Divl. Forest Officer, Kothagudem & Ors Vs. Madhusudhan Rao  Insc
157 (8 February 2008)
Mathur & Altamas Kabir
APPEAL NO. 1104 OF 2008 [@ SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 297 OF 2006]
ALTAMAS KABIR, J.
Leave granted. Delay condoned.
This appeal at the instance of the Divisional Forest Officer, Kothagudem and
other officers of the Ministry of Forests, Government of Andhra Pradesh is
directed against the judgment and order dated 9.3.2005 passed by the Division
Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court dismissing the Writ Petition No. 3817 of
2005 filed by the appellants herein.
Writ Petition was filed challenging the order dated 23.11.2004 passed by the
Andhra Pradesh Administrative Tribunal, Hyderabad, in O.A. No. 1157 of 2002
allowing the same and directing that the respondent herein be reinstated in
From the materials as disclosed, it appears that the respondent herein was
appointed as a "Forester" on 7.4.1994 and was posted in Section Komararam
from 7.4.1994 to 24.8.1996. According to the appellants, during the said period
the appellant was advanced funds to carry out different works under the Andhra
Pradesh Forestry Project. Despite having received such funds, he did not
undertake the said work and disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him
on the following charges:
(a) Neglect of duty with mala fide intention by not depositing the Government
funds in the Joint Account (Bank) thereby causing embezzlement of Government
money of Rs. 10,000/-
false expenditure and producing the fabricated vouchers without executing the
work amounting to embezzlement of Government money of Rs. 54,625.00,
not maintaining the muster rolls and non-payment of wages of Rs.4865.00 to the labourers,
resulting in embezzlement of the money.
Misappropriation of Rs. 580.00 collected towards C'fees, by not issuing CF.140
receipt to the accused."
been found guilty of both the charges by the Divisional Forest Officer, the
following punishment was imposed upon the respondent, namely,
(5) Annual Grade Increments was stopped with cumulative effect apart from
recovery of Government losses of Rs. 64,725/- at the rate of Rs. 500/- per
month in (130) installments;
The suspension period from 24.8.1996 to 17.4.197 be regularised towards Earned
Leave available to the respondent.
Aggrieved by the said order of punishment passed by the Divisional Forest
Officer, Kothagudem, the respondent filed an appeal to the Conservator of
Forests, Khammam Circle, Khammam. The said authority upon
going through the materials was of the view that it was a clear case of
misappropriation of Government funds which entailed more punishment than had
been awarded by the Divisional Forest Officer. The respondent's case was, therefore,
reopened in terms of Rule 18(2) of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Services
(Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1991 and a show cause notice was
issued to the respondent in terms of Rule 37(2)(v) directing him to show cause
as to why he should not be removed from service. Upon considering the reply
submitted by the respondent, the Conservator of Forests passed order dated
11.7.2001 dismissing the respondent from service.
revision petition filed by the respondent before the Principal Chief Conservator
of Forests, Andhra Pradesh was partly allowed by his order dated 19.11.2001 to
the extent that the order of "dismissal from service" was modified to
"removal from service". It may be indicated that neither the
Conservator of Forests, Khammam
Circle, Khammam, nor
the Chief Conservator of Forests, Andhra Pradesh, in their separate orders gave
any reasons as such for maintaining first the punishment as imposed by the
Divisional Forest Officer and thereafter the enhanced punishment of dismissal
passed by the Conservator of Forests.
is against the said orders that the respondent moved the Andhra Pradesh
Administrative Tribunal, which after considering the matter in detail
formulated the following points for consideration in the case:
Whether the order of the appellate authority is vitiated and liable to be set
Whether there are any procedural lapses, which are not pointed out by the
Whether entertainment of appeal without condoning the delay is bad?
What decision have and given in this matter?
Tribunal observed on a careful consideration of the submissions made that all
that was found in the appellate authority's order dated 11.7.2001 was a
narration of charges made against the respondent and it did not independently
apply its mind to the materials before it before proceeding to dispose of the
matter. The Tribunal also took note of the fact that a copy of the Enquiry
Officer's report had not been supplied to the respondent although the same was
mandatory under Rule 20 of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Services (Classification,
Control and Appeal) Rules. It observed that even the said aspect had not been
considered by the appellate authority.
was also noted that although it was mandatory on the part of the Government to
consult the Public Service Commission in case of passing an order of removal
from service, such consultation does not appear to have taken place as the
counter affidavit filed was silent in that regard.
consideration of the aforesaid facts, the Tribunal concluded that the appellate
authority had not exercised its independent discretion while awarding the
enhanced punishment of removal from service.
The reasoning of the Administrative Tribunal was duly considered and endorsed
by the High Court in the Writ Petition filed by the appellants herein. The High
Court observed that although the appellate authority had the power to enhance
the punishment, it was also the duty of the appellate authority to consider the
grounds and then only to reject the appeal. The High Court also observed that
though in the same proceeding, the appellate authority came to a conclusion
that the punishment was required to be enhanced, without considering the
grounds raised by the respondents, it simply enhanced the punishment, which was
illegal and contrary to law. On the said reasoning, the High Court dismissed
the Writ Petition filed by the appellants.
Appearing in support of the appeal, Mr. H.S. Gururaja Rao, learned Senior
Advocate, submitted that while confirming an order against which an appeal has
been preferred, the appellate authority is not required to pass a reasoned
order since the order impugned was before him and he was merely endorsing the
support of his aforesaid submission, Mr. Gururaja Rao referred to a
Constitution Bench decision of this 1827], which was a case involving
compulsory retirement of a civil servant in which the aforesaid question had
the argument of Mr. Setalvad that even while affirming an order, an authority
acting in a quasi-judicial character should indicate some reasons as to why it
accepted the findings of the lower forum, this Court held that having regard to
the material which is made available to the State Government, it would be
somewhat unreasonable to suggest that the State Government must record its
reasons why it accepted the findings of the Tribunal. This Court went on to
observe further that even while differing with the order of the lower forum,
the State Government was merely required to give reasons why it differs though
it was not necessary that such reasons should be detailed or elaborate. The
conclusion arrived at by the Constitution Bench was that where the State
Government agrees with the findings of the Tribunal which are against the
delinquent officer, it could not be said as a matter of law that the State
Government could not impose penalty against the delinquent officer in
accordance with the findings of the Tribunal, unless it gave reasons to show
why the said findings were accepted by it.
this regard reference was also made to two other Municipal Corporation of Delhi
& Ors. [(1977) 1 S.C.C. 472] where the aforesaid sentiments were
reiterated. Mr. Gururaja Rao urged that since this was a serious matter involving
embezzlement of Government funds, the lacuna in the orders passed by the
appellate and revisional authorities should not be taken as fatal, since the
Divisional Forest Officer had dealt with the charges and the response of the
respondents thereto in great detail.
Mr. D. Ramakrishna Reddy, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respondent, however, submitted that both the Administrative Tribunal as also
the High Court had correctly come to the conclusion that neither the appellate
authority nor the revisional authority had applied their minds to the appeal
and the revision preferred by the respondent and the orders passed by the said
authorities had been correctly set aside by the Administrative Tribunal on such
counsel further urged that certain mandatory provisions of the Andhra Pradesh
Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, had not been
followed and as rightly pointed out both by the Tribunal as also the High
Court, although the Conservator of Forests as the appellate authority was
empowered to enhance the punishment awarded by the Divisional Forest Officer,
he was required to deal with the response to the show cause notice with more
application, instead of simply enhancing the punishment without giving any
reasons therefor. He also urged that non- supply of the Enquiry Officer's
Report was another fatal defect under Rule 20 of the aforesaid Rules. He urged
that the order of the High Court did not warrant any interference and the
appeal was liable to be dismissed.
support of his submissions, Mr. Ramakrishna Union of India & ors. [(1986) 2 S.C.C. 651]
wherein it was observed that while considering an appeal against an order
enhancing any penalty under the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control
and Appeal) Rules, requirements of Rule 27(2) must be complied with and
consideration would mean a finding of satisfaction as to whether the procedure
laid down in the Rules had been complied with and if not complied with, whether
such non-compliance had resulted in violation of any of the provisions of the
Constitution or in failure of justice. Mr. Ramakrishna Reddy submitted that the
three cases cited by Mr. Gururaja Rao had already been referred to and
ultimately the appeal was allowed with the direction on the concerned authority
to dispose of the appeal before him afresh after applying his mind to the
requirements of Rule 27(2) of the Central Civil Services Rules, 1965.
The next case referred to by Mr. Reddy is Ram where the decision in R.P. Bhatt's
case (supra) was followed.
Having considered the submissions made on behalf of the respective parties and
also having regard to the detailed manner in which the Andhra Pradesh
Administrative Tribunal had dealt with the matter, including the explanation
given regarding the disbursement of the money received by the respondent, we
see no reason to differ with the view taken by the Administrative Tribunal and
endorsed by the High Court.
doubt, the Divisional Forest Officer dealt with the matter in detail, but it
was also the duty of the appellate authority to give at least some reasons for
rejecting the appeal preferred by the respondent. A similar duty was cast on
the revisional authority being the highest authority in the Department of
Forests in the State. Unfortunately, even the revisional authority has merely
indicated that the decision of the Divisional Forest Officer had been examined
by the Conservator of Forests, Khammam wherein the charge of misappropriation
was clearly proved. He too did not consider the defence case as made out by the
respondent herein and simply endorsed the punishment of dismissal though
reducing it to removal from service.
is no doubt also true that an appellate or revisional authority is not required
to give detailed reasons for agreeing and confirming an order passed by the
lower forum but, in our view, in the interests of justice, the delinquent
officer is entitled to know at least the mind of the appellate or revisional
authority in dismissing his appeal and/or revision.
true that no detailed reasons are required to be given, but some brief reasons
should be indicated even in an order affirming the views of the lower forum.
Having regard to the above, we are not inclined to interfere with the order of
the High Court and the appeal is accordingly dismissed, but without any order
as to costs.
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