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Friday, January 9, 2015

CIVIL APPEAL NO. /2014 [Arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) No. 23631 of 2008] Union of India and others ... Appellant (s) Versus P. Gunasekaran ... Respondent (s)

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CIVIL  APPELLATE  JURISDICTION

          CIVIL APPEAL NO.                                   /2014
              [Arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) No. 23631 of 2008]

Union of India and others                    ...  Appellant (s)

                                   Versus

P. Gunasekaran                               ... Respondent (s)


                               J U D G M E N T


KURIAN, J.:


Leave granted.


 Respondent, while working as Deputy Office Superintendent,  Central  Excise
Third Division, Coimbatore  was  arrested  by  Police  in  a  criminal  case
involving cheating and extortion of money. The police registered a  criminal
case under Sections 143, 319 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (45  of  1860)
(hereinafter  referred  to  as  'IPC')  against  the  respondent.   Separate
departmental proceedings were  also  initiated  against  him  under  Central
Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965.



Following are the three articles of charge:

"ARTICLE-I

That the said Shri P. Gunasekaran, Deputy Office  Superintendent  (Level-II)
(under suspension of Central Excise, Headquarters Office,  Coimbatore  while
working in the Valuation Cell, Hqrs. Office, Coimbatore came to  the  office
on 23.11.1992, in the morning and signed the attendance register,  in  token
of having come to the office and left office without permission and came  to
the office the next day, i.e., on the morning  of  24.11.1992,  and  affixed
his initials in the  departure  column  against  the  dated  23.11.1992  and
willfully falsified the official register. He has  thereby  committed  gross
misconduct and failed to maintain absolute integrity and  devotion  to  duty
and has  behaved  in  a  manner  unbecoming  of  a  Government  servant,  in
contravention of the provisions of  Rule  3(1)(i),  3(1)(ii),  3(1)(iii)  of
Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964.

ARTICLE-II

That the said Shri P. Gunasekaran, being a ministerial Officer  impersonated
himself as a Central Excise Executive Officer and on 23.11.1992  about  2.30
p.m. unauthorizedly conducted passenger checks in a public transport bus  at
Ukkadam Bus Stand, by usurping the powers of Executive Officer  and  thereby
committed gross misconduct and failed to  maintain  absolute  integrity  and
devotion to duty and behaved in a manner unbecoming of a Government  servant
in contravention of the provisions of Rule 3(1)(i), 3(1)(ii)  and  3(1)(iii)
of CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964.

ARTICLE-III

      That the said Shri P. Gunasekaran, on 23.11.1992 at about  2.30  P.M.,
abused his position unauthorisedly conducted passenger  check,  by  usurping
the powers of Executive Officer, threatened a  passenger  bound  for  Kerala
and thereby committed gross  misconduct  and  failed  to  maintain  absolute
integrity and devotion to duty and behaved  in  a  manner  unbecoming  of  a
Government servant in contravention  of  the  provisions  of  Rule  3(1)(i),
3(1)(ii) and 3(1)(iii) of CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964."



In the disciplinary inquiry,  all  the  charges  were  proved  and,  on  due
procedure,  the  respondent  was  dismissed  from  service  by  order  dated
10.06.1997.  The said order of dismissal  dated  10.06.1997  was  challenged
before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai Bench in  O.A.  No.  805
of 1997. During the pendency of the original application before the  Central
Administrative Tribunal, in criminal appeal, the First  Additional  District
and Sessions Judge, Coimbatore acquitted the respondent.

The Central Administrative Tribunal, vide order dated 27.10.1999,  took  the
view that the respondent having been acquitted on identical set of  charges,
he could not be proceeded against in respect of second  and  third  articles
of charge in the disciplinary proceedings. However,  on  the  first  Charge,
the Tribunal held as follows:



"11.  ... There is one another charge  on  which,  the  applicant  has  been
punished by the disciplinary authority,  i.e.,  Article  I  which  has  been
extracted above. It cannot be said this charge is also part of the  criminal
prosecution. On the evidence adduced, the inquiring authority  has  come  to
the  conclusion  that  Article  I  has  been  proved  taking  note  of   the
applicant's letter dated 11.11.1992 addressed to the  Collector  of  Central
Excise when he was kept under remand. This  finding  given  by  the  enquiry
officer has been accepted by the  disciplinary  authority.  Considering  all
the three charges as proved, the order of dismissal  has  been  passed,  but
since we have arrived at a conclusion that charges 2 and 3 cannot  stand  in
view of the acquittal by the criminal court, in our  view,  the  quantum  of
punishment has to be considered by the disciplinary authority.  ... ...  ...
So the impugned order is set aside, the  matter  is  remitted  back  to  the
disciplinary authority to consider the quantum  punishment  taking  note  of
our conclusions and observations  made  above.  The  disciplinary  authority
shall consider the quantum of punishment and pass orders within a period  of
8 weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. ..."





The appellants herein challenged the order of  the  Administrative  Tribunal
in Writ Petition No. 355 of 2000 before the  Madras  High  Court.  The  said
writ petition was disposed of by judgment dated 12.01.2000. The  High  Court
declined to interfere with the order passed by the Administrative  Tribunal.
However, in respect of Articles of Charge  no.I  which  does  not  have  any
relation to the criminal case, it was held at paragraph-6 as follows:



"6.    ...  Charge  No.  1  relates  to  the  unauthorized  absence  of  the
respondent from the office. The tribunal was  of  the  view  that  dismissal
from service was not warranted for the said charge. We  do  not  think  that
the view taken by the  Tribunal  either  unreasonable  or  irrational  which
could be interfered with by this court under Article  226  and  227  of  the
Constitution of India. ..."



The disciplinary  authority,  accordingly,  passed  order  dated  28.02.2000
which reads as follows:

"Whereas on consideration of the facts and records of the case  with  regard
to Article-I of the disciplinary proceedings  against  Shri  P.  Gunasekaran
and the observation made in Hon'ble Tribunal's  order,  the  undersigned  is
satisfied that good and sufficient reason exists for imposing upon  him  the
penalty herein after specified, in modification  of  penalty  of  'dismissal
from service' ordered vide C.No.II/10A/92-Vig. Dated 10.6.97.

Now, therefore, I order under clause (vii)  of  Rule  11  of  Central  Civil
Services (CCA) Rules, 1965 that Shri P.  Gunasekaran,  dismissed  as  Deputy
Office Superintendent, be compulsorily retired from the date from  which  he
was dismissed from service."





Respondent  challenged  the  order   dated   28.02.2000   whereby   he   was
compulsorily retired from service from the original  date  of  dismissal  in
O.A. No. 521 of 2001 before the  Central  Administrative  Tribunal,  Chennai
Bench. Dismissing the O.A., it was held as follows:

"10. ... It is for the disciplinary authority to  decide  in  what  way  the
punishment is to be imposed and this Tribunal cannot  act  as  an  appellate
court in such cases. With this in mind, if we  read  the  Article-I  of  the
charge extracted above, it is clear that the applicant does not deserve  any
sympathy  because  he  manipulated  the  records.  It  is  not  a  case   of
unauthorized absence. The applicant after signing  the  attendance  register
left the office and yet he made attempts to show that he was present in  the
office for the whole day. It amounts to falsification  of  the  records  and
the conduct of the applicant shows that he  was  dishonest  or  he  has  not
maintained the integrity as a government officer. Falsification  of  records
is a criminal offence. Taking into consideration the gravity of charges,  we
hold that the punishment imposed on the applicant is proper and the same  is
not outrageous nor it shocks our conscience. The O.A. is dismissed. ..."



The said order dated 08.02.2001 was challenged by the respondent before  the
High Court of Judicature at Madras which has lead to the  impugned  judgment
dated 18.09.2007 in Writ Petition No. 29757 of 2002.

The High Court set aside the order of the Central  Administrative  Tribunal,
interfered with even the finding of  the  enquiry  officer,  set  aside  the
punishment  and  directed  reinstatement  with  backwages  and  all  service
benefits. To quote:



"2.   We have gone through the materials placed  on  record  and  also  gone
through the letter of the petitioner dated 11.12.1992 on which  the  enquiry
officer has given his findings whereby he  brought  to  the  notice  of  the
Collector what was transpired on 23.11.1992, and there is no admission  made
by the petitioner. Therefore, we hold  that  the  enquiry  officer  has  not
considered the letter in the proper  perspective  to  arrive  at  the  right
conclusion. Therefore, the letter dated 11.12.1992 cannot be  taken  as  the
basis, on which, the punishment  was  imposed  and  therefore  the  impugned
order is liable to be set  aside.  Further,  as  rightly  contended  by  the
learned Senior Counsel appearing for  the  petitioner  while  modifying  the
order, the respondents should have fixed the date of  compulsory  retirement
from the date of issue of  the  order,  instead  of  fixing  the  compulsory
retirement from the  date  of  order  of  dismissal.  Further,  after  going
through the contents  of  the  letter,  it  seems  the  petitioner  has  not
admitted the charge. Therefore, as rightly contended by the  learned  Senior
Counsel appearing for the petitioner except the letter  of  the  petitioner,
there is no other evidence and whatever evidence is required with regard  to
charges 2 and 3, which were framed on the basis of the registration  of  the
criminal case against the petitioner, which ultimately ended  in  acquittal,
the punishment imposed on the basis of the above said criminal case  has  to
go. Therefore, the disciplinary authority has not  properly  understood  the
order passed by the tribunal to reconsider the punishment as per the  charge
memo. The enquiry officer's report is  not  based  on  any  evidence  except
based on the  letter  by  the  petitioner,  which  the  petitioner  has  not
admitted of the charges. The petitioner was acquitted  from  the  charges  2
and 3. Therefore, the only charge,  which  we  find  is  not  based  on  any
material or evidence. Therefore, the  punishment  of  compulsory  retirement
imposed on the petitioner is unsustainable  and  the  petitioner  is  to  be
reinstated. It is brought to the notice of this court  that  the  petitioner
has attained the age of superannuation. Therefore,  the  salary  payable  to
the petitioner from the date of his compulsory retirement till the  date  of
his superannuation has to be treated the reinstatement  with  all  backwages
and monetary benefits which  shall  be  calculated  and  paid  to  him.  The
terminal benefits and  pension  as  applicable  under  the  Rules  shall  be
calculated and paid to the petitioner."



Thus aggrieved, the Union of India and others are before this Court.

Heard Shri  Ranjit  Kumar,  learned  Solicitor  General  appearing  for  the
appellants and Shri Sumeer Kumar Shrivastava, learned counsel appearing  for
the respondent.

Despite the well-settled position, it is painfully disturbing to  note  that
the High Court has acted as  an  appellate  authority  in  the  disciplinary
proceedings, re-appreciating even the evidence before the  enquiry  officer.
The finding on Charge no. I was accepted by the disciplinary  authority  and
was also endorsed by the Central Administrative  Tribunal.  In  disciplinary
proceedings, the High Court is not and cannot  act  as  a  second  court  of
first appeal. The High Court,  in  exercise  of  its  powers  under  Article
226/227  of  the  Constitution  of  India,  shall  not  venture   into   re-
appreciation of the evidence. The High Court can only see whether:

a.    the enquiry is held by a competent authority;

b.    the enquiry is held according to  the  procedure  prescribed  in  that
behalf;

c.    there is violation of the principles of natural justice in  conducting
the proceedings;

d.     the  authorities  have  disabled  themselves  from  reaching  a  fair
conclusion by some considerations extraneous to the evidence and  merits  of
the case;

e.     the  authorities  have  allowed  themselves  to  be   influenced   by
irrelevant or extraneous considerations;

f.    the conclusion, on the very face of it, is  so  wholly  arbitrary  and
capricious that no  reasonable  person  could  ever  have  arrived  at  such
conclusion;

g.    the  disciplinary  authority  had  erroneously  failed  to  admit  the
admissible and material evidence;

h.    the  disciplinary  authority  had  erroneously  admitted  inadmissible
evidence which influenced the finding;

i.    the finding of fact is based on no evidence.



Under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India,  the  High  Court  shall
not:

(i).  re-appreciate the evidence;

(ii). interfere with the conclusions in the enquiry, in case  the  same  has
been conducted in accordance with law;

(iii).      go into the adequacy of the evidence;

(iv). go into the reliability of the evidence;

(v).  interfere, if there be some legal evidence on which  findings  can  be
based.

(vi).       correct the error of fact however grave it may appear to be;

(vii).      go into the proportionality of punishment unless it  shocks  its
conscience.



In one of the earliest decisions in State of Andhra Pradesh  and  others  v.
S. Sree Rama Rao[1], many of the above principles have  been  discussed  and
it has been concluded thus:


"7. ... The High Court is not constituted in a proceeding under Article  226
of the Constitution a court of appeal over the decision of  the  authorities
holding a departmental enquiry against a public servant: it is concerned  to
determine whether the enquiry is held by  an  authority  competent  in  that
behalf, and according to  the  procedure  prescribed  in  that  behalf,  and
whether the rules of natural justice are not violated. Where there  is  some
evidence, which the authority entrusted with the duty to  hold  the  enquiry
has accepted and which evidence may reasonably support the  conclusion  that
the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge, it is not  the  function  of
the High Court in a petition for a writ under  Article  226  to  review  the
evidence and to arrive at an independent finding on the evidence.  The  High
Court may undoubtedly interfere  where  the  departmental  authorities  have
held the proceedings against the delinquent in a  manner  inconsistent  with
the rules of  natural  justice  or  in  violation  of  the  statutory  rules
prescribing the mode of enquiry  or  where  the  authorities  have  disabled
themselves from reaching a fair decision by some  considerations  extraneous
to the evidence and the merits of the case or by allowing themselves  to  be
influenced by irrelevant considerations or where the conclusion on the  very
face of it is so wholly arbitrary and capricious that no  reasonable  person
could ever have arrived at that conclusion, or on similar grounds.  But  the
departmental authorities are, if the enquiry  is  otherwise  properly  held,
the sole judges of facts and if there be some legal evidence on which  their
findings can be based, the adequacy or reliability of that evidence  is  not
a matter which can be permitted to be canvassed before the High Court  in  a
proceeding for a writ under Article 226 of the Constitution."





In State of  Andhra  Pradesh  and  others  v.  Chitra  Venkata  Rao[2],  the
principles have been further discussed at paragraph-21 to 24, which read  as
follows:
"21. The scope of Article 226 in dealing  with  departmental  inquiries  has
come up before this Court. Two propositions were laid down by this Court  in
State of A.P. v. S. Sree Rama Rao. First, there is no warrant for  the  view
that in considering  whether  a  public  officer  is  guilty  of  misconduct
charged against him,  the  rule  followed  in  criminal  trials  that[pic]an
offence is not established  unless  proved  by  evidence  beyond  reasonable
doubt to the satisfaction of the Court must be applied. If that rule be  not
applied by a domestic tribunal of inquiry  the  High  Court  in  a  petition
under Article 226 of the Constitution is not competent to declare the  order
of the authorities holding a departmental enquiry invalid.  The  High  Court
is not a court of  appeal  under  Article  226  over  the  decision  of  the
authorities holding a departmental enquiry against  a  public  servant.  The
Court is concerned to determine whether the enquiry is held by an  authority
competent in that behalf and according to the procedure prescribed  in  that
behalf, and whether the rules of natural justice are not  violated.  Second,
where there is some evidence which the authority entrusted with the duty  to
hold the enquiry has accepted and which evidence may reasonably support  the
conclusion that the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge,  it  is  not
the function of the High Court to review the evidence and to  arrive  at  an
independent finding on the evidence. The High Court may interfere where  the
departmental authorities have held the proceedings  against  the  delinquent
in a manner inconsistent with the rules of natural justice or  in  violation
of the statutory  rules  prescribing  the  mode  of  enquiry  or  where  the
authorities have disabled themselves from reaching a fair decision  by  some
considerations extraneous to the evidence and the merits of the case  or  by
allowing themselves to be influenced by irrelevant considerations  or  where
the conclusion on the very face of it is so wholly arbitrary and  capricious
that no reasonable person could ever have arrived at  that  conclusion.  The
departmental authorities are, if the enquiry  is  otherwise  properly  held,
the sole judges of facts and if there is some legal evidence on which  their
findings can be based, the adequacy or reliability of that evidence  is  not
a matter which can be permitted to be canvassed before the High Court  in  a
proceeding for a writ under Article 226.

22. Again, this Court in Railway Board, representing  the  Union  of  India,
New Delhi v. Niranjan Singh said that the  High  Court  does  not  interfere
with the conclusion of the disciplinary authority unless the finding is  not
supported by any evidence or it can be said that no reasonable person  could
have reached such a finding. In Niranjan Singh case  this  Court  held  that
the High Court exceeded its powers in interfering with the findings  of  the
disciplinary authority on the charge that the  respondent  was  instrumental
in compelling the shut-down of an air compressor at about 8.15 a.m.  on  May
31, 1956. This Court said that the Enquiry Committee felt that the  evidence
of two persons that the respondent led a group  of  strikers  and  compelled
them to close down their compressor  could  not  be  accepted  at  its  face
value. The General Manager did not agree with the Enquiry Committee on  that
point. The General Manager accepted the evidence. This Court  said  that  it
was open to the General Manager to do  so  and  he  was  not  bound  by  the
conclusion reached by the committee. This Court  held  that  the  conclusion
reached by the disciplinary authority should  prevail  and  the  High  Court
should not have interfered with the conclusion.[pic]

23. The jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari under Article  226  is  a
supervisory jurisdiction. The Court exercises it not as an appellate  court.
The findings of fact reached by an inferior court or tribunal  as  a  result
of the appreciation of evidence are  not  reopened  or  questioned  in  writ
proceedings. An error of law which is apparent on the  face  of  the  record
can be corrected by a writ, but not an error of fact, however grave  it  may
appear to be. In regard to a finding of fact recorded by a tribunal, a  writ
can be issued if it is  shown  that  in  recording  the  said  finding,  the
tribunal had erroneously refused to admit admissible and material  evidence,
or had erroneously admitted inadmissible evidence which has  influenced  the
impugned finding. Again if a finding of fact is based on no  evidence,  that
would be regarded as an error of law which can be corrected  by  a  writ  of
certiorari. A finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal cannot be  challenged
on the ground that the relevant and material  evidence  adduced  before  the
Tribunal is insufficient or inadequate to sustain a  finding.  The  adequacy
or sufficiency of evidence led on a point and the inference of  fact  to  be
drawn from the said finding are within the  exclusive  jurisdiction  of  the
Tribunal. See Syed Yakoob v. K.S. Radhakrishnan.

24. The High Court in the present case  assessed  the  entire  evidence  and
came to its own conclusion. The High Court  was  not  justified  to  do  so.
Apart from the aspect that the High Court does  not  correct  a  finding  of
fact on the ground that the evidence is  not  sufficient  or  adequate,  the
evidence in the present case which was considered by the Tribunal cannot  be
scanned by the High Court  to  justify  the  conclusion  that  there  is  no
evidence  which  would  justify  the  finding  of  the  Tribunal  that   the
respondent did not make the journey.  The  Tribunal  gave  reasons  for  its
conclusions. It  is  not  possible  for  the  High  Court  to  say  that  no
reasonable person could have arrived at these conclusions.  The  High  Court
reviewed the  evidence,  reassessed  the  evidence  and  then  rejected  the
evidence  as  no  evidence.  That  is  precisely  what  the  High  Court  in
exercising jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari should not do."


      These principles have been succinctly summed-up by the  living  legend
and centenarian Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer in State of Haryana  and  another
v. Rattan Singh[3]. To quote the unparalled and inimitable expressions:

"4.  .... in a domestic  enquiry  the  strict  and  sophisticated  rules  of
evidence under the Indian Evidence Act may not apply.  All  materials  which
are logically probative for a prudent mind  are  permissible.  There  is  no
allergy  to  hearsay  evidence  provided  it  has   reasonable   nexus   and
credibility. It is true that  departmental  authorities  and  Administrative
Tribunals must be careful in evaluating such material and should not  glibly
swallow what is strictly speaking not relevant  under  the  Indian  Evidence
Act. For this proposition it is not necessary to  cite  decisions  nor  text
books, although we have been taken through case-law  and  other  authorities
by  counsel  on  both  sides.  The  essence  of  a  judicial   approach   is
objectivity,  exclusion  of  extraneous  materials  or  considerations   and
observance of rules of natural justice. Of course,  fairplay  is  the  basis
and if perversity or arbitrariness, bias or  surrender  of  independence  of
judgment vitiate the conclusions reached, such finding,  even  though  of  a
domestic tribunal, cannot be held good. ..."


In all the subsequent decisions of this Court upto  the  latest  in  Chennai
Water Supply and Sewarage Board v. T. T. Murali  Babu[4],  these  principles
have been consistently followed adding practically nothing more or  altering
anything.

On Article I, the disciplinary authority, while imposing the  punishment  of
compulsory retirement in the impugned order dated  28.02.2000,  had  arrived
at the following findings:

"Article-I was held as proved by the Inquiry authority after evaluating  the
evidence adduced in the case. Under  the  circumstances  of  the  case,  the
evidence  relied  on  viz.,  letter  dated  11.12.92  written  by  Shri   P.
Gunasekaran, provides a reasonable nexus to the charge  framed  against  him
and he did not controvert the contents of the  said  letter  dated  11.12.92
during the time of inquiry. Nor did he produce any  defence  witness  during
the inquiry to support his claims including that on  23.11.92  he  left  the
office on permission. There is nothing to indicate that he  was  handicapped
in producing his defence witness. ..."



The disciplinary authority,  on  scanning  the  inquiry  report  and  having
accepted it, after discussing the available and admissible evidence  on  the
charge, and the Central Administrative Tribunal having endorsed the view  of
the disciplinary authority, it was not at all open to the High Court to  re-
appreciate the evidence  in  exercise  of  its  jurisdiction  under  Article
226/227 of the Constitution of India.

Equally, it was not open to the High Court, in exercise of its  jurisdiction
under Article  226/227  of  the  Constitution  of  India,  to  go  into  the
proportionality of punishment so long as the punishment does not  shock  the
conscience of the court. In the instant  case,  the  disciplinary  authority
has come to the conclusion that the respondent lacked integrity.  No  doubt,
there are no measurable  standards  as  to  what  is  integrity  in  service
jurisprudence but  certainly  there  are  indicators  for  such  assessment.
Integrity according to Oxford dictionary is  "moral  uprightness;  honesty".
It  takes  in  its  sweep,  probity,  innocence,   trustfulness,   openness,
sincerity, blamelessness, immaculacy, rectitude, uprightness,  virtuousness,
righteousness, goodness, cleanness, decency, honour,  reputation,  nobility,
irreproachability, purity,  respectability,  genuineness,  moral  excellence
etc. In short, it depicts sterling character with firm adherence to  a  code
of moral values.

The  impugned  conduct  of  the  respondent   working   as   Deputy   Office
Superintendent in a sensitive department of  Central  Excise,  according  to
the  disciplinary  authority,  reflected  lack   of   integrity   warranting
discontinuance in service. That  view  has  been  endorsed  by  the  Central
Administrative Tribunal also. Thereafter, it is not open to the  High  Court
to go into the proportionality of punishment or substitute the same  with  a
lesser or different punishment. These aspects have been discussed  at  quite
length by this Court in  several  decisions  including  B.C.  Chaturvedi  v.
Union  of  India  and  others[5],  Union  of  India  and   another   v.   G.
Ganayutham[6],  Om  Kumar  and  others  v.  Union  of  India[7],  Coimbatore
District  Central  Cooperative   Bank   v.   Coimbatore   District   Central
Cooperative  Bank  Employees  Association  and   another[8],   Chairman-cum-
Managing Director, Coal India Limited and another v. Mukul  Kumar  Choudhuri
and  others[9]  and  the  recent   one   in   Chennai   Metropolitan   Water
    Supply (supra).

 All that apart, on the facts of the present case, it has to  be  seen  that
in the first round of litigation before the Central Administrative  Tribunal
in order dated 27.10.1999 in O.A. No. 805 of 1997, the Tribunal had  entered
a finding that "on the evidence adduced, the inquiring  authority  has  come
to the conclusion that  Article  I  has  been  proved  taking  note  of  the
appellant's letter dated 11.11.92 addressed  to  the  Collector  of  Central
Excise when he was kept under remand. This  finding  given  by  the  inquiry
officer has been accepted by the disciplinary authority".

That order of the Central Administrative  Tribunal  was  challenged  by  the
respondent in Writ Petition No.  226  of  2000  which  was  disposed  of  by
judgment dated 12.01.2000 wherein the High Court had also endorsed the  said
finding which we have already referred to herein before.

Thus, the finding  on  Charge  no.  I  has  attained  finality.  It  is  the
punishment  of  dismissal  on  Charge  no.  I  which  was  directed  to   be
reconsidered by the Central  Administrative  Tribunal  and  which  view  was
endorsed by the High Court. On that basis only, the dismissal was  converted
to  compulsory  retirement.  Such  findings  cannot  be  reopened   in   the
subsequent round of litigation at the instance of  the  respondent.  It  was
only the punishment aspect that was opened to challenge.

The Central Administrative Tribunal, in the order dated 01.02.2001  in  O.A.
No. 521 of 2000, after elaborately discussing the factual  as  well  as  the
legal  position,  has  come  to  the  conclusion  that  the  punishment   of
compulsory retirement is not outrageous or shocking to  its  conscience,  it
was  not  open  to  the  High  Court  to  interfere  with  the  disciplinary
proceedings from stage one and direct reinstatement of the  respondent  with
backwages.

The last contention is with regard to date  of  effect  of  the  punishment.
According to the respondent, even assuming that compulsory retirement is  to
be imposed, it could be only with effect  from  the  date  of  order,  viz.,
28.02.2000.  We are unable to  appreciate  the  contention.  The  respondent
stood dismissed from service as per order  dated  10.06.1997.  It  was  that
punishment which was directed to be reconsidered. Consequent  thereon  only,
the   punishment   was   altered/substituted   to   compulsory   retirement.
Necessarily, it has to be from the date of  dismissal  from  service,  viz.,
10.06.1997.

The impugned judgment of the High  Court  is  set  aside.  The  order  dated
28.02.2000 passed  by  the  disciplinary  authority  and  confirmed  by  the
Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai Bench vide order  dated  01.02.2001
in O.A. No. 521 of 2000 is restored.

The appeal is allowed as above. No costs.




                                              ........................... J.
                                                  (ANIL R. DAVE)






                                              ............................J.
                             (KURIAN JOSEPH)
New Delhi;
November 19, 2014.
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[1]    AIR 1963 SC 1723
[2]    (1975) 2 SCC 557
[3]    (1977) 2 SCC 491
[4]    (2014) 4 SCC 108
[5]    (1995) 6 SCC 749
[6]    (1997) 7 SCC 463
[7]    (2001) 2 SCC 386
[8]    (2007) 4 SCC 669
[9]    (2009) 15 SCC 620

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