16 October 1970
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 485 of 1967






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 16/10/1970


CITATION:  1972 AIR   32            1972 SCR  (2) 645  CITATOR INFO :  R          1984 SC 273  (41)  F          1992 SC 591  (2)

ACT: Departmental Proceedings-Admission of facts-Whether  amounts to plea of guilt.

HEADNOTE: Departmental  enquiry  was started against the  appellant  a police constable on the charges that he remained absent from duty  without  leave or permission as he stayed  beyond  the sanctioned leave and that he did go on fast contrary to, the discipline  of the police force.  In reply to  questions  by the  Enquiring  Officer,  the  appellant  admitted  all  the relevant facts. HELD : The admission of the facts by the appellant  amounted to a plea of guilty on the facts on which the appellant  was charged.  The police constable here was not on his trial for a  criminal  offence.   It was a  departmental  enquiry,  on facts,  of which due notice was given to him.   He  admitted the  facts.  There was no distinction between  admission  of facts  and admission of guilt.  When he admitted the  facts, he  was guilty.  The facts speak for themselves.  It  was  a clear  case of indiscipline and nothing less.  If  a  police officer  remains  absent without leave and also  resorts  to fast  as a demonstration against the action of the  superior officer  the indiscipline is fully established. [647 H,  648 C] Jagdish Prasad Saxena v. State of Madhya Bharat (now  Madhya Pradesh), A.I.R. 1961 S.C. 1070, distinguished. Regina v. Durham Quarter Sessions, Ex-parte Virgo, [1952]  2 Q.B.D. I referred to.

JUDGMENT: CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 485 of 1967. Appeal  by special leave from the judgment and  order  dated February 25, 1966 of the Mysore High Court in Regular Second Appeal No. 84 of 1962. S. S. Javali and A. G. Ratmaparkhi, for the appellant.



Shyamala Pappu and S. P. Nayar, for the respondent. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Hidayatullah, C.J. The appellant files his appeal by special leave  against the judgment of the learned Single  Judge  of the  Mysore  High  Court, February 25, 1966,  by  which  the appeal of the State Government in a civil matter was allowed and the order of dismissal of the appellant who is a  former police  constable  was confirmed.  His  cross-objection  was dismissed. 14-L436SupCI/71 646 The appellant was a police constable serving in the  Dharwar District.   He joined the police force on August 1, 1945  in the  former State of Bombay.  On the States  Reorganisation, he came under the jurisdiction of the State of Mysore and it was  on  November  26, 1953 that he was  dismissed  after  a departmental  enquiry  against him on the  following  facts. The  petitioner  had  proceeded on leave for  a  month  from January  1,  1953.   On January 26,  1953,  he  applied  for extension of leave for a month.  A reply was received by him refusing  leave, but only on February 21, 1953.  He  made  a second application for extension of leave on the same  date, but  this extension of leave was not granted.   On  February 26,  1953, he undertook a 7 days’ fast at a temple  situated three  miles from Dharwar and wrote letters to his  superior officers  to which we shall refer presently.  A  charge  was framed against him under three heads which were that he  was guilty  of serious misconduct and indisciplinary  action  in that   he  remained  absent  from  duty  without  leave   or permission from January 1, 1953, that he had sent letters to his superior officers intimating his intention to go on fast with  effect from February 26, 1953 "for the  upliftment  of the  country  etc."  and that he had sent  copies  of  these letters  to several newspapers also.  The third  charge  was that he did go on fast on February 26, 1953 and continued it till March 5, 1953 at the temple contrary to the  discipline of the police force.  He was duly served with these  charges and was also asked to obtain such copies from the record  as he  needed for his defence and to bring a friend  to  defend him  if he liked.  When the enquiry commenced, he was put  a few questions by the enquiring officer which may be referred to in detail. Q.   (1) Have you received a copy of the charge sheet ? A.   Yes. Q.   (2) Have you understood the Charges ? A.   Yes. Q.   (3) Do you accept the charges framed against you ? A.   Yes. Q.   (4)   Have  you  anything  to  say  for  breaking   the discipline of the Police Force ? A.   I  had been on leave for one month.  I applied  to  the Sub  Inspector  for, the extension of my  leave  by  another month.   I thought that my leave may be extended.   Hence  I did  not join duty on 31-1-53. 1 was greatly worried by  the injustice  done by the police to the poor public and with  a view  to  improve the Police Force and after  informing  the concerned authorities, I went on 647 fast.   I  do not want any help from anybody  for  defending myself.  I do not propose to cross-examine any witness  that may be examined.  Nor do I propose to examine any witness of my  side.   I  do  not know  the  Police  Manual  Rules.   I submitted  the  petition  in the  interest  of  the  general public.   I did not go on fast in my self interest.  I  have done  so in public interest.  We are living in a  democratic



country.   So  whatever is in the interest  of  the  general public  cannot run counter to the discipline of  the  Police Force.  I pray for proper justice on the basis of reply  and the documents which are against me.  I do not desire to  say anything more". It  will appear from this that he did not want to  take  any more part in the enquiry than to have the matter adjudged on the basis. of his reply and the documents which were against him.  This is what he had stated in the penultimate sentence of  his  own  statement  and in the  earlier  part,  he  had unequivocally  admitted the facts which had been  placed  in charge  against him.  His explanation was  two-fold,  namely that he continued to absent himself because he thought  that leave  might  have  been  extended  and  secondly  that  his proceeding  to go on fast was in the interest  of  democracy and  the country as a whole and also to improve  the  police force. The  pleas  of the petitioner are quite clear;  in  fact  he admitted all the relevant facts on which the decision  could be given against him and therefore it cannot be stated  that the  enquiry  was  in breach of  any  principle  of  natural justice.   At  an enquiry facts have to be  proved  and  the person  proceeded against must have an opportunity to  cross examine witnesses and to give his own version or explanation about  the evidence on which he is charged and to  lead  his defence.  In this case, the facts were two fold, that he had stayed beyond the sanctioned leave and that he had proceeded on  a  fast  as a demonstration against the  action  of  the authorities  and also for what he called the  upliftment  of the  country etc.  These facts were undoubtedly admitted  by him.  His explanation was also there and it had, to be taken into account.  That explanation is obviously futile, because persons in the police force must be clear about extension of leave before they absent themselves from duty.  Indeed  this is true of every one of the services, unless of course there are  circumstances in, which. a person is unable to  re-join service,  as  for example when he is desperately ill  or  is other-wise  reasonably  prevented  from  attending  to   his duties.   This  is not the case here.  The  petitioner  took upon  himself  the decision, as to whether  leave  could  be extended  or  not and acted upon it.. He did go on  a  fast. His later explanation was that he went on a fast for quite a different  reason.   The enquiry Officer had to  go  by  the reasons given before him.  On the whole therefore the admis- sion  was one of guilty in so far as the facts on which  the enquiry, 648 was held and the learned single Judge in the High Court was, in our opinion, right in so- holding. It  was  contended on the basis of the  ruling  reported  in Regina  v.Durham Quarter Sessions Ex-parte Virgo(1) that  on the  facts  admitted in the present case, a plea  of  guilty ought  not to be entered upon the record and a plea  of  not guilty  entered instead.  Under the English law, a  plea  of guilty  has  to he unequivocal and the court  must  ask  the person  and  of’ the plea of guilty is qualified  the  Court must not enter a plea of guilty but one of not guilty.   The police  constable here was not on his trial for  a  criminal offence.   It was a departmental enquiry, on facts of  which due  notice  was given to him.  He admitted the  facts.   In fact his counsel argued before us that he admitted the facts but  not his guilt.  We do not see any  distinction  between Admission of facts and admission of guilt.  When he admitted the  facts, he was guilty.  The facts speak for  themselves. It was-,a clear case of indiscipline and nothing less.  If a



police officer remains absent without leave and also resorts to  fast  as  a  demonstration against  the  action  of  the superior officer the indiscipline is fully established.  The learned  Single  Judge in the High Court was right  when  he laid down that the plea amounted to a plea of guilty on  the facts on which the petitioner was charged and we are in full agreement  with  the  observations of  the  learned,  Single Judge.  The  case really is not one of any merit; the  plea  raised before  us was in ad misericordiam.  We were asked  to  take the view that this man was actuated by his own feeling  that leave would be extended and further that his going on  fast was  not for the purpose of the administration but for  some other  purpose.  Even if we were to take the admission as  a whole  with all its qualifications, we are quite clear  that he  admitted  the facts necessary to  establish  the  charge against him. The learned counsel for the appellant further relied upon  a ruling  of this Court in Jagdish Prasad Saxena v. The  State of  Madhya  Bharat  [now  Madhya  Pradesh(2).That  case   is absolutely  distinguishable.   There are of  course  certain general observations about the importance of a  departmental enquiry  and  how it should be conducted.  We  have  here  a clear  case of a person who admitted the facts and  did  not wish  to cross-examine any witness or lead evidence  on  his own behalf.  He only stated that his acts should be adjudged on the basis of the documents which were in the case-.  This was   done  and  there  cannot  be  a  complaint  that   the depar tmental enquiry was either one-sided or not fair.   On the whole therefore we are satisfied that the appellant  was properly adjudged guilty of indiscipline in the departmental enquiry and the (1) [1952] 2 Q.B.D. 1. (2) A. I. R. 1961 S. C. 1070. 6 49 order of dismissal which was passed against him was merited. In view of the fact that we are satisfied that the appellant is one of those persons who thinks that other people in  the world have to be corrected and that perhaps he is one who is impelled  by  his own thoughts, we think that  the  ends  of justice  would be served by not awarding costs against  him. With these observations, we dismiss the appeal. Y.P.                                                  Appeal dismissed. 650