Managing Director, Madrasmetropolitan Water Supply ands Vs. R. Rajan  INSC
757 (28 November 1995)
Reddy, B.P. (J) Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J) Majmudar S.B. (J) B.P.Jeevan Reddy,J.
1996 SCC (1) 338 JT 1995 (8) 447 1995 SCALE (6)723
counsel for the parties.
appeals are preferred against the judgment of the Division Bench of the Madras
High Court disposing of writ appeals, preferred by the respondents, with
respondents, R.Rajan and C.A.Rajan, are the Secretary and President
respectively of the Association of Assistant Engineers in the service of the
Madras Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (The Board).
action has been initiated against them under the Madras Metropolitan Water
Supply and Sewerage Board Employees (Discipline and Appeal) Regulations, 1978
(Regulations). After the receipt of the Enquiry Officer's report, the General
Manager of the Board issued notices to the respondents calling upon them to
submit their defence, if any within seven days of the receipt of the said
of the Enquiry Officer's report along with depositions of witnesses was
enclosed to the said notices.
that stage, the respondent approached the Madras High Court by way of writ
petitions contending that the Board is bent upon dismissing them from service,
that they were being victimised for union activities and that the General
Manager who has issued the aforesaid notices has no jurisdiction to impose the
punishment of dismissal. They also raised several grounds with respect to the
regularity and validity of the manner in which the enquiry against them was
conducted. The appellants (respondents in the writ petitions) opposed the writ
petitions inter alia on the ground that the High Court ought not have
interfered at that stage of disciplinary proceedings. They denied the charges
of victimisation or unfair labour practice levelled by the respondents. They
also denied that the Board had already made up its mind to dismiss the
respondents. While affirming the power of the General Manager to impose the
penalty of dismissal upon the respondents, the learned counsel for the Board
appears to have stated before the learned Single Judge that the Board does not
propose to impose the punishment of dismissal on the respondents (writ
petitioners) even if the charges against them are established - vide Para 29 of
the judgment of the learned Single Judge.
learned Single Judge dismissed the writ petitions on the ground that no
interference is called for at that stage of the disciplinary proceedings but
observed at the same time that "even if the charges are held proved
against the petitioners, the punishment of dismissal from service shall not be
imposed on the petitioners in the light of the statement made on behalf of the
respondents". (In the above extract, the expression
"petitioners" means the writ petitions who are respondents in these
appeals and the expression "respondents" means the appellants
herein.) The respondents filed two writ appeals against the judgment of the
learned Single Judge. The Division Bench was also of the opinion that at the
present stage of disciplinary proceedings, no interference is warranted by the
Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
Bench observed that "this is not the stage at which the Court can issue a
direction as to what punishment should be imposed and what not". But then,
it noted, "however, in the light of the assertion on the part of the
Managing Director that he has powers to impose a penalty of compulsory
retirement, it becomes necessary to indicate what are his powers relating to
the officers having revised pay scales of
Rs.2000-760-2300-75-3200-100-3500."* The Bench examined the relevant
regulations, the old and the revised pay scales and concluded that the Managing
Director is not competent to impose the penalty of dismissal or compulsory
retirement upon the respondents. The Division Bench held:
Managing Director is not competent authority to impose penalties mentioned in
(f), (g) and (h), viz., with-holding otherwise than on attaining the age of
superannuation and dismissal from service respectively. According to the
regulations, Board is the competent authority to impose penalties mentioned in
(f) and (g) and Government is the competent authority to impose the penalty
mentioned in (h)."
------------------------------------------------------------ *The respondents
are in this pay scale.
writ appeals were accordingly disposed of with the above observations.
present appeals preferred by the Board, the holding of the Division Bench with
respect to the powers of the Managing Director is called in question.
rightly held by the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench, no
interference was called for at an interlocutory stage of the disciplinary
proceedings. The enquiry was no doubt over but the competent authority was yet
to decide whether the charges against the respondents are established either
wholly or partly and what punishment, if any, is called for. At this stage of
proceedings, it was wholly unnecessary to go into the question as to who is
competent to impose which punishment upon the respondents.
an exercise is purely academic at this at age of the disciplinary proceedings.
So far as the learned Single Judge is concerned, he did not examine the
regulations nor did he record any finding as to the powers of the General
Manager, the Board or the Government, as the case may be. He merely directed
that in view of the statement made by the learned counsel for the Board, the
punishment of dismissal shall not be imposed upon the respondents even if the
charges against them are established. When the respondents filed writ appeals,
the Division Bench was also of the opinion that this was not the stage to
interfere under Article 226 of the Constitution nor was it a stage at which one
should speculate as to the punishment that may be imposed. But it appears that
the Board insisted upon a decision on the question of power. It is because of
the assertion on the part of the appellants (that the Managing Director has the
power to impose the penalty of compulsory retirement) that the Division Bench
examined the question of power on merits.
said assertion of the Managing Director that he has the power to impose the
punishment of compulsory retirement probably created an impression in the mind
of the Court that the Board has already decided to impose the said punishment
upon the respondents and probably it is for the said reason that they examined
the said question on merits. (Insofar as the respondents are concerned, it was
their refrain throughout that the Board had already decided to impose the
punishment of dismissal/compulsory retirement upon them and that the enquiry
and all the other proceedings were merely an eye-wash.) While we agree that
expression of any opinion on the question of powers of the Managing Director,
the Board or the Government in the matter of imposition of penalties under the
regulations was unnecessary at this stage, we are of the opinion that the Board
cannot complain of it when it itself has invited the decision of the Division
Bench on the said question. On our part, we refuse to make any pronouncement on
such an academic question at this stage and leave it open. Accordingly, we dismiss
these appeals without expressing any opinion on the correctness or otherwise of
the holding of the Division Bench with respect to the powers of the Managing
Director, the Board or the Government in the matter of imposition of
punishments/penalties upon the respondents under the aforesaid regulations. We
only affirm the view of the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench that at
this stage of the disciplinary proceedings, no interference is warranted by the
High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.