India & ANR. Vs. Ram Pal Singh Bisen  INSC 191 (16 March 2010)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.893
OF 2007 L.I.C. OF INDIA & ANR. ....Appellants Versus RAM PAL SINGH BISEN
Ignorance is a bliss, especially in the vast field of law, stands
established from the narration of facts of this appeal as would fully expose
it. Against findings of fact vide judgment and decree recorded by Additional
District Judge No.2, Ajmer in Civil Suit No. 93 of 1982 (10/80), decided on
28.5.1993, confirmed in S.B. First appeal No. 178 of 1993 by learned Single
Judge of the High Court of Judicature of Rajasthan at Jaipur and further
affirmed in Special Appeal (Civil) No. 42 of 1996 by Division Bench of the said
Court, decided on 30.9.2005, unsuccessful appellants/ defendants are before us,
challenging the same on variety of grounds.
Needless to say the facts unfolded before us from the C.A. No.893
of 2007 2 record as well as during the course of hearing reveal a sorry state
of affairs as to the manner in which suit had been contested in the trial court
by the appellants herein, abutting gross negligence and callous manner, not
even adhering to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and the Indian
Evidence Act, yet challenging the same before this Court, even after having
lost from all courts.
Thumb-nail sketch of the facts of the case are as under:
Respondent herein original plaintiff was appointed by the
appellants/defendants on probation as a Development officer on 5.4.1964. He was
confirmed on the said post on 1.4.1966. It is not in dispute that his service
conditions were regulated by Life Insurance Corporation of India (Staff)
Regulations, 1960 (hereinafter shall be referred to as "Staff
Regulations") framed in exercise of powers conferred under clause (b) of
sub-section (2) of Section 49 of Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as the "Act").
Charge sheet dated 16.4.1974 imputing six charges was served on
him. He was also placed under suspension.
charge sheet was also served on him on 21.10.1974. Mr. R.S. Maheshwari was
appointed as Inquiry C.A. No.893 of 2007 3 Officer, who after completion of
inquiry proceedings furnished his report to Disciplinary Authority on
29.01.1976. On the basis of this, respondent was served with show-cause notice
on 23.2.1976 stating inter-alia that in view of the fact that some of the
serious charges stood proved against him, why order of dismissal from service
be not passed against him.
Respondent submitted his reply to the show cause notice on
02.04.1976, pointing out irregularities committed during the course of inquiry
by the Inquiry Officer. His categorical case in reply was that he has not been
given adequate, proper, reasonable and sufficient opportunity of hearing during
the domestic inquiry.
the whole inquiry stood vitiated on the principles of natural justice. It
deserves to be quashed and no action on such an inquiry report can be taken
However, without taking note of the submissions of the respondent,
appellants by non speaking order and further without disclosing any opinion, on
the basis of which respondent was held guilty of charges levelled against him,
arrived at a conclusion for his dismissal from service vide order dated
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, the respondent was C.A. No.893
of 2007 4 constrained to prefer a departmental appeal under Regulation 40 of
Staff Regulations but that too met the fate of dismissal vide order dated
He then submitted further mercy appeal before the Chairman of LIC
but without any favourable result as the same came to be dismissed on
Feeling aggrieved by the aforesaid orders passed by appellants
herein, respondent as plaintiff was constrained to file a suit, as an indigent
person before Additional District Judge No.2, Ajmer, for declaration that the
departmental inquiry proceedings culminating in order of dismissal from
service, the appellate order, and further order passed by the Chairman of the
appellant- Corporation as null and void. Consequently, he be held entitled for
reinstatement in service with all consequential benefits. The learned trial
Judge was pleased to grant permission to respondent-plaintiff to contest the
suit as an indigent person.
Appellants herein as defendants, filed written statement, inter
alia, denying that no proper or sufficient opportunity was afforded to the
further contended that despite grant of sufficient opportunity, respondent took
undue adjournments on various earlier dates or had remained absent, and C.A.
No.893 of 2007 5 thereafter deliberately remained absent from the inquiry on
5.1.1976, thereby compelling the Inquiry Officer to proceed ex-parte against
him. Thus, even after grant of several opportunities, he cannot legitimately
contend that inquiry was hit by the principles of natural justice.
Thus, in general, they have denied averments of the plaint in toto
and submitted that the suit being mis- conceived deserves to be dismissed with
On the strength of the pleadings of the parties, trial court was
pleased to frame six issues. The main and pertinent issue was with regard to
the fact whether action of the appellants resulting in respondent's dismissal
from service, rejection of appeal and further representation, was in violation
of the principles of natural justice, if so, then to what reliefs respondent
was entitled to.
Before proceeding further, it is pertinent to mention here that
neither copy of Inquiry Report was made available to respondent nor it was
disclosed in the show cause notice as to on what premise finding of guilt was
recorded by Inquiry Officer or by the Disciplinary Authority while order of
dismissal came to be passed against him.
No.893 of 2007 6 15.To prove his averments in the suit, respondent- plaintiff
tendered himself in the witness box and proved his case as also documents filed
in support thereof.
enough, appellants herein did not lead any oral evidence, yet some of the
documents filed by appellants were exhibited, probably under misconception of
law that they were not disputed in Court by respondent. It is also necessary to
mention here that appellants had also not served any notice of admission or
denial of documents on the respondent during trial as contemplated under Order XII
Rule 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure (for short,`CPC').
After appreciating the evidence available on record, trial court
was pleased to decide the issues in favour of the respondent-plaintiff, holding
therein that there was complete violation of principles of natural justice
inasmuch as no reasonable, proper and sufficient opportunity was afforded to
him to defend himself in the departmental enquiry. Similarly, the appellate
order was passed in a mechanical manner as also the order on representation of
the respondent by Chairman. In the result, the Trial Court passed a decree in
favour of respondent, quashing and setting aside order of dismissal from
service with further direction to reinstate him C.A. No.893 of 2007 7 alongwith
all consequential benefits including payment of salary for the intervening
Against this judgment and decree pronounced by trial court,
appellants were constrained to file regular first appeal before learned single
judge of the High Court which also came to be dismissed by him on 28.5.1993.
Not being satisfied with the same, appellants carried Special Appeal before the
Division Bench of the said High Court which also came to be dismissed on
30.9.2005. Hence, this appeal after grant of leave, by the defendants, having
lost from all the three courts.
We have accordingly heard Mr. P.S. Patwalia, Mr. K. Ramamoorthy,
learned Senior Counsel with Mrs. Indra Sawhney, learned counsel for the
appellants and Ms. Chandan Ramamurthi,
learned counsel for respondent and have critically examined the
It is pertinent to mention here that even though oral evidence
lead by respondent plaintiff is not on record, but on certified copy thereof,
being supplied to us by learned counsel for appellants, we have categorically
gone through the same. It may be mentioned herein that in the same, there was
not even a whisper of suggestion made to the plaintiff that he had appeared in
the office on 5.1.1976 to collect his suspension allowance yet on C.A. No.893
of 2007 8 being informed by the inquiry officer, that his inquiry too was fixed
for the said date, therefore, he should come to attend it, on which respondent
had informed the Inquiry Officer that he would appear, after some time along
with his witnesses. In other words, even the defence that has been pleaded and
set up by the appellants in their written statement was not put forth to the
respondent, while he was in the witness box.
Thus, the question that arises for consideration is whether in
absence of any oral evidence having been tendered by the appellants, and
especially in absence of putting their own defence to the respondent during his
cross examination in the Court, what is the effect of documents filed by
appellants and marked as Exhibits.
Despite our persistent requests made to the learned counsel
appearing for the appellants they have not been able to show compliance of
Order XII Rule 1 and 2 of the CPC, meaning thereby that there has not been any
Order XII, Rules 1 and 2 appearing in the Code of Civil Procedure
reads as thus:
XII ADMISSIONS C.A. No.893 of 2007 9
of admission of case. - Any party to a suit may give notice, by his pleading,
or othewise in writing, that he admits the truth of the whole or any part of
the case of any other party.
to admit documents. - Either party may call upon the other party to admit,
within seven days from the date of service of the notice any document, saving
all just exceptions; and in case of refusal or neglect to admit, after such
notice, the costs of proving any such document shall be paid by the party so
neglecting or refusing, what- ever the result of the suit may be, unless the
Court otherwise directs; and no costs of proving any document shall be allowed
unless such notice is given, except where the omission to give the notice is,
in the opinion of the Court, a saving of expense."
It is also necessary to mention here that Rule 2A of Order XII of
the CPC deals with the situation where notice of admission as contemplated in
Order XII Rule 2 of the CPC has been served but is not denied then the same
shall be deemed to have been admitted. Similarly, Rule 3A of the aforesaid
Order grants power to the Court to admit any document in evidence, even if no
notice has been served. The aforesaid provisions of law have been brought in
the Code vide Amendment by Act No. 104 of 1976, w.e.f. 1.2.1977.
Records do not reveal that any such procedure was adopted either
by the appellants or by the Trial Court to prove the documents filed by the
appellants and mark them as Exhibits. Thus, no advantage thereof could be
accrued C.A. No.893 of 2007 10 to the appellants, even if it is assumed that
said documents have been admitted by respondent and were then exhibited and
No doubt, it is true that failure to prove the defence does not
amount to an admission, nor does it reverse or discharge the burden of proof of
the plaintiff but still the duty cast on the defendants has to be discharged by
adducing oral evidence, which the appellants have miserably failed to do.
Appellants, even though a defaulting party, committed breach and failed to
carry out a legislative imposition, then had still to convince this Court as to
what was the just cause for doing the same. Thus looking to the matter from any
angle, it is fully established that appellants had miserably failed to prove
and establish their defence in the case.
We are of the firm opinion that mere admission of document in
evidence does not amount to its proof. In other words, mere marking of exhibit
on a document does not dispense with its proof, which is required to be done in
accordance with law. As has been mentioned herein above, despite perusal of the
record, we have not been able to come to know as to under what circumstances
respondent plaintiff had admitted those documents. Even otherwise, his
admission of those documents cannot carry C.A. No.893 of 2007 11 the case of
the appellants any further and much to the prejudice of the respondent.
It was the duty of the appellants to have proved documents Exh.
A-1 to Exh. A-10 in accordance with law.
the Inquiry Report or the evidence adduced during the domestic enquiry would
not partake the character of admissible evidence in a court of law.
documentary evidence was also required to be proved by the appellants in
accordance with the provisions of the Evidence Act, which they have failed to
It is also worthwhile to mention here that one of the complainant
Rattan Lal who was examined as witness during the departmental Inquiry was not
cross-examined by respondent as he was not afforded proper opportunity in this
Learned counsel for the appellants has strenuously submitted
before us that on 5.1.1976, respondent deliberately, intentionally and with
oblique motives remained absent from the Departmental Inquiry proceedings as on
the same very day he had come to the office to collect his dues, was then
informed about the proceedings fixed for the same day but he still remained
absent. The said order sheet is neither signed by the respondent nor was this
defence put up to him when he was C.A. No.893 of 2007 12 in the witness box in
From the narration of aforesaid facts and law, we are of the
considered opinion that the courts have committed no error in coming to the
conclusion that respondent was denied opportunity of hearing, that being so,
whole proceedings stand vitiated by non-adherence to the principles of natural
Under the Law of Evidence also, it is necessary that contents of
documents are required to be proved either by primary or by secondary evidence.
At the most, admission of documents may amount to admission of contents but not
its truth. Documents having not been produced and marked as required under the
Evidence Act cannot be relied upon by the Court. Contents of the document
cannot be proved by merely filing in a court.
Learned counsel for the appellants Mr. P.S. Patwalia in his usual,
polite yet firm vehemence contended that looking to the serious allegations
levelled against him, the order of the Trial Court directing reinstatement with
full back wages, which stood confirmed by Appellate Courts, would amount to
rewarding a dishonest officer.
looking to the manner in which the case was conducted in the Trial Court,
nothing can be done to grant any relief to the appellants. Respondent has been
able to C.A. No.893 of 2007 13 successfully prove that there was denial of
opportunity to him in the Departmental Enquiry. In this view of the matter, all
subsequent actions taken thereto, would automatically fail.
In this view of the matter, we are of the opinion that the courts
below committed no error in decreeing the suit of the respondent.
It may further be noted that respondent has now retired in the
year 2000, after having attained age of superannuation. Thus, the question of
his re- instatement does not arise. It could only be a case of some monetary
benefit to him. In view of his superannuation, it will neither be fit nor
proper to direct a fresh inquiry to be conducted against him.
Thus, the appeal being devoid of any merit and substance is
dismissed. Appellants to bear the cost of the litigation throughout.
Counsel's fee Rs.10,000/-.
......................J. [B.SUDERSHAN REDDY]
......................J. [DEEPAK VERMA]
March 16, 2010,
C.A. No.893 of 2007 14 New Delhi.