& Anr Vs. Vijayakumar Raghuvirprasad Mehta & Anr  INSC 548 (18 November 1998)
G.T.Nanavati, B.N.Kirpal Nanavati.J.
appeal arises out of the judgment and order passed by the High court of Gujarat
in Special Civil Application No.6671 of 1997. The High Court upheld the order
of the Gujarat Secondary Education Tribunal whereby the order of dismissal of
respondent No. I passed by the appellant was set aside, but modified the
substituted order of stoppage of one increment with future effect by directing
stoppage of two increments with future effect.
No. I was earlier working as a teacher in Pallavi Vidyalaya. He was declared a
surplus teacher on closure of that institution in 1988. Under direction of the
Director of Education he was absorbed on 25.11.1988 as a teacher in Durga Vidyalaya
run by appellant No. 1. While joining this new School, respondent No. I did not
produce his service book nor was it forwarded by Pallavi Vidvalaya to Durga Vidvalaya.
He was, however, paid his salary' in the revised pay scale of Rs. 1400-2600 as
per the last pay certificate submitted by him. Durga Vidyalaya had earlier told
him to produce his service book as it was necessary for it to verify fixation
of his pay and obtain grant from the Government. He did not produce it but Pallavi
Vidyalaya forwarded it lo Durga Vidyalaya on 23.11.1992. On examination Durga Vidyalaya
noticed that there were certain deficiencies and irresularities in if. The
endorsement regarding fixation of his salary in the revised pay scale was not
signed by the competent authority, namely, the District Education Officer.
There was no signature of the Auditor. Durga Vidyalaya, therefore, by its
letter dated 31.7.93 informed him about the said deficiencies and requested him
to get it completed. By letter dated 4.8.93, he requested Durga Vidyalaya to
give to him his last pay certificate and the service book for that purpose.
They were given to him. Within three days (Saturday and Sunday intervening) respondent
No. I returned the service book and informed the School Management that all the
deficiencies have been removed. As it was returned within such a short time, Durga
Vidyalaya felt some doubt regarding genuineness of the signatures of the
concerned authorities. So it called upon him to disclose names of the persons
who had signed the relevant endorsements. On 24.8.93 he informed Durga Vidyalaya
that the District Education Officer Shri S.N. Parmar had signed the
endorsement. Durga Vidyalaya then wrote to Shri Parmar to confirm his
signature. He denied that he had signed, the service book. It was found to be a
forged signature. Durga Vidyalaya, therefore, held an inquiry after giving a
show cause notice dated 23.9.93 and as all the charges were proved, with prior
approval of the concerned authority. passed an order of termination of his
service on 15.3.94.
No. I challenged that order before the Gujarat Secondary Education Tribunal.
The Tribunal held that the charges were duly proved and the acts committed by
Respondent No. I did amount to a serious misconduct; but as Respondent No. I
had done so because of the delay of about four years in fixation of his pay in
the revised pay scale and because the service book was given to Respondent No.
I instead of sending it directly to the concerned authorities and as he was
comparatively of young age, termination of his sendee amounting to his economic
death was not called for.
of the view that a lenient view should be taken and, therefore, held that stoppage
of one increment with future effect would be the proper punishment.
Accordingly, the Tribunal partly allowed the application, set aside the order
of termination and modified the penalty by directing stoppage of two increments
with future effect.
by this order passed by the Tribunal the appellants preferred a writ petition
to the High Court of Gujarat. The High Court agreed with the view of the
Tribunal that the penalty imposed was disproportionate but found that the
penalty of stoppage of one increment with future effect was rather lenient. It,
therefore, modified that order and imposed punishment of stoppage of two
increments with future effect.
R.P. Bhat, learned senior counsel for the appellants, contended that the
tribunal having found that the charges levelled against respondent No. I were
proved and that they constituted serious misconduct ought not to have
interfered with the order of dismissal passed by the School Management. He
further submitted that the three reasons given by the tribunal for taking a
lenient view and interfering with the order of punishment, namely; (i) delay in
forwarding the service book by Pallavi Vidyalaya to Durga Vidyalaya resulting
in non-fixation of pay for a period of four years; (ii) the act of Durga Vidyalaya
in giving the service book to respondent No. I for getting the necessary
endorsements made therein and not sending it directly to the authorities
concerned and thereby providing an opportunity to respondent No. I to commit
the act of misconduct; and (iii) young age of respondent No. I, cannot be
regarded as a good grounds for substituting the order of dismissal with the
order of withholding of one increment only with future effect. He submitted
that the tribunal in doing so clearly exceeded its jurisdiction. He also
submitted that the High Court without proper application of mind virtually
rejected the writ petition filed by the appellant holding that the reasons
given by the tribunal are cogent and do not call for interference.
a review of earlier cases this Court in B.C. has held that "The High
Court/Tribunal while exercising the power of judicial review, cannot normally
substitute its own conclusion on penalty and impose some other penalty. If the
punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority or the appellate authority
shocks the conscience of the High Court/Tribunal, it would appropriately mould
the relief, either directing the disciplinary/appellate authority to reconsider
the penalty' imposed, or to shorten die litigation, it may itself, in
exceptional and rare cases, impose appropriate punishment with cogent reasons
in support thereof" Neither the tribunal nor the High Court in this case
has held that the punishment imposed upon respondent No. I was shockingly
disproportionate. Respondent No. I was a school teacher. A teacher is expected
to maintain higher standard of honesty and integrity in view of the position he
holds. He committed acts of forgery either himself or with the help of some
other person by forging signatures of the District Education Officer, the
auditor and the Sanchalak and Principal of Pallavi Vidyalaya. Even after he was
called upon by the School Management to disclose names of the persons who had
put their signatures in the service book, he had stated that it was signed by
the District Education Officer - Mr. S.M. Pannar. Tnai statement was raise to
his Knowledge. It was on the basis of me forged endorsements that he wanted to
get payments as per the revised pay scale regularised. Respondent No. I had
thus not only committed a serious misconduct but also a serious criminal
offence. If under such circumstances the punishment of dismissal was imposed by
the School Management, it cannot be said that it was shockingly
disproportionate to the gravity of the misconduct.
extenuating factors referred to by the tribunal for talking a lenient view
cannot reasonably lead to the conclusion that the punishment was highly
No. I after his absorption in Durga Vidyalaya was getting his salary- at Rs.l480/-
in the revised pay scale and thus he was not hurt financially as a result of
the delay in forwarding his service book to Durga Vidyalaya There was no
compelling reason for respondent No. I to indulge in the acts of forgery as he
could have obtained the necessary endorsements by the District Education
Officer, the auditor and others in due course of time. No regard for truth and
the tendency to commit even a criminal act to get one's work done are clearly
reflected by the acts done by respondent No. 1. Durga Vidyalaya had not told
him to get the service book completed within a few days. If on a request made
by respondent No. I, Durga Vidyalaya handed over the service-book to him for
getting it completed instead of sending it directly to the concerned authorities,
it cannot be said that thereby it committed any fault. It trusted its teacher.
It could not have anticipated that he had a dishonest intention at that time.
Thus the second reason given by the tribunal for interfering with the order of
punishment was not justified. Assuming that respondent No. I was comparatively young,
he had by then put in 8 years' sendee as a teacher. He was mature enough to
realize the nature of his acts. Thus, there was really no justification for the
tribunal to interfere with the discretion exercised by the School Management.
In view of the facts and circumstances, there was no justification for the
tribunal to interfere with the punishment imposed by the School Management.
Learned counsel for respondent No. I relying upon the decision of this Court in
Bhagat Ram vs. State of Himachal Pradesh and Ors. (1983) 2 SCC 442 submitted
that penalty not commensurate with the be gravid of the misconduct has
to/considered as violative of Art.
further submitted that dismissal from service being an economic death, such a
severe punishment ought not to have been imposed upon respondent No. I when by
his said acts, he was not to gain any additional financial benefit.
he was likely to gain anything or not thereby did not have much bearing on the
gravity- of the misconduct.
acts committed by him constituted not only a serious misconduct but also a
serious criminal offence. Learned counsel also relied upon the earlier quoted
observations made by Hansaria. J. in B.C. Chaturvedi case (supra).
they have no relevance to the facts of this case. this is not a case where the
High Court/Tribunal found any difficulty in granting an appropriate relief to
respondent No. I because of some technicality of rules or procedure even though
justice demanded it. Moreover, the said observations are no more than an
egression of personal view.
is to be noted is Hansaria, J. agreed with what the other two learned Judges
held as regards the powers of the High Court/Tribunal to interfere with the
order of penalty passed by the disciplinary authority. Therefore, it would not
be correct to say that this Court in B.C. Chaturvedi's case has accepted the
view that the High Courts/Tribunals possess the same power which this Court has
under Article 142 of the Constitution for doing complete justice, even in
absence of such a provision .
therefore allow this appeal, set aside the judgment and order passed by the
High Court and also that of the tribunal and dismiss the 0. A. filed by