
Police Station, and received Rs 500 as illegal gratification from the said Padmanabhan
in the front verandah of the D-2 Police Station, Madras-2 at about 5.30 p.m. on
12-4-1974 and at the same time also demanded another sum of Rs 1000 as illegal
gratification stating that the amount of Rs 500 given was inadequate to meet
During the inquiry apart from documentary evidence PW1 K.R. Padmanabhan, PW 2
Dr Hakeem Syed Karimullah Hussain Khadiri, PW 3 Ishaq, PW 5 Azeez Ahmed and PW
6 Thirunavukkarasu were examined as witnesses. On the basis of the evidence
produced before the inquiring authority, the charges were held to be proved
against the respondent.
Administrative Tribunal, while reversing the enquiring authority, discussed the
evidence pertaining to Charge III in the following words:
to PW1 when the amount of Rs 100 was handed over, PW 2 and PW 5 were also
present nearby and they knew about the same.
in his evidence is emphatic that the amount of Rs 100 was handed over to the
applicant by PW1 in his presence which was also witnessed by PWs 3 and 5. PW 3
is equally emphatic that he did not see the amount of Rs 100 passing over to
the applicant. PW 5 is not an independent witness and by his own admission he
follows whatever PW 2 says. PW 5 says that there are four divisions in the D-2
Police Station and it is a crowded police station. The contradiction in the
evidence is that while PW1 says that PWs 2 and 5 were present when the amount
was handed over to the applicant and PW 2 says that he 219 along with PWs 3 and
5 has witnessed the amount being handed over to the applicant whereas PW 3
categorically denies having seen the amount being paid to the applicant. When
pointed out, the Tribunal brushed it aside, merely with the observation that
the Tribunal does not see any material contradiction in the facts of the case,
and there is no reason to disbelieve the version of the prosecution witnesses
1, 2, 3 and 5." Similarly, regarding Charge IV relating to demand of
illegal gratification of Rs 2000, the Administrative Tribunal observed as
prosecution has cited five witnesses in support of the charge but they have
dispensed with the evidence of Fathima Bi wife of PW 2.
a more important witness to prove this charge because she is the person who has
obtained a loan of Rs 750 by pledging some jewels in the Janopakara Nidhi, Triplicane.
to PW 4, the accountant of the said Nidhi, one Fathima Bi claiming to be the
wife of Syed Karimullah pledged some gold jewels on 11-4-1974 and obtained a loan of Rs 750.
the said Fathima Bi is examined, one cannot be sure whether Fathima Bi referred
to by PW 4 is the wife of PW 2 or not. PW 4 has categorically stated that the
husband's name and address was given by the mortgagee and he has no personal
knowledge. She has affixed her thumb impression in the register of the Janopakara
Nidhi at the time of the pledging of the jewels and according to PW 4, only
those mortgagees who are not literate are asked to affix their thumb
impression. While Fathima Bi has affixed her thumb impression in the register
of the said Nidhi, she has signed in the statement before the Inspector of
Vigilance when she was enquired. Therefore, it is obvious that when she is a
literate there is no reason why she has affixed her thumb impression while
pledging the jewels.
prosecution has not let in any evidence to show that subsequent to the pledging
of the jewels Fathima Bi wife of PW 2 has learnt to sign. Therefore, in view of
the conduct of the prosecution in dispensing with the evidence of Fathima Bi,
there is considerable suspicion about their case." Regarding Charge 1, the
Administrative Tribunal held as under:
can at best be described as a lapse on the part of the applicant in the
investigation and it will not constitute a corrupt practice and therefore,
would not fall within the scope of reference to the Tribunal for Disciplinary
Proceedings. The police officers are governed by the Police Standing Orders and
by the Criminal Procedure Code and in the matter of seizure of cash, from the
person of the accused. Considering the circumstances, it is well within their
rights to treat the cash as personal property and there is nothing wrong in
doing the same."
have quoted above three paragraphs from the impugned order of the
Administrative Tribunal to show that the Tribunal reappreciated the evidence
recorded before the inquiring authority. The Administrative Tribunal reached
different conclusions from the inquiring authority on its 220 own evaluation of
the evidence. The Tribunal fell into patent error and acted wholly beyond its
jurisdiction. It is not necessary for us to go into the merits of appreciation
of evidence by the two authorities because we are of the view that the
Administrative Tribunal had no jurisdiction to sit as an appellate authority
over the findings of the inquiring authority.
This Court in Union of India v. Sardar Bahadur1, held as under:
disciplinary proceeding is not a criminal trial. The standard of proof required
is that of preponderance of probability and not proof beyond reasonable doubt.
If the inference that Nand Kumar was a person likely to have official dealings,
with the respondent was one which reasonable person would draw from the proved
facts of the case, the High Court cannot sit as a court of appeal over a
decision based on it. Where there are some relevant materials which the
authority has accepted and which materials may reasonably support the
conclusion that the officer is guilty, it is not the function of the High Court
exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 to review the materials and to
arrive at an independent finding on the materials. If the enquiry has been
properly held the question of adequacy or reliability of the evidence cannot be
canvassed before the High Court."
Union of India v. Parma Nanda2 this Court observed as under:
must unequivocally state that the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to interfere
with the disciplinary matters or punishment cannot be equated with an appellate
Tribunal cannot interfere with the findings of the Inquiry Officer or competent
authority where they are not arbitrary or utterly perverse. It is appropriate
to remember that the power to impose penalty on a delinquent officer is
conferred on the competent authority either by an Act of legislature or rules
made under the proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution. If there has been an
enquiry consistent with the rules and in accordance with principles of natural
justice what punishment would meet the ends of justice is a matter exclusively
within the jurisdiction of the competent authority. If the penalty can lawfully
be imposed and is imposed on the proved misconduct, the Tribunal has no power
to substitute its own discretion for that of the authority."
We, therefore, allow the appeal, set aside the impugned order of the
Administrative Tribunal and uphold the order dismissing the respondent from the
police service. No costs.