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Monday, January 5, 2015

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2641 OF 2012 STATE OF WEST BENGAL & ORS. APPELLANT(S) VERSUS PRONAB CHAKRABORTY RESPONDENT(S)

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 2641 OF 2012

STATE OF WEST BENGAL & ORS.                APPELLANT(S)

                        VERSUS

PRONAB CHAKRABORTY                         RESPONDENT(S)

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 2642 OF 2012

                       CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 2643 OF 2012

                       CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 2616 OF 2012

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9828  OF 2014
               (arising out of S.L.P.(Civil) No. 9015 of 2014)


                           J  U  D  G  M  E  N  T

J.S. KHEHAR, J. :


CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 2641 OF 2012
            The respondent  –  Pronab  Chakraborty  was  inducted  into  the
employment of the police department of the State  of  West  Bengal,  wherein
while he was holding the post of Inspector  of  Police  in  the  Enforcement
Branch, he was issued a chargesheet dated  31.07.2007.   The  charges  which
were levelled against the respondent, are being extracted hereunder:



“CHARGE – 1 : While you were a S.I. of Police of Howrah District during  the
period between 01.01.88 and 31.12.93,  you  acquired  total  assets  in  the
shape of land, property and deposit  in  the  Bank  to  the  extent  of  Rs.
3,44,600/-. Out of the said sum, an amount  of  Rs.  2,69,246.80  paise  for
which you could not give any  cogent  explanation  for  acquisition  of  the
properties which were subsequently established as disproportionate of  asset
to your known source of income.

CHARGE – 2  :  On  21.06.2002  you  acquired  the  asset  in  the  shape  of
investment in United  Bank  of  India,  Sahanpur  Branch,  Howrah  as  fixed
deposit to the extent of Rs. 5,00,000/- (Rupees Five Lakhs) only  vide  A.C.
No. 401/02 in the name of your son, Partha Pratim Chakraborty and sister-in-
law Smt. Krishna Majumder both dependent on you.  You  could  not  give  any
cogent explanation for such acquisition which is  disproportionate  to  your
known source of income.

CHARGE – 3 : On 27.07.1988 while you were attached with the Howrah  District
as S.I., acquired immovable  property  in  the  shape  of  a  plot  of  land
measuring 3 Kathas vide Dag  No.  538,  Khatian  No.  678,  Mouza  Sahanpur,
District Howrah in the name of  your  wife,  Smt.  Sandhya  Chakraborty  and
dependent sister-in-law at the  cost  of  Rs.  33,600/-  vide  Deed  No.  1-
4344/88. You constructed a house thereon and subsequently  disposed  of  the
house by selling the same to Smt. Malati Devi Barnwal at the cost of  Rs.  3
Lakhs vide Sale Deed No. 1957/96.  You did not obtain  prior  sanction  from
your appointing authority before purchase of  land,  construction  of  house
and sale of the house which is obligatory on the part of a  Public  Servant.
As such, you are charged with gross misconduct.

CHARGE  –  4  :  On  24.10.2000  and  on  19.06.2003  you  acquired  movable
properties in the shape of Motor Cycle  having  registered  No.  WB-124-3924
at the cost of Rs. 47,000/- and WB-12H-7613 at the cost of Rs.  33,500/-  in
the name of your dependent son Shri Partha Pratim Chakraborty. You  did  not
obtain prior permission  from  your  appointing  authority  before  purchase
which is obligatory on the  part  of  a  Public  Servant.  You  are  thereby
charged with grave misconduct.

CHARGE – 5 : You ere charged with misconduct for not submitting  declaration
of assets for the period as they stood on  and  from  01.01.90  to  01.01.99
which were revealed from the Memo. No.  3219/DEB  dated  19.12.96  of  S.P.,
D.E.B.,  Howrah  and   Memo.   No.   118/PER/GA-II/PER/GA-II/45-2000   dated
22.01.2001 of  Inspector  General  of  Police,  Headquarters,  West  Bengal.
Those declaration of assets were called  for  the  purpose  of  scrutiny  of
assets either acquired by you in your own name or acquired in  the  name  of
other dependence on you.

CHARGE – 6 : You submitted your declaration of  assets  for  the  period  as
they stood on 25.08.99 and 31.01.2000 which should have  been  submitted  on
01.01.99 and  01.01.2000.   The  declaration  of  assets  bore  no  date  of
submission and you did not deliberately disclose  the  material  information
regarding acquisition of assets with a malafide intention  to  suppress  the
actual assets.  You were charged for grave misconduct.”


2.           Soon  after  the  issuance  of  the  above   chargesheet,   the
respondent retired from service on attaining the age  of  superannuation  on
31.01.2008.  Dissatisfied with the continuation of  the  above  departmental
proceedings (in furtherance of the chargesheet dated 31.07.2007), after  the
respondent - Pronab Chakraborty had attained the age of  superannuation,  he
approached the West Bengal Administrative Tribunal (hereinafter referred  to
as 'the Administrative Tribunal') by filing Case No. O.A. 8547 of 2007.   In
the above case an order dated 05.08.2010 was passed  by  the  Administrative
Tribunal, directing the  enquiring  authority  to  dispose  of  the  pending
departmental proceedings in accordance with the Rules.
3.          The above order dated 05.08.2010 was assailed by the  respondent
before the High Court of Calcutta (hereinafter  referred  to  as  'the  High
Court') by filing W.P.S.T No. 497 of 2010.  The primary  contention  of  the
respondent before the High Court was, that the respondent having retired  on
attaining  the  age  of  superannuation  (with  effect   from   31.01.2008),
departmental proceedings initiated against him,  could  not  be  allowed  to
proceed further.  The High Court, vide its impugned order dated  22.12.2010,
accepted the  prayer  made  by  the  respondent.   The  High  Court,  having
interpreted Rule 10(1) of the  West  Bengal  Services  (Death-cum-Retirement
Benefit) Rules, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as 'the 1971 Rules'),  arrived
at the conclusion, that departmental proceedings being conducted against  an
individual employee, could proceed further after the employee's  retirement,
only when the allegations contained in the  charges  levelled  against  him,
depict pecuniary loss to  the  State  Government.  The  High  Court  further
arrived at the conclusion,  that since  the  charges  levelled  against  the
respondent  herein,  did  not  depict  any  pecuniary  loss  to  the   State
Government, proceedings against the  respondent  could  not  continue  after
31.01.2008.
4.          The State of West Bengal has assailed the order  passed  by  the
High Court on 22.12.2010 by asserting, that Rule 10 of the  1971  Rules  had
been incorrectly interpreted by the  High  Court.  Therefore,  the  solitary
issue that arises for our  consideration  in  the  present  Appeal  is,  the
interpretation of Rule 10 of the 1971 Rules. Rule  10(1)  aforementioned  is
extracted hereunder:

“10. Right of the Governor to withhold pension in certain cases. -  (1)  The
Governor reserves to himself the  right  of  withholding  or  withdrawing  a
pension or any part of it whether permanently or  for  a  specified  period,
and the right of ordering the recovery from a pension of the whole  or  part
of any pecuniary loss caused to Government, if the pensioner is found  in  a
departmental or judicial proceeding to have been guilty of grave  misconduct
or negligence, during the period of his service, including service  rendered
on re-employment after retirement:

Provided that-

(a) such departmental proceeding if instituted  while  the  officer  was  in
service, whether before his retirement or during  his  re-employment,  shall
after the final retirement of the office,  be  deemed  to  be  a  proceeding
under this article and shall be continued and concluded by the authority  by
which it was commenced in the same manner as if the  officer  had  continued
in service;

(b) Such departmental proceedings, if not instituted while  the  office  was
in service, whether before his retirement or during his re-employment—

(i) shall not be instituted save with the sanction of the Governor;

(ii) shall not be in respect of any event which took place more  than  (four
years) before such institution; and

(iii) shall be conducted  by  such  authority  and  in  such  place  as  the
Governor may direct and in  accordance  with  the  procedure  applicable  to
departmental proceedings in which an order of dismissal from  service  could
be made in relation to the officer during his service;

(c) no such judicial proceeding, if not instituted while the officer was  in
service, whether before his retirement or during his re-employment shall  be
instituted in respect of a cause of action which arose  or  an  event  which
took place more than (four years) before such institution....”

A perusal of Rule 10(1) extracted hereinabove reveals,  that  two  different
kinds of punishments are contemplated thereunder. Firstly,  “...  the  right
of withholding or withdrawing a pension ...” which the  delinquent  employee
is entitled to, permanently or for a specified period.  And  secondly,  “...
the right of ordering the recovery from a pension of the whole  or  part  of
any  pecuniary  loss  caused  to  the  Government  ...”.   The   above   two
punishments can be inflicted on a  delinquent,  even  after  he  retires  on
attaining the age of superannuation, provided he is  found  guilty  of  “...
grave misconduct or negligence ...” during the period of his service.
5.          It is therefore apparent, that it  is  not  only  for  pecuniary
loss caused to the Government that proceedings can continue after  the  date
of superannuation. An employee can be proceeded against, after the  date  of
his retirement, on  account  of                  “...  grave  misconduct  or
negligence ...”. Therefore, even  in  the  absence  of  any  pecuniary  loss
caused to the Government, it  is  open  to  the  employer  to  continue  the
departmental proceedings  after  the  employee  has  retired  from  service.
Obviously, if such grave misconduct or negligence,  entails  pecuniary  loss
to the Government, the loss can also be ordered to  be  recovered  from  the
concerned employee. It was therefore not right for  the  High  Court,  while
interpreting Rule 10(1) of the 1971  Rules  to  conclude,  that  proceedings
after the date of superannuation  could  continue,  only  when  the  charges
entailed pecuniary loss to the Government.

6.          In view of the above, we hereby set  aside  the  impugned  order
passed  by  the  High  Court.  We  reaffirm  the   order   passed   by   the
Administrative Tribunal on 05.08.2010.
7.          Civil Appeal is allowed, with no order as to costs.
CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 2616 OF 2012
            Learned  senior  counsel  and  learned  counsel  for  the  rival
parties agree that the controversy in this Appeal  is  squarely  covered  by
the decision rendered by this Court in State of  West  Bengal  &  Ors.   Vs.
Pronab Chakraborty  (Civil Appeal No. 2641 of 2012 decided  on  October  15,
2014).
2.          The instant Civil Appeal is, accordingly, allowed, in  terms  of
order passed in Civil Appeal No. 2641 of 2012. No costs.
CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 2643 OF 2012
            Learned  senior  counsel  and  learned  counsel  for  the  rival
parties agree that the controversy in this Appeal  is  squarely  covered  by
the decision rendered by this Court in State  of  West  Bengal  &  Ors.  Vs.
Pronab Chakraborty  (Civil Appeal No. 2641 of 2012 decided  on  October  15,
2014).
2.          The instant Civil Appeal is, accordingly,  allowed, in terms  of
order passed in Civil Appeal No. 2641 of 2012.  No costs.
CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 2642 OF 2012
            Learned  senior  counsel  and  learned  counsel  for  the  rival
parties agree that the controversy in this Appeal  is  squarely  covered  by
the decision rendered by this Court in State  of  West  Bengal  &  Ors.  Vs.
Pronab Chakraborty  (Civil Appeal No. 2641 of 2012 decided  on  October  15,
2014).
2.          The instant Civil Appeal is, accordingly, allowed, in  terms  of
order passed in Civil Appeal No. 2641 of 2012.  No costs.

S.L.P.(CIVIL) NO. 9015 OF 2014
            Delay condoned.
2.          Leave granted.
3.           The  proposition  of  law  wherein  the  State  Government  had
preferred the present special leave petition, has been accepted by us  while
disposing of the case titled as State of  West  Bengal  &  Ors.  Vs.  Pronab
Chakrborty (Civil Appeal No. 2641 of 2012 decided on October 15,  2014).  In
fact, for the above reason, the instant matter came to be tagged with  Civil
Appeal No. 2641 of 2012.
4.          The decision rendered by us  in  Civil  Appeal               No.
2641 of 2012 does not go into the merits of the  controversy,  but  it  only
examines  the  permissibility  of  the  continuation  of  the   departmental
proceedings after the superannuation of the concerned employee.
5.          Therefore, even as against the respondent herein we  hold,  that
the departmental proceedings can be continued even after his  retirement  on
attaining the age of superannuation (with effect from  31.01.2007).   Viewed
thus, we consider it just and proper to relegate  the  matter  back  to  the
High Court for adjudication of the controversy raised by the  respondent  on
merits in accordance with law.  The High Court shall examine the  merits  of
the controversy, besides the issue which we have settled while disposing  of
Civil Appeal No. 2641  of 2012.
6.          Civil Appeal is disposed of  as  above,  with  no  order  as  to
costs.

                                  .........................J.
                                  (JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR)



NEW DELHI;                  .............................J.
OCTOBER 15, 2014.                 (ARUN MISHRA)



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