Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana
& ANR Vs. Dwarka Das  INSC 241 (28 November 1978)
CITATION: 1979 AIR 336 1979 SCR (2) 405 1979
SCC (3) 789
O 1990 SC 57 (2,5)
Punjab Police Rules, 1934. Rule 12-21. power
of discharge, whether exercisable beyond 3 years temporary service of police
The respondent writ petitioners were
constables of the Punjab State Government, and had put in more than 3 years
service, when they were discharged for inefficiency, under Rule 12.21 of the
Punjab Police Rules, 1934. the High Court allowed their writ petitions
challenging the validity of their discharge-orders. It was contended by the
State that although the respondents had put in more than three years service,
their appointments were temporary and could be terminated for that reason, even
if the termination could not strictly b said to fall within the purview of rule
Dismissing the appeal. the Court
HELD: If rules 12.2(3) and 12.21 are read
together, it will appear that the maximum period of probation in the case of a
police officer of the rank of constable is three years and the power of
discharge cannot be exercised under rule 12.21 after expiry of that period. If
it is proposed to deal with an inefficient police officer after the expiry of
three years, it is necessary to do so in accordance with the rules of Chapter
XVI of the Rules which makes provision for the imposition of various
punishments including dismissal from the police force. [408A-B] The High Court
was not justified in holding that a constable who had obtained a certificate
under rule 12.32 cannot be dealt with under rule 12.21 "I`hat certificate
is meant to serve the purpose of section 8 of the Police Act.
1861, by vesting a public officer with the
powers, functions and privileges of a police officer and has to be issued on
his appointment as such. The certificate is a letter of authority and enables
the police officer to enter upon his duties as a police officer. It has to be
granted almost From the inception and it is not correct to say what the mere
issue of the certificate puts its holder beyond the reach of rule 12.21 even if
it is found that he is unlikely to prove an efficient police officer and has
not completed the period of three years of his enrolment. [408D-G]
CIVIL, APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
Nos. 1286, 1287 and 2511 of 1969- From the Judgment and Order dated 20-8-1968
and 3-4- 1969 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Civil Writ Nos.800/66,
2625/65 and LPA No 141 of 1969.
Harbans Singh and R. N. Sachthey for the
Appellant in all the appeals.
E. C. Agarwala and M. L. Srivastava for the
Respondent in C.A. 1286/69.
406 H.K. Puri for the Respondent in C. A.
1287/69 N. N. Keswani for the Respondent in C.A. 2511/69 The Judgment of the
Court was delivered by SHINGHAL, J. These three appeals by certificates granted
by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana are directed against two judgments of
that court dated August 20? 1966, and another judgment of that court dated
November 22, 1968.
The High Court first decided the writ
petition of constable Dwarka Das, which is the subject matter of appeal No.1286
of 1969, and disposed of the other two writ petitions, which are the subject
matter of appeals Nos. 1287 and 2511 of 1969, on the basis of that judgment.
These three appeals therefore Raise common questions of law and have been heard
together at the request of learned counsel for the parties and will be disposed
of by a common judgment The writ petitioners in all the three cases were
recruited as constables in the police-force of the Punjab State. It is not in
dispute before us that (i) they were police-officers of the State, (ii) they
were enrolled as police-officers, (iii) they had put in more than three years
service after their recruitment and enrolment as police- officers, and (iv)
they were discharged under the provisions of rule 12.21 of the Punjab Police
Rules, 1934, (hereinafter referred to as the Rules and not by way of punishment
under the provisions of Chapter XVI of the Rules.
No attempt has been made to distinguish one
case from the others on facts. On the other hand learned counsel for the
parties are in agreement that the facts of the three cases are quite similar
and they raise the common question of law whether the orders of discharge were
valid. The respondents challenged the validity of those orders by writ
petitions which were allowed by the impugned judgments of the High Court and
the three appeals are before us for that reason.
It has been argued by Mr Harbans Singh, on
behalf of the appellant State, that even though the respondents had put in more
than three years service as police-officers of the State Government, their
appointments were temporary and could be terminated for that reason even if the
termination could not strictly be said to fall within the purview of rule 12.21
of the Rules. that in fact is the only question II for consideration in these
appeals and can easily be answered with reference to the provisions of the Police
Act, 1861, hereinafter refer red to as the Act, and the Rules.
407 Section 1 of the Act defines
"Police" to include all persons who A shall be enrolled under it.
Section 2 provides that the entire police establishment under the State
Government shall be deemed to be one police-force, and shall be formally
enrolled. It further provides that the conditions of service of the members of
the subordinate ranks of the police-force shall be such as may be determined by
the State Government. Section 8 is also relevant, for it expressly provides
that every police-officer appointed to the police-force of the State (other
than an officer mentioned in section 4), shall receive on his appointment a
certificate in the form annexed to the Act, by virtue of which he shall be
vested with the powers, functions and privileges of a police-officer. The
certificate states that the police-officer concerned has been appointed a
member of the police-force under the Act, and vested with the powers.
functions and privileges of a police-officer.
The certificate is not therefore the order of appointment or enrolment, but is
subsequent to the appointment and the enrolment, even though it is a part of
the process of appointment and enrolment, in as much as it certifies that the
police-officer has been vested with the necessary powers, functions and
privileges of a police-officer. The certificate does not however have any
bearing on the question whether its holder is a permanent or a temporary
police-officer, for that is a matter which has to be governed by the other
conditions of his service. It is not in dispute before us that such
certificates were issued to all the three respondents and that they functioned
as police-officers for more than three years.
Chapter XII of the Rules deals with the
appointment and enrolment of police-officers. Clause (3) of rule 12.2.
provides, inter alia, as follows,- "(3)
All appointments of enrolled police officers are on probation according to the
rules in this chapter applicable to each rank." It is therefore obvious
that as the respondents were enrolled police officers, they were on probation.
The period of probation has not been specified in the Rules, but rule 12.21
provides for the discharge of an inefficient police- officer as follows-
"12.21. A constable who is found unlikely to prove an efficient police
officer may be discharged by the Superintendent at any time within three years
of enrolment. There shall be no appeal against an order of discharge under this
rule." 408 So if rules 12.2(3) and 12.21 are read together, it will appear
that the maximum period of probation in the case of 3 police-officer of the
rank of constable is three, years, for the Superintendent OF Police concerned
has the power to discharge him within that period. It follows that the power of
discharge cannot be exercised under rule 12.21 after the expiry of the period
of three years. If therefore it is proposed to deal with an inefficient
police-officer after the expiry of that period, it is necessary to do so in
accordance with the rules of Chapter XVI of the Rules which makes provision for
the imposition of various punishments including dismissal from the
police-force. It is not permissible to ignore those rules and make a simple
order of discharge under rule 12.21 after the expiry of the period of three
years for that will attract article 311 of the Constitution. The Superintendent
of Police concerned could not have ignored that requirement of the law and
terminated the services of the three respondents after the expiry of the period
of three years from their enrolment in the police-force of the State.
The High Court therefore rightly set aside
the orders of termination of the services of the three respondents and to that
extent the impugned judgments are correct. But we are constrained to say that
it was not justified in holding that "a constable who has obtained a
certificate under rule 12.22 cannot be dealt with under rule 12.21", and
that "if he is to be removed from service, procedure prescribed in Chapter
XVI has to be followed." The reason is that, as has been shown, the
certificate prescribed under rule 12.22 is meant to serve the purpose of
section 8 of the Act by vesting a police-officer with the powers, functions and
privileges of a police-officer, and has to be issued on his appointment as
such. The certificate is thus a letter of authority, and enables the
police-officer concerned to enter upon his duties as a police-officer. It has
to be granted almost from the inception, when a person is appointed and
enrolled as police-officer, and it is not correct to say that the mere issue of
the certificate puts its holder beyond the reach of rule 12.21 even if it is
found that he is unlikely to prove an efficient police-officer and has not
completed the period of three years after his enrolment.
Except for this slight clarification, we find
no merit in these appeals and they are dismissed with costs.
M.R. Appeals dismissed.