Shadi Lal Gupta Vs. State of Punjab
 INSC 40 (7 March 1973)
CITATION: 1973 AIR 1124 1973 SCR (3) 637 1973
SCC (1) 680
Punjab Civil Service (Punishment and Appeal)
Rules 1952-Rule 8--Appellant charge sheeted for disobedience to superiors and
for negligence of duty-Personal hearing was, given to him but no copy of the
enquiry officer's report given to appellant--whether the Rule was vitiated and
the principle of natural justice violated.
Appellant was a Clerk in the Treasury at
Ludhiana., He filed a suit for three different reliefs to which only one that
now survives is regarding the order withholding his increment for one year with
cumulative effect. On 10-11-61 he was charged sheeted on the ground that he was
disobedient to his superior and negligent in the discharge of his duties and a
few specific instances of his carelessness and negligence were mentioned in the
charge sheet. Thereafter the appellant submitted his explanation and a personal
hearing was also given to him by the authorities. The appellant complained that
he was not given any opportunity to adduce any evidence in defence and no
prosecution witnesses were examined in his presence. The contentions of the
appellant are that (i) by the failure to give him a copy of the report of the
Treasury Officer who made a local inquiry, and taking it into consideration
behind his back he has been prejudiced and (ii) Rule 8 of the Punjab Civil
Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules 1952 has been contravened.
Rule 8 provides, inter alia, that no order
for censure, withholding of increments, recovery from pay of any pecuniary loss
to the Govt., shall be passed imposing a penalty on a Govt. Servant, unless he
has been given to make, and such representation has been taken into
consideration. Dismissing the appeal.
HELD : (i) Under Rule 8 of the Punjab Civil
Service (Punishment and Appeal) Rules 1952, the only requirement is that the
officer concerned should be given an adequate opportunity of making any
representation that he may desire to make. There is no provision for
examination of witnesses, cross examination of witnesses and furnishing a copy
of the report of the enquiry officer etc. He need not be told about the punishment
which is sought to be imposed on him, either at the time the charge sheet was
served on him or at any other stage. In the present case, these was, no failure
to follow the relevant rules, which only require that the officer concerned
should have an opportunity of making a representation in respect of the charges
made against him and the officer concerned had an opportunity to make a
representation and his representation was considered by the authorities in
taking disciplinary action against him.
(ii The rules of natural justice have also
not been violated in the present case. The requirements of the rules of natural
justice are :-(a) the person accused should know the nature of the accusation
made; (b) that he should be given an opportunity to state his case; and (iii)
that the tribunal should act in good faith Byrne & another v.
Kinematograph Rentery Society Ltd., 
A.E.R. 579, referred, to. [646 A-B] 638 (iii)In any proceedings even by a
domestic tribunal, the rules of natural justice would have to be observed; but
the principles to be applied would depend upon the circumstances of each case.
(iv)In the present case, the principle of
natural justice had not been violated because the appellant was not given an
opportunity to make a representation. in respect of the Treasury Officer's
report. When the authorities wanted a local enquiry to be made, it was with a
view to check up with records the representation made by the appellant. The
report does not add one single instance more than what is already found in the
allegations. If the report had contained any material extraneous to the charges
against the appellant then only he could be said to have been prejudiced. The
report merely sets up the evidence in support of the allegation,,;. Therefore.
the appellant has not been prejudiced by the Treasurv Officer's report being
taken into consideration before the order of punishment was passed against the petitioner.
[646 H; 647 A-B]
CIVIL APPELATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No.
1527 of 1971.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated October 12, 1970 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh
in Regular S.A. No. 1370 of 1969.
G. L. Sanghi, for the appellant.
V. C. Mahajan and R. N. Sachthey, for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered byALAGIRISWAMI,
J.-This appeal is by way of special leave against the judgment of the High
Court of Punjab and Haryana dismissing the Second Appeal filed by the
appellant. He was a clerk in the Treasury. at Ludhiana. He filed the suit out
of which this appeal arises for three different reliefs out of which the only
one that now survives is regarding the order withholding his increment for one
year with cumulative effect.
The sole point raised on behalf, of the
appellant before the High Court. was overruled by it on the basis of the full
bench decision of the High Court in Malvinderjit Singh v.
The State of Punjab & Ors.(1) which
overruled the decision in Kalyan Singh v. The State of Punjab(2).
This is perhaps the first case that comes to
this Court in the matter of a minor punishment. The appellant relied upon the
decision of this Court in B. D. Gupta v. State of Haryana(1), the facts of
which art rather complicated; and are unnecessary for the purpose of this case.
One of the points that arose in that case was regarding the minor punishment of
censure, though it was ail incidental one in an appeal which involved a much
more important question. It was held that the show cause notice in that case
did (1) (1970) 2 I.L.R. (Punjab) 580.
(2) (1967) 2 I.L.R. (Punjab) 471.
(3) A.I.R. 1972 (S.C.) 2472.
639 not give the appellant (the aggrieved
Government servant) any real opportunity to defend himself. That is not the
The charge-sheet served on the appellant on
10-11-61 was to, the following effect :
"(i)That you have been careless and
negligent in the performance of your ditties at SubTreasury, Sirhind, as per
concrete instances mentioned in the enclosed statement of allegations.
(ii)That you have been disobedient to the
Assistant Treasury Officer, Sirhind." and an elaborate statement of
allegations was enclosed alongwith the charge-sheet, which is set out, below
STATEMENT OF ALLEGATIONS "While Shri Shadi Lal Gupta, Clerk, Sangrur
Treasury, was working as Routine Clerk, Sirhind Sub-Treasury, he had been
disobedient to the Assistant Treasury Officer. Sirhind and negligent in the
discharge of his duties, and a few instances of his carelessness, negligence
and disobedience are given below 1.Shri Shadi Lal Gupta was allotted the work
of passing Deposit Repayment Orders issued by the Courts and it was found vide
some instances quoted below that he calculated wrong balances in the Deposit
Receipt Registers which were likely to cause overpayment in certain cases And
refusal to make payment in other cases at some later stage.
(a) While passing DRO No. 17, dated 15th
November, 1960 on. 18-11-1960 the balance was calculated 'by him as Rs. 327.60
instead of Rs. 317.60 N.P.
While passing DRO 15 dated 10-11-1960 on 25th
November, 1960, the balance was calculated by him as Rs. 56-44 N.P. instead of
Rs. 56.33 N.P.
(c) In the said DRO 1 5 dated 1011-1960 passed
on 25-11-1960 the amount to be paid was entered by him as Rs. 74 only instead
of Rs.74.11 N.P.
(d) While passing payment of Rs. 131.06 N.P.
in respect of DRO 17 dated 15-11-1960 on
18-11-1960 the balance in the deposit receipt Register was calculated by him as
Rs. 595.23 N.P. instead of Rs. 495.23 N.P.
640 (e) In passing payment of Rs. 28.71 N.P.
relating to DRO 23 dated 5-12-1960 on 7-121960
the balance was worked out by him as Rs. 261.71 N.P. instead of Rs. 281.71 N.P.
(f) The passing payment of Rs 1562.70 N.P. in
respect of DRO 124 dated 8-11-1960 repaid on 9-11-1960 the actual payment was
shown as Rs.1600/in the deposit receipt register.
2. He passed cheque No. 335553 dated 13-111960
on 15-11-1960 without verifying the particulars of the cheque in question as
the cross entry of the cheque was wrong and he did not point it out, Similarly
cheque No. 395202, dated 21-11-1960 for Rs. 126/was passed on 24-11-1960 by him
without verifying the identifier of the payee, as neither he asked him to
produce his half of the P.P.O. quoted by him in his identification nor did he
confirm the fact from the Sub-Treasury record.
3. Inward letter No. 419 and 430 were
received from the Deputy Commissioner, Patiala on 6-121960 which remained
undisposed of by him till 3-1-1961. Letter No. 695, dated 14-11-1960 regarding
verification of credits received from the N.T. (Recovery) was not disposed of
by him till 3-1-1961. He also did not diarise them.
4. On 30-12-1960, the Assistant Treasury
Officer asked him verbally to attend office on 31-12-1960 to clear arrears on
his seat. He refused to do so. Thereon he gave him.
written orders to that effect and he refused
to note them. Again he asked him to record his refusal in black and white but
he declined even to do so.
5. He refused to write-up the Assistant
Treasury Officer's set of Double Lock registers on his ordering him to do so as
is evidenced by the fact that when he asked him even in writing on 13-1-1961,
after obtaining Treasury Officer Patiala's orders to write up his set of double
lock registers, he stated in his application dated 16-1-1961 that he had no
objection to carry out the work under protest for some days up to the decision
of the Treasury 'Officer, Patiala.
641 .lm15 The carelessness, negligence and
disobedience of the official has rendered him liable to disciplinary
action." Thereafter the appellant seems to have submitted his explanations
and the then Deputy Secretary, Shri Banwari Lal seems also to have given him a
personal hearing. The appellant complained that he was not given any
opportunity to adduce any evidence in defence and no prosecution witnesses were
examined in his presence. Shri Banwari Lal seems to have felt it necessary to
have, a local enquiry and, therefore, asked the Treasury Officer to send a
report after a local enquiry. One of the complaints of the appellant was that
these proceedings were started because one Yash Pal Kaura, the Treasury Officer
was inimical disposed towards him. But we consider that point irrelevant
because how the proceedings came to be initiated would not in any way affected
the validity or otherwise of the disciplinary proceedings. The: Treasury
Officer who sent up the report, 'after the local enquiry,, was another person.
Two contentions were urged on behalf of the
appellant (1) that by the failure to give him copy of the report of the
Treasury Officer and taking it into consideration behind his back, he has been
prejudiced; and (2) Rule 8 of the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal)
Rules 1952 has been contravened.
Under Rule 4 of the above rules the following
penalties may for good and sufficient reason be imposed (i) Censure;
(ii) Withholding of increments or promotion,
including stoppage at an efficiency bar, if any;
(iii) Reduction to a lower post or
time-scale, or to a lower stage in a time scale;
(iv) Recovery from pay of the whole or part
of any pecuniary loss caused to Government by negligence of breach or order;
(vi) Removal from the Civil Service of the
Government which does not disqualify from future employment.
(vii) Dismissals from the Civil Service of
the Government which ordinarily disqualifies from future employment;
642 Rule 8 is to the following effect
"8. Without prejudice to the provisions of Rule 7, no order under clauses
(i), (ii), or (iv) of Rule 4 shall be passed imposing a penalty on a Government
servant, unless he has been given an adequate opportunity of making any
representation that be, may desire to make, and such representation has been
taken into consideration." There are two provisos to the rule which it is
unnecessary to set out for the purposes of this case. Under this rule the only
,requirement is that the officer concerned should 'be given an adequate
opportunity of making any representation that he may desire to make. There is
no provision for examination of witnesses, ,cross examination of witnesses and
furnishing a copy of the report, all requirements which we find in Rule 7.
Therefore, in this case if the punishment had been imposed after the chargesheet
had been served on the appellant and he had made his representation ,and also
been personally heard by Banwari Lal, it would have been perfectly legal. Rule
8 does not require anything more than that the allegations on the basis, of
which the officer concerned is charged should be made known to him and he
should be given ,an opportunity to make any representation with regard to them.
He need not be told the punishment which is sought to be imposed ,on him,
either at the time the charge sheet is served on him or any other stage. There
is no question of his being given an opportunity a second time after the
enquiry is. completed in respect of the punishment sought to be imposed on him
unlike in a case covered ,,by Rule 7.
Rule 7 of these Rules deals with cases where
the major punishment of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank are proposed to
be imposed and sub-rule 6 of that rule specifically provides that in such a
case after the punishing authority has arrived at a provisional conclusion in
regard to the penalty to be imposed, the accused officer shall be supplied with
a copy of the report of the enquirying authority and be called upon to show
cause against the particular penalty proposed to be inflicted on Wm. The words
" without prejudice to the provisions of rule 7" occurring at the
beginning of Rule 8 are sought to be taken advantage of to contend that even in
the case of minor punishments referred to in that rule, of censure, withholding
of increments and recovery from pay, an opportunity should be given to show
cause against the punishment proposed to be imposed. Those words do not fit in
in the context and cannot mean that in a case of minor punishment not only the
provisions of rule 8 but also the provisions of rule 7 should be followed. The
rules must be interpreted in their proper setting and if so interpreted, those
words would not bear the interpretation 643 sought to be placed on them. The provisions
of rule 7 are necessitated by the provisions of Article 311(2) of the
Constitution. As far as other punishments are concerned, the only right which a
Government servant is entitled to is that the action proposed should-be in
accordance with the rules made under the proviso to Article 309. That rule,
rule 8 does not contemplate anything more than an adequate opportunity of
making a representation. We are, therefore, unable to, accept this contention.
We shall now consider some of the decisions
cited before us.
It is first necessary to refer to the
decision in Kalyan Singh v. The State of Punjab (supra) which has been
overruled by the Full Bench in Malvinderjit Singh v. The State of Punjab &
Anr. (supra). The High Court was not quite right in dismissing the appellant's
appeal on the basis, of Malvinderjit Singh's case. Kalyan Singh's case was
overruled only as regards the question whether a copy of the report of the
Vigilance Department on the basis of which proceedings were initiated, should
be given to the concerned officer or not. We are not concerned with that
question in this case. But the Full Bench also dealt with the question of the
procedure to be adopted in the case of imposition of minor punishment and it
"(a) that for the minor punishment to
_public servants for their misconduct the authorities have designedly provided
for a simple and summary procedure of representations only, untrammalled by any
furnishing of copies of documents or material on which the allegations are
based or the right of cross-examination or the right of leading defence
evidence which are all provided in the case of enquiries qua major punishments.
The furnishing of documents as provided for in rules 7 and 9 of the Punjab
Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1952, stands excluded under rule
8. Basically the right to secure copies of documents or other specific material
is a procedural right which accrues if it is so granted in express terms by a
statute. Nobody can be said to have any inherent right to secure copies or to
have any access to confidential State records.
Such a right can only be a creature of a
statute. On an overall view of the specific language of rule 8 of the Rules,
its setting in the relevant rules and the scope and ambit thereof all collectively
tend to negative any such procedural right.
(b) That the words 'adequate opportunity' in
the context of rule 8 of the Rules may mean-no more than an adequacy of time to
make a representation which alone is guaranteed by rule 8. It is possible to
place 644 such a limited meaning upon these words, but even if a more liberal
construction is placed, these words cannot be elongated enough to create a
specific procedural right to secure copies and materials. Moreover, the
adequacy of opportunity to make representation under rule 8 cannot possibly
imply a larger right than what has been judicially interpreted to be the basic
requirements of a reasonable opportunity of being heard or to show cause
against specific allegations.
(c) That under rule 8 of the Rules, unlike
rule 7, the employee has only one opportunity of making a representation. No
enquiry need be conducted as under rule 7 and no evidence need be recorded in
the presence of the employee. It is open to the punishing authority to collect
any material either itself or through any specialised agency like the Vigilance
Department to acquaint itself with the real facts in order to take a decision
whether any action is to be taken against the employee, and, if so, what action
is to be taken. But if such an enquiry is made arid material is collected on
the basis of which a prejudicial view is taken against the employee ,and he is
chargesheeted under rule 8 with a view to impose one of the three minor
punishments, then the employee is entitled to an adequate opportunity to make a
representation to show that (1) he is not guilty and (2) that the proposed
punishment should not be imposed on him, being excessive.
It would be impossible for an employee to
make such a representation unless it is made known to him the material on the
basis of which it has been decided that he is guilty and that the particular
punishment be imposed on him...... Without being supplied with such a material
he cannot make an effective and real representation. The only case in which the
punishing authority would be justified in withholding such a material, would be
where under the second proviso to rule 8, sufficient reasons are recorded in
writing to the effect that it is not practicable to observe the requirements of
the rule and that this can be done without injustice to the officer concerned.
(d) That the words 'adequate opportunity in
the context of rule 8 of the Rules connote "reasonably sufficient
opportunity" in every respect, to make a representation against the action
sought to be taken against the employee. Before an employee can be said to have
had this 'adequate opportunity', the employee has to be told the charges of
misconduct and then he must have an opportunity to be heard in answer to those
charges." 645 The case in R. D. Rawa v. State(1) was also noticed in the
above Full Bench decision., In that case two charges were made against Rawal
and one of the charges was held not established. Another charge, was on the
basis that certain action taken by him wag malafide The malafides were held not
established but the impugned order withholding one increment was passed on the
ground that some lapses on his part had resulted in excess payment to a
contractor. This order was set aside by the High Court. That decision could be
explained on the basis that the officer concerned did not have an opportunity
of showing that there was no lapse on his part.
We may also refer to the decision in Roop Lal
v. State of Punjab (2) of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The ratio of decision in that case is stated
as follows "in the present case if the procedure under rule 7 of the Rules
had been followed and instead of a major punishment a minor punishment had been
inflicted, no fault could be found therewith but if no enquiry was held as
envisaged under rule 7 ibid and the minor punishment was proposed to be
inflicted under rule 8 thereof, then the procedure prescribed under rule 8 had
to be followed." We thus come to the conclusion that there was no failure
in this case to follow the relevant rules, which, as we have already indicated,
only require that the officer concerned should have an opportunity of making a
representation in respect of the charges made against him. This leaves the
question of whether any principles of natural justice have been violated in
The rules of natural justice would
undoubtedly have to be observed in any proceedings even by a domestic tribunal.
But the principles of natural justice to be
applied would depend upon the circumstances of each case. In Suresh v. Kerala
University(3) this Court pointed out that the question whether the requirements
of natural justice have been met by the procedure adopted must depend to a
great extent on the facts and circumstances of the case in point, the
constitution of the Tribunal and the rules under which it functions. After
referring to the decisions in Russel v.Duke of Norfolk & Ors., (4 ) Local
Government Board v.Alridge(3) and De Verteuil v. Knaggs & Anr.(6) this
Court also referred to the observations of Lord Harman, J. in Byrne & Anr.
v. Kinematograph Renters Society Ltd.(7) to the following effect (1) 1967
C.L.J. 439. (2) 1971 (1) S.L. R. 41.
(3)  1 S.C.R. 317. (4) 1949 I All F.R.
108 at 119.
(5)  A.C. 120. (6)  A.C. 557.
(7)  All E.R. 579.
646 "What , then, arc, the requirements
of natural justice in a case of this kind ? First, I think that the person
accused should know the nature of the accusation made; secondly that he should
be given an opportunity to state his case; and thirdly, of course, that the
tribunal should act in good faith. I do not think that there really is anything
more:' and went on to Jay down the same principle in its own words
"Suffice it to say that in the case before us there was a fair inquiry
against the appellant; the officer appointed to inquire was an impartial
person; he cannot be said to have been biassed against the appellant; the
charge against the appellant was made known to him before the commencement of
the witnesses who gave evidence against him
were examined in his presence and he was allowed to cross-examine them and
lastly he was given every opportunity to present his case before the Inquiry
Officer. Hence we see no merit in the contention that there was any breach of
the principles of natural justice.
It is true that the Vice-Chancellor did not
make available to the appellant a copy of the report submitted by the Inquiry
Admittedly the appellant did not ask for a
copy of the report. There is no rule requiring the Vice-Chancellor to, provide
the appellant with a copy of the report of the Inquiry Officer before he was
called upon to make his representation against the provisional decision taken
by him. If the appellant felt any difficulty in making his representation
without looking into the report of the Inquiry Officer, he, could have, very
well asked for a copy of that report. His present grievance appears to be an afterthought
and we see no substance in it."' As we have indicated earlier, if Shri
Banwari Lal had imposed the punishment after he had given a hearing to the
appellant, the order would have been perfectly legal and it could not have been
said that any principle of natural justice had been violated. The criteria
indicated above would have been satisfied. But what is urged before us in this
case is that as the report of the Treasure Officer, which we have already
referred to earlier, was taken into consideration without showing, it to the
appellant he has been seriously prejudiced and the principles of natural
justice have been violated in so far as he has not had an opportunity of making
his representation in respect of that report. We find no substance in this
contention. When Shri Banwari Lal wanted a local enquiry to be made he
apparently wanted the representations made by the .appellant to be checked up
with the records and that is what has 647 been done as is clear from a
comparison of the allegations on the basis of which the charge sheet was served
on the petitioner, and the report of the Treasury Officer. We have carefully
one through it and it does not add one single instance more than what is
already found in the allegations.
It merely sets out the evidence in support of
these allegations. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the appellant has not
been in any way prejudiced by the Treasury Officer's report being taken into
consideration before the order of punishment was passed against the petitioner.
If before the Treasury Officer had sent his report he had 'associated the
appellant in the enquiry he held it would not have been necessary to give him a
copy of the report he sent. If the report had contained any material extraneous
to the charges against the appellant, or anything in addition to what is found
in the original allegations against him then only he could be said to have been
prejudiced. In the decision of the Judicial Committee in B. Surinder Singh
Kanda v. Government of the Federation of Malaya(1) noticed in Suresh v. Kerala
University (Supra) a report made by the Board, which held the preliminary
inquiry, which was highly prejudicial to Kanda had been placed in the hands of
the officer who held the formal enquiry was not made available to Kanda. That
report was likely to have prejudiced the Inquiry Officer and the Judicial
Committee held that the enquiry was not fair.
There is no question in this case of the
Treasury Officer's report having prejudiced the punishing officer, Mr. D. D.Sharma.
The application of the principles of natural justice is not a question of
observance of a formula or a mere technicality. In essence it is meant to
assure that the party concerned has an opportunity of being heard, the
principle of audi alteram partam. Whether in any particular case it has been
violated will depend on the facts and circumstances of that case. It is not to
be considered that unless all the procedure of the courts are observed it would
mean failure to observe the principles of natural justice.
We are of the opinion that no principles of
natural justice have been violated in this case. We think it useful in the
circumstances of this case to refer to the observations made by this Court in
Suresh's case to the effect "There seems to be an erroneous impression in
certain quarters evidently influenced by the provisions in Art. 311 of the
Constitution particularly as they stood (1)  A.C. 332.
648 before the amendment of that article that
every disciplinary proceeding must consist of two inquiries, one before issuing
the show cause notice to be followed. by another inquiry thereafter. Such is
not the requirement of the principles of natural justice. Law may or may not
prescribe such a course. Even if a show cause notice is provided by law from
that it does not follow that a copy of the report on the basis of which the
show cause notice is issued should be made available to the person proceeded
against or that another inquiry should be, held thereafter.', In the result
this appeal is dismissed.