Union of India Vs. H. C. Goel  INSC
185 (30 August 1963)
30/08/1963 AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA AYYANGAR,
N. RAJAGOPALA GAJENDRAGADKAR, P.B.
CITATION: 1964 AIR 364 1964 SCR (4) 718
R 1965 SC1103 (9) D 1967 SC1445 (10) R 1969
SC 966 (5) R 1969 SC1294 (5) F 1969 SC1302 (8) R 1970 SC1095 (6) R 1974 SC1589
(22) R 1978 SC1277 (18) RF 1981 SC 858 (6) F 1983 SC 454 (10) D 1984 SC 273
(44) RF 1988 SC1000 (4) RF 1991 SC 471 (6,7) RF 1992 SC2219 (138)
proceedings-Enquiry--proposal by enquiry officer, if binding on the
Government-Order of dismissal based on no evidence--Government acting bona fidejurisdiction
of the High Court to interfere-Constitution of India, Arts. 226 and 311(1)
& (2)-Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules. r. 55.
On a complaint the appellant decided to hold
a departmental enquiry against the respondent, suspended him and served a
notice calling upon him to show cause why disciplinary action should not be
taken on the following charges; (i) Meeting the Deputy Director,
Administration, C.P.W.D., at his residence without neccssary permission, (ii)
Voluntarily expressing regret at his not having brought sweets from Calcutta
for the Deputy Director's Children, (iii) Offering a currency note which from
size and colour appeared to be a hundred rupee note as bribe with the intention
of presuading Deputy Director, Shri Rajagopalan to support his representation
regarding his seniority to the U.P.S.C., (iv) violation of Rule 3 of the C. C.
B. (Conduct Rules). The respondent tendered his explanation and on enquiry, the
charges were not found proved. The appellant considered the enquiry report and
provisionally came to the conclusion that the respondent should be dismissed
and accordingly issued a second notice against him. The respondent submitted
his explanation to this notice. At that stage, his case was referred to the
Union Public Service Commission. The Commission advised the appellant that none
of the penalties could be inflicted on the respondent. The appellant considered
the matter afresh and remitted it back to the commission to reconsider it
again. The Commission, on reexamining the matter adhered to its earlier views
719 and conveyed them to the appellant. The appellant considered the whole case
again and dismissed the respondent from service. The respondent then moved a
writ petition in the High Court under Arts. 226 and 311 for quashing the said
order of dismissal. The petition was dismissed by the learned single Judge. The
respondent then preferred Letters Patent Appeal before the Division Bench of
the High Court.
The appeal was allowed and his dismissal was
set aside. In this Court two questions of law arose for consideration, namely
(1) whether Government is competent to differ from the findings of fact
recorded by the enquiry officer who has been entrusted with the work of holding
a departmental enquiry against a delinquent Government servant under r. 55 of
the Civil Services Rules and (2) whether the High Court in dealing with a writ
petition filed by a Government Officer who has been dismissed from service is
entitled to hold that the conclusion reached by the Government in regard to his
misconduct is not supported by any evidence at all. The appellant mainly
contended that if it acted bona fide, the High Court would not be justified in
interfering with its conclusions though the High Court may feel that the said
conclusions are based on no evidence.
Held, that on principle, neither findings
recorded by the enquiry officer, nor his recommendations are binding on the
Government and therefore the constitutional safeguard afforded by Art. 311(2)
cannot be said to have been contravened by the appellant.
The Secretary ofState for India v. 1. M. La,
 F.C.R. 103, High Commissioner for India and High Commissioner for
Pakistan v. I. M. Lal, 75 I.A. 225, Khem Chand v. Union of India,  S.C.R.
1080, State of Assam v. Bimal Kumar Pandit,  2. S.C.R. I and A. N. D'Silva
v. Union of India, [19621 Supp. I S.C.R. 968, referred to.
In dealing with writ petition filed by public
servants who have been dismissed or otherwise dealt with so as to attract Art.
311(2), the High Court under Art. 226 has jurisdiction to enquire whether the
conclusion of the Government on which the impugned order of dismissal rests is
not supported by any evidence at all.
It cannot be held, that if mala fides are not
alleged and bona fides are assumed in favour of the appellant, its conclusion on
a question of fact cannot be successfully challenged even if it is manifest
that there is no evidence to support it.
In the present case, there is no evidence on
the record to sustain the finding of the appellant that charge no. 3 has been
proved against the respondent.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 645 of 1962.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated August 2, 1960, of the Punjab High Court (Circuit Bench) at Delhi
in Letters Patent Appeal No. 27-D of 1959.
720 C.K. Daphtary, Attorney-General for India
and R. H. Dhebar, for the appellant.
N.C. Chatterjee, A. N. Sinha and K. K. Sinha,
for the respondent.
August 30, 1963. The judgment of the court
was delivered by GAJENDRAGADKAR J.-Two short questions of law arise for our
decision in the present appeal. The first question is whether Government is
competent to differ from the findings of fact recorded by the enquiry officer
who has been entrusted with the work of holding a departmental enquiry against
a delinquent government servant under Rule 55 of the Civil Services
(Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules ;
and the other question is whether the High
Court in dealing with a writ petition filed by a Government Officer who has
been dismissed from Government service is entitled to hold that the conclusion
reached by the Government in regard to his misconduct is not supported by any
evidence at all. As our ]judgment will show, we are inclined to answer both the
questions in the affirmative. Thus, the appellant, the Union of Union of India.
succeeds on the first point, but fails on the second. At the hearing of this
appeal, the learned Attorney-General told us that the appellant was fighting
this appeal as a test case not so much to sustain the order of dismissal passed
against the respondent is to obtain a decision from this Court on the two
points of law raised by it in the present appeal.
The above two points arise in this way. The
respondent, H. C. Goel, joined the Central Public Works Department on the 26th
November, 1941, and in due course, he was selected for appointment in Class I
post in or about 1945-46. In January, 1956, he was posted as Surveyor of Works
at Calcutta. It appears that he felt that his seniority had not been properly
fixed and so, he had made a representation in that behalf to the Union Public
Service Commission. He happened to go to Delhi about the middle of January,
Then, he called on Mr. R. Rajagopalan, who
was the Deputy Director of Administration, at his residence on the 19th January,
1956. His idea in seeing Mr. RajaGopalan was to acquaint him with the merits of
721 In the course of his conversation with
Mr. Rajagopalan it is alleged that be apologised for not having brought
`rasagullas' for the children of Mr. Rajagopalan. Thereupon, Mr. Rajagopalan
frowned and expressed his displeasure at the implied suggestion. A little
later, during the course of the interview, it is alleged that the respondent
took out from his pocket a wallet and from it produced what appeared to Mr.
Rajagopalan to be a folded hundred rupee note. Mr. Rajagopalan showed his stern
disapproval of this conduct, whereupon the respondent said 'No' and put the
wallet with the note in his -pocket. After a few minutes the interview ended
and the respondent left Mr. Rajagopalan's -place.
Soon thereafter Mr. Rajagopalan reported the
incident to Mr. Ananthakrishnan, Director of Administration, C.P. W.D., and at
his suggestion be submitted a complaint in writing. In this complaint. Mr.
Rajagopalan narrated the incidents as they had occurred and added that at the
end of the interview, the respondent asked him whether he could meet Mr.
Rajagopalan again the next day to know about the result of his representation,
and Mr. Rajagopalan told him that he might make the enquiry when he happened to
visit Delhi next.
On receiving this complaint from Mr.
Rajagopalan, the appellant decided to hold a departmental enquiry against the
respondent, suspended him and served a notice on him on the 9th February, 1956,
setting forth the charges against him and calling upon him to show cause why
disciplinary action should not be taken against him. This notice contained four
charges which read thus:(i) Meeting the Deputy Director, Administration,
C.P.W.D., at his residence without necessary permission.
(ii)Voluntarily expressing regret at his not
having brought sweets from Calcutta for the Deputy Director's children.
(iii) Offering a currency note which from
size and colour appeared to be a hundred rupee note as bribe with the intention
of persuading Deputy Director, Sri Rajagopalan to support his representation
regarding his seniority to the U.P.S.C.
(iv) Violation of Rule 3 of the C.C. S. (Conduct
722 The respondent tendered his explanation
and the matter was enquired into under Rule 55 of the Civil Services Rules by
Mr. Kapoor. The Enquiry Officer examined Mr. Rajagopalan and the respondent,
considered the evidence produced before him, and came to the conclusion that
the charges framed against the respondent had not been satisfactorily proved.
This report was made by the enquiry officer
on the 10th April, 1956.
The appellant considered the report submitted
to it by Mr. Kapoor and provisionally came to the conclusion that the
respondent should be dismissed from service, and accordingly issued a second
notice against the respondent on the 14th June, 1956. The respondent submitted
his explanation in response to this notice.
At that stage, the respondent's case was
referred to the Union Public Service Commission. By its report made on the 30th
October, 1956, the Commission took the view that the first charge should be
dropped; the second charge was hardly a matter justifying framing of a charge
against the officer;
the third charge had not been proved on the
basis of the available evidence; and in view of the said conclusion, the
Commission thought that the fourth charge failed automatically. The Commission
accordingly advised the appellant that none of the penalties provided for in
Rule 49 of the Civil Rules need be inflicted on the respondent.
The appellant considered the matter afresh in
the light of the report received from the U.P.S.C., but since it adhered to the
conclusion which it had provisionally reached before issuing the second notice
against the respondent, it requested the Commission to reconsider the matter
and remitted the said matter to it on the 8th December, 1956. The Commission,
on re-examining the matter, adhered to its earlier views and conveyed the same
to the appellant on the 15th January, 1957. The appellant considered the whole
case again and came to the conclusion that a case had been established against
the respondent for his dismissal, and so, by its order passed on the 13th
March, 1957, dismissed him from service.
The respondent then moved the Punjab High
Court by his writ petition No. 201-D of 1957 for quashing the said order of
dismissal, under Articles 226 and 311 of the 723 Constitution. A learned Single
Judge of the said High Court heard the matter and came to the conclusion that
the respondent had not made out a case for quashing the order of dismissal
passed against him. The respondent then preferred an appeal under the Letters
Patent and a Division Bench of the said High Court which heard the Letters
Patent Appeal has allowed the respondent's appeal. It has held that in view of
the fact that the Enquiry Officer had made a report in favour of the
respondent, it was not open to the appellant to differ from his findings and
inasmuch as the impugned order of dismissal was passed by the appellant as a
result of its conclusion that the findings of the enquiry officer were
erroneous, the said order contravened the provisions of Art. 311 of the
Constitution. That is how the writ petition filed by the respondent was allowed
and his dismissal set aside The appellant then applied for a certificate to the
High Court but the said application was rejected. The appellant then moved this
Court for special leave and it is with the special leave granted by this Court
that it has brought the present appeal before us.
The first question which calls for our
decision is whether it was competent to the appellant to take a different view
on the evidence adduced against the respondent and proceed on the basis that
the conclusions of fact recorded by the enquiry officer were unsound and
erroneous. If it is held that the appellant was precluded from differing from
the conclusions of the enquiry officer, then, of course, the subsequent steps
taken by the appellant would be in consistent with Art. 311 of the Constitution.
On the other hand, if the competence of the appellant to differ from the
conclusions of the enquiry officer cannot be seriously questioned, then the
argument that the appellant contravened Art. 311 when it issued the second
notice against the respondent cannot succeed.
Article 311 consists of two sub-articles and
their effect is no longer in doubt. The question about the safeguards provided
to the public servants in the matter of their dismissal, removal or reduction
in rank by the Constitutional provision contained in Art. 311, has been
examined by this court on several occasions. It is now well-settled-that a
public servant who is entitled to the protection of Art. 311 724 must get two
opportunities to defend himself. He must have a clear notice of the charge
which he is called upon to meet before the departmental enquiry commences, and
after he gets such notice and is given the opportunity to offer his
explanation, the enquiry must be conducted according to the rules and
consistently with the requirements of natural justice. At the end of the
enquiry, the enquiry officer appreciates the evidence, records his conclusions
and submits his report to the Government concerned. That is the first stage of
the enquiry, and this stage can validly begin only after charge has been served
on the delinquent public servant.
After the report is received by the
Government, the Government is entitled to consider the report and the evidence
led against the delinquent public servant. The Government may agree with the
report or may differ, either wholly or partially, from the conclusions recorded
in the report. If the report makes findings in favour of the public servant,
and the Government agrees with the said findings, nothing more remains to be
done, and the public servant who may have been suspended is entitled to
reinstatement and consequential reliefs. If the report makes findings in favour
of the public servant and the Government disagree with the said findings and
holds that the charges framed against the public servant are prima facie
proved, the Government should decide provisionally what punishment should be
imposed on the public servant and proceed to issue a second notice against him
in that behalf.
If the enquiry officer makes findings, some
of which are in favour of the public servant and some against him, the
Government is entitled to consider the whole matter and if it holds that some
or all the charges framed against the public servant are, in its opinion, prima
facie established against him, then also the Government has to decide
provisionally what punishment should be imposed on the public servant and give
him notice accordingly. It would thus be seen that the object of the second
notice is to enable the public servant to satisfy the Government on both the
counts, one that he is innocent of the charges framed against him and the other
that even if the charges are held proved against him, the punishment proposed
to be inflicted upon him is unduly severe. This position under Art. 311 of the
Constitution is substantially similar to the position which governed the public
servants under s. 240 of the Government of India Act, 1935. The scope and
effect of the provisions of s. 240 of the Government of India Act, 1935, as
well as the scope and effect of Art. 311 of the Constitution have been
considered by judicial decisions on several occasions and it is unnecessary to
deal with this point in detail, vide The Secretary of State for India v. I. M.
Lal(1), High Commissioner for India and High Commissioner for Pakistan v.
I. M. Lal(2) ; and Khem Chand v. Union of
India & Ors. (3).
These reported decisions would show, that it
has never been suggested that the findings recorded by the enquiry officer
conclude the matter and that the Government which appoints the enquiry officers
and directs the enquiry is bound by the said findings and must act on the basis
that the said findings are final and cannotbe reopened. The High Court has,
however, held that there are certain observations made by the Federal Court in
the case of I. M. Lal(1), and by this Court in the case of Khem Chand(3) which
support the respondent's contention that the appellant was bound by the
findings recorded by the enquiry officer in his favour in the present enquiry
proceedings Before referring to these observations, it is relevant to examine
this contention on principle. It is obvious that the enquiry officer holds the
enquiry against the respondent as a delegate of the appellant. That indeed is
the character which the enquiry officer inevitably occupies when he holds a
departmental enquiry at the instance of the Government. The object of the
enquiry is plain. It is to enable the Government to hold an investigation into
the charges framed against a delinquent public servant, so that the Government
can, in due course, consider the evidence adduced and decide whether the said
charges are proved or not. The interposition of the enquiry which is held by a
duly appointed enquiry officer does not alter the true legal position that the
charges are framed by the Government and it is the Government which is
empowered to impose punishment on the delinquent public servant. Therefore, on
principle, it is difficult (1) F.C.R. 1-03. (2) 75, I.A. 225.
(2) S.C.R. 1080.
726 to see how the respondent is justified in
contending that the findings recorded by the enquiry officer bind the appellant
in the present case.
If the contention raised by the respondent
were to be upheld, it would lead to illogical and almost fantastic results. If
the enquiry officer makes findings against the public servant, on the
respondent's contention the Government can never re-examine the matter, so that
even if the Government were satisfied that the findings against the public
servant were erroneous, it must proceed on the basis that the public servant is
guilty and impose some punishment on him. It is obvious that this proposition
is entirely inconsistent with the Constitutional rights of the appellant which
is the appointing authority and which has the power to impose the punishment on
Similarly, if the enquiry officer makes
findings in favour of the public servant, on the respondent's case that is
final and however illogical, erroneous or unsound the said findings may be, the
appellant is powerless and must act on the basis that the public servant is
innocent. That again is a very anomalous position and it ignores the true Constitutional
rights of the appellant and the character of the enquiry officer and the scope
of his enquiry.
Sometimes, several charges are framed and
findings are recorded by the enquiry officer in respect of them. In such cases,
Government may accept some findings and may reject others, and it has naturally
to proceed to take the next step in the light of its own conclusions. Such a
case arose before this Court in The State of Assam and Anr. v. Bimal Kumar
Pandit(1). Dealing with the requirements which the second notice must satisfy
in such a case, this Court has held that the said notice must indicate to the
public servant clearly the grounds on which the Government provisionally
intends to act in imposing the proposed punishment specified in the notice.
Besides, it would be apparent that if the
respondent's argument is valid, then the second notice would serve very little purpose.
If, at that stage, the Government is bound to accept the findings of the
enquiry officer, the opportunity which is intended to be given to the public
servant to show cause not only against the proposed punishment but also
(1) 2 S.C.R. 1.
727 against the findings recorded against
him, would be defeated, because on the respondent's case Government cannot
alter the said findings. In our opinion, the contention raised by the
respondent is patently unsound and must be rejected.
In this connection, we may add that unless
the statutory rule or the specific order under which an officer is appointed to
hold an enquiry so requires, the enquiry officer need not make any
recommendations as to the punishment which may be imposed on the delinquent
officer in case the charges framed against him are held proved at the enquiry;
if, however, the enquiry officer makes any
recommendations, the said recommendations like his findings on the merits are
intended merely to supply appropriate material for the consideration of the
Government. Neither the findings, nor the recommendations are binding on the
Government, vide A. N. D'Silva v. Union of India(1).
Let us now briefly consider whether the
observations on which the respondent rests Ms case justify his contention.
In The Secretary of State for India v. I. M.
Lal(2) Spens C.J. examined the provisions of s. 240(3) of the Government of
India Act, 1935, and observed that the said sub-section involves in all cases
"where there is an enquiry and as a result thereof some authority
definitely proposes dismissal, or reduction in rank, that the person concerned
shall be told in full, or adequately summarised form, the results of that
enquiry and the findings of the enquiring officer and be given an opportunity
of showing cause with that information why he should not suffer the proposed
dismissal or reduction." Mr. Chatterjee suggests that these observations
indicate that it is only on the basis of the findings recorded by the enquiry
officer that the second notice can be issued. In our opinion, this argument is
completely misconceived. ID the case of 1. M. Lal, the findings were against
him and it is by reference to the said findings that the observations made by
Spens C. J. must be considered. If the findings are against the public servant,
and the Government on considering the evidence, accepts the said findings
provisionally, it would be right to say that on the said findings the second
notice is served on the public servant, and so, ((I)  Supp. 1 S.C.R. 968,
(2)  F.C.R. 103.
728 he should be given a clear idea as to the
nature of the said findings. That, of course, does not mean that the findings
of the enquiry officer arc binding and virtually conclude the matter.
The same comment has to be made about the
observations made by S. R. Das C.J. in the case of Khem Chand(1). Summarising
his conclusions, the learned Chief justice observed, inter alia, that the
second opportunity to which a public servant is entitled can be effective only
if "the competent authority after the enquiry is over and after applying
its mind to the gravity or otherwise of the charges proved against the
Government servant, tentatively proposes to inflict one of the three
punishments and communicates the same to the Government servant." It is
obvious that when the learned Chief justice refers to the charges proved
against the Government servant, it is not intended to be suggested that the
findings made by the enquiry officer in that behalf arc final. The enquiry
report along with the evidence recorded constitute the material on which the
Government has ultimately to act. That is the only purpose of the enquiry held
by competent officer and the report which he makes as a result of the said
enquiry. Therefore, we have no hesitation in holding that the High Court was in
error in coming to the conclusion that the appellant was not justified in
differing from the findings recorded by the enquiry officer. As we have just
indicated, if it is held that the report of the enquiry officer is not binding
on the Government, then the Constitutional safeguard afforded by Art. 311(1)
& (2) cannot be said to have been contravened by the appellant and the
grievance made by the respondent in that behalf must fail.
This conclusion does not finally dispose of the
appeal. It still remains to be considered whether the respondent is not right
when he contends that in the circumstances of this case, the conclusion of the
Government is based on no evidence whatever. It is a conclusion which is
perverse and-, therefore, suffers from such an obvious and patent error on the
face of the record that the High Court would be justified in quashing it. In
dealing with writ petitions filed by public servants who have been dismissed,
or other(1) S.C.R. 1080.
729 wise dealt with so as to attract Art. 311
(2), the High Court under Art. 226 has Jurisdiction to enquire whether the
conclusion of the Government on which the impugned order of dismissal rests is
not supported by any evidence at all. It is true that the order of dismissal
which may be passed against a Government servant found guilty of misconduct,
can be described as an administrative order; nevertheless, the proceedings held
against such a public servant under the statutory rules to determine whether he
is guilty of the charge framed against him are in the nature of quasi judicial
proceedings and there can be little doubt that a writ of certiorari, for
instance, can be claimed by a public servant if he is able to satisfy the High
Court that the ultimate conclusion of the Government in the said proceedings
which is the basis of his dismissal is based on no evidence. In fact, in
fairness to the learned Attorney-General, we ought to add that he did not
seriously dispute this, position in law.
He, however, attempted to argue that if the
appellant acted bona fide, then the High Court would not be justified in
interfering with its conclusion though the High, Court may feel that the said
conclusion is based on no evidence. His contention was that cases where
conclusions. are reached by the Government without any evidence, could Dot, in
law, be distinguished from cases of mala fides; and so he suggested that
perverse conclusions of fact may be and can be attacked only on the ground
that, they are mala fides, and since mala fides were not alleged in the present
case, it was not open to the respondent to contend that the view taken by the
appellant can be corrected in writ proceedings.
We are not prepared to accept this
contention. Malafide exercise of power can be attacked independently on the
ground that it is mala fide. Such an exercise of power is always liable to be
quashed on the main ground that it is not a bona fide exercise of power. But we
are not prepared to hold that if mala fides are not alleged and bona fides are assumed
in favour of the appellant, its conclusion on a question of fact cannot be
successfully challenged even if it is manifest that there is no evidence to
support it. The two infirmities are separate and distinct though, conceivably,
in some cases, both may be present. There may 472 S. C. India/64 730 be cases
of no evidence even where the Government is acting bona fide; the said
infirmity may also exist where the Government is acting mala fide and in that
case, the conclusion of the Government not supported by any evidence may be the
result of mala fides, but that does not mean that if it is proved that there is
no evidence to support the conclusion of the Government, a writ of certiorary
will not issue without further proof of mala fides. That is why we are not
prepared to accept the learned Attorney General's argument that since no mala
fides are alleged against the appellant in the present case, no writ of
certiorari' can be issued in favour of the respondent.
That takes us to the merits of the respondent's
contention that the conclusion of the appellant that the third charge framed
against the respondent had been proved, is based on no evidence. The learned
Attorney-General has stressed before us that in dealing with this question, we
ought to bear in mind the fact that the appellant is acting with the
determination to root out corruption, and so, if it is shown that the view
taken by he appellant is a reasonably possible view, this Court should not sit
in appeal over that decision and seek to decide whether this Court would have
taken the same view or not. This contention is no doubt absolutely sound. The
only test which we can legitimately apply in dealing with this part of the
respondent's case is, is there any evidence on which a finding can be made
against the respondent that charge No. 3 was proved against him? In exercising
its jurisdiction under Art. 226 on such a plea, the High Court cannot consider
the question about the sufficiency or adequacy of evidence in support of a
particular conclusion. That is a matter which is within the competence of the
authority which dealt with the question;
but the High Court can and must enquire
whether there is any evidence at all in support of the impugned conclusion. In
other words, if the whole of the evidence led in the enquiry is accepted as
true, does the conclusion follow that the charge in question is proved against
the respondent? This approach will avoid weighing the evidence. It will take
the evidence as it stands and only examine whether on that evidence legally the
impugned conclusion follows or not.
Applying this test, we are inclined to hold
that the respondent's 731 grievance is well-founded because, in our opinion,
the finding which is implicit in the appellant's order dismissing the respondent
that charge number 3 is proved against him is based on no evidence.
The facts relating to this narrow point are
very few. The respondent expressed his regret to Mr. Rajagopalan that he had
not brought rasagullas for his children. There is some controversy as to
whether this statement was made by the respondent at the beginning of his
interview with Mr. Rajagopalan or at its end. The complaint made by Mr. Rajagopalan
shows that the interview began with the respondent's expression of regret that
he had not brought sweets for Mr. Rajagopalan's,children. Mr. Rajagopalan in
his evidence stated that this statement was made by the respondent at the close
of the interview. One fact is clear that the respondent did express regret that
he had not taken sweets to Mr. Rajagopalan's place. If the respondent's version
that he said so at the beginning of the interview is believed, particularly
when it is supported by the complaint made by Mr. Rajagopalan, it may show that
the stern disapproval expressed by Mr. Rajagopalan on hearing the said remark
from the respondent must have acted as a warning to him. That however is
Then, as to the hundred rupee note which
according to Mr. Rajagopalan, was taken out by the respondent from his wallet,
Mr. Rajagopalan has admitted that the said note was folded double. He says,
that be noticed that its colour was blue and that its size was bigger than the
usual ten rupee or five rupee note. Mr. Rajagopalan who appears to be a
straightforward officer gave his evidence in a very honest way. He frankly told
the enquiry officer that it could not be said that the hundred rupee note which
he thought the respondent took out from his wallet had been offered to him by
the respondent, but he thought that the whole thing had to be viewed in the
context of the matter. He also admitted that his eye-sight was not perfect.
The respondent, on the other hand, suggested
that in reply to the questions which Mr. Rajagopalan put to him he tookout some
papers from his pocket to find out the letter ofhis appointment, and as soon as
Mr. Rajagopalan 732 appeared to discourage him, he put the said paper in his
Now, in this state of the evidence, how can
it be said that respondent even attempted to offer a bribe to Mr. Rajagopalan. Mr.
Rajagopalan makes a definite statement that respondent did not offer him a
bribe. He merely refers to the fact that respondent took out a paper from his
wallet and the said paper appeared to him like a hundred rupee note double
folded. Undoubtedly, Mr. Rajagopalan suspected the respondent's conduct, and
so, made a report immediately.
But the suspicion entertained by Mr.
Rajagopalan cannot, in law, be treated as evidence against the respondent even
though there is no doubt that Mr. Rajagopalan is a straightforward and an
honest officer. Though we fully appreciate the anxiety of the appellant to root
out corruption from public service, we cannot ignore the fact that in carrying
out the said purpose, mere suspicion should not be allowed to take the place of
proof even in domestic enquiries. It may be that the technical rules which
govern criminal trials in courts may not necessarily apply to disciplinary
proceedings, but nevertheless, the principle that in punishing the guilty
scrupulous care must be taken to see that the innocent are not punished,
applies as much to regular criminal trials as to disciplinary enquiries held
under the statutory rules. We have very carefully considered the evidence led
in the present enquiry and borne in mind the plea made by the learned Attorney General,
but we are unable to hold that on the record, there is any evidence which can
sustain the finding of the appellant that charge No. 3 has been proved against
the respondent. It is in this connection and only incidentally that it may be
relevant to add that the U.P.S.C. considered the matter twice and came to the
firm decision that the main charge against the respondent had not been
The result is, though the appellant succeeds
on the principle point of law raised in the appeal, the appeal fails, because,
on the merits, we hold that no case had been made out for punishing the
The appellant to pay the costs of respondent.