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Friday, September 6, 2013

SERVICE MATTER - charge sheet= in 2003 the respondent was alleged to have approached one Chartered Accountant in Chennai for securing his transfer to Mumbai by offering bribe to the P.A. to the then Minister of State (Revenue). = CAT quashed the charge sheet dated 7th/8th September, 2005 issued against the respondent on the ground that there was nothing on record to show that the Finance Minister approved the charge sheet. = charge sheet was issued on the allegation that in 2003 the respondent was alleged to have approached one Chartered Accountant in Chennai for securing his transfer to Mumbai by offering bribe to the P.A. to the then Minister of State (Revenue). Thus, the charge levelled against the respondent was that he failed to maintain integrity; and exhibited a conduct which is unbecoming of a government servant. = whether the charge sheet issued against the respondents is without jurisdiction, in view of the fact that the disciplinary authority, i.e., the Finance Minister, had not given approval for issuing the charge memo, even though he had given approval for initiation of major penalty proceedings against the respondents.- Article 311(1) of the Constitution of India ensures that no person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all India service can be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed. The overwhelming importance and value of Article 311(1) for the civil administration as well as the public servant has been considered stated and re- stated, by this Court in numerous judgments, since the Constitution came into effect on 19th January, 1950. Article 311(2) ensures that no civil servant is dismissed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry held in accordance with the rules of natural justice. To effectuate the guarantee contained in Article 311(1) and to ensure compliance with the mandatory requirements of Article 311(2), the Government of India has promulgated CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965.- P.V.Srinivasa Sastry & Ors. Vs. Comptroller and Auditor General & Ors.[19] has held that Article 311(1) does not say that even the departmental proceeding must be initiated only by the appointing authority. However, at the same time it is pointed out that “However, it is open to Union of India or a State Government to make any rule prescribing that even the proceeding against any delinquent officer shall be initiated by an officer not subordinate to the appointing authority.” It is further held that “Any such rule shall not be inconsistent with Article 311 of the Constitution because it will amount to providing an additional safeguard or protection to the holders of a civil post.” 47. Further, it appears that during the pendency of these proceedings, the appellants have, after 2009, amended the procedure which provides that the charge memo shall be issued only after the approval is granted by the Finance Minister. 48. Therefore, it appears that the appeals in these matters were filed and pursued for an authoritative resolution of the legal issues raised herein. 49. Although number of collateral issues had been raised by the learned counsel for the appellants as well the respondents, we deem it appropriate not to opine on the same in view of the conclusion that the charge sheet/charge memo having not been approved by the disciplinary authority was non est in the eye of law. 50. For the reasons stated above, we see no merit in the appeals filed by the Union of India. We may also notice here that CAT had granted liberty to the appellants to take appropriate action in accordance with law. We see no reasons to disturb the liberty so granted. The appeals are, therefore, dismissed.

 PUBLISHED IN    http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40732                              
        REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO  7761 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 6348 of 2011)


           Union of India & Ors.                       …Appellants
           VERSUS
           B.V.Gopinath                                 …Respondent
                                    WITH
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.7762 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 25534 of 2011)


           Union of India                                 …Appellant
           VERSUS
           K.K. Kapila                           …Respondent
                                    WITH
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.7763 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 26939 of 2011)


           Union of India & Anr.                      …Appellants
           VERSUS
           Sudhir Ranjan Senapati              …Respondent






                                    WITH
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.7764 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 28222 of 2011)


           Union of India & Ors.                        …Appellants
           VERSUS
           S.K. Srivastava                        …Respondent
                                    WITH
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.7765 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 25838 of 2011)


           Union of India & Ors.                       …Appellants
           VERSUS
           Shri H.A. Siddiqui                           …Respondent


                                    WITH
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.7766 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 25839 of 2011)


           Union of India & Ors.                      …Appellants
           VERSUS
           Shri Varinder Mehta                       …Respondent




                                    WITH
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.7767 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 25841 of 2011)


           Union of India & Ors.                      …Appellants
           VERSUS
           Shri Paul George                         …Respondent


                               J U D G M E N T
           SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR, J.
           1. Leave granted in all the SLPs.


           2. The central issue that arises for consideration in these
              appeals is:
whether the charge sheet issued against  the
              respondents is without jurisdiction, in view of the fact
              that  the  disciplinary  authority,  i.e.,  the  Finance
              Minister, had not given approval for issuing the  charge
              memo, even though he had given approval  for  initiation
              of major penalty proceedings against the respondents.


           3. Since the issue raised in the present appeals is  purely
              legal, it would not be  necessary  to  make  a  detailed
              reference  to  the  facts  of  individual   cases.   For
              convenience and for the purpose of  reference  only,  we
              advert  to  the  facts  as  pleaded  in   Civil   Appeal
              No.__________@ SLP (Civil) No. 6348 of  2011  (Union  of
              India & Ors. Vs. B.V.Gopinath).


           4. Mr. B.V. Gopinath joined the Indian Revenue  Service  in
              the year 1987 as Assistant Commissioner of  Income  Tax.
              It  appears  that  he   earned   promotion   as   Deputy
              Commissioner of Income Tax in 1998,  Joint  Commissioner
              of Income Tax in 1999  and  Additional  Commissioner  of
              Income Tax in 2000.
                 
On 7th/8th September, 2005,  whilst  working  on  the
           aforesaid post, Mr. Gopinath (respondent No.1)  was  served
           with a charge sheet under Rule 14 of Central Civil Services
           (Classification,   Control   and   Appeal)   Rules,    1965
           (hereinafter referred to as “CCS (CCA)  Rules”).  
The  said
           charge sheet was issued on the allegation that 
in 2003  the
 respondent was alleged to  have  approached  one  Chartered Accountant in Chennai for securing his transfer  to  Mumbai by offering bribe to the P.A. to the then Minister of State (Revenue). 
Thus, the charge levelled against the respondent
           was that he failed to maintain integrity; and  exhibited  a
           conduct which is unbecoming of a  government  servant.  
The
           respondent submitted his reply to the  allegations  wherein
           he denied the charges levelled against  him.  He  requested
           for supply of certain documents. In due course, the Inquiry
           Officer and the Presenting Officer were appointed.


           5. During the pendency  of  the  inquiry  proceedings,  the
              respondents  filed  O.A.  No.800  of  2008.   In   these
              proceedings, the respondents  claimed  that  the  charge
              sheet                   dated 7th/8th September, 2005 is
              without jurisdiction, therefore, liable to  be  quashed,
              as the charge memo had not been approved by the  Finance
              Minister. We may also notice here that prior  to  filing
              of  the  aforesaid  O.A.,  the  respondent  had  already
              approached CAT twice: firstly, seeking  direction(s)  to
              the Union of India to supply all  the  documents  relied
              upon in connection with the charge-sheet issued  against
              him. Secondly, seeking a direction to the appellant  for
              timely  completion  of  the   departmental   proceedings
              against  him.  The  directions  given  by  CAT  in   the
              aforesaid proceedings, however, have no bearing  on  the
              controversy involved herein.


           6. In  the  present  appeal,  we  are  concerned  with  the
              legality or otherwise of the order passed by CAT on  5th
              February, 2009 in O.A. No. 800 of 2008. By the aforesaid
              order,  CAT  quashed  the  charge  sheet  dated  7th/8th
              September, 2005 issued against  the  respondent  on  the
              ground that there was nothing on record to show that the
              Finance  Minister  approved  the   charge   sheet.   The
              aforesaid order of CAT was challenged, by  way  of  Writ
              Petition (Civil) No. 10452 of  2009,  before  the  Delhi
              High Court. By order dated 28th  July  2009,  which  has
              been impugned before this court, the  Delhi  High  Court
              dismissed the said writ petition.

           Appellants’ Submissions:
           7. Ms. Indira Jaising, learned Additional Solicitor General
              of India appearing for the  appellants,  submitted  that
              the High Court as well as the CAT have committed a grave
              jurisdictional error in quashing the charge sheet, which
              was issued by the  competent  authority,  in  accordance
              with the procedure prescribed.


           8. She has elaborately explained the entire procedure  that
              is followed in each and every case before the matter  is
              put up before the Finance Minister for seeking  approval
              for  initiation   of   the   disciplinary   proceedings.
              According to the learned Additional  Solicitor  General,
              the procedure followed ensures that entire  material  is
              placed before the Finance Minister before a decision  is
              taken to  initiate  the  departmental  proceedings.  She
              submits that approval for initiation of the departmental
              proceedings would also amount to approval of the  charge
              memo. According  to  the  learned  Additional  Solicitor
              General, the CAT as well as the High Court had committed
              a grave error in quashing the  departmental  proceedings
              against the respondents, as  the  procedure  for  taking
              approval  of  the  disciplinary  authority  to  initiate
              penalty  proceeding  is   comprehensive   and   involved
              decision making at every level of the hierarchy.


           9. She pointed out that upon receipt  of  a  complaint  the
              same is examined by the Chief Vigilance Officer  in  the
              office of the Director General, Income Tax  (Vigilance).
              A decision is taken upon examination of the complaint as
              to whether there is a vigilance angle involved. In case,
              it is found that a complaint involves a vigilance angle,
              a preliminary investigation  is  conducted.  During  the
              preliminary investigation, the version  of  the  officer
              concerned is also taken.  Thereafter,  the  decision  is
              taken  by  the  Chief  Vigilance  Officer   (hereinafter
              referred to as “CVO”) with the approval of Central Board
              of Direct Taxes as to whether  disciplinary  proceedings
              are to  be  initiated.  In  case,  the  CVO  decides  to
              initiate disciplinary proceedings, the  matter  is  then
              referred to the Chief  Vigilance  Commission  for  first
              stage advice. The Chief  Vigilance  Commission  examines
              the first stage advice.  In  case  the  Chief  Vigilance
              Commission concurs with the decision taken by the  Chief
              Vigilance Officer,  a  detailed  note  is  prepared  for
              initiation of disciplinary proceedings which is  put  up
              to the Finance Minister. She emphasised  that  alongwith
              note for initiation  of  disciplinary  proceedings,  all
              relevant supporting material is also placed  before  the
              Finance Minister. It is upon consideration of the entire
              material alongwith the explanatory note that the Finance
              Minister  takes  a  decision  to  initiate  departmental
              proceedings.  In  view  of   the   aforesaid   elaborate
              procedure, the  CAT  as  well  as  the  High  Court  had
              erroneously concluded  that  such  procedure  would  not
              amount to approval of the charge memo.


          10. Ms. Jaising further submitted that Office Order No.  205
              of 2005 has been misread by the Courts below. She points
              out that to appreciate the  true  purport  of  the  said
              office order, a careful consideration needs to be  given
              to the safeguards  available  to  a  delinquent  officer
              under the Constitution of India and the CCS (CCA) Rules.
              Learned ASG then submitted that Article 311 provides for
              two safeguards  for  the  delinquent  officer:  (i)  the
              officer cannot be dismissed or removed by the  authority
              subordinate to the appointing authority of  the  officer
              concerned [Article 311(1)]; and (ii)  the  dismissal  or
              removal can only be effected after an enquiry  in  which
              the official has been informed of  the  charges  against
              him and is given a reasonable opportunity to be heard in
              respect of those charges [Article 311(2)].  She  submits
              that in the present case, none  of  the  two  safeguards
              have  been  violated.  She  has  elaborated   that   the
              disciplinary  proceedings  were  initiated  against  the
              respondent in terms of Rule 14 of CCS (CCA) Rules, which
              prescribed the procedure  for  imposing  major  penalty.
              Relying on Rule 14(3), she again drew our  attention  to
              the expression that  the  disciplinary  authority  shall
              draw up or  cause  to  be  drawn  up  the  substance  of
              imputation of misconduct or misbehaviour  into  definite
              and distinct articles of charge. She submitted that  the
              entire procedure under Rule  14(3)  has  been  followed.
              Under  Rule  14(4)  again  disciplinary   authority   is
              required to either deliver or cause to be  delivered  to
              the Government servant a copy of the articles of charge.
              This  was  also  admittedly  followed  in  the   present
              proceeding. She reiterated that a plain reading of  Rule
              14(3)  would  show  that  it  permits  the  disciplinary
              authority to cause the charge memo to be drawn up  by  a
              subordinate authority.


          11. The ASG then submitted that the office order  No.205  of
              2005 was passed in  view  of  the  stress  on  time  and
              resources being felt in the Department of Finance due to
              insufficient  delegation  of  powers   in   respect   of
              disciplinary   action    cases.    Accordingly,    after
              considering the recommendations of  a  Committee  formed
              for  this  purpose,  the   office   order   was   passed
              prescribing the competent decision making authority  for
              various steps in disciplinary action cases in  CBEC  and
              CBDT.  The  office  order   prescribed   the   competent
              authority for granting approval at different stages.  It
              does not prescribe the stages  which  require  approval.
              She  further  submitted  that   the   High   Court   has
              misinterpreted clause (8) of the  aforesaid  order.  She
              points out that the  expression  “approval  for  issuing
              charge memo” cannot be read as distinct  from  “approval
              for initiating major penalty proceedings”. According  to
              the learned ASG, the office order dated 19th July,  2005
              does not impose any requirement  that  the  charge  memo
              must be approved by the disciplinary  authority.  Clause
              (8)  of  the  office  order,  according  to  Ms.  Indira
              Jaising, only provides that the Finance Minister is  the
              competent authority for granting approval  “for  issuing
              charge memo”, and not for “approving the  charge  memo”.
              She submits that the procedure for drawing up the charge
              memo commences when approval is sought for initiation of
              the disciplinary proceedings. The actual drawing  up  of
              the charge memo is a  part  of  and  incidental  to  the
              approval to initiate disciplinary proceedings and  is  a
              ministerial act. The approval to  initiate  disciplinary
              proceedings is the approval to set the law in motion and
              carries with it, by necessary implication, all things to
              effectuate the same. Therefore, the  grant  of  approval
              for initiation of disciplinary  proceedings  amounts  to
              grant of approval for issuance of charge memo.


          12. The learned ASG further submitted that the office  order
              does not create any enforceable rights in favour of  the
              respondent,  since  the  said  order  is  intended   for
              internal functioning of the  department  concerned.  The
              order,  she  submits,  must   be   given   a   purposive
              interpretation  to  discern  its  true  import.  It  was
              submitted by the learned ASG,  it  would  be  sufficient
              compliance with the said order if it is shown that there
              was approval by the disciplinary authority  to  initiate
              disciplinary proceedings and approval is granted to  the
              material on the basis of which the charge memo has  been
              drawn. In this context, reliance was placed upon Seaford
              Court Estates Ltd Vs. Asher,[1] Municipal Corporation of
              Greater Bombay and Others  Vs.  Indian  Oil  Corporation
              Ltd.,[2] State of  Karnataka  Vs.  Appa  Balu  Ingale  &
              Ors.,[3] Forest Range Officer & Ors. Vs. P. Mohammad Ali
              &  Ors.,[4]   State   of   Madhya   Pradesh   Vs.   M.V.
              Narasimhan[5].


          13. Learned ASG further submitted that the  High  Court  has
              wrongly  drawn  a  distinction  between   approval   for
              initiation of the disciplinary proceedings and  approval
              for issuance of charge memo  by  treating  them  as  two
              distinct  steps.  She  reiterated  that   approval   for
              initiation  of  departmental  proceeding  would  include
              approval of the charge memo by disciplinary authority.


          14. The next submission of  the  learned  ASG  is  that  the
              charge sheet  is  normally  not  to  be  quashed  unless
              prejudice is  shown  to  be  caused  to  the  delinquent
              officer. And since the respondent has  not  alleged  any
              prejudice caused to him by virtue of  the  charge  sheet
              not having been approved by the disciplinary  authority,
              the charge sheet ought not to have been interfered with.
              Reliance was placed on State of Uttar Pradesh  Vs. Brahm
              Dutt Sharma & Anr.,[6] Executive Engineer,  Bihar  State
              Housing Board Vs. Ramesh Kumar Singh & Ors.,[7] Ulagappa
              &  Ors.  Vs.  Div.  Commr.,  Mysore  &  Ors.[8]  Special
              Director & Anr. Vs. Mohd. Ghulam Ghouse  &  Anr.[9]  and
              Union of India & Anr. Vs. Kunisetty Satyanarayan[10] and
              The Secretary, Min. of Defence  and  Ors.  Vs.  Prabhash
              Chandra Mirdha [11]


          15. In support of her submission that it  is  not  necessary
              that charge sheet should  be  framed  by  the  authority
              competent to impose penalty or that  enquiry  should  be
              conducted by such authority alone, reliance  was  placed
              on   Inspector   General   of   Police   &   Anr.    Vs.
              Thavasiappan.[12]


          16. Further, it was submitted that it is in the interest  of
              good administration to interpret said the  office  order
              in the manner as contended  by  the  learned  ASG  since
              there  are  more  than  500  enquiries  that  have  been
              initiated in the aforesaid manner.




          17. Lastly, it was submitted that  the  appellants,  out  of
              abundant caution, have now  amended  the  procedure  and
              seek the approval of the  Finance  Minister  for  charge
              memo.


           Respondents’ Submissions:
          18. Mr. P.S. Patwalia,  learned  senior  counsel,  submitted
              that provisions of CCS (CCA) Rules 1965  are  applicable
              to the respondent, an officer of Indian Revenue Service.
              And that since the charge sheet that was issued  to  him
              contemplated a major penalty, Rule 14 of CCS (CCA) Rules
              is attracted. Reliance  was  placed  upon  Registrar  of
              Cooperative  Society  Vs.  F.X.  Fernando,  (supra)   to
              contend that  the  CCS  (CCA)  Rules  require  a  strict
              compliance. It was  further  submitted  that  it  is  an
              admitted fact that the Disciplinary  Authority  has  not
              approved the charge sheet.


          19. After citing Rule 14 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, the learned
              senior counsel has elaborated the  various  stages  when
              decisions required to be taken to comply with  the  said
              provision:
                 a.  Whether  or  not  there  is   justification   for
                    initiation of  an  enquiry  against  a  Government
                    Servant? This would also include  undertaking  the
                    decision that whether Disciplinary Authority would
                    itself hold the  enquiry  or  appoint  some  other
                    authority to do the same.
                 b. The second stage is drawing up of chargesheet; and
                    that has to be done by the Disciplinary Authority.
                 c. Then the Disciplinary Authority has to  apply  its
                    mind on the charges framed under  Rule  14(3)  and
                    has to grant its approval.


          20.  It  was  further  submitted  that  there  may  be  some
              situations where even despite the fact that approval has
              been accorded to initiate the enquiry, charge sheet  may
              not be issued or approved. To illustrate, it was pointed
              out  that  there  may   be   circumstances   where   the
              Disciplinary Authority, after approving  the  initiation
              of proceedings but before giving approval to the  charge
              sheet, comes to a conclusion that a lesser charge or  no
              charge is made out against  the  concerned  officer.  In
              such circumstances, the Disciplinary Authority  proceeds
              accordingly and may drop the proceedings.  Thus,  it  is
              for  this  reason  that  Rule  14  provides   that   the
              Disciplinary Authority has to apply its mind  separately
              at           two            different            stages:
                    (i) initiation of proceedings and (ii) approval of
              charge sheet.


          21.  In  this  context,  similar   submissions   were   also
              reiterated by Mr. Shekhar  Kumar,  learned  counsel  for
              respondent in                           SLP (Civil)  No.
              25839 of 2011. Referring to Rule 14 (3), learned counsel
              submitted that charge-memo ought to have been sanctioned
              by the Disciplinary Authority,  especially  since  there
              was no sub-delegation of such power  in  favour  of  any
              other officer.


          22. The next submission of Mr. Patwalia is that  the  Office
              Order No. 205/2005, Clause/ Item No.  8,  mandates  that
              the approval of the charge sheet has to  be  granted  by
              the Finance Minister. This interpretation  is  fortified
              by clause 9 of the 2005 office order. Clause 9  requires
              that     if      there      has      to      be      any
              dropping/modification/amendment of  the  charges,  after
              receiving the Written Submission of  Defence,  then  the
              file has to be put up to the Finance  Minister.  Learned
              Senior       Counsel        states        that        if
              dropping/modification/amendment of charges  is  required
              to be undertaken by the Finance Minister then  it  would
              necessarily mean that the initial approval of the charge
              sheet has to be sanctioned by the said minister only. It
              was further submitted that acceptance of  the  stand  of
              the appellant that approval  granted  to  initiation  of
              proceedings includes approval to the  charge-memo  would
              lead to the position where the  charge  memo  would  get
              approval even before it has come into existence.


          23. Mr. Patwalia further submitted that  the  issue  in  the
              present case has already been decided by this  Court  in
              Steel Authority of India, Successor of Bokaro Steel Ltd.
              Vs. Presiding Officer,  Labour  Court  at  Bokaro  Steel
              City, Dhanbad & Anr.[13]  It  was  also  submitted  that
              since the law laid down in the aforesaid case is in  the
              favour of the present Respondents, the  present  appeals
              are liable to be dismissed.


          24. Mr. Patwalia has also submitted that the appellants,  in
              the application for condonation of delay  in  filing  of
              the present appeals, contended that the ASG  recommended
              that this is not a fit case for filing  the  SLP.  Thus,
              the Civil Appeals are liable to  be  dismissed  on  this
              ground  as  well.  The  learned  senior   counsel   also
              submitted that the Appellants have already accepted  the
              judgment of CAT and the High  Court  since  the  Finance
              Minister is now approving the charge-sheets. Further, it
              was submitted that after receiving  information  upon  a
              RTI query, it was disclosed that  the  Finance  Minister
              approved the fresh charge  sheet  in  the  case  of  the
              Respondent in                        SLP No.  6348/2001.
              Thus, filing of the present appeals is  nothing  but  an
              ‘academic exercise.’


          25. Mr. Patwalia countered the submission of the learned ASG
              that  it  will  not  be  in   the   interest   of   good
              administration to drop the inquiries which  are  already
              going on if the charge-sheets issued in  such  inquiries
              are required to be approved by the Finance Minister.  In
              this context, it was submitted that  such  a  contention
              has already been rejected by this court  in  Coal  India
              Ltd. & Ors. Vs. Saroj Kumar  Mishra.[14]  Our  attention
              was also drawn to the following excerpt  from  the  said
              case:
                 “the floodgate argument also does not appeal to us.The same
                 appears to be an argument  of  desperation.  Only  because,
                 there is a possibility of floodgate litigation, a  valuable
                 right of a citizen cannot be permitted to  be  taken  away.
                 This court is bound to determine the respective  rights  of
                 the parties.”


                 Thus, it was submitted that  the  Civil  Appeals  are
           required to be dismissed.


          26.  Similar  submissions  were  also  reiterated   by   Mr.
              Brijender  Chahar,  learned  senior  advocate.  Besides,
              learned senior counsel  submitted  that  the  fact  that
              respondent in SLP (Civil) No. 26939 of 2011  belongs  to
              Indian Revenue Service would concomitantly mean that the
              President of  India  is  the  appointing  authority  and
              thereby, Disciplinary Authority in  his  case.  However,
              the said power of the President has been delegated under
              Article 77 (3) of the Constitution and by the  order  of
              the  President  dated  14th  January,  1961  under   the
              Government of India (Allocation of Business)  Rules,  to
              the Finance Minister. Thus, the Finance Minister acts as
              the Disciplinary authority for the purposes  of  Article
              311 of the Constitution and Rule 14 of CCS (CCA)  Rules.
              Therefore, the Finance Minister, himself, has  to  apply
              his mind and give approval  inter  alia  to  the  charge
              sheet. It was further submitted that matters  pertaining
              to  any  such  disciplinary  action  cannot  be  further
              delegated or sub-delegated to any other authority as the
              President has  delegated  this  authority  only  to  the
              Finance Minister.


          27. Relying on Rule 14 of CCS (CCA)  Rules,  learned  senior
              counsel submitted that the rule contemplates a  detailed
              procedure, consisting of four stages, which  has  to  be
              completed before any punishment  can  be  imposed  on  a
              public servant. These steps are :
                    i) Initiation  of  Disciplinary  proceedings  for  major
                       penalties;
                   ii) drawing up of charges of misconduct;
                  iii) appointment of Inquiry Officer &  Presenting  Officer
                       and to supervise fair conducting of  inquiry  by  the
                       Inquiry Officer;
                   iv) imposition of penalty, if any.
                 All the above  procedures  have  been  elaborated  in
           provisions  of  Rule   14   of   Central   Civil   Services
           (Classification,  Control  &  Appeal)  Rules,  1965,  which
           require an independent & unbiased application of  mind  and
           approval, directly by the Finance Minister and not  by  any
           other subordinate Authority.


          28.  Learned senior counsel also submitted that the  drawing
              up charges of misconduct and issuance/service of  charge
              memo is a crucial function for  conducting  an  inquiry,
              which require the independent & unbiased application  of
              mind and approval, directly and solely  by  the  Finance
              Minister and not by any other subordinate Authority.


          29. According  to  the  learned  senior  counsel,  the  most
              important issue to be decided  by  this  Court  is  that
              whether the stage of initiating Disciplinary Proceedings
              is the same as issuing a  charge  sheet/charge  memo?  A
              plain reading of  Rule  14(2)  and  Rule  14(3)  of  the
              Central  Civil  Services  (Classification,   Control   &
              appeal) Rules, 1965 makes it amply clear  and  the  only
              interpretation possible is that the stage of  initiating
              the disciplinary proceedings U/Rule  14(2)  is  distinct
              and separate from issuing a charge memo U/Rule 14(3) and
              it is not a continuing act because it is  not  necessary
              that  every  disciplinary  proceeding  initiated   would
              definitely result in issuing a charge memo because after
              initiating disciplinary  proceedings  it  may  be  found
              from the material on record that,  the  memo  of  charge
              need not be served because the charges may not  be  made
              out or a lesser charge could be made out. Mind has to be
              applied to the evidence and material on record  pursuant
              to initiation of disciplinary proceedings to again  come
              to a fresh decision as to whether  now,  a  charge  memo
              deserves to be issued. Thus,  the  material  before  the
              Disciplinary authority is different at both  the  stages
              of Rule 14(2)  and  Rule  14(3)  of  the  Central  Civil
              Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules, 1965.




          30. Learned senior counsel submitted that the appellant  has
              not denied and in fact accepted  that  the  Charge  Memo
                dated 1st April, 2008 was not approved by the  Finance
              Minister and as such, there was no application  of  mind
              by the Finance  Minister.  Therefore,  CAT  has  rightly
              quashed the said charge memo.
          31. It was further submitted that under the relevant  rules,
              only ancillary actions relating to the issue  of  charge
              sheet may be undertaken by a subordinate authority,  but
              the     framing     of     charge     sheet     requires
              independent/unbiased application of mind and  therefore,
              Finance Minister has to  give  approval  to  the  charge
              memo.


          32.  Learned  senior  counsel  reiterated  that   once   the
              disciplinary powers have been delegated by the President
              of India under Article 77 (3) of the Constitution to the
              Finance Minister, then such delegated  authority  cannot
              be  re-delegated/sub-delegated   by   the   Disciplinary
              Authority, unless statute/ constitution provides for the
              same. In this context, reliance was placed on Sahni Silk
              Mills (P) Ltd.&  Anr.  Vs.  E.S.I.  Corporation[15]  and
              Director General, ESI & Anr. Vs. T.Abdul Razak.[16]

          33.  Learned  senior  Counsel  further  submitted  that  the
              provisions of  Rule  14  (2)  of  CCS  (CCA)  Rules  are
              separate  provisions.  In  case,  the  approval  of  the
              Finance Minister is taken only for provision of Rule  14
              (2) and no approval  is  taken  for  acting  under  Rule
              14(3),  then  the  provision  of  Rule  14(3)  would  be
              rendered redundant and obsolete.  Such  a  position,  he
              submits, would mean as if no charges were ever framed by
              the Disciplinary Authority.

          34. It was further submitted that the  charges  were  framed
              only on the basis of the recommendations of  CBI,  which
              is not the recommending authority as per the  CCS  (CCA)
              Rules.

          35. Mr. Shekhar Kumar, learned counsel, submitted  that  the
              contention of the learned ASG that no prejudice would be
              caused to the Respondent is  premised  on  an  incorrect
              notion. Learned counsel further submitted that since the
              intention of the Government is manifest  in  the  office
              order No. 205 of 2005, the said order has to be complied
              with  strictly,  irrespective  of   the   fact   whether
              prejudice is  shown  to  be  caused  to  the  Government
              Servant or not.


          36. It was also submitted that the charge memo drawn  by  an
              officer other than the specified  authority  was  wholly
              without  jurisdiction  and  hence,  vitiated  the  whole
              disciplinary enquiry. Reliance was placed on  Government
              of Andhra Pradesh Vs. M.A. Majeed & Anr.[17] It was also
              submitted that where a statutory authority  is  required
              do something in a particular manner, the  same  must  be
              done  in  that  manner  only.  The   State   and   other
              authorities, while acting under  the  statute,  are  the
              creatures of the statue and they must act  with  in  the
              four corners of the statute. Learned counsel  relied  on
              Bhavnagar University Vs. Palitana Sugar Mill (P) Ltd.  &
              Ors.[18]


          37. Lastly, it was submitted that  a  charge  sheet  can  be
              subjected to judicial review on the ground that  it  has
              been issued by an  incompetent  authority.  Ld.  Counsel
              relied  on  Samaraditya  Pal,  Law  Relating  to  Public
              Service: A treatise on the law applicable to  Government
              and Public Undertaking, third Edition (2011)  Pgs.  761,
              767.


          38. We have considered the elaborate submissions made by the
              learned counsel for the parties.


          39. Article 311(1) of the Constitution of India ensures that
              no person who is a member of  a  civil  service  of  the
              Union or an  all  India  service  can  be  dismissed  or
              removed by an authority subordinate to that by which  he
              was appointed. The overwhelming importance and value  of
              Article 311(1) for the civil administration as  well  as
              the public servant has been considered  stated  and  re-
              stated, by this Court in numerous judgments,  since  the
              Constitution  came  into  effect                      on
              19th January, 1950. Article 311(2) ensures that no civil
              servant is dismissed or reduced in rank except after  an
              inquiry held in accordance with  the  rules  of  natural
              justice.  To  effectuate  the  guarantee  contained   in
              Article  311(1)  and  to  ensure  compliance  with   the
              mandatory requirements of Article 311(2), the Government
              of India has promulgated CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965.


          40. Disciplinary proceedings against the  respondent  herein
              were initiated in terms of  Rule  14  of  the  aforesaid
              Rules. Rule 14(3) clearly lays down  that  where  it  is
              proposed to hold an inquiry against a government servant
              under Rule 14 or Rule  15,  the  disciplinary  authority
              shall draw up or cause to be drawn up the charge  sheet.
              Rule  14(4)  again  mandates   that   the   disciplinary
              authority shall deliver or cause to be delivered to  the
              government servant, a copy of the  articles  of  charge,
              the  statement  of  the  imputations  of  misconduct  or
              misbehaviour and the supporting  documents  including  a
              list of witnesses by which each  article  of  charge  is
              proposed to be proved. We are unable to  interpret  this
              provision  as  suggested  by  the  Additional  Solicitor
              General, that once the disciplinary  authority  approves
              the initiation  of  the  disciplinary  proceedings,  the
              charge sheet can be drawn up by an authority other  than
              the  disciplinary  authority.  This  would  destroy  the
              underlying protection guaranteed under Article 311(1) of
              the Constitution of India. Such procedure would also  do
              violence to the protective  provisions  contained  under
              Article 311(2) which ensures that no public  servant  is
              dismissed, removed or suspended without following a fair
              procedure in which he/she has been  given  a  reasonable
              opportunity to meet the  allegations  contained  in  the
              charge sheet. Such a charge sheet  can  only  be  issued
              upon approval by the appointing authority  i.e.  Finance
              Minister.


          41.  In  fact,  issuance  of   the   office   order   No.205
                   dated 19th July, 2005 makes  it  evident  that  the
              respondents were aware of the legal position. The office
              order clearly sets out the levels of the decision making
              authorities depending on the gravity of the consequences
              that would have to  be  faced  by  a  delinquent  public
              servant in case the decision is taken to proceed against
              the public servant. Clause (1)  deals  with  closure  of
              complaints  which  are  anonymous/pseudonymous;  if  the
              decision is taken to close the complaint it can be taken
              by the  CVO.  But  in  case  of  verifiable  facts,  the
              complaints have to be referred  to  the  next  level  of
              hierarchy CVB (Central Vigilance Bureau). For placing an
              officer under suspension, the decision has to  be  taken
              by  the  Finance  Minister  himself.  Even   review   of
              suspension at quarterly/half yearly interval rests  with
              the Finance Minister. This is so, as  suspension  during
              contemplation/pendency of enquiry,  though  may  not  be
              penal in nature per se, still has very  serious  adverse
              consequences on the professional as well as the personal
              life  of  the  officer  suspended.  The   office   order
              recognizing the gravity of the consequences ensures that
              the  decision  in  relation  to   suspension/review   of
              suspension shall be taken by the  highest  authority  in
              the department i.e. the  Finance  Minister.  In  matters
              related to reference to CVC for first stage advice,  the
              competent  authority   is   the   Secretary   (Revenue).
              Similarly, for  reconsideration  of  CVC’s  first  stage
              advice, again the competent authority is  the  Secretary
              (Revenue), but in case of disagreement with CVC’s  first
              stage advice on  approval  for  referring  the  case  to
              Department  of  Personal  and  Training,  the  competent
              authority is the Finance Minister.


          42. Clause (8) of the Circular  makes  it  abundantly  clear
              that  it  relates  to  approval   for   issuing   charge
              memo/sanction of prosecution. A  plain  reading  of  the
              aforesaid clause shows that it relates to a decision  to
              be taken by the disciplinary authority as to whether the
              departmental  proceedings  are  to   be   initiated   or
              prosecution is to be sanctioned or both are to  commence
              simultaneously. The competent authority for approval  of
              the charge memo is clearly the Finance  Minister.  There
              is no second authority specified in the order. We do not
              agree  with  Ms.  Indira  Jaising,  learned   Additional
              Solicitor General that the use of the word “approval of”
              is  not  an  expression  distinct  from  “approval  for”
              initiating major penalty proceedings. Under Clause  (9),
              the department firstly  puts  up  the  file  before  the
              Finance Minister seeking “approval  for  issuing  charge
              memo/sanction of prosecution.” The department is seeking
              an order as to whether the officer is  to  be  proceeded
              against departmentally or criminal proceedings are to be
              initiated  or  both  proceedings  are  to  be  commenced
              simultaneously.  When  the  decision  is  taken  by  the
              Finance Minister that the departmental  proceedings  are
              to be held  (initiation),  only  then  the  question  of
              approval of charge memo  arises.  The  department  would
              thereafter complete the necessary formalities  and  then
              place the file before the Finance Minster, for “approval
              of” charge memo.  This provision is in harmony with  the
              mandate contained under Articles 311(1) and (2) that  no
              civil servant  shall  be  dismissed  or  removed  by  an
              authority  subordinating  to  that  by  which   he   was
              appointed. The second limb of the same direction is that
              punishment on a public servant of dismissal, removal  or
              reduction in rank can only be imposed when  the  charges
              have been proved against him in a  departmental  enquiry
              held in accordance with the rules  of  natural  justice.
              Rule 14 of the CCS (CCA) Rules provides  for  holding  a
              departmental enquiry in accordance with  the  provisions
              contained in  Article  311(2)  of  the  Constitution  of
              India. Clause (8) also makes  it  clear  that  when  the
              Finance Minister is approached for  approval  of  charge
              memo, approval  for  taking  ancillary  action  such  as
              appointing an inquiry officer/presiding  officer  should
              also  be  taken.  Clause  (9)  in  fact  reinforces  the
              provisions in clause (8) to the effect that  it  is  the
              Finance Minster, who is required to approve  the  charge
              memo. Clause (9) relates to a stage after  the  issuance
              of charge sheet and when the charge sheeted officer  has
              submitted the statement of defence. It provides that  in
              case  the  charge  sheeted  officer  simply  denies  the
              charges, CVO will appoint an  inquiry  officer/presiding
              officer.   In   case   of    denial    accompanied    by
              representation, the Chairman is to consider the  written
              statement of defence. In case the Chairman  comes  to  a
              tentative conclusion that written statement  of  defence
              has  pointed  out  certain  issues  which  may   require
              modification/amendment of charges then the file  has  to
              be put up to the Finance Minster. So  the  intention  is
              clearly manifest that all decisions with regard  to  the
              approval of charge memo, dropping of  the  charge  memo,
              modification/amendment of charges have to  be  taken  by
              the Finance Minister.
          43. Accepting the submission of Ms. Indira Jaising would run
              counter to the well known maxim  delegatus  non  protest
              delegare (or delegari).  The principle is summed  up  in
              “Judicial Review of  Administrative  Action”  De  Smith,
              Woolf and Jowell (Fifth Edition) as follows:-
                 “The rule against delegation
                 A discretionary power must, in general, be  exercised  only
                 by the authority to which it has been committed.  It  is  a
                 well-known principle of law that  when  a  power  has  been
                 confided to a person in circumstances indicating that trust
                 is being placed in his individual judgment and  discretion,
                 he must exercise that power personally unless he  has  been
                 expressly empowered to delegate it to another.”


                 The   same   principle   has   been   described    in
           “Administrative Law”  H.W.R. Wade  &  C.F.  Forsyth  (Ninth
           Edition), Chapter 10, as follows:-
                  “Inalienable discretionary power
                 An element which is essential to  the  lawful  exercise  of
                 power is that it should be exercised by the authority  upon
                 whom it is conferred, and by no one else.  The principle is
                 strictly  applied,  even  where  it  causes  administrative
                 inconvenience, except in cases where it may  reasonably  be
                 inferred that the  power  was  intended  to  be  delegable.
                 Normally the courts are rigorous in requiring the power  to
                 be exercised by the precise person or body stated   in  the
                 statute, and in condemning as ultra vires action  taken  by
                 agents,  sub-committees  or  delegates,  however  expressly
                 authorized by the authority endowed with the power.”


          44. This principle has been given recognition in Sahni  Silk
              Mills (P) Ltd. (supra), wherein it was held as under:
                 “6. By now it is almost settled that  the  legislature  can
                 permit any statutory authority to delegate its power to any
                 other authority, of  course,  after  the  policy  has  been
                 indicated in the statute itself  within  the  framework  of
                 which such delegatee (sic) is to exercise  the  power.  The
                 real problem or the controversy arises when there is a sub-
                 delegation.  It  is   said   that   when   Parliament   has
                 specifically appointed authority to discharge  a  function,
                 it cannot be readily presumed that it had intended that its
                 delegate should be free to empower another person  or  body
                 to act in its place.”



          45. Much was sought to be made  by  Ms.  Indira  Jaising  on
              clause (10) of the order which provides  that  once  the
              Finance  Minister  has  approved   the   initiation   of
              departmental proceedings, the ancillary  action  can  be
              initiated by the CVO. According  to  the  learned  Addl.
              Solicitor General, the decision  taken  by  the  Finance
              Minister would also include the decision for approval of
              charge memo. She pointed out the procedure followed  for
              initiation    of    penalty     proceedings/disciplinary
              proceedings. She submitted that the decision to initiate
              disciplinary proceedings is based on a Satisfaction Memo
              prepared by the CVO. This satisfaction memo is submitted
              to the Member (P&V), Central Board of Direct Taxes,  New
              Delhi who after being satisfied  that  the  memo  is  in
              order, forwards it to the Chairman, CBDT  who  in  turn,
              upon his  own  satisfaction  forwards  it  to  Secretary
              (Revenue) and finally to the Finance Minister. Based  on
              the satisfaction memo, the Finance Minister, who is  the
              disciplinary authority in this case, takes the  decision
              to initiate disciplinary proceedings. While  taking  the
              said decision, the Finance Minister has before him,  the
              details of the  alleged  misconduct  with  the  relevant
              materials regarding the imputation of allegations  based
              on which the charge memo was issued. Therefore, approval
              by  the  Finance  Minister   for   initiation   of   the
              departmental proceedings would also cover  the  approval
              of  the  charge  memo.  We  are  unable  to  accept  the
              submission  of  the  learned  Addl.  Solicitor  General.
              Initially, when the file comes to the Finance  Minister,
              it is only to take a decision in principle as to whether
              departmental proceedings ought to be  initiated  against
              the officer. Clause (11) deals with reference to CVC for
              second stage advice.  In  case  of  proposal  for  major
              penalties, the decision is to be taken  by  the  Finance
              Minister. Similarly, under Clause  (12)  reconsideration
              of CVC’s second stage advice  is  to  be  taken  by  the
              Finance  Minister.  All  further  proceedings  including
              approval for referring the case to DOP & T, issuance  of
              show cause notice  in  case  of  disagreement  with  the
              enquiry officer report; tentative decision  after  CVC’s
              second stage advice  on  imposition  of  penalty;  final
              decision of penalty; and  revision/review/memorial  have
              to be taken by the Finance Minister. In our opinion, the
              Central Administrative Tribunal  as  well  as  the  High
              Court has correctly interpreted the  provisions  of  the
              Office Order No. 205 of 2005.  Factually also, a perusal
              of the record would show that the file was put up to the
              Finance Minister by the Director General of  Income  Tax
              (Vigilance) seeking the approval of the Finance Minister
              for sanctioning prosecution against one officer and  for
              initiation  of  major  penalty  proceeding  under   Rule
              3(1)(i) and (3) (1) (iii) of the Central Civil  Services
              (Conduct) Rules against the officers  mentioned  in  the
              note which included the appellant herein. Ultimately, it
              appears that the charge memo was not put up for approval
              by the Finance Minister.  Therefore,  it  would  not  be
              possible to accept the submission of Ms. Indira  Jaising
              that the approval granted by the  Finance  Minister  for
              initiation of departmental proceedings would also amount
              to approval of the charge memo.


          46. Ms. Indira  Jaising  also  submitted  that  the  purpose
              behind Article 311, Rule 14 and also the Office Order of
              2005 is to ensure that only an  authority  that  is  not
              subordinate   to   the   appointing   authority    takes
              disciplinary action and that rules  of  natural  justice
              are  complied  with.  According  to  the  learned  Addl.
              Solicitor General, the respondent is not  claiming  that
              rules of natural  justice  have  been  violated  as  the
              charge  memo  was  not   approved  by  the  disciplinary
              authority. Therefore, according to the  Addl.  Solicitor
              General, the CAT as well as  the  High  Court  erred  in
              quashing the charge  sheet  as  no  prejudice  has  been
              caused to the respondent. In our opinion, the submission
              of the learned Addl. Solicitor General is not  factually
              correct. The primary submission of  the  respondent  was
              that the charge sheet not  having  been  issued  by  the
              disciplinary authority is without authority of law  and,
              therefore, non est in the eye of law. This plea  of  the
              respondent has been accepted by the CAT as also  by  the
              High Court.  The  action  has  been  taken  against  the
              respondent in Rule 14(3) of  the  CCS(CCA)  Rules  which
              enjoins the disciplinary authority to draw up  or  cause
              to be drawn up the substance of imputation of misconduct
              or misbehaviour into definite and distinct  articles  of
              charges. The term “cause to be drawn up” does  not  mean
              that the definite and distinct articles of charges  once
              drawn up do not have to be approved by the  disciplinary
              authority. The term “cause to be drawn up” merely refers
              to a delegation  by  the  disciplinary  authority  to  a
              subordinate authority to perform the task of drawing  up
              substance of proposed “definite and distinct articles of
              charge sheet”. These proposed articles of  charge  would
              only be finalized  upon  approval  by  the  disciplinary
              authority.
Undoubtedly,  this  Court  in  the  case  of
              P.V.Srinivasa Sastry & Ors. Vs. Comptroller and  Auditor
              General & Ors.[19] has held that
Article 311(1) does not
              say  that  even  the  departmental  proceeding  must  be
              initiated only by the appointing authority. 
However,  at
              the same time it is pointed out  that  “However,  it  is
              open to Union of India or a State Government to make any
              rule prescribing that even the  proceeding  against  any
              delinquent officer shall be initiated by an officer  not
              subordinate to the appointing authority.” 
It is  further
              held that “Any such rule shall not be inconsistent  with
              Article 311 of the Constitution because it  will  amount
              to providing an additional safeguard  or  protection  to
              the holders of a civil post.”


          47. Further, it appears that during the  pendency  of  these
              proceedings, the appellants have,  after  2009,  amended
              the procedure which provides that the charge memo  shall
              be issued only after the  approval  is  granted  by  the
              Finance Minister.


          48. Therefore, it appears that the appeals in these  matters
              were filed and pursued for an  authoritative  resolution
              of the legal issues raised herein.


          49. Although number of collateral issues had been raised  by
              the learned counsel  for  the  appellants  as  well  the
              respondents, we deem it appropriate not to opine on  the
              same  
in  view  of  the  conclusion  that   the   charge
              sheet/charge  memo  having  not  been  approved  by  the disciplinary authority was    non est in the eye of law.




          50. For the reasons stated above, we see  no  merit  in  the
              appeals filed by the Union of India. 
We may also  notice
              here that CAT had granted liberty to the  appellants  to
              take appropriate action in accordance with law.  
We  see
              no reasons  to  disturb  the  liberty  so  granted.  The
              appeals are, therefore, dismissed.



                                                             ….….…………………..J.
                                                     [Surinder Singh Nijjar]








                                                                …………………………J.
                                                                 [M.Y.Eqbal]
           New Delhi;
           September 05, 2013.
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[1]    [1949] 2 KB 481
[2]    1991 Supp. (2) SCC 18
[3]    1995 Supp (4) SCC 469
[4]    1993 Supp (3) SCC 627
[5]    (1975) 2 SCC 377
[6]    AIR 1987 SC 943
[7]    (1996) 1 SCC 327
[8]    AIR 2000 SC 3603 (2)
[9]    AIR 2004 SC 1467
[10]   AIR 2007 SC 906
[11]   2012 (11) SCC 565
[12]   1996 (2) SCC 145
[13]   1980 (3) SCC 734
[14]   2007 (9) SCC 625
[15]   1994 (5) SCC 346
[16]   (1996) 4 SCC 708
[17]   (2006) 1 ALD 823: (2006) 1 ALT 661
[18]   (2003) 2 SCC 111
[19]   1993 (1) SCC 419

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