Monday, 25 February 2019

Whether Judge can be dismissed on corruption charges from service without giving him opportunity to put his defence?

 It is also an accepted position that after the inquiry report
was submitted by the Inquiry Officer to the Administrative
Committee of the High Court, copy of the inquiry report was not
furnished to the appellant at that stage and no opportunity was
given to him to make his representation against the findings of the
Inquiry Officer. Instead the Administrative Committee accepted the
said report and only thereafter the copy of the inquiry report was

sent to the appellant along with show cause notice whereby the
appellant was asked to show cause as to why penalty of dismissal be
not inflicted upon him. It is clear from the above that the show
cause notice pertained only to the punishment insofar as the
findings recorded by the Inquiry Officer are concerned, the
appellant was not given any opportunity before the said findings
were accepted by the Administrative Committee. Only, after the
submission of the reply to the show cause notice, the disciplinary
authority considered the question of quantum of punishment.
Therefore, insofar as acceptance of findings of the Inquiry Officer
by the Administrative Committee without giving prior opportunity to
show cause against that is concerned, the appellant has been
prejudiced. We make this comment having regard to the
representation which was submitted by the appellant. A perusal of
the said representation reflects that the appellant had
specifically mentioned as to how the complainant had developed
grudge against him inasmuch as in various cases the complainant had
appeared before the appellant. Some of the orders which were passed
by the appellant in those cases were not of the liking of the
complainant and because of this reason the complainant had made the
complaint against the appellant. The appellant had also brought on
record the conduct of the said advocate/complainant who had been
indulging in the practice of making such complaints which have been
deprecated by the High Court also on previous occasions. The
appellant had also submitted that the other witnesses were close
relatives of the complainant and, therefore, they were the
interested witnesses. Obviously, this defense of the appellant was

not looked into by the Administrative Committee as the
Administrative Committee had already decided to accept the findings
without giving opportunity to the appellant to make a
representation against the inquiry report. We, therefore, are of
the firm opinion that non-grant of opportunity in the aforesaid
circumstances has also caused prejudice to the appellant.
In view of the aforesaid, we do not agree with the submissions
of the learned counsel for the respondent that no prejudice was
caused to the appellant and, therefore, reliance upon the judgments
of this Court in “Managing Director, ECIL, Hyderabad & Ors. vs.
Karunakar & Ors.” (1993)4 SCC 727 and “Haryana Financial
Corporation & Anr. vs. Kailash Chandra Ahuja” (2008)9 SCC 31 is of
no avail to the respondents. On the contrary in these very
judgments it is held that non-grant of opportunity in respect of
the findings of the Inquiry Officer leads to violation of
principles of nature justice. Once this violation is found, coupled
with the fact that it has caused prejudice to the appellant as
well, those very judgments would rather support the case of the
appellant.
In the aforesaid circumstances, this appeal is allowed; the
impugned judgment of the High Court is set aside.
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 1749/2019
(@ SLP(C) No. 15741/2018)


R. ALEXANDER Vs  REGISTRAR GENERAL HIGH COURT 

Dated:FEBRUARY 19, 2019.

Leave granted.
Heard learned counsel for the parties finally at this stage.
The appellant was appointed as a Civil Judge vide G.O.MS. No.
1517, Home Department dated 16.11.1999. After necessary training,
he was posted as District Munsif, Pollachi, on 10.12.1999. Mr. MS
Senthil Kumar, Advocate lodged a complaint dated 21.04.2004 against
the appellant when he was posted as District Munsif-cum-Judicial
Magistrate, Kattumannarkoil. The Registrar, Vigilance of the High
Court submitted his report to the Administrative Committee of the
High Court. The Administrative Committee framed six charges against
the appellant pursuant to the report submitted by the said
Registrar under Rule 17(b) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services
(Discipline and Appeal) Rules. The Principal District Judge,
Cuddalore was appointed as Inquiry Officer by the Administrative

Committee. The Inquiry Officer held charge nos. 1 and 3 as proved
and charge nos. 2 and 4 to 6 as not proved. Show cause notice was
issued to the appellant. The Administrative Committee considered
the explanation offered by the appellant but the same was not found
to be acceptable and imposed the punishment of removal from service
on the appellant.
Two important and pertinent aspects which stand out from the
aforesaid discussion may be recapitulated. These are as under:
1) Charge No. 1 against the appellant was that he had travelled
along with Mr. MS Senthil Kumar, Advocate (who himself was the
complainant), Thirugnanam and one Gopal by Taxi to Coimbatore to
give evidence in a sessions case and he also stayed at a hotel at
the expenses of the above persons. The defense of the appellant to
the aforesaid charge was that he had in fact travelled by bus to
Coimbatore; while in Coimbatore he had stayed with his sister and
returned journey was also undertaken by bus. It is a matter of
record that the appellant had gone to Coimbatore to give evidence
in a sessions case which was his official journey, he had claimed
travelling allowance ('TA') for the said journey. It is also a
matter of record that this TA was duly approved, sanctioned and
paid to the appellant. Along with TA bill the appellant would have
submitted bus tickets to show that he had undertaken the journey to
Coimbatore and back. During the inquiry the appellant made a
specific request to the Inquiry Officer for summoning the said
record of TA bill submitted by him. It is also a matter of record
that the Inquiry Officer passed a specific order directing the
3
management to summon the TA Register. However, it was not produced.
On that basis, the precise argument of appellant before the High
Court was that it had caused serious prejudice to him. This
argument is rejected on the ground that in reply to the charge
sheet the appellant had not made any whisper about the said TA
bill. At the fag end of the inquiry the appellant had requested for
summoning of the said register. This is hardly a reason to reject
the argument in respect of non-summoning of the register. As noted
above, the charge against the appellant was that the appellant had
travelled along with the complainant and two other persons by Taxi
to Coimbatore. The appellant had denied this charge and in order to
show that this charge was misconceived, he wanted record relating
to TA bill to be produced. We find that on the one hand there is
oral statement of the complainant and as against that the appellant
wanted documentary evidence to be brought on record in order to
show that he had not travelled along with the complainant but had
travelled in a bus. Therefore, we do not agree with the aforesaid
reasoning of the High Court that non-production of the said record
has not caused any prejudice to the appellant.
2) It is also an accepted position that after the inquiry report
was submitted by the Inquiry Officer to the Administrative
Committee of the High Court, copy of the inquiry report was not
furnished to the appellant at that stage and no opportunity was
given to him to make his representation against the findings of the
Inquiry Officer. Instead the Administrative Committee accepted the
said report and only thereafter the copy of the inquiry report was

sent to the appellant along with show cause notice whereby the
appellant was asked to show cause as to why penalty of dismissal be
not inflicted upon him. It is clear from the above that the show
cause notice pertained only to the punishment insofar as the
findings recorded by the Inquiry Officer are concerned, the
appellant was not given any opportunity before the said findings
were accepted by the Administrative Committee. Only, after the
submission of the reply to the show cause notice, the disciplinary
authority considered the question of quantum of punishment.
Therefore, insofar as acceptance of findings of the Inquiry Officer
by the Administrative Committee without giving prior opportunity to
show cause against that is concerned, the appellant has been
prejudiced. We make this comment having regard to the
representation which was submitted by the appellant. A perusal of
the said representation reflects that the appellant had
specifically mentioned as to how the complainant had developed
grudge against him inasmuch as in various cases the complainant had
appeared before the appellant. Some of the orders which were passed
by the appellant in those cases were not of the liking of the
complainant and because of this reason the complainant had made the
complaint against the appellant. The appellant had also brought on
record the conduct of the said advocate/complainant who had been
indulging in the practice of making such complaints which have been
deprecated by the High Court also on previous occasions. The
appellant had also submitted that the other witnesses were close
relatives of the complainant and, therefore, they were the
interested witnesses. Obviously, this defense of the appellant was

not looked into by the Administrative Committee as the
Administrative Committee had already decided to accept the findings
without giving opportunity to the appellant to make a
representation against the inquiry report. We, therefore, are of
the firm opinion that non-grant of opportunity in the aforesaid
circumstances has also caused prejudice to the appellant.
In view of the aforesaid, we do not agree with the submissions
of the learned counsel for the respondent that no prejudice was
caused to the appellant and, therefore, reliance upon the judgments
of this Court in “Managing Director, ECIL, Hyderabad & Ors. vs.
Karunakar & Ors.” (1993)4 SCC 727 and “Haryana Financial
Corporation & Anr. vs. Kailash Chandra Ahuja” (2008)9 SCC 31 is of
no avail to the respondents. On the contrary in these very
judgments it is held that non-grant of opportunity in respect of
the findings of the Inquiry Officer leads to violation of
principles of nature justice. Once this violation is found, coupled
with the fact that it has caused prejudice to the appellant as
well, those very judgments would rather support the case of the
appellant.
In the aforesaid circumstances, this appeal is allowed; the
impugned judgment of the High Court is set aside. As a consequence,
the Government Order i.e. G.O.(D) No. 1012 dated 08.12.2012
imposing the punishment of removal of the appellant in service is
set aside with all consequential benefits of pay during the
intervening period etc. However, it would be open to the High Court
to proceed from the stage by furnishing a copy of the inquiry

report to the appellant and giving him an opportunity to make a
representation against the said findings.
......................J.
[A.K. SIKRI]
......................J.
[S. ABDUL NAZEER]
......................J.
[M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI;
FEBRUARY 19, 2019.

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