Bai Vs. The Union Territory of Pondicherry  INSC 231 (20 April 1995)
K.S.(J) Paripoornan, K.S.(J) Kuldip Singh (J) Paripoornan, J.:
1995 AIR 1476 1995 SCC (4) 141 JT 1995 (4) 34 1995 SCALE (2)842
Petitioner in Writ Petition No. 1329 of 1979 of the High Court of Madras, is
the appellant herein. This appeal is filed against the Judgment of the High
Court of Madras dated 26.10.1983, in pursuant to the special leave granted by
this Court on 13.1.1986 in S.L.P.(C) No. 3643 of 1984.
are three respondents in this appeal. They are: The Union Territory of Pondicherry
represented by its Chief Secretary, The Union of India represented by
Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Sri D. Ramachandran, former Home
Minister of Pondicherry.
relevant facts which gave rise to this appeal may be stated. The date of birth
of the appellant is 25.8.1934.
was appointed as a Child Welfare Organiser under the Pondicherry State Social
Welfare Advisory Board on 21.11.1958. The service of the employees of the Board
was merged with the Government service. The employees of the Advisory Board
became Government employees. On 11. 12.1962 the appellant was appointed as
Social Education Organiser in the Development Department, Government of Pondicherry. In 1973, the appellant was
Assistant Director of the Social Welfare Department. At that time, the third
respondent was the Minister for Social Welfare in the Government of Pondicherry.
In that year a protective and shelter home for women arrested under the
Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act was started at Reddiarpalayam by the Social
Welfare Doctorate. It is the appellant's case, that in 1973, she received a
report that the above institution was being misused by the third respondent
herein with the connivance of the Superintendent, for illegal and 38 immoral
purposes. The appellant reprimanded the Superintendent. This infuriated the
third respondent and other officers who apprehended that their misdeeds will be
exposed. They began teasing the appellant. The appellant was transferred from Pondicherry to Karaikkal. On an en- quiry by
the Inspector-General of Police on the orders of Lt. Governor conducted in
1976, the Secretary, Local Administration Department was transferred in
1977, the third respondent again became the Home Minister. He continued to use
the women's institutions as before for his immoral activities with the help of
some officials. The appellant's presence was an Irritation to the third
respondent and other officials. In September, 1977, some false criminal charges
were leveled against the appellant by the said officials and attempts to commit
her to prison were made on the ground that she was a lunatic.
demanded an enquiry in the matter. Therefore, she was suspended from service
with effect from October
the appellant resorted to fast, and on the assurances of the Chief Minister and
the Union Minister for Tourism that remedial action will be taken, she gave up
the fast. On 10.7.1978, the appellant submitted a representation to the
Governor of Tamil Nadu Sri Prabhudas Patwari who had taken over the
administration of Pondicherry by then. In her representation, she
alleged attempts made to molest her and other misdeeds of officials and prayed
for intervention to set right the matters. A detailed petition was also sent
later. On 22.7.1978, the Governor of Pondicherry, in his capacity as
Administrator of Pondicherry Administration, directed that an enquiry be held
into the allegations contained in the complaint filed before him.
authorities failed to give effect to this order.
the appellant moved the High Court of Madras in Writ Petition No. 1329 of 1979
and prayed for issue of a writ of mandamus to implement the orders passed by
the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the Administrator of the Union Territory of Pondicherry
dated 22.7.1978, and for other reliefs. The High Court of Madras by its
Judgment dated 26.9.1983 held that the order dated 22.7.1978 is incomplete and
in-executable and denied relief to the appellant. It is thereafter, the
appellant moved this Court by S.L.P.(C) No.3643 of 1984, and obtained leave by
order dated 13.1.1986. This Court ordered expeditious hearing of the appeal.
Thereafter, the appeal came up for hearing on a few occasions and finally on
26.7.1994, this Court passed the following order:
Radha Bai, the appellant, was working as Assistant Director, local
Administration Department, Govt. of Pondicherry. She made a written complaint
before the Governor of Pondicherry wherein it was alleged that the Minister
in-charge and other officers, named therein, were misusing the Social Welfare
Department and they attempted to molest the appellant. The Governor in his
capacity as the Administrator of Pondicherry Administration by his order dated July 22, 1978 directed that an enquiry be held
into the allegation contained in the complaint filed before him by Radha Bai.
The operative part of the order was as under:
of the Governor of Tamil Nadu And Administrator of the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
39 Dated: 22nd July,
from Miss N. Radha Bai, Assistant Director, Local Administration Department.
giving full consideration to the representation of Miss N. Radha Bai, Assistant
Director, Local Administration Department, Pondicherry, and after going through
the comments of the Chief Secretary to the Government of Pondicherry presented
to me today at 12 Noon, 1 feel that the matter regarding allegations against Shri
D. Ramachandran, Shri T.T. Joseph and Shri S.V. Ranganathan about the endeavours
to molest the applicant need independent enquiry in the interests of justice
and in order to keep up the prestige of the Administration and par- ticularly
women members of the staff. 1 order that a Judicial Officer of the rank of
District Judge be appointed to conduct the enquiry only for the above points.'
The order of the Governor, quoted above, was not complied with by the
Administration and no enquiry was held. Radha Bai filed a writ petition under
Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India before the Madras High Court
seeking a direction to the Pondicherry Administration to hold an enquiry as
directed by the Governor. The writ petition was dis- missed by the High Court.
This appeal by way of special leave is against the judgment of the High Court.
have heard learned counsel for- the parties. We are of the view that the High
Court fell into patent error in dismissing the writ petition. Instead of doing
substantial justice in the case the High Court declined to interfere on the
reasoning which was wholly irrelevant and against law. We are of the vie w that
the order passed by the Governor in his capacity as the Administrator of Pondicherry
Government was valid and the Administration was bound by the same. We direct
the Pondicherry Administration through its Chief Secretary to request the
District Judge Pondicherry to hold an enquiry into the complaint made by the
appellant as ordered on July 22, 1978 by the then Governor. This shall be done
by the Chief Secretary within two weeks of the receipt of this order. The
District Judge shall give opportunity to Miss Radha bai and the persons named
in the complaint to adduce evidence oral as well as documentary in support of
their respective contentions. The District Judge shall complete the enquiry
within three months of the receipt of the request to him from the Chief
Secretary. The enquiry report be sent to the Chief Secretary, Union Territory
of Pondicherry and a copy of the same be sent to this Court.
appeal to be listed for further directions on 6.12.1994.
to send the copy of this order to the Chief Secretary and District Judge, Pondicherry before 9.8.94. " 3.The enquiry
by the District Judge, Pondicherry, unfortunately took some time and
this Court granted extension of time for submitting the report. There is only
one District Judge in Pondicherry. He has submitted a report
containing 40 pages (56 paragraphs). In the said report, the deposition of 19
witnesses (PW1 - PW 19) and the documents (Ext. P1- Ext.P12) have been adverted
to. The finding of the District Judge is to the effect that the allegations of
the appellant against the third respondent and two others "are not proved
by corroboration of the evidence of the complainant or her documents." In
more 40 places than one, after adverting to the evidence of PW-1 (to PW-19)
(appellant and others) the learned District Judge has stated that there is no
corroboration for the evidence so given. The learned District Judge failed to
bear in mind the long lapse of time after the incident, in appreciating the
evidence in the case.
heard Sri K. Sukumaran, Senior Counsel who appeared for the appellant, Sri A.S.
Nambiar, Senior Counsel who appeared for the first respondent, and also the
counsel for the respondent Nos. 2 and 3. Written submissions have also been
submitted by counsel for the appellant and counsel for respondent Nos. 1 &
3. We perused the same.
the earlier order passed by this Court on 26.7.1994, this Court found that the
High Court failed to do substantial justice in this case and declined to
interfere in the matter on the basis of irrelevant and faulty reasoning and so
the Judgment is erroneous in law. We have no doubt that it is so. In the light
of the above, one of the main prayers of the appellant in the writ petition to
give effect to the order passed by the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the
Administrator of Union Territory of Pondicherry dated 22.7.1978 was given
effect to by this Court by order dated 26.7.1994 and the District Judge was
directed to conduct the enquiry. We are sorry to note that the Enquiry Report
submitted by the District Judge is unhelpful, infirm and is unsustainable. As
we indicated earlier the substantial reasoning and conclusion of the learned
District Judge is to the effect that the evidence (statements) of the appellant
are not corroborated by other material. It is rather surprising that the law
laid down by this Court in a series of decisions from 1952 as to whether there
is any need to insist upon corroboration to the testimony of prosecutrix in
sexual offence, has been completely ignored by the District Judge in submitting
his report. We may mention only two cases as illustrative of the principle to
be borne in mind in appreciating the testimony of the victims of sexual
offences. In Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai v. State of Gujarat 1983 (3) SCC 217, at p.226, this
Court stated the law thus:
principle the evidence of a victim of sexual assault stands on par with
evidence of an injured witness. Just as a witness who has sustained an injury
(which is not shown or believed to be self inflicted) is the best witness in
the sense that she is least Rely to exculpate the real offender, the evidence
of a victim of a sex offence is entitled to great weight, absence of
corroboration notwithstanding............ if the evidence of the victim does
not suffer from any basic infirmity, and the 'probabilities factor' does not
render it unworthy of credence, as a general rule, there is no reason to insist
on corroboration." Again in State of Maharashtra v. Chandraprakash Kewalchand Jain etc. 1990 (1) SCC 550, at
p.559, this Court laid down the law thus:
a prosecutrix is an adult and of full understanding the Court is entitled to
base a conviction on her evidence unless the same is shown to be infirm and not
trustworthy. If the totality of the circumstances appearing on the record of
the case disclosed that the prosecutrix does not have a strong motive to
falsely involve the person charged, the Court should ordinarily have no
hesitation in accepting her evidence. We have, therefore , no doubt in our
minds that ordinarily the evidence of a prosecutrix who does not lack under- 41
standing must be accepted. The degree of proof required must not be higher is
expected of an injured witness......
the evidence of a prosecutrix must carry the same weight as is attached to an
injured person who is a victim of violence, unless there are special
circumstances which call for greater caution, in which case it would be safe to
act on her testimony if there is independent evidence lending assurance to her
accusation. " (emphasis supplied)
the light of the above decisions of this Court the report submitted by the
District Judge, Pondicherry in pursuance of the order passed by
this Court is unacceptable and we reject the same.
is unfortunate that an order passed by the Administrator of Pondicherry on
22.7.1978, nearly 17 years ago, was not given effect to by the Administration
and even when the appellant approached the High Court for implementing the said
order, it was opposed and relief was denied to her, by Court. No useful purpose
will be served by ordering an enquiry again at this distance of time.
the affidavits filed by the appellant, her statements of allegations, the
various documents and also the other relevant papers filed in the case, we have
no doubt in our mind, that something, as stated by the appellant, should have
happened in a broad sense though the precise details relating thereto have not
come to light.
entire episode is really unfortunate and we express our anguish in the matter.
It also appears that all was not well with regard to the manner and method of
the running of the institution started at Reddiarpalayam by the Social Welfare
Directorate and the steps taken in that regard by the appellant to set right
the matter seems to have provoked "the powers that be". It is evident
that there was inaction and attempt to cover up the entire episode. The fact
that the high constitutional dignitary, Governor of Tamil Nadu, who was the
Administrator of Pondicherry, felt that a prima facie case is disclosed and
ordered that the allegations regarding the endeavour to molest the appellant
need independent enquiry in the interest of justice cannot be and should not
have been ignored. The Administration failed in its duty to give effect to the
said order within a reasonable time. On the other hand, the attempt was to "
shelve" the matter, by putting forward untenable pleas. A responsible
statutory authority or administration, owes a duty to the public, to discharge
its functions reasonably, honestly and bonafide, without driving the aggrieved
persons from pillar to post, and should there be any non-excusable lapse on
this score, the concerned authority or administration, should be held
responsible for the loss or damage accruing thereby to the aggrieved persons.
Even the High Court on an erroneous view declined relief to the appellant. It
cannot be gain said that the modesty of a woman is very precious to her from
all points of view and when attempts were made to molest her and also to thwart
the genuine attempts made by her to set right the undesirable happenings in the
shelter home for women, any person placed in the position of the appellant will
certainly feel annoyed and ashamed. There is every reason for the appellant to
feel greatly humiliated. There is bound to be moral indignation or resentment.
Even a judicial enquiry, ordered by the highest constitutional functionary in
the State to investigate the matter, was rendered futile by the concerned
officials and 42 for a period of 17 years no redress or remedy has been
rendered to the appellant. This is sad indeed! The appellant entered service in
1958. Due to estranged rela- tionship, events one after another followed and
eventually the appellant was removed from service on 30.9.1981 and she was
driven from pillar to post to seek redress for the wrong done to her. On the
day when she was removed from service she had 23 years of qualifying service.
She was entitled to pension. Under Rule 48-B of the Central Civil Services
(Pension) Rules, 1972 weightage of a period not exceeding 5 years can be added
to the actual service rendered by a civil servant as period of grace, if the
total qualifying service does not exceed 33 years and if it does not take the
civil servant beyond the date of superannuation. In the normal course the
appellant would have attained superannuation only on 25.8.1992, her date of birth
being 25.8.1934. There are materials available in the records to show that the
appellant was a highly competent, hard working, sincere and devoted official.
She has been referred to as an asset to the department. But for the estranged
relationship and the acrimonious battle, she would have normally served the
State till superannuation. There was no impediment therefore.
the totality of the circumstances and the non- excusable lapses of the
administration and in doing complete justice in the matter, we are of the view
that it should be declared that the appellant was compulsorily retired on at
training the age of superannuation an should be afforded pension and all other
consequential and incidental benefits, of the basis that she was compulsorily
retire from service on 25.8.1992. She would be entitled to pension and other
retirement benefits. Besides, the appellant should be afforded relief by award
of a lump-sum compensation for the loss of her reputation and honour and the
agony she had to suffer in the long battle, which we fix at Rs. 3 lacs, payable
jointly by respondents 1 and 3, within one month from today. We order
appeal shall stand disposed of as above with no order as to costs.