09 July 1996
Supreme Court


Bench: NANAVATI G.T. (J)
Case number: /
Diary number: 2 / 3838






DATE OF JUDGMENT:       09/07/1996


CITATION:  JT 1996 (6)   456        1996 SCALE  (5)180



JUDGMENT:                       J U D G M E N T NANAVATI J.      This is an appeal by special leave against the judgment and order  passed by  the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal in O.A. No. 2587 of 1990.      Some  complaints   of  corruption  and  other  acts  of misconduct by  the respondent, during the period from 5.6.85 to 15.6.86,  while serving  as a  Superintendent of  Police, were received  by the  Directorate of  Vigilance  and  Anti- Corruption,  Madras.  The.  Directorate  investigated  those complaints and  reported its  findings  to  the  Tamil  Nadu Government.  The  Government  after  examining  the  records submitted to  it by  the Directorate  decided to refer those cases  to   the  Tribunal   for   Disciplinary   Proceedings (hereinafter referred  to as  ’the  Disciplinary  Tribunal’) constituted under  Rule  3  of  Tamil  Nadu  Civil  Services (Disciplinary Proceedings Tribunal) Rules, 1955 (hereinafter referred to  as ’the  Disciplinary Proceedings  Rules’)  for enquiring  into  those  cases.  The  Tribunal  framed  three Charges on   21.11.89  and  communicated  the  same  to  the respondent. Thereupon,  the respondent  approached the Tamil Nadu Administrative  Tribunal (hereinafter  referred  to  as ’the Tribunal’)  challenging the  charge memo framed against him on  the grounds  of delay,  vagueness and  breach of the requirements of  Rule 17  of the  Tamil Nadu  Civil Services (Classification,  Control  and  Appeal)  Rules  (hereinafter referred to  as ’the  Civil Service  Rules’). The grounds of delay and vagueness were not considered as sufficient by the Tribunal for  quashing the  charges but  it was  of the view that the  charges were  required to  be  formulated  by  the Disciplinary Authority  as required  by Rule 17 of the Civil Service Rules  after applying  its mind to the record of the case and  after recording  the tentative  decision to impose any of  the penalties  specified in  Items (iv), (vi), (vii) and (viii)  of the  Rule 8 of the Civil Service Rules before referring the  cases to  the Tribunal  for  the  purpose  of



holding an  inquiry and  as this  was not  done, the charges deserved to  be quashed.  The reasons  given by the Tribunal for taking this view are as under :           "We would  consider  that  the      substantive provisions  of Rule  17      of the  Tamil Nadu  Civil  Services      (Classification,    Control     and      Appeal)  Rules  in  regard  to  the      functions   and   powers   of   the      disciplinary authority  cannot.  be      taken away  from such  authority by      the  Tamil   Nadu  Civil   Services      (Disciplinary Proceedings Tribunal)      Rules, 1955,  which relate  only to      the  enquiry   which  is   only   a      component of  the proceedings under      Rule 17  of the  Tamil  Nadu  Civil      Services  (Classification,  Control      and  Appeal)   rules  as   we  have      emphasized in  our decision in O.A.      Nos. 712  and  713  of  1990  dated      26.2.1991 wherein  we have  held as      below:           Rule   17   (b)(1)   therefore      requires that (1) there should be a      decision   that   the   facts   and      circumstances  disclosed   and  the      evidence   in    support    thereof      constituting  the   basis  for  the      charge would  justify  one  of  the      penalties specified  therein if the      charges are  established after  the      enquiry into  which the  delinquent      officer     would      have     the      opportunities as  prescribed to put      forward  his   defense   (2)   with      reference   to    the   facts   and      circumstances  disclosed   and  the      evidence,  the  charge  or  charges      should   be    formulated   to   be      communicated to  the person charged      with a  statement of allegations on      which these  charges are  based and      other   circumstances    which   is      proposed   to    be   taken    into      consideration. (3) Consideration of      the written  statement  of  defense      and a  decision in  regard to  oral      enquiry in the light of the written      statement of  defense, the  request      of the  delinquent officer  for  an      oral    enquiry    or    otherwise,      Consideration of  the  evidence  in      support of  each charge  to  decide      whether oral  evidence is necessary      if the delinquent has not asked for      such enquiry.  (4) the  contract of      the enquiry  and the preparation of      the  report  of  the  enquiry.  The      enquiry can  be  conducted  by  the      disciplinary authority  or  by  any      authority designated  by him.  None      of these  can be  delegated  except      the  functions   of   the   inquiry      Officer.. Whether  action should be



    initiated under  Rule 17 (b) (1) or      under Rule  17 (a)  of  TNCS  (CCA)      Rules  is   a  decision  which  the      disciplinary  authority  alone  can      take. That decision cannot be taken      by any lower authority empowered to      impose the  penalties Specified  in      Rule  17   (a);  it   such    lower      authority     initiates     actions      proceeds with the elaborate enquiry      as required under Rule 17 (b) (4.).      and  thereafter   the  disciplinary      authority is  of the  view that the      charges  do   not  call   for  such      proceedings, the entire proceedings      would  become  superflous  and  the      delinquent would  have been  put to      delay and inconvenience which would      have   been    avoided    if    the      proceedings  had   been  completest      under Joule  17 (a).  The time  and      effort  c,,   the   part   of   the      department  could  also  have  teen      saved. Therefore,  at this stage of      formulation    of     charges    on      completion  of   the  investigation      into the  allegations, imputations,      default or misconduct a view has to      be  taken   in  the  light  of  the      results   of    the   investigation      whether action under Rule 17 (b) is      called  for   and  only  thereafter      procedure as under that rule can be      invoked.           Further   decisions   involved      viz., whether  an oral  enquiry  is      needed which  has to be taken after      considering the  written  statement      of defence  and the  nature of  the      charges amd  evidence in  a case in      which the  delinquent does  not ask      for oral enquiry, is again decision      which can  be  taken  only  by  the      disciplinary authority  because  it      involves  a   finding  whether  the      charges as  formulated have  to  be      enquired into  in the  light of the      written statement  of defence,  and      if the  charges  are  supported  by      documentary  evidence   whether  an      oral  enquiry   is   necessary,   a      decision: may  be possible  at that      stare     and      without     such      consideration,  an   oral   enquiry      could not  be proceeded  with as  a      normal routine  without a  specific      decision.           After   referring    to    the      observation of the Supreme Court in      S.L.P. 2725/88 dated the  11.3.1988      (AIR 1988  SC 1000)  we  have  held      that the  "the principle enunciated      here is  that the  decision of  the      disciplinary authority  has  to  be      his   personal    decision    after



    consideration of  all the  relevant      facts   and    circumstances    and      evidence   on    record   and   the      representation  of  the  delinquent      officer.  This   principle   should      extend to  the  entire  Classes  of      disciplinary action commencing from      the   state   of   formulation   of      charges. As  already pointed out in      paragraph  4   of   the   decisions      involved    are     for    Personal      consideration by  able disciplinary      authority and  cannot be delegated.      Any decision  in the  Course Of the      disciplinary action  has to be that      of the disciplinary authority."      The tribunal,  therefore,  quashed  the  Charges  dated 21.11.89 and  directed the Government to re-examine the case in the light of the observations made by it in its order and if it thereafter considers it necessary to pursue the matter further then  to formulate  the  charges,  get  the  written statement of  defense, to  examine the  case in the light of the written statement, Consider the documentary evidence and the nature  of oral  evidence available  in support  of  the charges and  to decide  whether the  cases are  still to  be referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal.      The appellant  is challenging  the view  taken  by  the Tribunal as  wholly wrong.  It was  submitted by the learned counsel for the appellant that the Tribunal has misconstrued the Civil  Service Rules  - and the Disciplinary Proceedings Rules and  thus misdirected  itself as  regards the  correct legal position..  He submitted  that it  is incorrect to say that Rule  17. of  the Civil  Service Rules is a substantive provision  whereas  Rule  8  (a)  (i)  of  the  Disciplinary Proceedings  Rules  is  a  procedural  rule  and  that  tale Disciplinary   Proceedings    Rules   cannot    affect   the applicability of  Rule 17  of the  Civil Service  Rules.  He further submitted  that once  it is  found by the Government that it  is a  case in  respect  of  the  matters  involving Corruption and  it decides to proceed departmentally against the Government servant then the said case has to be referred to  the  Disciplinary  Tribunal  and  in  such  a  case  the procedure prescribed  by the  Disciplinary proceedings Rules is required  to be followed and not the procedure prescribed by the Civil Service Rules.      We  find  considerable  substance  in  the  contentions raised on behalf of the appellant. The Madras Civil Services (Classification, Control  and Appeal)  Rules  now  known  as Tamil  Nadu  Civil  Services  (Classification,  Control  and Appeal) rules have been framed by the Government in exercise of the powers conferred by the proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of  India. They came into force on and from the 1st  January,  1955.  So  also  the  Madras  Civil  Services (Disciplinary Proceedings Tribunal) Rules, 1955 now known as Tamil  Nadu   Civil   Services   (Disciplinary   Proceedings Tribunal) Rules,  1955 have been framed by the Government in exercise of  the powers  conferred by the proviso to Article 309 of  the Constitution of India. They also came into force on the  1st January, 1955. Rule 2 of the Civil Service Rules provides that  they shall apply to every member of the Civil Service of  the State  and to  every person  holding a civil post  under   the  State  except  to  the  extent  otherwise expressly provided  :- (i) by or under any lair for the time being in  force or  in any rule, (ii) in respect of any such member by  contract or  agreement  subsisting  between  such



member or  person and  the Government. Part III of the Civil Service Rules  makes provision for Discipline-Penalties. The Rules contained  in that  Part have  specified the penalties which can be imposed, the authorities which can impose those penalties and Rule 17 provides the procedure which has to be followed before  any of  the penalties can be imposed. If it is proposed  to impose  a minor  penalty then  the procedure prescribed in  Rule 17  (a) has to be followed, but where it is proposed  to impose  a major  penalty, i.e.,  any of  the penalties specified in Items (iv), (vi), (vii) and (viii) of Rule 8,  then the  procedure contained in Rule ’7 (b) has to be followed.  Like the Civil Service Rules, the Disciplinary Proceedings Rules  apply to  all the officer under the Rule- making Control  of the  State  Government.  Rule  2  thereof defines corruption  by stating  that it  shall have the same meaning as  criminal misconduct  by a  public servant  under Section 5(1)  of the  Prevention of  Corruption Act.  Rule 3 provides for  constitution of  ’Tribunals  for  Disciplinary Proceedings .  Each such  Tribunal has  to  consist  of  one person only  who shall  be a judicial officer of the rank of District and  cessions Judge.  The Disciplinary Tribunal has to enquire  into such  cases  as  may  be  referred  to  the Tribunal and  clause (a)  of Sub-rule  (1) thereof  reads as under :      "Cases   relating   to   Government      servants  ona   monthly  salary  of      Rs.200/- and  above in  respect  of      matters  involving  corruption  the      Part of such government servants in      the  discharge  of  their  official      duties."      Rule 5  inter alia provides that in every case referred to in  clause (a)  of sub-rule (1) and sub- rule (2) of rule 4,  on  completion  of  investigation,  the  Directorate  of Vigilance and  Anti-Corruption or  any other  Branch of  the police or  other  departmental  authority  concerned,  shall forward to  the Government  all the  records of the case. It further provides  that the Government shall, after examining such records and after consulting the head of the department concerned, if  necessary, decide  whether the  case shall be tried in  a Court  of Law  or by  the Tribunal.  It is  then provided that  if the  Government decide that the case shall be tried by the Tribunal, they shall send the records to the Tribunal. Rule  8 which is an important rule for the purpose of this  appeal, provides  the procedure  to be  followed in conducting the enquiries soon after receiving the records of such cases  from the  Government. The  material part of that rule reads as under :      "8(a)(i)  Notwithstanding  anything      contained in  rule 17 of the Madras      civil   Services   (Classification,      Control  and   Appeal)  rules,  the      following   procedure    shall   be      adopted   by    the   Tribunal   in      conducting enquiries  in  cases  of      corruption and  also  in  cases  of      corruption  combined   with   other      charges  as  soon  as  the  records      relating    to     allegation    of      corruption   or    of    corruption      combined with other charges against      a Government  servant are received,      the    tribunal     shall     frame      appropriate  charges,   communicate      them to the person charged together



    with list of witnesses likely to be      examined in  respect of each of the      charges and  with information as to      the  date   and  place  of  enquiry      ............................. " Clause (d)  of the said rule provides that the provisions of the  Madras  Civil  Services  (Classification,  control  and Appeal) rules  shall apply  - (i) in regard to the procedure to be  followed in cases other than those of corruption; and (ii) in  regard to  any other  matter for  which no specific provision has  been made  in  the  Disciplinary  Proceedings Rules. Under Rule 9 the Tribunal has to send its finding and recommendations to  the Government together with its opinion after  the  enquiry  is  completed.  Rule  10  provides  the procedure to  be adopted  in regard  to the passing of final orders   in    cases   enquired   into   by   the   Tribunal notwithstanding  anything  contained  in  the  Madras  Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules. Rule 11 requires that  the advice  of the Tribunal should ordinarily be accepted.  In a  case where  the  Government  decides  to disagree with the recommendations of the Tribunal, it has to refer back  the case  to the  Tribunal and  it can  take the final decision  only after  taking  into  Consideration  the remarks of the Tribunal.      A  comparison   of  the   Civil   Service   Rules   and Disciplinary Proceedings  Rules  clearly  reveals  that  the Civil Service Rules are general rules applicable in all type of cases  whereas the  Disciplinary  Proceedings  Rules  are special  rules   applicable  in   cases  of   corruption  by Government servants and in respect of all those disciplinary cases  in  which  the  Government  proposes  to  revise  the original orders passed on the charges of corruption. As both the rules  have been  framed in exercise of powers conferred on the  Government by  Article 309  of the  Constitution  of India they  have equal force of law. Therefore, the Tribunal was not  right in  holding that  Rule 8  of the Disciplinary Proceedings Rules  being a  procedural Rule must give way to Rule 17(b) of the Civil Service Rules which is a substantive provision in  regard to  the functions  and  powers  of  the disciplinary authority.  The tribunal  failed to  appreciate that Rule  17(b) of  the  Civil  Service  Rules  is  also  a procedural provision  and not  a  substantive  provision  as regards the  powers of  the disciplinary  authority. Rule 17 does not  deal with the powers of the disciplinary authority to punish a delinquent Government servant, but only provides the procedure  to be followed in a case where it is proposed to impose a penalty on such Government servant. The Tribunal has clearly  misconstrued the  nature and scope of Rule 7 of the Civil Service Rules.      That becomes  all the  more apparent from the fact that the Tribunal  has failed to consider the effect of Rule 2 of the   Civil Service  Rules. the  said rule provides that the Civil Service  Rules shall  not apply  to the  extent it  is otherwise expressly  provided by  or under  any law  for the time being  in force  or in  any rule. Therefore, if we find any rule  in any other rules which excludes operation of any rule of  the Civil  Service Pules  then the  said rule  will prevail over  the Corresponding  rule in  the Civil  Service Rules. Rule  8 of  the Disciplinary  Proceedings  Rules,  in clear  terms,  excludes  the  operation  of  Rule  17  while conducting inquiries  in cases  of corruption  and  also  in cases of  corruption combined  with other charges. The words Notwithstanding  anything   contained   in   Rule   17   are categorical and  very clearly disclose the intention of  the Rule-making authority  that while  conducting  inquiries  in



cases of corruption and also in cases of corruption combined with other charges the procedure prescribed in Rule 8 has to be followed  and not  the procedure prescribed in Rule 17 of the Civil Service Rules. As stated earlier, the Disciplinary Proceedings Rules are special rules in the matter of holding disciplinary  proceedings  against  Government  servants  in cases of  corruption. It  was desired by the Government that such cases  should be  enquired into  by a  special Tribunal consisting of a judicial officer of the rank of district and Sessions Judge.  The findings  and  recommendations  of  the Tribunal ordinarily  have to  be accepted  by the Government and if  it wants  to take  a different  decision it  has  to comply with  the requirements  of Rule 11. Even in regard to she passing  of final  Orders in  cases enquired into by the Tribunal the  species procedure  contained in Rule 10 of the Disciplinary  Rules  has  to  be  followed,  notwithstanding anything contained in the Civil Service Rules. Clause (d) of Rule 8  of the Disciplinary Proceedings Rules also makes the position clear  when it  provides that the provisions of the Civil Service  Rules shall  apply in regard to the procedure to be  followed in  cases other than those of corruption and in  regard  to  any  other  matter  for  which  no  specific provision has  been made  in  the  Disciplinary  Proceedings Rules.      As we  are of  the view  that  this  being  a  case  of corruption Rule 17 of the Civil Service Rules did not apply, it is not necessary to deal with the requirements of Rule 17 and the  question whether  the view  of the Tribunal in that behalf is  correct. We  may, however,  draw attention to the decision of  this Court  in Inspector  General of Police vs. Thavasiappan (1996  (2) SCC  145) wherein  a similar Rule in Tamil  Nadu   Police  Subordinate  Service  (Discipline  and Appeal) Rules  1955 was considered. In that case it has been held that  Rule 3(b)  of the  said  Rules  is  a  procedural Provision  and   does  not  provide  that  the  disciplinary authority itself should frame a charge and if a charge metro is prepared  by any  other  authority  then  it  has  to  be regarded as  invalid. As  regards the decision of this Court in Managurg  Directors Utter Pradesh Warehousing Corporation and Another  Vs. Vinay  Narayan Vaipayes (1980 (2) SCR 773), to which  our attention was drawn, we fail to appreciate how the decision  can be of any help to the respondents There is no such  principle of  natural justice that before holding a regular departmental   enquiry  the  disciplinary  authority itself should hold a preliminary enquiry by first drawing up a charge  memo and then calling for the written statement of defence  before   taking  a   decision  to  hold  a  regular departmental enquiry.      The view  taken by  the Tribunal  in  this  case  being wholly wrong,  we  allow  this  appeal  and  set  aside  the judgment and  order passed  by the Tribunal in O.A. No. 2587 of 1990,  with result  that it will be open to the appellant to proceed  further with  the enquiry pursuant to the charge memo dated 21.11.1989. No order as to costs.