Allahabad High Court Judgement

Allahabad High Court Judgement

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JUDGEMENT HEADLINE : Quantum Of Punishment-no Interference-W.P. Dismissed.
JUDGEMENT TITLE : Charan Singh Vs. State Of U.P. & Others On 10/03/2006 By Allahabad High Court
CASE NO : WRIT - A NO. 34609 OF 2000
CORAM : Hon'ble Dilip Gupta,J.

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD

AFR
Reserved On 24.2.2006
Delivered On 10.3.2006


Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 34609 Of 2000
Charan Singh
Vs.
State Of U.P. & Ors.
********
Hon. Dilip Gupta, J.

This Petition Has Been Filed By A Constable In The Police Department For Quashing The Order Dated 26th December, 1998 By Which He Was Dismissed From Service, The Order Dated 3rd March, 2000 By Which The Appeal Filed By Him Against This Order Was Dismissed And The Order Dated 13th June, 2000 By Which The Revision Was Also Dismissed.
The Petitioner Who Had Been Appointed As A Constable On 3rd December, 1988 Was Issued A Charge Sheet Dated 22nd September, 1998 That After Consuming Liquor In The Police Line Barracks He Had Not Only Indulged In Indecent Behaviour With Another Constable Ajay Kant, But Had Also Entered Into An Altercation With Him And That The Medical Examination Report Confirmed That He Was In An Inebriated State. He Was, Therefore, Called Upon To Submit A Reply Because Such Conduct Amounted To Indiscipline And Insolence In The Discharge Of His Duties. The Petitioner Submitted His Reply On 2nd October, 1998. The Enquiry Officer Examined Sri B.R. Singh, Circle Officer, Sri Sheel Kumar Singh, Pratisar Nirikshak, Sri Happu Singh, Constable, Surendra Singh And The Petitioner And After Taking Into Consideration The Reply Submitted By The Petitioner And The Evidence On Record, Concluded In His Report Dated 8th October, 1998 That The Petitioner On 16th June, 1998 At About 10.00 AM Consumed Liquor And While In An Inebriated State Not Only Behaved Indecently But Also Indulged In Altercation With Another Constable Sri Ajay Kant. He, Therefore, Recommended That The Petitioner Should Be Dismissed From Service. A Show-cause Notice Dated 18th November, 1998 Was Issued To The Petitioner To Which He Submitted A Detailed Reply Dated 4th December, 1998 And After Considering The Evidence On Record And The Fact That During The Preliminary Enquiry And Also Before The Enquiry Officer The Petitioner Had Admitted That He Had Consumed Liquor And There Was An Altercation With Another Constable Sri Ajay Kant And The Fact That Even On Earlier Two Occasions Minor Punishment Had Been Awarded To Him For Consumption Of Liquor The Petitioner Was Dismissed From Service Under The Provisions Of Rule 14(1) Of The U.P. Police Officer Of Subordinate Rank (Punishment & Appeal) Rules, 1991 (hereinafter Referred To As The ''Rules'). The Petitioner Preferred An Appeal Under Section 20 Of The Rules Which Was Rejected By The Order Dated 3rd March, 2000. The Revision Filed By The Petitioner Under Section 23 Of The Rules Was Also Dismissed By A Detailed Order Dated 13th June, 2000.
The Sole Contention Raised By The Learned Counsel For The Petitioner Is That The Order Of Punishment Is Highly Disproportionate To The Gravity Of Charges Levelled Against The Petitioner And In Support Of His Contention, He Has Relied Upon Decisions Of The Supreme Court In Ram Kishan Vs. Union Of India & Ors., (1995) 6 SCC 157 And Ram Autar Singh Vs. State Public Service Tribunal & Ors., AIR 1999 SC 1542 And Decisions Of This Court In Sahdev Singh Vs. U.P. Public Service Tribunal & Ors, 2001 (2) ESC 511, Mirja Barkat Ali Vs. Inspector General Of Police, Allahabad & Ors., 2002 (3) AWC 2339, Amar Jeet Singh Vs. State Of U.P. & Ors., 2004 (1) ESC 366 And Sheo Prakash Rai Vs. State Of U.P. & Ors., 2001 (3) AWC 2233.
Learned Standing Counsel On The Other Hand Submitted That The Petitioner Was A Constable In A Disciplined Force And He Had Not Only Consumed Liquor But Had Also Indulged In Altercation With Another Constable Sri Ajay Kant And, Therefore, In Such Circumstances, When The Disciplinary Authority After Consideration Of The Entire Facts And Circumstances Of The Case Had Imposed The Punishment Of Dismissal From Service Which Order Was Confirmed By The Appellate Authority And The Revisional Authority, This Court Should Not Interfere With The Said Order.
I Have Carefully Considered The Submissions Advanced By The Learned Counsel For The Parties.
The Scope Of Interference By Courts With The Quantum Of Punishment Has Been The Subject Matter Of A Number Of Decisions And It Has Been Repeatedly Emphasised That Interference Cannot Be Done In A Routine Manner And That The Principles Relating To Judicial Review Of Administrative Action Have Necessarily To Be Examined.
The Famous "Wednesbury Case" Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd. Us. Wednesbury Corp. (1947) 2 All ER 680 (CA) Is Considered To Be The Landmark In So Far As The Basic Principles Relating To Judicial Review Of Administrative Or Statutory Discretion Are Concerned. A Passage From The Judgment Of Lord Greene Is Important And Is Quoted :-
"It Is True That Discretion Must Be Exercised Reasonably. Now What Does That Mean? Lawyers Familiar With The Phraseology Used In Relation To Exercise Of Statutory Discretions Often Use The Word ''unreasonable' In A Rather Comprehensive Sense. It Has Frequently Been Used And Is Frequently Used As A General Description Of The Things That Must Not Be Done. For Instance, A Person Entrusted With A Discretion Must, So To Speak, Direct Himself Properly In Law. He Must Call His Own Attention To The Matters, Which He Is Bound To Consider. He Must Exclude From His Consideration Matters, Which Are Irrelevant To What He Has To Consider. If He Does Not Obey Those Rules, He May Truly Be Said, And Often Is Said, To Be Acting ''unreasonably'. Similarly, There May Be Something So Absurd That No Sensible Person Could Even Dream That It Lay Within The Powers Of The Authority...... . In Another, It Is Taking Into Consideration Extraneous Matters. It Is Unreasonable That It Might Almost Be Described As Being Done In Bad Faith; And In Fact, All These Things Run Into One Another." (emphasis Supplied)

The Principles Of Judicial Review Of Administrative Action Were Further Summarized By Lord Diplock In Council Of Civil Service Unions Vs. Minister For The Civil Service 1984 (3) Al. ER. 935, (commonly Known As CCSU Case) As Illegality, Procedural Impropriety And Irrationality. It Was Observed In This Case As Follows:-
"....... Judicial Review Has I Think, Developed To A Stage Today When, Without Reiterating Any Analysis Of The Steps By Which The Development Has Come About, One Can Conveniently Classify Under Three Heads The Grounds On Which Administrative Action Is Subject To Control By Judicial Review. The First Ground I Would Call ''illegality', The Second ''irrationality' And The Third ''procedural Impropriety'. That Is Not To Say That Further Development On A Case-by-case Basis May Not In Course Of Time Add Further Grounds. I Have In Mind Particularly The Possible Adoption In The Future Of The Principle Of ''proportionality' Which Is Recognized In The Administrative Law Of Several Of Our Fellow Members Of The European Economic Community."
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"By ''irrationality' I Mean What Can By Now Be Succinctly Referred To As ''Wednesbury Unreasonableness'. It Applies To A Decision Which Is So Outrageous In Its Defiance Of Logic Or Of Accepted Moral Standards That No Sensible Person Who Had Applied His Mind To The Question To Be Decided Could Have Arrived At It." (emphasis Supplied)

In Union Of India & Anr,. Vs. G.Ganayutham (1997) 7 SCC 463 The Supreme Court After Referring To The Aforesaid Wednesbury Case And CCSU Case Held:-
"We Are Of The View That Even In Our Country-in Cases Not Involving Fundamental Freedoms-the Role Of Our Courts/tribunals In Administrative Law Is Purely Secondary And While Applying Wednesbury And CCSU Principles To Test The Validity Of Executive Action Or Of Administrative Action Taken In Exercise Of Statutory Powers, The Courts And Tribunals In Our Country Can Only Go Into The Matter, As A Secondary Reviewing Court To Find Out If The Executive Or The Administrator In Their Primary Roles Have Arrived At A Reasonable Decision On The Material Before Them In The Light Of Wednesbury And CCSU Tests. The Choice Of The Options Available Is For The Authority; The Court/tribunal Cannot Substitute Its View As To What Is Reasonable.
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In Such A Situation, Unless The Court/tribunal Opines In Its Secondary Role, That The Administrator Was, On The Material Before Him, Irrational According To Wednesbury Or CCSU Norms, The Punishment Cannot Be Quashed. Even Then, The Matter Has To Be Remitted Back To The Appropriate Authority For Reconsideration. It Is Only In Very Rare Cases As Pointed Out In B.C. Chaturvedi Case That The Court Might - To Shorten Litigation - Think Of Substituting Its Own View As To The Quantum Of Punishment In The Place Of The Punishment Awarded By The Competent Authority." (emphasis Supplied)

In B.C. Chaturvedi V. Union Of India And Others, (1995) 6 SCC 749, Which Has Been Referred To In The Aforesaid Decision In G.Ganayutham (supra), The Supreme Court After Referring To A Number Of Its Earlier Decisions Observed As Under:-
"A Review Of The Above Legal Position Would Establish That The Disciplinary Authority, And On Appeal The Appellate Authority, Being Fact-finding Authorities Have Exclusive Power To Consider The Evidence With A View To Maintain Discipline. They Are Invested With The Discretion To Impose Appropriate Punishment Keeping In View The Magnitude Or Gravity Of The Misconduct. 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 The Litigation, It May Itself, In Exceptional And Rare Cases, Impose Appropriate Punishment With Cogent Reasons In Support Thereof." (emphasis Supplied)

In Apparel Export Promotion Council Vs. A.K. Chopra, AIR 1999 SC 625, The Supreme Court Again Observed :-
"...............Even Insofar As Imposition Of Penalty Or Punishment Is Concerned, Unless The Punishment Or Penalty Imposed By The Disciplinary Or The Departmental Appellate Authority, Is Either Impermissible Or Such That It Shocks The Conscience Of The High Court, It Should Not Normally Substitute Its Own Opinion And Impose Some Other Punishment Or Penalty."

The Matter Relating To Quantum Of Punishment Was Also Elaborately Considered By The Supreme Court In Om Kumar & Ors. Vs. Union Of India, (2001) 2 SCC 386 And It Was Observed :-
"But Where An Administrative Action Is Challenged As "arbitrary" Under Article 14 On The Basis Of Royappa (1994) 4 SCC 3 (as In Cases Where Punishments In Disciplinary Cases Are Challenged), The Question Will Be Whether The Administrative Order Is "rational" Or "reasonable" And The Test Then Is The Wednesbury Test. The Courts Would Then Be Confined Only To A Secondary Role And Will Only Have To See Whether The Administrator Has Done Well In His Primary Role, Whether He Has Acted Illegally Or Has Omitted Relevant Factors From Consideration Or Has Taken Irrelevant Factors Into Consideration Or Whether His View Is One Which No Reasonable Person Could Have Taken. If His Action Does Not Satisfy These Rules, It Is To Be Treated As Arbitrary. [In G.B. Mahajan V. Jalgaon Municipal Council (1991) 3 SCC 91] Venkatachaliah, J. (as He Then Was) Pointed Out That "reasonableness" Of The Administrator Under Article 14 In The Context Of Administrative Law Has To Be Judged From The Stand Point Of Wednesbury Rules. In Tata Cellular V. Union Of India (1994) 6 SCC 651, Indian Express Newspapers Bombay (P) Ltd. V. Union Of India (1985) 1 SCC 641, Supreme Court Employees' Welfare Assn. V. Union Of India (1989) 4 SCC 187 And U.P. Financial Corpn. V. Gem Cap (India) (P) Ltd. (1993) 2 SCC 299 While Judging Whether The Administrative Action Is "arbitrary" Under Article 14 (i.e. Otherwise Then Being Discriminatory), This Court Has Confined Itself To A Wednesbury Review Always.
Thus, When Administrative Action Is Attached As Discriminatory Under Article 14, The Principle Of Primary Review Is For The Courts By Applying Proportionality. However, Where Administrative Action Is Questioned As "arbitrary" Under Article 14, The Principle Of Secondary Review Based On Wednesbury Principles Applies. (emphasis Supplied).

Proportionality Was Also Explained By Observing :-
"By "proportionality", We Mean The Question Whether, While Regulating Exercise Of Fundamental Rights, The Appropriate Or Least-restrictive Choice Of Measures Has Been Made By The Legislature Or The Administrator So As To Achieve The Object Of The Legislation Or The Purpose Of The Administrative Order, As The Case May Be. Under The Principle, The Court Will See That The Legislature And The Administrative Authority "maintain A Proper Balance Between The Adverse Effects Which The Legislation Or The Administrative Order May Have On The Rights, Liberties Or Interests Of Persons Keeping In Mind The Purpose Which They Were Intended To Serve". The Legislature And The Administrative Authority Are, However, Given An Area Of Discretion Or A Range Of Choices But As To Whether The Choice Made Infringes The Rights Excessively Or Not Is For The Court. That Is What Is Meant By Proportionality."

In Regional Manager, U.P. SRTC, Etawah & Anr. Vs. Hoti Lal & Anr. (2003) 3 SCC 605 The Supreme Court Observed :-
"If The Charged Employee Holds A Position Of Trust Where Honesty And Integrity Are Inbuilt Requirements Of Functioning, It Would Not Be Proper To Deal With The Matter Leniently. Misconduct In Such Cases Has To Be Dealt With Iron Hands. Where The Person Deals With Public Money Or Is Engaged In Financial Transactions Or Acts In A Fiduciary Capacity, The Highest Degree Of Integrity And Trustworthiness Is A Must And Unexceptionable. Judged In That Background, Conclusions Of The Division Bench Of The High Court Do Not Appear To Be Proper. We Set Aside The Same And Restore Order Of The Learned Single Judge Upholding The Order Of Dismissal." (emphasis Supplied)

In Regional Manager, Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation Vs. Sohan Lal, (2004) 8 SCC 218 It Was Pointed Out By The Supreme Court:-
"Assuming For Argument Sake That The High Court By The Impugned Order Proceeded On The Basis That Though The Misconduct Is Proved The Punishment Was Disproportionate And It Is On That Basis That The Impugned Order Is Made, Even Then We Are Unable To Agree With The Order Of The Appellate Bench Of The High Court Because It Is Not The Normal Jurisdiction Of The Superior Courts To Interfere With The Quantum Of Sentence Unless The Said Sentence Is Wholly Disproportionate To The Misconduct Proved. No Such Finding Has Been Recorded By The Appellate Bench In The Impugned Order. Since, The Misconduct Proved Is One Of Dishonesty, The Quantum Of Loss Is Immaterial, It Is The Loss Of Confidence That Matters. ..............." (emphasis Supplied)

In V.Ramana Vs. A.P.SRTC & Ors., (2005) 7 SCC 338 The Supreme Court Observed :-
"The Common Thread Running Through In All These Decisions Is That The Court Should Not Interfere With The Administrator's Decision Unless It Was Illogical Or Suffers From Procedural Impropriety Or Was Shocking To The Conscience Of The Court, In The Sense That It Was In Defiance Of Logic Or Moral Standards. In View Of What Has Been Stated In Wednesbury Case The Court Would Not Go Into The Correctness Of The Choice Made By The Administrator Open To Him And The Court Should Not Substitute Its Decision For That Of The Administrator. The Scope Of Judicial Review Is Limited To The Deficiency In Decision-making Process And Not The Decision.
To Put It Differently Unless The Punishment Imposed By The Disciplinary Authority Or The Appellate Authority Shocks The Conscience Of The Court/Tribunal, There Is No Scope For Interference." (Emphasis Supplied)

In Canara Bank Vs. V.K. Awasthy, (2005) 6 SCC 321, The Supreme Court After Considering The Aforesaid Decisions Observed That Interference By The Courts With The Quantum Of Punishment Cannot Be In A Routine Manner And In A Matter Where The Bank Employee Has Failed To Discharge His Duty With Utmost Honesty, Integrity, Devotion And Diligence The Punishment Of Dismissal From The Bank Was Justified.
The Aforesaid Decisions Of The Supreme Court Clearly Emphasise That Where The Punishment In Disciplinary Cases Is Challenged As Being Arbitrary, The Question That Would Arise For Consideration Would Be Whether The Administrative Order Is "rational" Or "reasonable" And The Test Then To Be Applied Is The "Wednesbury" Test. The Courts Will Then Be Confined Only To A Secondary Role To Find Out If The Action Satisfies The Test. The Disciplinary Authority And The Appellate Authority, Being Fact Finding Authorities, Have The Exclusive Power To Consider The Evidence With A View To Maintain Discipline And They Are Vested With The Discretion To Impose Appropriate Punishment Keeping In View The Gravity Of The Misconduct. It Has Also Been Emphasised That The High Court While Exercising The Power Of Judicial Review Cannot Normally Substitute Its Own Opinion And Impose Some Other Penalty Unless The Punishment Imposed By The Disciplinary Authority Or The Appellate Authority Shocks The Conscience Of The Court In The Sense That It Is In Defiance Of Logic Or Moral Standards.
It Is In The Light Of The Aforesaid Principles Enunciated By The Supreme Court That The Facts Of The Present Case Have To Be Examined But Before Proceeding To Do So It Also Needs To Be Pointed Out That Even In Respect Of Matters Under Section 11-A Of The Industrial Disputes Act Where Certain Amount Of Discretion Is Vested With The Labour Court/Industrial Tribunal In Interfering With The Quantum Of Punishment Awarded By The Management Where The Workman Concerned Is Found Guilty Of Misconduct, The Courts Have Defined The Area Of Discretion By Various Judgments As Being Available Only On The Existence Of Certain Factors Like Punishment Being Disproportionate To The Gravity Of Misconduct So As To Disturb The Conscience Of The Court, Or The Existence Of Any Mitigating Circumstances Which Requires The Reduction Of The Sentence, Or The Past Conduct Of The Workman Which May Persuade The Labour Court To Reduce The Punishment. In This Context Reference May Be Made To The Decision Of The Supreme Court In Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. Vs. N.B. Narawade, (2005) 3 SCC 134 Wherein It Has Been Observed That In The Absence Of Any Of The Aforesaid Factors, The Labour Court Cannot By Way Of Sympathy Alone, Exercise The Power Under Section 11-A Of The Act And Reduce The Punishment. In Coming To The Aforesaid Conclusion Reliance Was Placed Upon An Earlier Judgment In The Case Of Kailash Nath Gupta Vs. Enquiry Officer (R.K.Rai) Allahabad Bank & Ors., (2003) 9 SCC 480 Wherein It Had Been Observed That The Power Of Interference With The Quantum Of Punishment Is Extremely Limited.
In A Matter Where The Employee Was Found To Be Sleeping During The Working Hours And Had Also On Earlier Three Occasions Been Found Guilty Of Misconduct, It Was Observed By The Supreme Court In Bharat Forge Co. Ltd. Vs. Uttam Manohar Nakate, 2005 AIR SCW 554 That The Punishment From Dismissal From Service Cannot Be Said To Be Disproportionate To The Act Of Misconduct. The Supreme Court Set Aside The Order Passed In Special Appeal Whereby The Order Passed By The Labour Court Was Modified By Directing The Employer To Pay A Sum Of Rs. 2,50,000/- By Observing That Lesser Punishment Cannot Be Imposed On An Irrational Or Extraneous Factor And Certainly Not On Compassionate Ground.
In Employers, Management, Colliery, M/s. Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. Vs. Bihar Colliery Kamgar Union Through Workmen, 2005 AIR SCW 1149, The Supreme Court Again Examined The Scope Of Section 11-A Of The Industrial Disputes Act And Observed That If The Tribunal Decides To Interfere With Punishment, It Should Bear In Mind The Gravity Of The Offence And The Stringency Of The Punishment And In This Context Observed :-
"The Courts Below By Condoning An Act Of Physical Violence Have Undermined The Discipline In The Organisation, Hence, In The Above Factual Backdrop, It Can Never Be Said That The Industrial Tribunal Could Have Exercised Its Authority Under Section 11(A) Of The Act To Interfere With The Punishment Of Dismissal. Substituting The Order Of Dismissal In Such A Case By Withholding Of One Increment In Our Opinion Is Wholly Disproportionate To The Gravity Of Misconduct And Is Unsupportable."

In Hombe Gowda Educational Trust & Anr. Vs. State Of Karnataka & Ors,. (2006) 1 SCC 430, The Supreme Court Observed:-
"The Tribunal's Jurisdiction Is Akin To One Under Section 11-A Of The Industrial Disputes Act. While Exercising Such Discretionary Jurisdiction, No Doubt It Is Open To The Tribunal To Substitute One Punishment By Another; But It Is Also Trite That The Tribunal Exercises A Limited Jurisdiction In This Behalf. The Jurisdiction To Interfere With The Quantum Of Punishment Could Be Exercised Only When, Inter Alia, It Is Found To Be Grossly Disproportionate.
This Court Repeatedly Has Laid Down The Law That Such Interference At The Hands Of The Tribunal Should Be Inter Alia On Arriving At A Finding That No Reasonable Person Could Inflict Such Punishment. The Tribunal May Furthermore Exercise Its Jurisdiction When Relevant Facts Are Not Taken Into Consideration By The Management Which Would Have Direct Bearing On The Question Of Quantum Of Punishment.
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This Court Has Come A Long Way From Its Earlier Viewpoints. The Recent Trend In The Decisions Of This Court Seek To Strike A Balance Between The Earlier Approach To The Industrial Relation Wherein Only The Interest Of The Workmen Was Sought To Be Protected With The Avowed Object Of Fast Industrial Growth Of The Country. In Several Decisions Of This Court It Has Been Noticed How Discipline At The Workplace/industrial Undertakings Received A Setback. In View Of The Change In Economic Policy Of The Country, It May Not Now Be Proper To Allow The Employees To Break The Discipline With Impunity. Our Country Is Governed By Rule Of Law. All Actions, Therefore, Must Be Taken In Accordance With Law. Law Declared By This Court In Terms Of Article 141 Of The Constitution, As Noticed In The Decisions Noticed Supra, Categorically Demonstrates That The Tribunal Would Not Normally Interfere With The Quantum Of Punishment Imposed By The Employers Unless An Appropriate Case Is Made Out Therefore."

Two Decisions Of The Supreme Court Relating To Punishment Imposed Upon Police Constable Also Deserve To Be Mentioned At This Stage.
In State Of U.P. & Ors. Vs. Ashok Kumar Singh & Ors., AIR 1996 SC 736 The Supreme Court, While Considering The Case Of A Police Constable Who Had Been Removed From Service On The Ground That He Had Absented Himself From Duty For Long Periods Without Leave, Held That The High Court Exceeded Its Jurisdiction In Modifying The Punishment Order Of Removal And, Therefore, Set Aside The Order Of The High Court By Observing :-
"We Are Clearly Of The Opinion That The High Court Has Exceeded Its Jurisdiction In Modifying The Punishment While Concurring With The Findings Of The Tribunal On Facts. The High Court Failed To Bear In Mind That The First Respondent Was A Police Constable And Was Serving In A Disciplined Force Demanding Strict Adherence To The Rules And Procedures More Than Any Other Department. Having Noticed The Fact That The First Respondent Has Absented Himself From Duty Without Leave On Several Occasions, We Are Unable To Appreciate The High Court's Observation That ''his Absence From Duty Would Not Amount To Such A Grave Charge'. Even Otherwise On The Facts Of This Case, There Was No Justification For The High Court To Interfere With The Punishment Holding That ''the Punishment Does Not Commensurate With The Gravity Of The Charge' Especially When The High Court Concurred With The Findings Of The Tribunal On Facts. No Case For Interference With The Punishment Is Made Out." (emphasis Supplied)

In The Second Case Relating To A Constable In The Border Security Force, The Supreme Court In Union Of India & Ors. Vs. Narain Singh, AIR 2002 SC 2102 Examined Whether The High Court Was Justified In Setting Aside The Order Of Dismissal And Replacing It With An Order Of Stoppage Of Three Grade Increments With Cumulative Effect And In This Connection It Was Observed :-
"As Seen Above, The Division Bench Notes That The Charges Against The Respondent Are Proved And That The Charges Are Of Serious Nature. Once The Court Came To The Conclusion That The Charges Were Proved And That The Charges Were Of The Serious Nature, It Was Not The Function Of The Court To Interfere With The Quantum Of Punishment. The Division Bench Was Wrong In Holding That Factors Viz. (a) The Person Is Coming From Which Place, (b) His Family Background And (c) His Service Record Etc. Were To Be Kept In Mind. In Our View The Division Bench Was Also Wrong In Holding That If A Poor Person Pleads Guilty To The Misconduct, Then Extreme Penalty Of Dismissal Is Uncalled For. In Our View A Court Must Not Lightly Interfere With Sentences Passed After A Properly Conducted Enquiry Where The Guilt Is Proved. Reduction Of Sentence, Particularly In Military Para-military Or Police Services Can Have A Demoralising Effect And Would Be A Retrograde Step So Far As Discipline Of These Services Is Concerned. In This Case The Charges Being Of A Serious Nature The Penalty Was Commensurate With The Charges. Further The Division Bench Has Itself Noted That This Was The Third Time The Respondent Was Punished.
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As Stated Above, The Law Is Clear. It Is Not For The Court To Determine The Quantum Of Punishment Once Charges Are Proved. In This Case It Cannot Be Said That The Punishment Of Dismissal Is Not Commensurate With The Charges. It Is Not For The Court To Interfere On Misplaced Grounds Of Sympathy And/or Mercy." (emphasis Supplied).

Reference Needs To Be Made Also To The Decision In U.P. State Road Transport Corporation Vs. Subhash Chandra Sharma & Ors., (2000) 3 SCC 324, Wherein After Examining The Scope Of Section 11-A Of The Industrial Disputes Act The Supreme Court Considered Whether The Punishment Of Removal From Service Was Proper In A Case Where One Of The Charges Leveled Was That In A Drunken State The Driver Of Transport Corporation Went To The Room Of The Assistant Cashier And Abused And Threatened To Assault Him When The Assistant Cashier Refused To Give Him Money And In This Context It Was Observed :-
"The Labour Court, While Upholding The Third Charge Against The Respondent Nevertheless Interfered With The Order Of The Appellant Removing The Respondent From The Service. The Charge Against The Respondent Was That He, In A Drunken State, Along With The Conductor Went To The Assistant Cashier In The Cash Room Of The Appellant And Demanded Money From The Assistant Cashier. When The Assistant Cashier Refused, The Respondent Abused Him And Threatened To Assault Him. It Was Certainly A Serious Charge Of Misconduct Against The Respondent. In Such Circumstances, The Labour Court Was Not Justified In Interfering With The Order Of Removal Of The Respondent From The Service When The Charge Against Him Stood Proved. Rather We Find That The Discretion Exercised By The Labour Court In The Circumstances Of The Present Case Was Capricious And Arbitrary And Certainly Not Justified. It Could Not Be Said That The Punishment Awarded To The Respondent Was In Any Way "shockingly Disproportionate" To The Nature Of The Charge Found Proved Against Him. In Our Opinion, The High Court Failed To Exercise Its Jurisdiction Under Article 226 Of The Constitution And Did Not Correct The Erroneous Order Of The Labour Court Which, If Allowed To Stand, Would Certainly Result In A Miscarriage Of Justice." (emphasis Supplied)

The Contention Of The Learned Counsel For The Petitioner That The Punishment Of Dismissal From Service Was Not Commensurate To The Gravity Of The Charges Leveled Against Him Has, Therefore, To Be Examined In The Light Of What Has Been Stated Above.
Learned Counsel For The Petitioner Placed Strong Reliance Upon Certain Decisions Where The Court Have Interfered With The Quantum Of Punishment. These Decisions Do Not Lay Down A Universal Proposition That The Courts Have A Blanket Power To Interfere With The Quantum Of Punishment Irrespective Of Any Limitation And Infact Are Based On The Peculiar Facts Of Each Case. In Ram Kishan (supra) The Supreme Court Reduced The Punishment In The Case Of A Police Constable Who Had Used Abusive Language Against His Superior But It Was, Observed That Each Case Has To Be Considered On Its Own Facts And No Straightjacket Formula Can Be Evolved In Deciding Whether The Indiscipline In The Given Circumstances Could Warrant Dismissal From Service. In The Case Of Ram Autar Singh (supra) The Supreme Court Interfered With The Punishment In A Case Where The Police Constable Had Been Dismissed Form Service As He Had Remained Absent For One Day To Oppose His Transfer. These Decisions Do Not Help The Petitioner As The Charges Levelled Against Him Are Not Only Entirely Different But Appear To Be More Or Less Similar To The Charges Levelled Against The Driver Of The Transport Corporation In Subhash Chandra Sharma (supra) Where The Supreme Court Found That There Was No Justification To Interfere With The Quantum Of Punishment.
Learned Counsel For The Petitioner Also Placed Reliance Upon Certain Decisions Of This Court. In The Case Of Amarjeet Singh (supra) It Was Found By The Court That The Charge Against The Police Constable Was Not That He Had Spoken To The Superintendent Of Police On The Wireless Set Or Misbehaved With Him Or Had Broken The Wireless Set But Was That He Had Only Tried To Speak To The Superintendent Of Police And Tried To Break The Wireless Set. It Is In These Circumstances That The Court Reduced The Quantum Of Punishment After Observing That The Case May Have Been Different If He Had Actually Done So. In The Present Case, The Charge Levelled Against The Petitioner Was That He Had Actually Behaved Indecently With Another Police Constable And Had Also Entered Into An Altercation With Him.
In Mirja Barkat Ali (supra) The Police Constable Was Dismissed From Service On The Ground That He Had Absented Himself From Duty For 109 Days. The Court Interfered With The Quantum Of Punishment In The Peculiar Facts And Circumstances Of The Case Since The Respondent Authority Had Not Taken Into Consideration The Relevant Provisions Regulating The Procedural Safeguards. The Decision In The Case Of Sahdev Singh (supra) Also Does Not Help The Petitioner Inasmuch As In That Case He Was Found To Have Consumed Liquor, But In The Present Case The Petitioner Had Not Only Consumed Liquor But Had Also Behaved Indecently With Another Police Constable And Had Also Indulged In An Altercation With Him. In The Case Of Sheo Prakash Rai (supra) The Court Found That There Was Some Justification For The Petitioner To Protest Against The Allocation Of "Santari Duty" And, Therefore, Such Conduct Could Not Said To Be An Act Of Serious Indiscipline And So It Was In These Circumstances That The High Court Observed That The Punishment Of Dismissal Was Shockingly Disproportionate.
In The Present Case The Enquiry Officer In His Report Has Recorded A Categorical Finding That The Petitioner Had In Fact Consumed Alcohol On 16th June, 1998 In The Police Line Barracks And In An Inebriated State He Indulged In Indecent Behaviour And Altercation With Another Constable Ajay Kant. In Coming To The Aforesaid Conclusion The Enquiry Officer Also Placed Reliance Upon The Statement Made By The Petitioner During The Course Of Enquiry Wherein He Admitted That While In A Drunken State There Was An Altercation With Constable Sri Ajay Kant But He Pleaded Mercy As He Had Four Small Children. The Disciplinary Authority Considered The Material On Record Including The Statements Made By The Petitioner During The Preliminary Enquiry And The Regular Enquiry And After Noticing That There Was No Improvement In The Petitioner Even After Imposition Of Minor Punishments Twice For Consuming Liquor, Thought It Proper In Its Discretion To Impose The Punishment Of Dismissal From Service. The Appellate Authority And The Revisional Authority Also After Considering The Entire Facts And Circumstances Of The Case Recorded Categorical Findings That The Punishment Imposed Upon The Petitioner Was Just And Proper.
The Petitioner Was A Constable In The Police Department Which Is A Disciplined Force And As Pointed Out By The Supreme Court In Ashok Kumar Singh (supra) And Narain Singh (supra), This Fact Has To Be Kept In Mind By The Court Before Proceeding To Interfere With The Quantum Of Punishment Because In A Disciplined Force, There Has To Be Strict Adherence Of The Rules And Procedure More Than Any Other Department And Any Reduction Of Sentence Can Have A Possible Demoralising Effect Which Would Serve As A Retrograde Step Towards Maintenance Of Discipline In Service. It Has Also Been Repeatedly Pointed Out By The Supreme Court That Where The Administrative Action Is Questioned As Being "arbitrary", The Principle Of Secondary Review Based On "Wednesbury" Principles Should Be Applied And The Court Cannot Go Into The Correctness Of The Choice Made By The Administrator And Substitute Its Own Decision For That Of The Administrator Unless The Punishment Imposed By The Disciplinary Authority Shocks The Conscience Of The Court.
In Subhash Chandra Sharma (supra) One Of The Charges Levelled Against The Driver Was That In Drunken State He Went To The Room Of The Assistant Cashier And Abused And Threatened To Assault Him When The Assistant Cashier Refused To Give Him The Money. The Supreme Court Observed That It Was Certainly A Serious Charge Of Misconduct And The Labour Court Was Not Justified In Interfering With The Order Of Punishment Of Removal From Service. It Must Also Not Be Forgotten That The Supreme Court Was Examining The Order Passed By The Labour Court Under Section 11-A Of The Industrial Tribunal Act Where Certain Amount Of Discretion Is Given To The Labour Court To Interfere With The Quantum Of Punishment But Even Then Such Exercise Of Discretion By The Labour Court Was Found To Be "capricious" And "arbitrary" By The Supreme Court And It Was Unequivocally Observed That The Labour Court Was Not Justified In Holding That The Punishment Of Dismissal From Service Was Disproportionate To The Gravity Of The Charges Levelled Against The Petitioner.
The Charge Against The Petitioner Was Very Serious And What Has To Be Seen Is Whether The Punishment Of Dismissal From Service In Such Circumstances Can Be Said To Be "shockingly Disproportionate" Or One That Would Shock The "conscience Of The Court". It Has Also To Be Kept In Mind That In The Present Case The Disciplinary Authority, The Appellate Authority And The Revisional Authority Have Also Noticed That Twice In The Past Also Minor Punishments Had Been Imposed Upon The Petitioner For Consumption Of Liquor But Still There Was No Improvement In The Petitioner And It Is In Such Circumstances That The Punishment Of Dismissal From Service Was Imposed. This Is A Relevant Fact Which Has A Direct Bearing On The Quantum Of Punishment And It Cannot Be Said That No Reasonable Person Would Inflict Such A Punishment Or That The Punishment Inflicted Is In Defiance Of Logic Or Moral Standards. The Inevitable Conclusion That Follows Is That The Order Of Punishment Cannot Be Said To Be Highly Disproportionate To The Gravity Of The Charges Levelled Against The Petitioner.
The Petition Is, Therefore, Liable To Be Dismissed And Is, Accordingly, Dismissed.

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