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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Departmental enquiry - charges proved and upheld from bottom to top - But D.B. modified the punishment - Apex court held that the DB traveled beyond it's jurisdiction and set aside the order and held that However, the Division Bench chose to tinker with the quantum of punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority. Though it upheld the punishment of recovery of loss, the punishment of reduction in pay scale has been set aside and substituted by the punishment of withholding of one increment with cumulative effect for a period of one year as per Regulation 39(1)(b) of the L.I.C. of India (Staff) Regulations, 1960. We are of the opinion that the High Court transgressed its limits of judicial review by itself assuming the role of sitting as departmental appellate authority, which is not permissible in law. =CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7717 OF 2014 (arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 39113 of 2013) |THE LIFE INSURANCE CORPORATION | | |OF INDIA & OTHERS |.....APPELLANT(S) | |VERSUS | | |S. VASANTHI |.....RESPONDENT(S) = 2014- Aug. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41829

  Departmental enquiry - charges proved and upheld from bottom to top - But D.B. modified the punishment - Apex court held that the DB traveled beyond it's jurisdiction and set aside the order and held that However, the Division Bench chose to tinker with the quantum  of  punishment
imposed by the disciplinary authority.  Though it upheld the  punishment  of recovery of loss, the punishment of reduction in  pay  scale  has  been  set aside and substituted by the punishment  of  withholding  of  one  increment with cumulative effect for a period of one year as per  Regulation  39(1)(b) of the L.I.C. of  India  (Staff)  Regulations,  1960.  We are of the opinion  that  the  High  Court  transgressed  its  limits  of judicial review by itself assuming  the  role  of  sitting  as  departmental appellate authority,  which  is  not  permissible  in  law.  =

Division  Bench  of  the  High  Court  has
modified the punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority  of  appellant
No.1, i.e. Life Insurance Corporation of India (hereinafter referred  to  as
the 'LIC') on the respondent employee in a departmental enquiry.=
    Interestingly, the Division Bench has  concurred  with
the learned Single Judge regarding the guilt of the respondent in  tampering
of records, which is clear from the following:
“61.  On a careful consideration of respective contentions and  in  view  of
the detailed discussions and for the reasons  mentioned  aforesaid,  in  the
instant case, we hold that the conclusions arrived  at  by  the  authorities
concerned are based on evidence and on available materials  on  record.   In
fact, the Enquiry Officer has submitted a  Report  dated  23.12.1997,  inter
alia,  holding  that  the  Appellant  is  clearly  guilty  of   deliberately
tampering with  the  premium  position  as  detailed  in  the  Report.   The
Divisional Manager (Disciplinary Authority) of L.I.C. of  India  has  passed
the final order on 30.12.1998 by imposing the punishment of (i) Recovery  of
loss to the Corporation of Rs.16,001.90 and (ii) Reduction in Basic  Pay  to
the lowest time scale (i.e.) Rs.1950/-.  The Appellate  Authority  also,  on
28.10.1999, has confirmed the order  of  the  Disciplinary  Authority  dated
30.12.1998.   Even  to  the  Memorial  dated  09.02.2000  submitted  by  the
Appellant/Petitioner,  addressed  to  the  1st  Respondent/Chairman  of  the
L.I.C.  of  India,  Mumbai,  an  order  of  rejection  has  been  passed  on
25.09.2000 finding no merit in the Memorial warranting no interference  with
the penalties of 'reduction in basic pay to minimum of scale' and  'recovery
of financial loss of Rs.16,001.90'.  As such, we are in  complete  agreement
in regard to the conclusions arrived at by the  authorities  concerned  that
the charges levelled against the Appellant/Petitioner have been proved.”

However, the Division Bench chose to tinker with the quantum  of  punishment
imposed by the disciplinary authority.  Though it upheld the  punishment  of
recovery of loss, the punishment of reduction in  pay  scale  has  been  set
aside and substituted by the punishment  of  withholding  of  one  increment
with cumulative effect for a period of one year as per  Regulation  39(1)(b)
of the L.I.C. of  India  (Staff)  Regulations,  1960.  =

 We are of the opinion  that  the  High  Court  transgressed  its  limits  of
judicial review by itself assuming  the  role  of  sitting  as  departmental
appellate authority,  which  is  not  permissible  in  law.  
The  principles
discussed above have been summed up and      summarised as  follows  in  the
case of Lucknow Kshetriya Gramin Bank (Now Allahabad, Uttar  Pradesh  Gramin
Bank) & Anr. v. Rajendra Singh, (2013) 12 SCC 372 :
a)    When charge(s) of misconduct is proved in an enquiry, the  quantum  of
punishment to be imposed in a particular case is essentially the  domain  of
the departmental authorities.
b)    The courts cannot assume the function  of  disciplinary/  departmental
authorities and to decide the quantum of punishment and  nature  of  penalty
to be awarded, as this function is exclusively within  the  jurisdiction  of
the competent authority.
c)    Limited judicial review is available to interfere with the  punishment
imposed by the disciplinary authority, only in cases where such  penalty  is
found to be shocking to the conscience of the court.
d)    Even in such a case when the punishment is  set  aside  as  shockingly
disproportionate to the nature of  charges  framed  against  the  delinquent
employee, the appropriate course of action is to remit the  matter  back  to
the disciplinary authority or the  appellate  authority  with  direction  to
pass appropriate order of penalty.  The court by itself  cannot  mandate  as
to what should be the penalty in such a case.
e)    The only exception to the principle stated in para  (d)  above,  would
be in those cases where the co-delinquent is awarded  lesser  punishment  by
the  disciplinary  authoirty  even  when  the  charges  of  misconduct  were
identical or the co-delinquent was foisted with more serious charges.   This
would be on the doctrine of equaltiy when it  is  found  that  the  employee
concerned and the co-delinquent are equally placed.  However, there  has  to
be a complete parity between the two, not  only  in  respect  of  nature  of
charge but subsequent conduct as well after the service of  charge-sheet  in
the two  cases.   If  the  co-delinquent  accepts  the  charges,  indicating
remorse  with  unqualified  apology,  lesser  punishment  to  him  would  be
justifiable.

13)   Learned counsel for the respondent had  no  answer  to  the  aforesaid
position in law and could not justify  the  stance  of  the  High  Court  in
modifying  the  punishment  in  the  manner  indicated  above.  
Therefore,
sidetracking the central issue, he made a vain attempt  to  argue  that  the
charges against the respondent could not be held to be  proved  as  per  the
records.
 Obviously, that is not  even the issue before  us.  
As  mentioned
above,  there  are  consistent  findings,  not  only  of  the   departmental
authorities, but even the Single Judge as also the  Division  Bench  of  the
High  Court  to  the  effect  that  charges  against  the  respondent  stood
established in the departmental enquiry.  Thus, it is  not  permissible  for
the counsel for the respondent even to argue such a  proposition,  that  too
when the respondent did not challenge the  judgment  rendered  by  the  High
Court.

14)   As a result,  the  instant  appeal  is  allowed.   That  part  of  the
directions contained in para 62 of the impugned judgment which modifies  the
penalty are hereby set aside and the penalty  imposed  by  the  disciplinary
authority is hereby restored. There  shall,  however,  be  no  order  as  to
costs.

2014- Aug. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41829

J. CHELAMESWAR, A.K. SIKRI
                                                     NON - REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7717 OF 2014
      (arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 39113 of 2013)


|THE LIFE INSURANCE CORPORATION           |                               |
|OF INDIA & OTHERS                        |.....APPELLANT(S)              |
|VERSUS                                   |                               |
|S. VASANTHI                              |.....RESPONDENT(S)             |


                               J U D G M E N T

A.K. SIKRI, J.
                 Leave granted.

This appeal is preferred against the final judgment  and  order  dated  June
26, 2013 in Writ Appeal No. 1279  of  2010  passed  by  the  High  Court  of
Judicature at Madras whereby the  Division  Bench  of  the  High  Court  has
modified the punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority  of  appellant
No.1, i.e. Life Insurance Corporation of India (hereinafter referred  to  as
the 'LIC') on the respondent employee in a departmental enquiry.

Insofar as facts are concerned, it is sufficient  to  note  that  a  charge-
sheet was served upon the respondent with the allegations of tampering  with
the premium position and other records pertaining to 17 insurance  policies,
which resulted in settlement  of  surrender  value  payments,  though  these
policies had not acquired surrender value.  It was alleged  in  the  charge-
sheet that by this act of the respondent, pecuniary loss was caused  to  the
LIC.  These charges stood proved in the enquiry held against the  respondent
by the Enquiry Officer vide Report dated December 23, 1997.   Based  on  the
said Report, the disciplinary authority  issued  show-cause  notice  to  the
respondent proposing the following punishment:
(i)   Recovery of loss to the Corporation of Rs.16,001.90, and

(ii)  Reduction in Basic Pay to the lowest time scale (i.e.) Rs.1950/-.

The respondent submitted her reply to the  said  show-cause  notice.   After
going through the same, the Divisional Manager, as  disciplinary  authority,
passed orders dated December 30, 1998 accepting the findings of the  Enquiry
Officer and imposing the punishment as proposed in  the  show-cause  notice.
Appeal of  the  respondent  preferred  thereagainst  was  dismissed  by  the
appellate authority.  The respondent filed a Memorial  before  the  Chairman
of the LIC, which was also rejeged vide orders dated September 25, 2000.
At this stage, the respondent  took  recourse  to  judicial  proceedings  by
filing the writ petition in the High Court of  Judicature  at  Madras.  This
writ petition was dismissed by the learned Single Judge of the  High  Court,
who not only held that a proper enquiry was  conducted  in  consonance  with
the principles of natural justice as well as the extant rules, but even  the
punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority was  justified  and  upheld
the same.  Being aggrieved, the respondent preferred writ appeal, which  has
been decided by the Division Bench of the High Court vide impugned  judgment
dated June 26, 2013.  Interestingly, the Division Bench has  concurred  with
the learned Single Judge regarding the guilt of the respondent in  tampering
of records, which is clear from the following:
“61.  On a careful consideration of respective contentions and  in  view  of
the detailed discussions and for the reasons  mentioned  aforesaid,  in  the
instant case, we hold that the conclusions arrived  at  by  the  authorities
concerned are based on evidence and on available materials  on  record.   In
fact, the Enquiry Officer has submitted a  Report  dated  23.12.1997,  inter
alia,  holding  that  the  Appellant  is  clearly  guilty  of   deliberately
tampering with  the  premium  position  as  detailed  in  the  Report.   The
Divisional Manager (Disciplinary Authority) of L.I.C. of  India  has  passed
the final order on 30.12.1998 by imposing the punishment of (i) Recovery  of
loss to the Corporation of Rs.16,001.90 and (ii) Reduction in Basic  Pay  to
the lowest time scale (i.e.) Rs.1950/-.  The Appellate  Authority  also,  on
28.10.1999, has confirmed the order  of  the  Disciplinary  Authority  dated
30.12.1998.   Even  to  the  Memorial  dated  09.02.2000  submitted  by  the
Appellant/Petitioner,  addressed  to  the  1st  Respondent/Chairman  of  the
L.I.C.  of  India,  Mumbai,  an  order  of  rejection  has  been  passed  on
25.09.2000 finding no merit in the Memorial warranting no interference  with
the penalties of 'reduction in basic pay to minimum of scale' and  'recovery
of financial loss of Rs.16,001.90'.  As such, we are in  complete  agreement
in regard to the conclusions arrived at by the  authorities  concerned  that
the charges levelled against the Appellant/Petitioner have been proved.”

However, the Division Bench chose to tinker with the quantum  of  punishment
imposed by the disciplinary authority.  Though it upheld the  punishment  of
recovery of loss, the punishment of reduction in  pay  scale  has  been  set
aside and substituted by the punishment  of  withholding  of  one  increment
with cumulative effect for a period of one year as per  Regulation  39(1)(b)
of the L.I.C. of  India  (Staff)  Regulations,  1960.   Discussion  on  this
aspect can be found in paragraph  No.62  of  the  impugned  judgment,  which
reads as under:
“62.  Bearing in mind an important fact that  awarding  of  punishment  must
suit the offence and offender and also that the said punishment  should  not
be either vindictive or unduly harsh, we are of the considered view that  in
the present case, for the proved charges  against  the  Appellant/Petitioner
(Delinquent Employee), the imposition of penalty viz., recovery of  loss  to
the L.I.C. of India to an extent of  Rs.16,001.90  in  terms  of  Regulation
39(1)(c) of L.I.C. of India (Staff) Regulations,  1960  is  just  valid  and
proper one.  However, to  secure  the  ends  of  Justice,  inasmuch  as  the
imposition of 'punishment of reduction in basic pay to the lowest scale  pay
(i.e.)  Rs.1950/-'  imposed  on  the  Appellant/Petitioner   in   terms   of
Regulation 39(1)(d) of the L.I.C. of India (Staff) Regulations, 1960, is  on
the higher side, accordingly, we set aside the same and instead we impose  a
penalty of withholding of one increment with cumulative effect for a  period
of one year as per Regulation  39(1)(b)  of  the  L.I.C.  of  India  (Staff)
Regulations, 1960, by restoring her to the original position at the time  of
order of  punishment  dated  30.12.1998.   However,  we  hereby  direct  the
Respondents that the period of service put up  by  the  Appellant/Petitioner
in the lowest time scale of pay viz., Rs.1950/- be  treated  as  service  in
the original post held by her prior to the award of the penalty, subject  to
the condition that the Appellant/Petitioner shall not  be  entitled  to  any
difference of salary for and during the period of reduction  to  the  lowest
time scale of pay.  Consequently, the order passed  by  the  Learned  Single
Judge dated 26.04.2010,. in dismissing the Writ Petition, is  set  aside  by
this Court for the reasons assigned in this Appeal.”

The respondent has not filed any appeal thereby accepting  the  judgment  of
the Division Bench.  However, the appellants are aggrieved by  the  decision
of the Division Bench in  modifying  the  punishment,  as  mentioned  above.
Therefore, in the instant appeal, we have heard the learned counsel for  the
parties on this limited aspect as that is the  only  scope  of  the  present
appeal.

It was argued by the learned counsel for the  appellants  that  it  was  not
open to the High Court to modify the penalty of reduction in  pay  scale  to
the lowest scale of pay, that too without giving any reasons, what  to  talk
of justifiable  reasons.   His  submission  was  that  the  High  Court,  in
exercise of judicial review, had  very  limited  jurisdiction  to  interfere
with the quantum of punishment imposed by the  disciplinary  authority.   It
could be only in those  cases  where  penalty  is  found  to  be  shockingly
disproportionate to the gravity of charge.  He also submitted  that  it  was
not within the domain of the High Court to impose a particular  penalty  and
thereby assume to itself the role of disciplinary  authority.   The  leanred
counsel submitted  that  the  aforesaid  approach  of  the  High  Court  was
directly in conflict with the judgment of this Court in Om  Kumar  v.  Union
of India, (2001) 2 SCC 386, wherein this Court has held  that  the  question
of the quantum of punishment in disciplinary matters is  primarily  for  the
disciplinary authority  and  the  jurisdiction  of  the  High  Courts  under
Article 226 of  the  Constitution  or  of  the  Admnistrative  Tribunals  is
limited and is confined to the applicability of one or other  of  the  well-
known principles  known  as  'Wednesbury  principles'.   This  Court,  while
analyzing the said principles, also observed that in case if the Court  felt
that the quantum of punishment was disproportionate, then it  should  remand
the matter back to the  disciplinary  authority  instead  of  modifying  the
punishment on its own.  Relevant passage  from  the  judgment  is  extracted
below:
“71.  Thus, from the above principles and decided cases,  it  must  be  held
that  where  an  administrative   decision   relating   to   punishment   in
disciplinary cases is questioned as “arbitrary” under Article 14, the  court
is confined to Wednesbury principles as  a  secondary  reviewing  authority.
The court will not  apply  proportionality  as  a  primary  reviewing  court
because no  issue  of  fundamental  freedoms  nor  of  discrimination  under
Article 14 applies in such a context.  The court while reviewing  punishment
and if it is satisfied that  Wednesbury  principles  are  violated,  it  has
normally to remit the matter to the administrator for a  fresh  decision  as
to the quantum of punishment.  Only in rare cases where there has been  long
delay in the time taken by the disciplinary  proceedings  and  in  the  time
taken in  the  courts,  and  such  extreme  or  rare  cases  can  the  court
substitute its own view as to the quantum of punishment.”

We find sufficient force in the aforesaid submission of the learned  counsel
for the appellants.

      We have already reproduced paras 61 and 62 of  the  impugned  judgment
of the High Court.  After detailed discussion  of  the  various  contentions
advanced by the respondent here (appellant before the High Court), the  High
Court repelled all those contentions and in para 61 summed up  the  position
by holding that the respondent herein was very much guilty  of  deliberately
tampering with the premium position as detailed in the report.  So much  so,
it expressed its 'complete agreement' in regard to the  conclusions  arrived
at by the authorities  concerned  that  the  charges  levelled  against  the
respondent had been proved.  As noticed above, charges pertain to  tampering
with the premium position and  other  records  pertaining  to  17  insurance
policies.  It had resulted in pecuniary loss to the LIC as well.  Charge  of
tampering with the record is a very  serious  charge  and  it  adds  to  the
gravity when it is coupled with financial implications.   Even  for  such  a
severe charge, the disciplinary  authority  had  inflicted  the  penalty  of
reduction in basic pay to the lowest time scale.  The  High  Court  has  not
even stated as to how this penalty was bad in law and simply labelled it  to
be “harsh”  that  too  with  no  reasons.   While  intermeddling  with  this
penalty, the only epithet used is “to secure the ends of justice”.   In  the
absence of any exercise undertaken by the High Court that how  it  perceived
such a penalty to be “harsh”, there was no  reason  to  interfere  with  the
same.  Even otherwise,  we  do  not  find  such  a  penalty  at  all  to  be
shockingly  disproportionate  having  regard  to  the  very  serious  charge
levelled against the respondent.

The scope and power of judicial review of the courts while dealing with  the
validity of quantum of punishment imposed by the disciplinary  authority  is
now well settled. In the case of Deputy  Commissioner,  KVS  &  Ors.  v.  J.
Hussain, (2013) 10 SCC 106, the law on this  subject,  is  recapitulated  in
the following manner:
“6.  When the charge proved, as happened in the instance case,   it  is  the
disciplinary authority with whom lies the discretion to decide  as  to  what
kind of punishment is to be imposed.  Of course, this discretion has  to  be
examined objectively keeping in mind the nature and gravity of charge.   The
Disciplinary Authority is to decide a particular penalty  specified  in  the
relevant  Rules.   Host  of  factors  go  into  the  decision  making  while
exercising such a discretion  which  include,  apart  from  the  nature  and
gravity of misconduct, past  conduct,  nature  of  duties  assigned  to  the
delinquent, responsibility of duties assigned to  the  delinquent,  previous
penalty, if any, and the discipline required to be maintained in  department
or establishment where he works, as well as  extenuating  circumstances,  if
any exist.  The order of the Appellate Authority while having a  re-look  of
the case would, obviously, examine as to whether the punishment  imposed  by
the  Disciplinary  Authority  is  reasonable  or  not.   If  the   Appellate
Authority is of the opinion that the case warrants lesser  penalty,  it  can
reduce the penalty so imposed by the Disciplinary Authority.  Such  a  power
which vests with the Appellate Authority departmentally  is  ordinarily  not
available to the Court or a Tribunal.  The Court while undertaking  judicial
review of the matter is not  supposed  to  substitute  its  own  opinion  on
reappraisal of facts.(See: Union Territory  of  Dadra  &  Nagar  Haveli  vs.
Gulabhia M.Lad (2010) 5 SCC 775)  In exercise of power of  judicial  review,
however, the Court can interfere with the  punishment  imposed  when  it  is
found to be totally irrational or is outrageous in defiance of logic.   This
limited  scope  of  judicial  review  is  permissible  and  interference  is
available only when punishment is  shockingly  disproportionate,  suggesting
lack of good faith.  Otherwise, merely because in the opinion of  the  Court
lesser punishment would have been more appropriate, cannot be  a  ground  to
interfere with the discretion of the departmental authorities.

7.    When the punishment is found to be  outrageously  disproportionate  to
the nature of charge, principle of proportionality comes into play.  It  is,
however, to be borne in mind that this principle would be  attracted,  which
is in tune with doctrine of Wednesbury Rule of reasonableness, only when  in
the  facts  and  circumstances  of  the  case,   penalty   imposed   is   so
disproportionate to the nature of charge that it shocks  the  conscience  of
the  Court  and  the  Court  is  forced  to  believe  that  it  is   totally
unreasonable  and  arbitrary.   This  principle   of   proportionality   was
propounded by Lord Diplock in Council of Civil Service Unions  vs.  Minister
for Civil Service in the following words:

“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  of  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”. This 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.”

8.    Imprimatur to the aforesaid principle was accorded by  this  Court  as
well, in Ranjit Thakur vs. Union of India (1987) 4 SCC  611.   Speaking  for
the Court, Justice Venkatachaliah (as he then  was)  emphasizing  that  “all
powers have legal limits” invokes the aforesaid doctrine  in  the  following
words:

“The question of  the  choice  and  quantum  of  punishment  is  within  the
jurisdiction and discretion of the court-martial. But the  sentence  has  to
suit the offence and the offender. It should not  be  vindictive  or  unduly
harsh. It should not be so disproportionate to the offence as to  shock  the
conscience and  amount  in  itself  to  conclusive  evidence  of  bias.  The
doctrine of proportionality as part  of  the  concept  of  judicial  review,
would ensure  that  even  on  an  aspect  which  is,  otherwise  within  the
exclusive province of the court-martial, if the decision of the  court  even
as to sentence is an outrageous defiance of logic, then the  sentence  would
not be immune from correction. Irrationality and perversity  are  recognized
grounds of judicial review.”

We are of the opinion  that  the  High  Court  transgressed  its  limits  of
judicial review by itself assuming  the  role  of  sitting  as  departmental
appellate authority,  which  is  not  permissible  in  law.  The  principles
discussed above have been summed up and      summarised as  follows  in  the
case of Lucknow Kshetriya Gramin Bank (Now Allahabad, Uttar  Pradesh  Gramin
Bank) & Anr. v. Rajendra Singh, (2013) 12 SCC 372 :
a)    When charge(s) of misconduct is proved in an enquiry, the  quantum  of
punishment to be imposed in a particular case is essentially the  domain  of
the departmental authorities.
b)    The courts cannot assume the function  of  disciplinary/  departmental
authorities and to decide the quantum of punishment and  nature  of  penalty
to be awarded, as this function is exclusively within  the  jurisdiction  of
the competent authority.
c)    Limited judicial review is available to interfere with the  punishment
imposed by the disciplinary authority, only in cases where such  penalty  is
found to be shocking to the conscience of the court.
d)    Even in such a case when the punishment is  set  aside  as  shockingly
disproportionate to the nature of  charges  framed  against  the  delinquent
employee, the appropriate course of action is to remit the  matter  back  to
the disciplinary authority or the  appellate  authority  with  direction  to
pass appropriate order of penalty.  The court by itself  cannot  mandate  as
to what should be the penalty in such a case.
e)    The only exception to the principle stated in para  (d)  above,  would
be in those cases where the co-delinquent is awarded  lesser  punishment  by
the  disciplinary  authoirty  even  when  the  charges  of  misconduct  were
identical or the co-delinquent was foisted with more serious charges.   This
would be on the doctrine of equaltiy when it  is  found  that  the  employee
concerned and the co-delinquent are equally placed.  However, there  has  to
be a complete parity between the two, not  only  in  respect  of  nature  of
charge but subsequent conduct as well after the service of  charge-sheet  in
the two  cases.   If  the  co-delinquent  accepts  the  charges,  indicating
remorse  with  unqualified  apology,  lesser  punishment  to  him  would  be
justifiable.

13)   Learned counsel for the respondent had  no  answer  to  the  aforesaid
position in law and could not justify  the  stance  of  the  High  Court  in
modifying  the  punishment  in  the  manner  indicated  above.    Therefore,
sidetracking the central issue, he made a vain attempt  to  argue  that  the
charges against the respondent could not be held to be  proved  as  per  the
records.  Obviously, that is not  even the issue before  us.   As  mentioned
above,  there  are  consistent  findings,  not  only  of  the   departmental
authorities, but even the Single Judge as also the  Division  Bench  of  the
High  Court  to  the  effect  that  charges  against  the  respondent  stood
established in the departmental enquiry.  Thus, it is  not  permissible  for
the counsel for the respondent even to argue such a  proposition,  that  too
when the respondent did not challenge the  judgment  rendered  by  the  High
Court.

14)   As a result,  the  instant  appeal  is  allowed.   That  part  of  the
directions contained in para 62 of the impugned judgment which modifies  the
penalty are hereby set aside and the penalty  imposed  by  the  disciplinary
authority is hereby restored. There  shall,  however,  be  no  order  as  to
costs.
|                                  |                                  |
|                                  |..................................|
|                                  |...........J.                     |
|                                  |(J. CHELAMESWAR)                  |
|                                  |                                  |
|                                  |                                  |
|New Delhi;                        |..................................|
|August 14, 2014.                  |...........J.                     |
|                                  |(A.K. SIKRI)                      |

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