Mishra Vs. Pramod Kumar Gupta & Ors  Insc 58 (6 February 2003)
N Santosh Hegde & B P Singh.
out of SLP No.4794 of 2002) SANTOSH HEGDE, J.
appellant in this appeal was at the relevant point of time a member of the
Madhya Pradesh Civil Service posted as a Commercial Tax Officer. On the ground
that there was an evasion of commercial tax, he made an attachment order of
certain perishable goods belonging to the respondent-firm consequent to which
the property worth about Rs.2.92 lakhs belonging to the respondent was attached
and kept in Central Warehousing Corporation, Sheopurkalan. The respondent
preferred a revision petition against the said order which was allowed in favour
of the respondent directing the release of the goods. But according to the
respondent, despite the said order in revision, the goods in question were not released,
therefore, the respondent was compelled to file a writ petition before the High
Court of Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior Bench. The learned Single Judge who heard the
said writ petition, issued an interim direction on 11.10.1996 directing release
of the goods. Pursuant to the said direction of the learned Single Judge, the
goods were released on 18.10.1996 but the learned Single Judge during the final
disposal of the writ petition, took a serious view of the matter and came to
the conclusion that the proceedings against the respondent were initiated
without following the process of law. He also held the appellant before us
responsible for the loss caused to the respondent, hence, while allowing the
petition imposed a cost of Rs.5,000/- payable by the appellant.
further directed the State Government to initiate proceedings according to law,
against the appellant herein for his biased act.
aggrieved by the said directions of the learned Single Judge, the appellant
preferred a Letters Patent Appeal before the Division Bench of the said High
Court. The Division Bench after hearing the parties concurred with the direction
given by the learned Single Judge. However, it observed that the authorities
should proceed untrammelled by the observations made by the learned Single
Judge in the proceedings which will be initiated against the appellant. It is
against this order of the High Court that the appellant is in appeal before us.
on a misconception of the provisions of Section 48 of the Madhya Pradesh
General Sales Tax Act, 1958 (the Act) an argument was sought to be advanced
before us claiming protection under the said Section on the ground that the
appellant's decision was protected under that provision of law.
not think that the appellant can claim any such protection on the facts of this
case because the said protection is available to a civil servant only when he
acts bona fide and in good faith. In the present case, the finding of the two
courts below is to the contrary and for reasons recorded therein.
realising the futility of this legal argument, learned counsel appearing for
the appellant then contended that the Officer concerned at the relevant point
of time was a young civil servant, and by the direction given to the Government
by the courts, his career is likely to be affected, and the alleged act of the
appellant since being remedied, he requested us to take a lenient view of the
the tenor of the arguments addressed on behalf of the appellant, though
belatedly, we are satisfied that the appellant has realised the gravity of his
act as also the consequences of the same, therefore, we think the ends of
justice would be met if the order of the court below is confined to the costs
awarded in favour of the respondent, and without any further direction.
Therefore, taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of this case,
we are of the opinion that the direction issued to the Government by the
learned Single judge as affirmed by the Division Bench to initiate proceedings
against the appellant in accordance with law, be set aside, confirming,
however, the costs awarded to the respondent.
the above modifications, this appeal is disposed of.