of Tamil Nadu & Ors Vs. S. Vel Raj  INSC 1640 (19 December 1996)
Agrawal, G.T. Nanavati Nanavati, J.
appeal was heard along with Civil Appeal No. 41847 of 1994 but we are disposing
of the same by a separate judgment.
respondent is a Head Constable and as such a member of Tamil Nadu Police
Subordinate Service. O 20.7.84 he has served with a charge memo for an act of
misconduct committed on 7.7.84 and a departmental enquiry was thereafter
initiated against him. The charge was held proved and by way of punishment he
was reverted to the lower grade, that is, from Head Constable to Police
Constable Grade I he appealed against that order. As the appellate authority
was of the view that the punishment imposed upon the respondent was very
lenient it issued a show case notice to him for enhancement of the penalty.His
appeal was dismissed and by way of punishment he was compulsorily retired. The
respondent then filed a writ petition in the High Court of Madras challenging not
only the punishment imposed upon him but also initiation of the enquiry against
him. That petition was transferred to the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal
and was numbered as T.A. No. 271 of 1992.
charge against the respondent was that on 7.7.84 he was deputed to attend a
case pending before the sub- Divisional judicial Magistrate, Usilampatti. He
left the police station and returned to it at about 8 P.M. and reported before the sub-Inspector of Police who was incharge
of Police Station. At that time he was drunk and was in 'mufti'. During the
enquiry evidence was led to prove that the respondent was in a drunken
condition, that he had admitted before the sub-Inspector of Police that he had
admitted before the Sub-Inspector of Police that he had consumed 'arrack' and
that he was in 'mufti' at that was not disputed but an attempt was made in
cross-examination of the witnesses by way of suggestions that he was often
suffering from stomach pain and was, therefore, taking medicine known as B.G. Phos
and that if sufficient quantity of that medicine is consumed there would be
smell of alcohal and eyes would become reddish.
Tribunal held that initiation of the enquiry against the respondent was bad
because the charge memo was issued by the Deputy Superintendent of Police who
was not an appointing authority and it is a well-settled principle of law that
only the appointing authority can take disciplinary action and that the said
power cannot be delegated. On merits, the Tribunal considered the evidence as
if it was sitting in appeal and held that the evidence was inconsistent and it
was not proved "beyond all doubts that he had consumed prohibited
liquor". It also held that neither consumption of alcohol by a member of
the police force nor appearance in 'Mufti' in the police station can be
considered as an act of misconduct. It also held that the appellate authority
had not conducted the enquiry in the prescribed manner before enhancing the
punishment and, therefore allowed the application, quashed the impugned oder of
punishment and directed the authorities to reinstate the respondent with all
contended by the learned counsel for the appellant-state that the Tribunal has
committed an error of law in holding that initiation of the disciplinary
enquiry against the respondent was not lawful. He submitted that there is
nothing in the Tamil Nadu Police Subordinate Services that a charge memo has to
be issued only by an appointing authority or an authority holding a higher
point is now covered by the decision of this Court Inspector General of Police
vs. Thavasiappan (1996) 2 SCC 145. We, therefore, hold that the Tribunal was
wrong in holding that there was not valid initiation of the disciplinary
proceeding against the respondent.
learned counsel for the appellant was also right in his criticism that the
Tribunal transgressed its jurisdiction in examining the evidence as if it was
an appellate authority. The law on this point is also not well- settled. The
Tribunal obviously committed a mistake in re- examining the evidence and
holding that it did not deserve to be accepted because of the inconsistencies
therein. The Tribunal was not holding a criminal trial and, therefore, ought
not to have exonerated the respondent by holding that i was not proved "
beyond all doubts that the applicant had consumed prohibited liquor". The
finding recorded by the Enquiry officer and confirmed by the appellate
authority were based upon the evidence led during the enquiry and it was not
even contended that the said finding were perverse.
was, therefore, not open to the Tribunal to record contrary findings and hold
that the charge against the respondent was not proved.
Tribunal was also wrong in holding that what was alleged against the respondent
did not amount to an act of misconduct. Under Rule 2 of the rules punishment
can be imposed upon a member of the service 'for good and sufficient reason'.
Therefore, the Tribunal ought to have examined the case from that angle. the
respondent when he appeared before the P.S.I at 8 P.M. on 7.7.84 was on duty,
He and returned to the police station for reporting to the PSI as to what he
had done regarding the directions given to him earlier. At that time he was
found in a drunken condition and was in 'Mufti'. He had even admitted before
the P.S.I. that he had consumed 'arrack' and it was for that reason that he was
smelling of alcohol. I this context, it was required to be considered whether
there was 'good and sufficient reason' for initiating a disciplinary proceeding
against him and imposing the punishment of compulsory retirement. The police
force has to be a disciplined force and a member of the police force has to
behave in a disciplined manner particularly when he is o duty. The respondent
even though he was sent for official work and was on duty returned to the
police station in 'mufti' and in drunken condition after consuming 'arrack'. He
had returned to the police station to report to his superior officer as to what
happened to the work which was entrusted to him.
these circumstances, his behavior has to be regarded as an act of gross
misconduct. It is difficult to appreciate how the Tribunal could persuade
itself to take a contrary view. In view of the facts and circumstances of this
case it is not possible to say that the punishment which was imposed upon him
was highly excessive. The appellate authority after considering his provious
record and after giving him an opportunity to show cause against the proposed
enhancement had passed the order of punishment. Though the Tribunal has held
that the enquiry was not conducted by the appellate authority as required by
the rules it has not been pointed out which requirement of the rule had not
been complied with. The Tribunal was, therefore, wrong on this count also.
result, this appeal is allowed and the order passed by the Tribunal is quashed
and set aside. In view of the facts and circumstances of Th case, however,
there shall be no order as to costs.
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