Union of India Vs. Jagjit Singh 
INSC 97 (1 April 1969)
01/04/1969 MITTER, G.K.
HIDAYATULLAH, M. (CJ) SHAH, J.C.
CITATION: 1970 AIR 122 1970 SCR (1) 163 1969
SCC (2) 108
R 1971 SC1402 (4)
Police Act (5 of 1861), s. 4 and Punjab
Police Rules, 1934 rr. 1.8, 16.24 (1)(1) and 16.38 (1) and (2)-Whether
'Superintendent of Police' and 'District Superintendent of Police' same-Scope
of r. 16.24 (1)(1).
The respondent, who was appointed a
Sub-Inspector of Police, was posted in Delhi in 1949. A Deputy Superintendent
of Police, in the City of Delhi who had already retired from service was
directed to conduct a departmental inquiry against the respondent. The
enquiring Officer was reemployed from the date of retirement as a Deputy
Superintendent of Police (Enforcement Department), and after such reemployment,
had conducted the enquiry against the respondent and found him guilty.
Thereupon the Superintendent of Police, Delhi Police Force, ordered the
dismissal of the respondent. The respondent's suit challenging the dismissal
was decreed and the decree. was confirmed by the High Court.
In appeal to this Court, on the questions :
(1) thether an officer functioning as a Superintendent of Police but was not
designated as a District Superintendent of Police was competent to pass the
order of dismissal; (2) Whether the officer, entrusted with the enquiry was a
police officer competent to hold the inquiry; and (3) Whether the procedure
prescribed by Rule 16.38 (1) and (2) of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934, was
followed before holding the departmental enquiry.
HELD : (1) Though the Police Act, 1861, uses
the expression 'District Superintendent of Police' and the Punjab Police Rules
use the expression 'Superintendent of Police' the two expressions refer to one
and the same authority. Under R.
1.8 of the Punjab Police Rules, there could
be -more than one Superintendent of Police in a district. Since the police
force expanded considerably between 1861 when the Act was passed and 1934 when
the Punjab Police Rule,-, were framed, a Magisterial district was divided into
smaller areas for the better enforcement of law and order and a Superintendent
was placed in charge of each such area. In the Delhi area there were two
Superintendents of Police one for the city of Delhi and the other for New
Delhi. The Superintendent of Police; City of Delhi, would therefore be the
District Superintendent of Police for the purposes of the Police Act with
jurisdiction over the police station where the' plaintiff was posted, and he
was competent to pass the order of dismissal. [167 E-, 168 B-C, F] (2)Under R.
16.24 (1)(1) the officer conducting the enquiry must be an officer empowered to
punish or such superior officer whom the superintendent might direct to conduct
the enquiry. [168 H] In the present cam, the officer who conducted the enquiry
had been re-employed as it Deputy Superintendent of Police in the Enforcement
Department of the police force and had taken over charge from another Deputy
Superintendent of Police. Therefore, he was a police officer superior to the
respondent. [168 B, C-D, E] 164 (3)The file relating to the departmental
enquiry against the plaintiff had been destroyed under the relevant police
rule, long before the institution of the suit. There is thus no documentary
evidence, but the oral evidence showed that the procedure, prescribed by R.
16.38 (1) and (2) had been followed. [171 B-C] State of U.P. v. Babu Ram,
 2 S.C.R. 679 and Delhi Administration v. Chanan Shah,  3 S.C.R.
653, referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 1111 of 1965.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated April 11, 1963 of the Punjab High Court, Circuit Bench at Delhi in
Letters Patent Appeal No. 36-D of 1963.
B. Sen and R. N. Sachthey, for the appellant.
Frank Anthony, D. R. Sehgal and D. D. Sharma,
for the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Mitter, J. This is an appeal by special leave from a judgment and order dated
April 11, 1963 of the Punjab High Court (Circuit Bench at Delhi) in a Letters
Patent Appeal which summarily dismissed the appeal preferred by the appellant
from a judgment and order in a Second Appeal upholding the decree in favour of
the respondent passed by the Additional District Judge, Delhi.
The questions canvassed in this appeal were:
whether the dismissal of the respondent from service in the police force was
illegal on the ground that the officer entrusted with the departmental enquiry
against the respondent was not a police officer; secondly, whether the order of
dismissal passed by Shri Jagannath was invalid because he was not a District
Superinendent of Police; and thirdly, whether the dismissal was void on account
of noncompliance with the provisions of Rule 16.38 of the Punjab Police Rules.
In order to appreciate the points raised, it
is necessary to state the following relevant facts. The respondent had been
appointed a Sub-Inspector of Police by the Inspector-General of Police in Sind
before the partition of India and was thereafter posted in Delhi by the Deputy
Inspector-General of Police Delhi after his migration to India. In the year
1949 he was posted as Sub Inspector of Police in Police Station Daryaganj,
Delhi. A departmental enquiry was launched against him on the charge of
acceptance of bribe in connection with a criminal case in the same year. The
officer entrusted with the enquiry was one Diwanchand Dhatia who was employed
up to April 1949 as a Deputy Supe165 rintendent of Police in the City of Delhi.
He retired from service in that month but was re-employed from the date of
retirement as a Deputy Superintendent of Police (Enforcement Department). The
enquiry against the respondent had taken place after the retirement of the said
Diwanchand but during the -period of his reemployment. The respondent was found
guilty of the charge and was dismissed from service by the order dated December
8, 1949 , passed by one Jagannath, a Superintendent of Police in the Delhi
Police Force. The appellant filed a suit challenging his dismissal on the
grounds already mentioned in the court of the Subordinate Judge Delhi on
January 12, 1954. The defendant-Union of India filed its written statement
disputing the contentions of the plaintiff. The Subordinate Judge framed
several issues; -the principal ones relate to the competency of Jagannath to
pass the order of dismissal and of Diwanchand Bhatia to conduct the enquiry
against the plaintiff.
Finding in favour of the plaintiff on both
the issues, he decreed the suit. This decree was upheld in appeal by the
Additional District Judge, Delhi and in Second Appeal by a single Judge of the
Punjab High Court who modified the decree by an alteration in the figure of the
salary claimed by the plaintiff but upholding his claim on the main issues.
The Letters Patent Appeal, as already stated,
was dismissed summarily.
The first contention on behalf of the
appellant was that Jagannath who was functioning as a Superintendent of Police
but not designated as a District Superintendent of Police was quite competent
to pass the order of dismissal against the respondent. Under s. 4 of the Police
Act V of 1861, an Act for the regulation of Police, "The administration of
the police throughout a general police-district shall be vested in an officer
to be styled the Inspector-General of Police, and in such Deputy
Inspectors-General and Assistant Inspectors General as to the State Government
shall deem fit.
The administration of the police throughout
the local jurisdiction of the Magistrate of the district shall, under the general
control and direction of such Magistrate, be vested in a District
Superintendent and such Assistant District Superintendent as the State Government
shall consider necessary." Section 3 reads :
"The superintendence of the Police
throughout a general police district shall vest in and shall be exercised by
the State Government to which such district is subordinate; and except as
authorised under the provisions 166 of this Act, no person, officer or Court
shall be empowered by the State Government to supersede or control any police
functionary" Section 7 provides for the appointment, dismissal etc., of
inferior officers. The relevant portion thereof reads :
"Subject to the provisions of article 311
of the Constitution, and to such rules as the State Government may from time to
time make under this Act, the Inspector General, Deputy Inspectors-General,
Assistant lnspectorsGeneral and District Superintendents of Police may at any
time dismiss, suspend or reduce any police -officer of the subordinate ranks
whom they shall think remiss or negligent in the discharge of his duty, or
unfit for the same......" The difference between the texts of the
sections, after the coming into force of the Constitution and that before
January 1950 is immaterial for our purpose. The interpretation clause is
section 1 under which (a) 'police' shall include all persons who shall be
enrolled under this Act; (b) the words 'general police-district' shall embrace
any presidency (State) or place, or any part of any presidency (State) or
place, in which this Act shall be ordered to take effect; (c) "District
Superintendent" and "District Superintendent of Police" shall
include any Assistant District Superintendent or other person appointed by
general or special order of the State Government to perform all or any of the
duties of a District Superintendent of Police under this Act in any district;
and (d) 'Magistrate of the district' shall mean the chief officer charged with
the executive administration of a district and exercising the powers of a
Magistrate, bywhatever designation the Chief officer charged with such
executive administration is styled. Under s. 2 of the Act the entire police
establishment under a State Government shall, for the purposes of this Act, be
deemed to be one police-force, and shall be formally enrolled; and shall
)consist of such number of officers and men, and shall be constituted in such
manner as shall from time to time be' ordered by the State Government.
It is to be noted that the words
"Superintendent of Police" do not occur anywhere in the Act. In the
Act this expression is always prefixed by the words "District" or
"Assistant District". Under Rule 11 of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934
framed under the Police Act, the Punjab was divided into general police
districts, viz., the Provincial Police District and Railway Police district and
all ranks of police employed in the province were appointed or enrolled under
s. 2 of the Act. Rule 12 shows that the 167 responsibility for the command of
the police force, its recruitment, discipline, internal economy and
administration throughout the general police districts vested in the
Inspector-General of Police who was to be assisted in the control and
administration of the police force by such number of Deputy Inspectors-General
and Assistant Inspectors-General as the Provincial Government might from time
to time appoint. Rule 14 gave the administrative division of the police force.
Rule 16 gives the functions of the Deputy Inspectors-General of Police and lays
down that in the exercise of such responsibility they were to interfere as
little as possible with the executive authority of the Superintendents under
them. Under R. 13.
"The Superintendent of Police is the
executive head of the district police force. He is directly responsible for the
matters relating to its internal economy, training and management, and for the
maintenance of its discipline and the efficient performance of all its duties.
In every district there shall be one or more
Superintendents and such number of Assistant Superintendents, Deputy
Superintendents, inspectors, sergeants, sub-inspectors, assistant
sub-inspectors, head constables and constables as the Provincial Government may
direct." The important thing to note in this connection is that the
expression "District Superintendent of Police" is not used in the
rules and the last mentioned rule shows that it was possible to have more than
one Superintendent of Police in a district.
Chapter XII of the Rules deals with
appointments and enrolments in the police force. Rule 12.1 contains -a table summarising
the directions given by the Provincial Government under cl. (b) of sub-s. (1) of
s. 241 of the Government of India Act, 1935 in regard to the authorities competent
to make appointments to the non-gazetted ranks.
In respect of sub-inspectors the authority to
whom the power of appointment is delegated is "Superintendents of Police and
Deputy Superintendent (Administrative), Government Railway Police and Assistant
Superintendent, Government Railway Police." This authority is given full powers
subject to rules governing the conditions of service as defined in the Police Rules.
Chapter XVI deals with punishments and sub-r.
(1) of R.16.1 of this Chapter lays down that no police officer shall be departmentally
punished otherwise than as provided in these rules. Subr. (2) of R.16.1 gives a
table showing the departmental punishments which can be inflicted and the authorities
competent to inflict the same. The table shows that the order of dismissal of 168
a Sub Inspector can be passed by a Superintendent of Police and Deputy superintendent
(Administrative), Government Railway Police.
The question therefore arises whether the words
"Superintendent of Police" in the Rules and the words "District Superintendent
of Police" in the Act refer to one and the same authority, or whether there
is any distinction or difference between the two. In our opinion, there is none.
Section 4 of the Police Act shows that the administration
of police throughout the local jurisdiction of the Magistrate of the. district under
the general control and direction of such Magistrate -is to be vested in a District
Superintendent. It is common knowledge that the police force expanded very considerably
in between the year 1861 when the Act was passed and the year 1934 when the Rules
were framed and a Magisterial district was divided into smaller areas for the purpose
of better enforcement of law and order and a Superintendent of Police was placed
in charge of each such area. This finds support from the testimony of Abdul Rehman,
D.W. 1, Superintendent of Police, C.I.D. Lucknow.
He said that he was posted as Superintendent of
Police at the headquarters at Delhi in 1950. According to him, the District Magistrate
was in charge of the entire Delhi area including New Delhi, Old Delhi and rural
areas. Further, the police officer in charge of the entire area was the Inspector-General
of Police and there were two Superintendents of Police, one for Delhi City and the
other for New Delhi. Shri Jagannath was the Superintendent of Police, City and all
the police stations of the city were under his charge. It is nobody's case that
a Superintendent of Police is an authority inferior to that of a District Superintendent
of Police, each Magisterial district having in many cases more than one Superintendent
of Police. There is thus no incongruity between the Act and the Rules which have
to be read together and as Jagannath, Superintendent of Police, was undoubtedly
the Superintendent of Police, City of Delhi with jurisdiction over the police station
Faiz Bazar where the plaintiff was posted, he was competent to pass the order of
dismissal on him.
On the question of the competence of Diwanchand
Bhatia, the relevant rule is R. 16-24 in chapter XVI of the Punjab Police Rules
which lays down the procedure to be followed in departmental enquiries. Sub-r. (1)
of R.16.24(1) provides that:
"The police officer accused of misconduct
shall be brought before an officer empowered to punish him, or such superior officer
as the Superintendent may direct to conduct the enquiry." On behalf of the
appellant it was contended before us that all that this rule requires was that the
officer conducting the enquiry 169 must be superior in status to the person against
whom charges had been levelled and there can be no doubt that Deputy Superintendent
of Police was an officer superior to a Sub Inspector of Police. According to counsel
it was really not necessary to consider whether he was also a police officer but
on the facts of this case there can be no doubt that Diwanchand Bhatia was a police
officer. Ex. D-5 is a certificate to the effect that Diwanchand Bhatia had on the
forenoon of 28th April 1949 received charge of the office of the Deputy Superintendent
of Police, Enforcement, Delhi with the designation "Officiating Deputy Superintendent
of Police." Ex. D-4, the order of the Inspector-General of Police, Delhi dated
June 6, 1949 shows that Diwanchand Bhatia was "posted to city vice Malik Bodh
Raj, Deputy Superintendent of Police, who will take over charge as Deputy Superintendent
of Police, Enforcement." There is also the oral testimony of Diwanchand Bhatia
to the effect that he had taken over charge as shown in those documents and that
he had conducted the enquiry against the respondent. It was sought to be argued
before us by counsel for the respondent that Diwanchand Bhatia, when he conducted
the enquiry had already retired from the post of police officer and he was only
re-employed in the Enforcement Department and this would not make him a police officer.
We see no force in this contention as the Enforcement Department was still a police
department and a Deputy Superintendent of Police (Enforcement) was still a Deputy
Superintendent of Police.
The word 'enforcement' merely specifies the department
to which he was attached and the order Ex. D-4 shows that he was to take over charge
from Malik Bodh Raj who in turn was another Deputy Superintendent of Police.
The third point canvassed before us does not seem
to have engaged the attention of the courts hearing the matter although it was raised
in the plaint. It was the plaintiff's case in paragraph -A of the amended plaint
that the departmental enquiry could have been started after the taking of certain
essential preliminary steps and that it was necessary for the police first to give
immediate information to the District Magistrate of the alleged commission of a
crime by the plaintiff and it was for -that officer to decide whether the enquiry
was to be conducted by ;a police officer or by a selected Magistrate First Class
and that in his case the departmental enquiry had been started without following
the above procedure. Although the plaint does not mention the rule in the Punjab
Police Rules referred to by the ,plaintiff in paragraph 6-A there can be no doubt
that the reference was to R.16.38 of Chapter XVI, sub-rr. (1) and (2) whereof run
as follows "(1) Immediate information shall be given to the District Magistrate
of -any complaint received by the SupeL12Sup.CI/69-12 170 intendment of Police,
which indicates the commission by a police officer of a criminal offence in connection--With
his official relations with the public. The District Magistrate will decide whether
the investigation of the complaint shall be conducted by a police officer, or made
over to a selected magistrate having First Class powers.
(2)When investigation of such a complaint establishes
a prima facie case a judicial prosecution shall normally follow; the matter shall
be disposed of departmentally only if the District Magistrate so orders for reasons
to be recorded. When it is decided to precede departmentally the procedure prescribed
in rule 16.24 shall be followed. An officer found guilty on a' charge of the nature
referred to in this -rule shall ordinarily be dismissed.
(3) to (6)........." It was the contention
of the respondent that there was no evidence to show compliance with the above rule.
-It was contended that the evidence on record was not sufficient for the purpose.
Diwanchand Bhatia stated in his evidence in chief that he had received an application
for making an enquiry against the plaintiff from Jagannath, Superintendent of Police
-and that after making a preliminary enquiry when he found a prima facie case against
the plaintiff he sent the same to the District Magistrate for approval. Thereupon
the District Magistrate wrote that a departmental enquiry be made against the plaintiff
and it was only following the direction of the District Magistrate that the enquiry
was made. The Superintendent of Police, Jagannath, stated in his evidence in chief
that he could not say whether the sanction of the District Magistrate had been obtained
for the enquiry by Diwanchand Bhatia.
Mr. Anthony who argued on behalf of the respondent
drew our attention to a judgment of this Court in The State of Uttar Pradesh and
others v. Babu Ram(1) where it was observed that the Police Act and the Rules made
there under constituted a selfcontained Code providing for the appointment of police
officers and prescribing the procedure for their removal.
According to him no departure from the rules was
possible and in order to justify a dismissal strict compliance of the rules was
mandatory. Observations to a similar effect were also quoted from the judgment of
this Court in Delhi Administration v. Chanan Shah (2 There what was said was:
"It is not necessary to decide whether the
provisions of Rule 16.38 of the Punjab Police Rules are (1)  2 S.C.R.679.
(2)  3 S.C.R. 653 171 mandatory or directory.
Even assuming that the rule is directory, we find that there has been no substantial
compliance with its provisions." We do not think that the same can be said
of the facts of this case. We see no reason to disbelieve the testimony of Diwanchand
Bhatia. The learned trial Judge did not frame an issue on this point and Abdul Rehman,
the Superintendent of Police, C.I.D. who gave evidence in this case stated that
the file relating to the departmental enquiry against the plaintiff had been destroyed
under Police Rule 12.35 by his order. He also referred to the document Ex. D-2 which
is an extract regarding the destruction of Fauji Missals. The order seems to have
been passed on 15th January 1953 long before the institution of the plaintiff's
suit. In the circumstances, we see no reason not toaccept the evidence of Diwanchand
Bhatia according to which R.16.38 of Chapter XVI had been complied with.
In the result, the appeal is allowed, the judgment
and order of the courts below set aside and the suit filed by the respondent dismissed.
As the special leave was given 1 in this case on condition that the appellant will
in any event pay the costs of the respondent, we make no order as to costs of this
appeal and do not think it necessary to disturb the previous order for costs.
V.P.S. Appeal allowed.