advocatemmmohan

My photo

ADVOCATEMMMOHAN -  Practicing both IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAWS,Etc.,

WELCOME TO LEGAL WORLD

WELCOME TO MY LEGAL WORLD - FOR KNOWLEDGE IN LAW & FOR LEGAL OPINIONS - SHARE THIS

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2. The appellant was enrolled as an Operator in the corps of Artillery of Indian Army on 27th September, 1980. Having served in that capacity for nearly 12 years, he received a show cause notice pointing out that he had been awarded four red ink entries for various offences set out in the notice and that the appellant had become a habitual offender thereby setting a bad example of indiscipline in the army. The notice, on that premise, called upon the appellant to show cause as to why he should not be discharged from service under Army Rule 13(III)(v) read with Army HQ letter No.A/15010/150/AG/PS-2(c) dated 28th December, 1988.- The grievance of the respondent in that case, primarily, rested upon the alleged excessive punishment meted out for the red ink entries suffered by him. The respondent also claimed to have been discriminated due to discharge from the Armed Forces. That was also not a case where discharge order was challenged as bad in law on the basis of irregularities nor was it a case where the authority was said to have failed to follow the necessary procedure. The decision of the High Court of Delhi in Surinder Singh v. Union of India (2003) 1 SCT 697, to the extent the same toes a line of reasoning different from the one adopted by us does not lay down the correct proposition and must, therefore, be confined to the facts of that case only. In the result this appeal succeeds and is hereby allowed. The order of discharge passed against the appellant is hereby set aside. Since the appellant has already crossed the age of superannuation, interest of justice will be sufficiently served if we direct that the appellant shall be treated to have been in service till the time he would have completed the qualifying service for grant of pension. No back wages shall, however, be admissible. Benefit of continuity of service for all other purpose shall, however, be granted to the appellant including pension. Monetary benefits payable to the appellant shall be released expeditiously but not later than four months from the date of this order. No costs.

                                             REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                      CIVIL APPEAL D.NO. 32135 OF 2015


Veerendra Kumar Dubey                        …Appellant

Versus

Chief of Army Staff & Ors.                   …Respondents




                               J U D G M E N T

T.S. THAKUR, J.

1.    This appeal under Section 31 of the Armed Forces Tribunal  Act,  2007,
is directed against a judgment and order dated 14th December 2011 passed  by
the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench at Lucknow  whereby  the  Tribunal
has dismissed Transferred Application No.16 of 2011 filed by  the  appellant
in the process affirming an order of discharge passed against the  appellant
by the competent authority under Rule 13(III)(v) of the Army Rules, 1954.
2.    The appellant was enrolled as an Operator in the  corps  of  Artillery
of Indian Army on 27th September, 1980. Having served in that  capacity  for
nearly 12 years, he received a show cause notice pointing out  that  he  had
been awarded four red ink entries  for  various  offences  set  out  in  the
notice and that  the  appellant  had  become  a  habitual  offender  thereby
setting a bad example of indiscipline in  the  army.  The  notice,  on  that
premise, called upon the appellant to show cause as to why he should not  be
discharged from service under Army Rule 13(III)(v) read with Army HQ  letter
No.A/15010/150/AG/PS-2(c) dated 28th December, 1988.
3.    The appellant submitted a reply to the show cause  notice  which  does
not appear to have cut any ice with the  competent  authority  resulting  in
his discharge  by  an  order  dated  14th  December,  1992.  Aggrieved,  the
appellant preferred an appeal before respondent  No.2  which  proved  of  no
avail. The authority in the meantime issued  a  discharge  order/certificate
of service on 15th October,  1993  which  the  appellant  challenged  in  MP
No.1980 of 1994 before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh  at  Jabalpur.  That
petition was dismissed by the High  Court  on  18th  January,  2006  on  the
ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction aggrieved whereof  the  appellant
filed Writ Appeal No.429 of 2006 which came to be transferred to  the  Armed
Forces Tribunal, Regional  Bench,  Lucknow  and  renumbered  as  Transferred
Application No.16 of 2011. The Tribunal by its order  dated  14th  December,
2011 has now dismissed the transferred petition giving rise to  the  present
appeal.
4.    The material facts are not in dispute. It is not in dispute  that  the
appellant had within a period of 12 years of the service  suffered  as  many
as four red ink entries. All these entries were awarded to  him  on  account
of overstaying leave for a period ranging between 29 days to  66  days.  The
fourth red ink entry was earned on account of a severe reprimand awarded  to
him by the Commanding Officer in August, 1992.  It is  noteworthy  that  the
first red ink entry was  made  on  25th  July,  1982,  the  second  on  28th
December, 1985, the third on 13th September,  1991  and  the  last  on  13th
August, 1992. It is also not in dispute  that  the  appellant  had  filed  a
reply to the show cause notice issued to him in which he had  explained  the
reasons for his overstaying the leave period  in  1982  and  attributed  his
failure to report back for duty to the medical condition of  his  wife.   In
regard to the second red ink entry he had offered an  explanation  based  on
his own illness and treatment in the  district  hospital.  So  also  he  had
offered explanations for the other two red ink entries.  These  explanations
notwithstanding the  competent  authority  decided  to  discharge  him  from
service without any enquiry whatsoever.
5.    Before the Courts below and so also before us, the competence  of  the
authority who discharged the appellant was not questioned by the  appellant.
 What was all the same argued at considerable length by learned counsel  for
the appellant was that the  availability  of  power  to  discharge  was  not
enough. What was equally important is whether the power was exercised  in  a
fair and  reasonable  manner  keeping  in  view  the  guidelines  which  the
Government  had  issued  for  such  exercise.  It  was  contended  that  the
Government had prescribed the procedure for the removal of  undesirable  and
inefficient JCOs, WO and ORs in terms of a  circular  dated  28th  December,
1988. The circular, it was contended, postulates not only  the  issue  of  a
show cause notice to  the  individual  concerned,  but  also  a  preliminary
enquiry before recommending  his  discharge  or  dismissal.  The  individual
concerned, it was argued, must have had an  adequate  opportunity  to  offer
his explanation and to produce evidence in his defence. Not  only  that  the
enquiry  ought  to  conclude  that  the  allegations   stood   substantiated
warranting  termination  of  service  of  the  delinquent.  The  fact   that
discharge from service, consequent upon an individual earning four  red  ink
entries is not mandatory.  This,  according  to  the  learned  counsel,  was
evident from a plain reading of the procedure prescribed  by  the  competent
authority.  It was also submitted that while  considering  the  question  of
retention or discharge  based  on  four  red  ink  entries,  the  Commanding
Officer was duty bound to consider not only the nature of the  offences  for
which such entries had been awarded but also  take  into  consideration  the
long service and the harsh conditions  to  which  the  individual  had  been
exposed during his tenure.  Discharge can under  the  guidelines  issued  by
the competent authority be ordered only where it is absolutely necessary  to
do so. The procedure prescribed by the competent authority for the  exercise
of the power of discharge under  Rule  13  was,  according  to  the  learned
counsel, observed but only in breach thereby rendering the discharge of  the
appellant illegal.
6.    On behalf of the respondent it was contended by  Mr.  Maninder  Singh,
Additional Solicitor General that Rule 13 of the Army Rules did not  provide
for any specific procedure to  be  followed  for  discharge  of  undesirable
persons or habitual offenders.  The procedure prescribed  for  the  exercise
of the power of discharge in terms  of  the  circular  relied  upon  by  the
appellant was, according to the  learned  counsel,  directory  and  did  not
create any right in the individual concerned to demand  an  enquiry  in  the
matter. The procedure was in any case de hors the provisions of Rule  13  of
the Army Rules, hence un-enforceable. Reliance in support  was  placed  upon
the decisions of this Court in Union of India  and  Ors.  v.  Corporal  A.K.
Bakshi and Anr. (1996) 3 SCC 65, Union of India  and  Ors.  v.  Rajesh  Vyas
(2008) 3 SCC 386, and Union of India and Ors. v. Deepak Kumar Santra  (2009)
7 SCC 370. Reliance was also placed upon a recent decision of this Court  in
Union of India v. Balwant Singh (Civil Appeal No. 5616 of 2015) and a three-
Judge Bench decision in Union of India and  Ors.  v.  Harjeet  Singh  Sandhu
(2001) 5 SCC 593 apart from a Division Bench decision of the High  Court  of
Delhi in Surinder Singh v. Union of India (2003) 1 SCT 697.
7.    Section 22 of the Army Act, 1950 provides that any person  subject  to
the said Act may be retired, released or discharged by  such  authority  and
in such manner as may be prescribed. Section 23 envisages  the  issue  of  a
certificate on termination of service to every junior commissioned  officer,
warrant officer, or enrolled person, who is dismissed, removed,  discharged,
retired or released from service.  Section  191  of  the  Act  empowers  the
Central Government to make rules for the purpose  of  carrying  into  effect
the provisions of the Act. The rules may, inter alia, provide  for  removal,
retirement, or release upon discharge from service  of  persons  subject  to
the rule. The Government has in exercise of that power  framed  Army  Rules,
1953, Rule 13(III)(v) whereof  applicable to the case at hand  empowers  the
Brigade and Sub Area Commander to direct such discharge after giving to  the
person whose  discharge  is  contemplated,  an  opportunity  to  show  cause
against the same provided the circumstances of the case permit the grant  of
such opportunity. Rule 13 (1), (2), (2A), (3)(III) and the Table  below  the
same are  extracted :
“13.  Authorities empowered  to  authorise  discharge  –  (1)  Each  of  the
authorities specified in column 3 of the Table below shall be the  competent
authority to discharge from service person subject to the Act  specified  in
column 1 thereof on the grounds specified in column 2.

(2)   Any power conferred by this rule on any of the  aforesaid  authorities
shall also be exercisable by any other authority Superior to it.

(2A)  Where the Central Government or the Chief of the Army  Staff  decides;
that any person or class or persons subject to the Act should be  discharged
from service,  either  unconditionally  or  on  the  fulfilment  of  certain
specified conditions,  then,  notwithstanding  anything  contained  in  this
rule, the Commanding Officer  shall  also  be  the  competent  authority  to
discharge from service such person or any person belonging to such class  in
accordance with the said decision.

(3)   In this table ”commanding officer” means the  officer  commanding  the
corps or department to which the person  to  be  discharged  belongs  except
that in the case of junior commissioned officers  and  warrant  officers  of
the Special Medical Section of  the  Army  Medical  Corps,  the  “commanding
officer” means the Director of the Medical Services, Army, and in  the  case
of junior commissioned officer and warrant officers of Remounts,  Veterinary
and Farms, Corps, the “Commanding  Officer”  means  the  Director  Remounts,
Veterinary and Farms.


                                    TABLE

|Category       |Grounds of       |Competent        |Manner of        |
|               |discharge        |authority to     |discharge        |
|               |                 |authorize        |                 |
|               |                 |discharge        |                 |
|1              |2                |3                |4                |
|Junior         | xxx xxx xxx     |xxx              |                 |
|Commissioned   |                 |                 |                 |
|officers       |                 |                 |                 |
|Warrant Officer| xxx xxx xxx     |xxx              |                 |
|Persons        |III.  (i) On     |Commanding       |                 |
|enrolled under |fulfilling the   |Officer in the   |                 |
|the Act who    |conditions of his|case of a person |                 |
|have been      |enrolment or     |of the rank of   |                 |
|attested       |having reached   |havildar (or     |                 |
|               |the stage at     |equivalent rank) |                 |
|               |which discharge  |where such person|                 |
|               |may be enforced. |is to be         |                 |
|               |                 |discharged.      |                 |
|               |                 |Otherwise than at|                 |
|               |                 |his own request  |                 |
|               |                 |and where the    |                 |
|               |                 |commanding       |                 |
|               |                 |officer below the|                 |
|               |                 |rank of          |                 |
|               |                 |Lieutenant       |                 |
|               |                 |Colonel, the     |                 |
|               |                 |brigade or sub   |                 |
|               |                 |Area Commander,  |                 |
|               |                 |(SRO 116/65      |                 |
|               |III.  (ii) On    |Commanding       |Applicable to    |
|               |completion of a  |Officer (in case |person enrolled  |
|               |period of army   |of the persons   |for both Army    |
|               |service only,    |unwilling to     |service and      |
|               |there being no   |extend their Army|Reserve Service. |
|               |vacancy in the   |Service)         |(A person who has|
|               |Reserve          |                 |the right to     |
|               |                 |                 |extend his Army  |
|               |                 |                 |service and      |
|               |                 |                 |wishes to        |
|               |                 |                 |exercise that    |
|               |                 |                 |right cannot be  |
|               |                 |                 |discharge under  |
|               |                 |                 |this head)       |
|               |III (iii) Having |Commanding       |To be carried out|
|               |been found       |Officer          |only on the      |
|               |medically unfit  |                 |recommendation of|
|               |for further      |                 |an Invaliding    |
|               |service          |                 |Board            |
|               |III (iv) At his  |Commanding       |The Commanding   |
|               |own request      |Officer          |officer will     |
|               |before fulfilling|                 |exercise the     |
|               |the conditions of|                 |power only when  |
|               |his enrolment    |                 |he is satisfied  |
|               |                 |                 |as to the        |
|               |                 |                 |desirability of  |
|               |                 |                 |sanctioning the  |
|               |                 |                 |application and  |
|               |                 |                 |the strength of  |
|               |                 |                 |the unit will not|
|               |                 |                 |thereby be unduly|
|               |                 |                 |reduced.         |
|               |III (v) All other|Brigade/Sub-Area |The Brigade or   |
|               |classes of       |Commander        |Sub Area         |
|               |discharge        |                 |Commander before |
|               |                 |                 |ordering the     |
|               |                 |                 |discharge shall, |
|               |                 |                 |if the           |
|               |                 |                 |circumstances of |
|               |                 |                 |the case permit  |
|               |                 |                 |give to the      |
|               |                 |                 |person whose     |
|               |                 |                 |discharge is     |
|               |                 |                 |contemplated an  |
|               |                 |                 |opportunity to   |
|               |                 |                 |show cause       |
|               |                 |                 |against the      |
|               |                 |                 |contemplated     |
|               |                 |                 |discharge.       |
|Persons        | xxx xxx xxx     |xxx              |                 |
|enrolled under |                 |                 |                 |
|the Act who    |                 |                 |                 |
|have not been  |                 |                 |                 |
|arrested       |                 |                 |                 |



8.    A plain reading of the above makes it abundantly clear that  the  rule
does not provide for  anything  beyond  an  opportunity  to  the  individual
concerned to show  cause  against  his  contemplated  discharge  before  the
competent authority passes any such order of discharge.  That a  show  cause
notice was  issued  to  the  petitioner  in  the  present  case  before  his
discharge is not denied.  On a strict  interpretation  of  Rule  13(III)(V),
therefore, one could perhaps say  that  the  letter  of  the  law  has  been
complied with inasmuch as an opportunity has been afforded to the  appellant
to show cause against the contemplated discharge. The question, however,  is
whether that was enough having regard to the procedure which the  Government
has stipulated for the  exercise  of  the  power  vested  in  the  competent
authority under Rule  13  of  the  Army Rules (supra). The  Government  has,
as rightly mentioned by learned counsel for the  appellant,  stipulated  not
only a show cause notice which is an indispensable part of  the  requirement
of the Rule but also an impartial enquiry into the allegations  against  him
in which he is entitled  to  an  adequate  opportunity  of  putting  up  his
defence and adducing evidence in support thereof. More importantly,  certain
inbuilt safeguards against discharge from service  based  on  four  red  ink
entries have also been prescribed. The first and foremost is an  unequivocal
declaration that mere award of four red ink entries to  an  individual  does
not make his discharge mandatory. This implies that four red ink entries  is
not some kind of laxman rekha, which if crossed would by itself  render  the
individual concerned undesirable or unworthy  of  retention  in  the  force.
Award of four red ink entries simply pushes the individual concerned into  a
grey area where he can be considered for  discharge.  But  just  because  he
qualifies for such discharge, does not mean that he must necessarily  suffer
that fate. It is one thing to qualify  for  consideration  and  an  entirely
different to be found fit for discharge. Four red ink entries in that  sense
takes the individual closer to discharge but does not push him over.  It  is
axiomatic that the Commanding Officer is,  even  after  the  award  of  such
entries, required to consider the nature  of  the  offence  for  which  such
entries have been awarded and other aspects made relevant by the  Government
in the procedure it has prescribed.
9.    We may at this stage gainfully extract the  relevant  portion  of  the
procedure prescribed for dismissal:
“Procedure for dismissal/discharge of Undesirable JCOs/WOs/OR:

4.    AR 13 and 17 provide that a JCO/WO/OR whose dismissal or discharge  is
contemplated will be given a show cause notice.  As an  exception  to  this,
services of such a person may be terminated without giving him a show  cause
notice provided  the  competent  authority  is  satisfied  that  it  is  not
expedient or reasonably practicable to service such  a  notice.  Such  cases
should be rare, e.g., where the interests of the security of  the  State  so
require.  Where the service of a show cause notice is  dispensed  with,  the
reasons for doing so are required to be recorded.  See proviso to AR 17.

5.    xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Preliminary Enquiry.  Before  recommending  discharge  or  dismissal  of  an
individual the authority concerned will ensure:-

that an impartial enquiry (not necessarily a  Court  of  Inquiry)  has  been
made into  the  allegations  against  him  and  that  he  has  had  adequate
opportunity of putting  up  his  defence  or  explanation  and  of  adducing
evidence in his defence.
that the allegations have been substantiated and that the  extreme  step  of
termination of the individual’s service is warranted on the  merits  of  the
case.

(f)   Final orders by the competent Authority. The  authority  competent  to
sanction the dismissal/discharge  of  the  individual  will  before  passing
orders reconsider the case in the light of the  individual’s  reply  to  the
show cause notice.  A person who has been served with a  show  cause  notice
for proposed dismissal may be ordered to be discharged if it  is  considered
that discharge would meet the requirements of the  case.  If  the  competent
authority considers that termination of  the  individual’s  service  is  not
warranted but any of the actions referred to in (b) to (d) of Para  2  above
would meet the requirements of the case, he  may  pass  orders  accordingly.
On the other hand, if the competent  authority  accepts  the  reply  of  the
individual to the show cause notice as entirely satisfactory, he  will  pass
orders accordingly.

Note:-1.    As far as possible, JCO, WO and  OR  awaiting  dismissal  orders
will not be allowed to mix with other personnel.
2.    Discharge from service consequent to four red ink  entries  is  not  a
mandatory or legal requirement.  In  such  cases,  Commanding  Officer  must
consider the nature of offences for  which  each  red  ink  entry  has  been
awarded and not be harsh with the  individuals,  especially  when  they  are
about to complete the pensionable  service.   Due  consideration  should  be
given to the long service, hard stations  and  difficult  living  conditions
that the OR has been exposed  to  during  his  service,  and  the  discharge
should be ordered only when it is absolutely necessary in  the  interest  of
service.  Such discharge should be approved by the next higher Commander.”


10.   A  careful  reading  of  the  above  would  show  that  the  competent
authority has made it abundantly  clear  to  officers  competent  to  direct
discharge that before discharging an individual, not only should there be  a
show cause notice but an enquiry  into  the  allegations  made  against  the
individual concerned in which  he  ought  to  be  given  an  opportunity  of
putting up his defence and that the  allegations  must  stand  substantiated
for a discharge to follow.
11.   Para 5(f)(2) (supra) underscores the importance  of  the  truism  that
termination of the individual’s service is an extreme step  which  ought  to
be taken only if the facts of the case so demand. What is evident  from  the
procedural mandate given to the authorities is to ensure that  discharge  is
not ordered mechanically and that the process leading to  the  discharge  of
an individual is humanized by the requirement of an impartial  enquiry  into
the matter and fair opportunity to  the  concerned  especially  when  he  is
about to complete his pensionable service. Equally significant is  the  fact
that  the  authority  competent  to  discharge  is  required  to  take  into
consideration certain factors made  relevant  by  the  circular  to  prevent
injustice, unfair treatment or arbitrary exercise of the  powers  vested  in
the Authority competent to discharge. For instance Note 2 to Rule 5  (supra)
requires the  competent  authority  to  take  into  consideration  the  long
service rendered by the individual, the hard stations he has been posted  to
and the difficult  living  conditions  to  which  the  individual  has  been
exposed  during  his  tenure.  It  is  only  when  the  competent  authority
considers  discharge  to  be  absolutely   essential   after   taking   into
consideration the factors aforementioned that discharge  of  the  individual
can be validly ordered.
12.   The argument that the procedure prescribed by the competent  authority
de hors the provisions of Rule 13 and the breach of  that  procedure  should
not nullify the order of discharge otherwise validly made has not  impressed
us.  It is true that Rule 13 does not in specific terms envisage an  enquiry
nor does it provide for consideration of factors to which we  have  referred
above. But it is equally true that  Rule  13  does  not  in  terms  make  it
mandatory for the  competent  authority  to  discharge  an  individual  just
because he has been awarded four red ink entries. The threshold of four  red
ink entries as a  ground  for  discharge  has  no  statutory  sanction.  Its
genesis lies in administrative instructions  issued  on  the  subject.  That
being so, administrative instructions  could,  while  prescribing  any  such
threshold as well, regulate the exercise  of  the  power  by  the  competent
authority qua an individual who qualifies  for  consideration  on  any  such
administratively prescribed norm. Inasmuch as the  competent  authority  has
insisted upon an enquiry to be conducted in which an  opportunity  is  given
to the individual concerned  before  he  is  discharged  from  service,  the
instructions cannot be faulted on the ground that the  instructions  concede
to the  individual  more  than  what  is  provided  for  by  the  rule.  The
instructions are aimed  at  ensuring  a  non-discriminatory  fair  and  non-
arbitrary application of the statutory rule.  It may have been  possible  to
assail the circular instructions if the same had taken away  something  that
was granted to the individual by the rule. That  is  because  administrative
instructions cannot make inroads into statutory  rights  of  an  individual.
But  if  an  administrative  authority  prescribes  a   certain   procedural
safeguard to those affected  against  arbitrary  exercise  of  powers,  such
safeguards or procedural equity and fairness will not fall foul of the  rule
or be dubbed ultra  vires  of  the  statute.  The  procedure  prescribed  by
circular dated 28th December, 1988  far  from  violating  Rule  13  provides
safeguards against an unfair and improper use of the  power  vested  in  the
authority, especially when even independent of the procedure  stipulated  by
the competent  authority  in  the  circular  aforementioned,  the  authority
exercising the power of discharge is expected  to  take  into  consideration
all relevant factors. That an individual has put in long  years  of  service
giving more often than not the best part of his life to armed  forces,  that
he has been exposed to hard stations and difficult living conditions  during
his tenure and that he may be completing  pensionable  service  are  factors
which the authority competent to discharge would have  even  independent  of
the procedure been required to take into consideration while exercising  the
power of discharge.  Inasmuch as the procedure stipulated specifically  made
them relevant for the exercise of  the  power  by  the  competent  authority
there was neither any breach nor any encroachment by executive  instructions
into the territory covered by the statute. The  procedure  presented  simply
regulates the exercise of power which would, but  for  such  regulation  and
safeguards against arbitrariness, be perilously close to being  ultra  vires
in that the authority competent to discharge shall, but for the  safeguards,
be vested with uncanalised and  absolute  power  of  discharge  without  any
guidelines as to the manner in which such power may be exercised.  Any  such
unregulated and uncanalised power would in turn offend  Article  14  of  the
Constitution.
13.   Coming then to the case at hand, we find that  no  enquiry  whatsoever
was conducted by the Commanding Officer at any stage against  the  appellant
as  required  under  para  5(a)  of  the  procedure  extracted  above.  More
importantly, there is nothing  on  record  to  suggest  that  the  authority
competent had taken into consideration the  long  service  rendered  by  the
appellant, the difficult living conditions and the hard  stations  at  which
he had served.  There is nothing on record to suggest  that  the  nature  of
the misconduct leading to the award of red ink entries was  so  unacceptable
that the competent authority had no option but to direct  his  discharge  to
prevent indiscipline in the force.  We must, in fairness, mention  that  Mr.
Maninder Singh, ASG, did not dispute the  fact  that  any  number  of  other
personnel are still in service no matter  they  have  earned  four  red  ink
entries on account of overstaying leave. If that be so, the  only  safeguard
against arbitrary exercise of power by the  authority  would  be  to  ensure
that there is an enquiry howsoever summary and a finding about  the  defence
set-up by the individual besides consideration of the factors made  relevant
under the note to para 5(f) of the procedure.  It is common  ground  that  a
red ink entry may be earned by an individual for overstaying leave  for  one
week or for six months. In either case the entry is  a  red  ink  entry  and
would qualify for consideration in the matter of discharge. If  two  persons
who suffer such entries are treated similarly  notwithstanding  the  gravity
of the offence being different, it would be unfair and unjust  for  unequals
cannot be treated as equals. More importantly, a  person  who  has  suffered
four such entries on a graver misconduct may escape discharge which  another
individual who has earned such entries for relatively  lesser  offences  may
be asked to go home prematurely. The unfairness in any such situation  makes
it necessary to bring in safeguards to prevent miscarriage of justice.  That
is precisely what the procedural safeguards purport to  do  in  the  present
case.
14.   Reliance upon the decisions of this Court in  the  cases  referred  to
earlier is, in our opinion, of no help to the respondent for the  same  have
not adverted to the procedure prescribed for the exercise of  the  power  of
discharge.   In Union of India v. Corporal A.K. Bakshi &  Anr.  (supra)  the
question before this Court was whether  an  order  of  discharge  passed  in
pursuance of the  Policy  for  Discharge  of  Habitual  Offenders  could  be
considered a discharge simplicitor as envisaged in  15(2)(g)(ii)  or  if  it
would tantamount to termination of service by way of punishment  under  Rule
18 of the said Rules. The Court  came  to  the  conclusion  that  it  was  a
discharge simplicitor and as such it could not be  held  as  termination  of
service by way of a punishment for misconduct. This was clearly not  a  case
where the procedure for discharge was not followed.  The Court had, in  that
case, unequivocally held that there was no dispute between the parties  that
the procedure had been duly  followed.   Similarly,  the  decision  of  this
Court in Union of India v. Rajesh Vyas (supra) is also distinguishable.   In
that case, the discharge order was challenged on  the  ground  that  it  was
passed without regard to the response to the show cause notice filed by  the
discharge order. Upon a perusal of the material, this Court  held  that  the
case was not one wherein the discharge order was passed without  application
of mind and that there was evidence to show that power  was  exercised  upon
consideration of all relevant records. The decision of this Court  in  Union
of India and Ors. v. Dipak Kumar Santra (supra) is also of no  relevance  to
the case at hand as that case dealt with a recruit who had failed  twice  in
clerks’ proficiency and aptitude test and was discharged  under  Rule  13(3)
of the Army Rules. Without adverting to the procedure  prescribed  for  such
removal, the discharge  was  maintained  by  this  Court  opining  that  the
discharging authority was empowered to do so under Rule 13(3)  of  the  Army
Rules. Reliance upon the recent judgment of this Court in Union of  India  &
Ors. v. Balwant Singh [Civil Appeal No. 5616 of  2015]  is  also  misplaced.
The grievance of the respondent in that case,  primarily,  rested  upon  the
alleged excessive punishment meted out for the red ink entries  suffered  by
him.  The  respondent  also  claimed  to  have  been  discriminated  due  to
discharge from the Armed Forces.  That was also not a case  where  discharge
order was challenged as bad in law on the basis of  irregularities  nor  was
it a case where the  authority  was  said  to  have  failed  to  follow  the
necessary procedure. The decision of the High Court  of  Delhi  in  Surinder
Singh v. Union of India (2003) 1 SCT 697, to the  extent  the  same  toes  a
line of reasoning different from the one adopted by us  does  not  lay  down
the correct proposition and must, therefore, be confined  to  the  facts  of
that case only.
15.   In the result this appeal succeeds and is hereby  allowed.  The  order
of discharge passed against the appellant is hereby set  aside.   Since  the
appellant has  already  crossed  the  age  of  superannuation,  interest  of
justice will be sufficiently served if we direct that  the  appellant  shall
be treated to have been in service till the time  he  would  have  completed
the qualifying service for grant of pension.  No back wages shall,  however,
be admissible. Benefit of  continuity  of  service  for  all  other  purpose
shall, however, be granted to  the  appellant  including  pension.  Monetary
benefits payable to the appellant shall be released  expeditiously  but  not
later  than  four  months  from  the  date  of   this   order.   No   costs.



                                                      ……………………………………….…..…J.
                                                               (T.S. THAKUR)




                                                      ……………………………………….…..…J.
                                                           (V. GOPALA GOWDA)



                                                      ……………………………………….…..…J.
                                                              (R. BANUMATHI)
New Delhi
October 16, 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.