Secretary to The Home Department, Madras & Ors Vs. R. Ramalingam  INSC 1095 (9 September 1996)
Reddy, B.P. (J) Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J) Paripoornan, K.S.(J)
O R D
appeal arises from an order of a learned Single Member [Administrative] in
Original Application No.2398 of 1991 quashing the order dismissing the
respondent from service and directing his reinstatement. The Tribunal has,
however, denied back wages observing at the same time that the period between
the date of dismissal and the date of the Tribunal's order shall count for
service and pensionary benefits.
respondent, R.Ramalingam, a Head Constable, was posted at Thiruvaiyaru Police
Station. On the night intervening 15th/16th August, 1987, one Meenambal went to the police
station enquiring whether her husband was in the police custody. The
respondent, it is said, misbehaved and molested her on that occasion. On her
shouting and screaming, a Constable (PC 1168] came to the scene to whom the
said lady complained of the respondent's misbehaviour.
meantime, the Inspector of Police, Mannergudi [Crime] arrived with his party in
a jeep at the police station in search of an accused concerned in Mellatur
rescued Meenambal from the situation. The Inspector sent a report to the
Superintendent of Police on 16-8-1987 about
the incident who in turn referred the matter to Deputy Superintendent of
Police, Thanjavur [Rural] (D.S.P.) for conducting a preliminary enquiry. The
D.S.P. submitted a report recommending disciplinary action. On the basis of the
said report, charges were framed. The gravamen of the charges was the
"highly reprehensible conduct and unbecoming of a police officer in
molesting one Meenambal at Thiruvaiyaru Police Station at 0200 hrs. on
15/16.8.87 with intention to rape". The D.S.P., Crime Record Bureau was
directed to hold a disciplinary enquiry. On the basis of the report of the
D.S.P., the respondent was dismissed from service on 11/3/1988. The appeal and review preferred by the respondent
were dismissed. A mercy petition filed before the Government was also rejected.
respondent then approached the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal by way of an
Original Application [O.A.No.2398/91]. The respondent contended that the charge
memo was issued by the D.S.P. and not by the appointing authority, viz.,
Superintendent of Police. According to him, the D.S.P. had no jurisdiction to
issue the memo of charges, since he was not his appointing authority. He
further submitted that in his case the Revenue Divisional Officer should have
conducted the preliminary enquiry and on the basis of his report, the
Government should have decided whether a disciplinary proceeding or a criminal
prosecution should be initiated against him. He also contended that a copy of
the Enquiry Officer's report was not been supplied to him and as such he was
denied the reasonable opportunity to defend himself.
original application was heard by a learned single member [Administrative]
sitting singly, with the consent of both the parties before it. The Tribunal
allowed the application holding that the D.S.P., being an authority subordinate
to the appointing authority, was not competent to hold the disciplinary
enquiry. It also held that serious prejudice has been caused to the respondent
on account of non-supply of enquiry of officer's report and that he has been
denied reasonable opportunity to defend himself on that account. The Tribunal
held further that since the statements of witnesses examined during the
preliminary enquiry were not supplied to the respondent, the enquiry held was
vitiated. The Tribunal also found fault with the orders of the disciplinary and
appellate authorities as wanting in reasons and hence, bad.
first two grounds given by the Tribunal are unsustainable in view of the
decisions of this Court in Inspector General of Police v. Thavasiappa [1996 (2)
S.C.C.145] and in Managing Director, ECIL v. B.Karunakar [1993 (4) S.C.C.727].
[The order of punishment/dismissal in this case is prior to the decision in Ramzan
Khan v. Union of India [1991 (1) S.C.C.588].
as other grounds given by the Tribunal were concerned, the learned counsel for
the appellant offers several reasons and explanations why the said grounds are
not sustainable. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondent
seeks to support those grounds. We are, however, not inclined to go into the
correctness or otherwise of the said grounds. in all the circumstances of this
case, we think, this is a proper case, where the matter should go back to the
Tribunal for a fresh decision according to law. The matter shall be heard by a
Bench of which atleast one is a Judicial Member.
appeal is allowed in the above terms. The judgment of the Tribunal impugned
herein is set aside and the matter remitted for a fresh consideration. No