Walavalkar Vs State of Maharashtra ....
appeal was filed by the appellant herein being aggrieved by the judgment and
order passed by the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court dismissing the writ
petition filed by the appellant herein.
issue that is sought to be raised in this appeal by the appellant is whether
the Disciplinary Authority was justified in imposing on the appellant the
punishment of compulsory retirement in terms of Rule 5(1)(vii) of the
Maharashtra Civil Services (Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1979 on the ground
that the said appellant-Magistrate was found travelling without ticket in a
local train thrice and on each occasion, the behaviour of the said appellant-Magistrate
with the Railway staff in asserting that the Magistrates need not have a ticket
was improper and constituted grave misconduct.
allegation against the appellant was that she had travelled without tickets on
21.2.1997, 13.5.1997 and also on 5.12.1997when she was caught. The charges here
not only related to such incidents of ticketless travelling but also about
misusing her official identity card and for making unnecessary scene on the
Railway plat form and giving threats to the Railway staff which was considered
to be misconduct unbecoming of a judicial officer as per Rule 3(iii) of the
Maharashtra Civil Services Conduct Rules, 1979.
order to understand the gravity of the charges and since it was the submission
of the counsel appearing for the appellant that she was not responsible for any
travelling without tickets, we have to narrate the background facts leading to
the issuance of memorandum of charges against her.
28.5.1992, the appellant was appointed as a Metropolitan Magistrate at Bombay. Allegations
were made by the Railway officials against the appellant for three incidents
that happened on21.2.1997, 13.5.1997 and on 5.12.1997. While the appellant
on5.12.1997 boarded the train at Mulund, she was accosted by two ticket collectors
during the course of her journey from Mulund to Dadar who asked her to produce
ticket or her pass. The appellant, however, stated that she had given her
orderly money to buy a season pass which would be produced at the Dadar Railway
Station. Even at Dadar Railway Station, she could not produce any ticket for
her travel between the stations i.e. from Mulund to Dadar when she was asked to
pay the Railway fare and fine for having travelled without ticket from Mulund
to Dadar. However, another Metropolitan Magistrate travelling by the next train
reached the Dadar Station and on being informed about the plight of the appellant,
he came to the Station Superintendent and handed over to the appellant Rs.
102/- which was paid by the appellant to the railway officers against a receipt.
Even prior to the said date, it was alleged that the appellant travelled
without tickets on two dates i.e. 21.2.1997 and 13.5.1997.
receipt of the aforesaid allegations made against the appellant by the Railway
officers, a preliminary inquiry was held, on completion of which a Report was
submitted on 25.3.1998 holding that the incidents of ticketless travelling by
the appellant on the aforesaid three dates had been established against the
thereto, a Memorandum of Charges was framed against the appellant and the same
was issued on 17.12.1998.There were two specific articles of charges framed
against the appellant which were to the following effect:-
petitioner claimed that the Magistrates are not required to buy ticket or pass
and are allowed to travel in any local train, in first class without any travel
authority for the purpose of attending duties.
petitioner was caught thrice for travelling in first class compartment of local
train without ticket / travel authority and when caught the petitioner entered
into arguments with ticket checking staff and on 05.12.1997 at about 10:30 to
11 a.m., created a scene and threatened the ticket collectors at Dadar railway station
when the authorities insisted that the petitioner pay the necessary charges for
travelling without ticket.
with the aforesaid Memorandum of Charges, the articles of charges with the
statement of imputation of misconduct with list of charges along with list of
witnesses were forwarded to theappellant.
aforesaid disciplinary proceeding of the appellant was held along with two
other Metropolitan Magistrates namely Mrs. Rama Waghule and Mr. V.V. Phand. Since
we are not concerned with the charges framed against the other two officers, we
refrain from referring to the same in the present case.
receipt of the aforesaid Memorandum of Charges, the appellant sent her reply
taking up a definite stand that the alleged incident of ticketless travelling
on 21.2.1997 was deliberately concocted and imaginary whereas regarding the
remaining two incidents of ticketless travelling, it was stated by her that the
same were due to unavoidable circumstances as set out more particularly in the
disciplinary authority having not been satisfied with the reply submitted by the
appellant ordered for conducting an inquiry against the appellant and appointed
the inquiry officer for holding a departmental inquiry against the appellant
with reference to the charges levelled against her. After conducting a detailed
inquiry and examining a number of witnesses, the inquiry officer on 28.10.1999
submitted his report stating that the charges alleged against the appellant are
proved. The inquiry officer held that the appellant was found travelling without
ticket at least thrice and her behaviour on each occasion was far from proper
and not commensurate with the behaviour of a judicial officer. The aforesaid
Report submitted by the Inquiry Officer was considered by the disciplinary authority
consisting of the Chief Justice and Judges of the Bombay High Court and it was decided
to issue a notice to the appellant to show cause. Consequently, a show cause
notice was issued to the appellant asking her to explain as to why the findings
recorded by the inquiry officer would not be accepted and why a major penalty
including a penalty of dismissal from service would not be imposed on
appellant submitted an application on 24.01.2000, pleading that she may be
permitted to examine herself and three independent witnesses as and by way of
additional evidence. The said application was, however, rejected by the disciplinary
authority, but the High Court extended the time for filing the reply pursuant
to which she submitted her reply to the show cause notice on 9.3.2000. After
receipt of the aforesaid reply, the disciplinary authority considered her case
and took a decision that she was guilty of misconduct and therefore decided to
impose the penalty of compulsory retirement which was accepted by the State Government
and consequently the impugned order of compulsory retirement was issued against
the appellant on 27.9.2000.
aggrieved by the order passed, the appellant filed a writ petition in the High
Court challenging the legality and validity of the aforesaid order of
compulsory retirement from the service.
Division Bench of the High Court, as stated earlier dismissed the writ petition
as against which the present appeal was filed. When the matter was listed, we
heard the learned counsel appearing for the parties at length and also perused
the records and scrutinised the same very minutely in order to arrive at a
categorical finding regarding the guilt of the appellant. Before dwelling
further it will be useful to examine few relevant facts of the present case. There
are three incidents on the basis of which charges of misconduct against the
appellant were framed. The said incidents were on 21.2.1997, 13.5.1997 and
5.12.1997. So far as the incident of ticketless travelling on 21.2.1997 is
concerned, it is the case of the Railway as also of the Disciplinary Authority
that she had travelled without ticket on the said date and when she was accosted
to show her pass or ticket, she simply passed her identity card to the hands of
the ticket collector and went away before she could be caught physically. The
aforesaid identity card of the appellant was however, returned to her
on24.2.1997by the Railway officials. The aforesaid incident was made a charge
against which she had taken a categorical defence that she had lost her
official identity card and on receiving information that the same was found at
the Dadar Railway Station, she got it collected through a Constable from the
Railway authorities on 24.2.1997. Her specific case in the departmental
proceeding against the said charge was that she had never travelled by train on
far as the said defence is concerned, the High Court found the same to be
without any basis particularly in view of the fact that if the appellant was
travelling as stated by her in a car during the month of February, 1997, there
was no reason why her official identity card could be found and traced at Dadar
Railway Station. It was also held that she was the best person to give some
idea as to how she lost her identity card at the Dadar Railway Station. It was
also held that since no evidence was led by the appellant on that behalf and
since also the Constable who had allegedly collected the identity card from the
Railway authorities on 24.2.1997 had not been examined by her to establish her
defence, the aforesaid defence taken by the appellant was not accepted by the
High Court and it was held that the said charge of ticketless travelling
on21.2.1997 is proved in the facts and circumstances of the present case.
find no reason to take a different view from the aforesaid findings recorded by
the High Court. The specific stand of the Railway and also of the departmental
authority in the inquiry is that the appellant when accosted for her ticketless
travelling, she simply passed her identity card to the hands of the ticket
collector and went away and giving no opportunity to the ticket collector to
detain her. If it was her case that she lost her identity card, it was required
for her to immediately lodge a complaint thereto with the concerned authority
or with the police which she never did. The said identity card was in fact
returned to her by the Railway officials on 24.2.1997. We could not find any
justifiable reason of the identity card being recovered at the Dadar Railway
Station if she had not at all travelled by train on that day.
could be no other conclusions than what is arrived at by the High Court that
she had indeed travelled on that day without any ticket and when accosted, she
simply passed the identity card to the hands of the ticket collector and walked
away from the place.
far as the incident of 13.5.1997 is concerned, the specific defence of the
appellant is that she had purchased a first class ticket on 13.5.1997 but the
same was lost while boarding the train which was not accepted by the High Court
holding the same to be highly improbable as she had voluntarily paid the
charges after stating that Magistrates travelling without ticket could not be
asked to pay the fine. Fact remains that on 13.5.1997 also the appellant could
not produce any valid ticket or pass when she was accosted and asked to produce
her valid ticket/pass. The defence that she lost ticket while boarding the train
could always be taken by anybody, but in our concerned view, there must be some
basic facts supporting such statement which could not be produced by the
appellant in the instant case.
far as the incident on 5.12.1997 is concerned, we find that there is no dispute
with regard to the fact that on that particular day, she boarded a first class
compartment at Mulund Station although she did not have a valid ticket/pass in
her possession. She had paid a penalty which was given to her by one of her colleagues.
Later on she had taken a stand that she had purchased a season ticket but the
said ticket was also found to have been purchased at Dadar station.
5.12.1997, when the appellant was caught without ticket and when she was asked
to produce the ticket, she could not do so nor was she prepared to pay the
charges on the ground that she was a Magistrate and therefore has a right to
travel without ticket. It is established from the record that subsequently,
however, she paid the amount of Rs. 102/-
this connection, we may also refer to a letter written by heron 8.12.1997 to
the General Manager, Central Railway, Mumbai. The said letter was admittedly
written by her and it reads as follows:- "I would like to mention to you
that sometimes, I am required to enter into your local Trains to reach my Court
in time, as the vehicle given to us is a pooling one which takes a very long time
due to unexpected traffic on the roads or break downs. During such occasions, I
am unable to buy tickets because of short of time and consequently it had happened
so, that I had to face your nagging ticket collectors. Your lady ticket collectors
at Dadar instead of understanding our difficulties have further harassed us in
the most insulting manner and this has left a deed scar in our mind. If you
care to know how nasty your people could be, you may depute a representative to
whom we can explain the facts. I am aware that the Metropolitan Magistrates
handling the matters of any railway police station on central line get first class
free pass right from Nagpur to Igapturi. Even the staff attached to such
Magistrates also get free passes. We also 19 attend to the work of railways on
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Are we therefore, not entitled, at least to
stand in the first class compartments of local trains only for the purpose of
reaching our Courts in time during such emergencies ? Please do the needful in
this matter urgently by giving necessary instructions to the ticket collectors
so that we are not humiliated by your ticket collectors on this count and made
to pay fine. If you are of the negative opinion, that even this little courtesy
cannot be extended to us, please communicate to me, so that I am prepared for
such eventualities. Your early response would be highly appreciated."
aforesaid letter as also the fact that she could not produce any ticket or pass
for her travel between Mulund and Dadar station clearly establishes the fact
that on 5.12.1997, she had travelled without ticket.
the aforesaid position, she had written a letter to the General Manager,
Central Railway, Mumbai clearly stating that at times she is unable to buy
tickets because of shortage of time for which she had been harassed by the
ticket collectors, therefore, she should be provided a free passage in a First
Class compartment of local trains for the purpose of reaching the courts in
time during such emergencies.
letter written immediately after the incident on 5.12.1997clearlyindicatesthat she
had travelled without ticket on5.12.1997and she had taken offence for demanding
a ticket from her as she is a Magistrate and she had made complaint against the
ticket collectors. The offence as alleged against the appellant in the memo of
charges therefore for 5.12.1997 is established on her own showing and
therefore, the inquiry officer was justified in coming to the conclusion that
the charges levelled against her stood proved.
next question that is posed before us is whether the inquiry officer was
justified in recommending punishment to the appellant.
have looked into the aforesaid issue also in the light of the provisions of the
Rules. Rule 8(25)(e) of the Rules provided and permitted an inquiry officer to recommend
for the punishment to be provided in the facts of the case. That provision
which found place in the earlier Rules, however, came to be deleted from the
aforesaid Rules by the amendment brought in the Rules in the year 1997. In that
context, it was submitted by the learned counsel appearing for the appellant that
since a recommendation has been made by the inquiry officer regarding
punishment, the entire findings are vitiated and therefore liable to be set
aside and quashed.
are, however, unable to accept the aforesaid sub missions. On going through the
records, we find that the disciplinary authority considered the records and
thereafter came to an independent finding that the appellant is guilty of the
charges framed against her of misconduct and that in the facts and
circumstances of the case, a major penalty like compulsory retirement from
service could only be imposed on her and consequently such a punishment was
decided to be imposed. Finally, the entire disciplinary proceedings got terminated
with the imposition of penalty of compulsory retirement.
was also submitted by the learned counsel appearing for the appellant that the aforesaid
punishment awarded is disproportionate to the charges levelled against her and
that she should at least directed to be paid her pension which could be paid to
her if she was allowed to work for another two years. It was submitted by the
learned counsel for the appellant that the appellant had completed 8 years of
service and if she would have worked for another two years, she would have been
entitled to pension by addition of another 10 years of service.
are, however, unable to accept the aforesaid contention for the simple reason
that we could probably interfere with the quantum of punishment only when we
find that the punishment awarded is shocking to the conscience of the court.
This is a case of judicial officer who was required to conduct herself with
dignity and manner becoming of a judicial officer. A judicial officer must be
able to discharge his/her responsibilities by showing an impeccable conduct. In
the instant case, she not only travelled without tickets in a railway
compartment thrice but also complained against the ticket collectors who
accosted her, misbehaved with the Railway officials and in those circumstances
we do not see how the punishment of compulsory retirement awarded to her could
be said to be disproportionate to the offence alleged against her. In a country
governed by rule of law, nobody is above law, including judicial officers. In
fact, as judicial officers, they have to present a continuous aspect of dignity
in every conduct. If the rule of law is to function effectively and efficiently
under the aegis of our democratic setup, Judges are expected to, nay, they must
nurture an efficient and enlightened judiciary by presenting themselves as a
role model. Needless to say, a Judge is constantly under public glaze and
society expects higher standards of conduct and rectitude from a Judge.
Judicial office, being an office of public trust, the society is entitled to
expect that a Judge must be a man of high integrity, honesty and ethical firmness
by maintaining the most exacting standards of propriety in every action.
Therefore, a judge's official and personal conduct must be in tune with the
highest standard of propriety and probity. Obviously, this standard of conduct
is higher than those deemed acceptable or obvious for others. Indeed, in the
instant case, being a judicial officer, it was in her best interest that she
carries herself in a decorous and dignified manner. If she has deliberately
chosen to depart from these high and exacting standards, she is appropriately liable
for disciplinary action.
fully agree with the conclusions arrived at by the disciplinary authority. We
also find no reason to interfere with the findings arrived at by the High Court
giving reason for its decision with which we fully agree and find
therefore, find no merit in this appeal and the same is dismissed but without
[Dr. Mukundakam Sharma ]
[ Anil R. Dave ]