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Judgments of Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Charanjit Singh vs D/O Post on 10 December, 2018

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O.A.060/00189/2017

CENTRAL ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
CHANDIGARH BENCH

Pronounced on : 10.12.2018
Reserved on : 19.11.2018

OA No. 060/00189/2017

CORAM: HON’BLE MR.SANJEEV KAUSHIK, MEMBER(J)
HON’BLE MRS. P. GOPINATH, MEMBER(A)

Charanjit Singh, Postman, aged 55 years, G.P.O. , Ambala Cantt., r/o
House No. 1083, Allugodm, Ambala Cantt.
………………….Applicant

BY ADVOCATE: Sh. Balbir Singh Saini

Versus

1. Union of India, through Senior Superintendent of Post Offices,
Ambala Division, Ambala Cantt.
2. Director Postal Services, Haryana Circle, Ambala Cantt.
3. Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, Ambala Division,
Ambala Cantt.
4. Sh. R.S. Narwal, Senior Post Master posted in G.P.O. Ambala
Cantt in years 2011 and 2012, and now service to be effected
through Senior Superintendent Post Offices, Ambala Division,
Ambala Cantt.
………………Respondents
BY ADVOCATE: Sh. Vinod Arya

ORDER

MRS. P. GOPINATH, MEMBER(A):-

1. The applicant is a person who belonged to a recognized

trade union and agitated for his demands relating to working conditions.

Applicant admits in para 4(b) of the OA that he was the most active

workman in the agitation. The respondent No. 4 suspended the applicant

on the ground that a disciplinary proceeding was contemplated. The

applicant’s suspension order on 27.01.2011 was revoked. The applicant

was transferred to Radaur Sub Post Office under Rule 37 of the Postal
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O.A.060/00189/2017

Manual, Volume IV. The applicant challenged the transfer by filing OA

No. 213/HR/2011 before the Tribunal. The Tribunal in its order of

28.07.2011, quashed the transfer order with directions to the applicant to

join at the place of posting at Ambala where he was working before the

impugned order of transfer was passed.

2. The applicant was served with a charge memo on

12.11.2011. The applicant requested for copies of the documents

relevant to the articles of charge in order to provide reply to the charge

memo. Copies of the documents asked, were not supplied to the

applicant.

3. The fourth respondent passed the punishment order on

06.02.2012, withholding of one increment for a period of three years

without cumulative effect. The appellate authority upheld the orders of

the disciplinary authority, and the revisionary authority rejected the

revision petition of the applicant.

4. The prayer of the applicant is for quashing Annexures A-1, A-

2 and A-3, revision appeal and punishment order.

5. The respondents in the reply statement submit that the

applicant indulged in indiscipline and manhandled the Deputy Postmaster

of Ambala GPO. Annexure R-2 is the complaint made by the Deputy

Postmaster to the Superintendent of Post Offices. Inquiry was conducted

by the Assistant Superintendent of Post Offices and the applicant was

placed under suspension on 21.07.2011. A recommendation was made

by Senior Postmaster, Ambala GPO to transfer the applicant. Under Rule

37 of Postal Manual Volume VI, the applicant was transferred from
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O.A.060/00189/2017

Ambala GPO to Radaur in Ambala Division. The orders of suspension

were also revoked on 07.02.2011. Applicant challenged the order of his

transfer before the Chandigarh Bench of the Tribunal

6. The Inquiry Officer on 19.04.2011 reported that the applicant

was not cooperating with the inquiry despite repeated requests made on

08.04.2011, 11.04.2011 and 24.04.2011 to attend the inquiry. The

Inquiry Officer complained about unwarranted language in Annexures R-3

and R-4 letters written by the applicant. In Annexure R-3, para 4, the

applicant had informed the Inquiry Officer that he had filed an OA in CAT

Chandigarh and the next date of hearing is 03.05.2011. He also states in

Annexure R-3, “You are trying to become a party in that proceeding”.

Applicant also states “To me it appears that you are being used by

someone who is hell bent to harm me. Kindly before you request me or

order me, tell me who are you and how do you exercise command over

me”. Due to ignoring by the applicant of the notice to attend inquiry

proceedings and also going by the wording and tenor of the letter, the

Inquiry Officer concludes that the applicant is not likely to participate in

the inquiry despite the requested requests of the Inquiry Officer and

submitted his inquiry report on 23.08.2011. The Inquiry Officer had

concluded that the applicant created indiscipline and spoilt the decorum

of the office and also stated that the complaint made by Deputy

Postmaster Ambala GPO of manhandling by applicant was also proved.

Under Rule 16 of CCS(CCA) Rules, minor penalty of withholding

increment for a period of three years without cumulative effect was

imposed upon the applicant.

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O.A.060/00189/2017

7. In the inquiry report, a summary is made of the complaint to

the Deputy Postmaster for which the inquiry was conducted which reveals

that the behaviour of the applicant was unwarranted. This is a conclusion

we draw from the contents of the complaint produced in the inquiry report.

This includes the allegation that the applicant asked Deputy Postmaster

not to enter the delivery hall, applicant pushed the Deputy Postmaster

and he fell down, applicant also threatened him to death if he again

enters the delivery hall. In the concluding part of the inquiry report, it was

stated as follows:-

“From the above discussion and evidence (Statements of the
staff) that came on record, all the allegations levelled by the Dy.
PM in his report/complaint against Sh. Charanjeet Singh
Postman are fully proved except late attendance by Sh.

Charanjeet Singh as no supporting evidence came on record
during inquiry. Thus, it is evident that the said Sh. Charanjeet
Singh created indiscipline in the office and spoiled the decorum
of the office.”

8. The argument of the respondents is that they were forced to

proceed ex party in view of the non-cooperative attitude of the applicant.

The disciplinary authority while imposing the punishment held as follows:-

“As discussed above, charges levelled against Sh. Charanjit Singh Postman
are true and proved without any iota of doubt as the charged official has nothing to
say. The charges proved against Sh. Charanjit Singh Postman are of serious nature
as creating indiscipline in the office and indulging in manhandling with the seniors is
not at all tolerable. No one can be allowed to take Law in his hand. The official,
therefore, deserves stern action. Accordingly, it is ordered that next one increment of
the said Sh. Charanjit Singh Postman Ambala GPO be withheld for a period of three
years without cumulative effect.”

9. The appellate authority have passed a five page detailed

order, the relevant portion of which is reproduced below:-

“5.2.4 The documents demanded by the appellant vide his application dated
25.11.11 were irrelevant to the case and he was adopting the dilatory tactics. So the
documents were not supplied by the disciplinary authority to the appellant. The memo
of charge served upon him by Sr. Postmaster Ambala GPO was based on the
evidences and material on record. As such the contention of the appellant is not
tenable at all.

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O.A.060/00189/2017

5.2.5 The appellant was directed to submit his defence representation, if any,
within 10 days of the receipt of the memo of charges. But the appellant demanded
irrelevant documents and he was adopting dilatory tactics as such those irrelevant
documents were denied by the disciplinary authority vide his letter No.
Mail/Misc/Charanjit Singh postman date 29.11.2011. The appellant was afforded full
opportunity to submit his defence if any but no defence representation was received
from the appellant till passing the orders. Hence, the case was decided by the
disciplinary authority on 06.02.2012 without awaiting more for his defence
representation. As such the contention of the official has no force and is not tenable.

5.2.6 The information and documents demanded by the appellant were
irrelevant to the case. Full opportunity was afforded to the appellant by the
disciplinary authority to defend himself against the charges levelled against him. But
the appellant did not submit his representation within stipulated time and even upto
passing the orders by the disciplinary authority. As such the contention of the official
is not tenable.

5.2.7 In the punishment orders the disciplinary authority has clearly
mentioned the material in support of account of the misconduct against the appellant.
There were sufficient reasons /grounds upon which the conclusion that the appellant
was guilty has been arrived at, the appellant created indiscipline in the office and
manhandled with Deputy Postmaster Ambala GPO in the very presence of the staff.
Dy. Postmaster fell down on the floor and had a narrow escape. The orders passed
by the Disciplinary Authority are quite clear and speaking orders.

The appellant was proceeded against under Rule 16 of CCS (CCA)
Rules, 1965 and charge sheet was issued to him in English, as requested by him vide
his application dated 13.10.2011, Hindi Version was supplied to him vide Sr.
Postmaster Ambala GPO memo No. even dated 12.11.2011. Hence, sufficient
opportunity was given to the appellant and after taking into consideration each and
every aspect and record/documents clear and speaking punishment orders were
issued by the disciplinary authority. Therefore, the pleadings of the appellant have no
force, hence, not tenable at all.

6. Having regards to the foregoing, the appeal is devoid of any merit. The
disciplinary authority has processed the case in accordance with departmental rules
and punishment inflicted is commensurate to the guilt proved. I find no reason to
intercede on behalf of appellant. Therefore, in exercise of the powers vested in me
vide Rule 27 of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, I, H.S. Yadav, Senior Superintendent of Post
Offices, Ambala Division, Ambala, do hereby “REJECT” the appeal and uphold the
orders issued by the Disciplinary Authority vide his Memo No. Mail/Misc/Charanjit
Singh dated 06.02.2012.”

10. The revisionary authority has also passed a detailed order

wherein he had also noted that the actual date of incident is 24.01.2011

and not 22.01.2011 which was a typographical error. He has also noted

that the misbehaviour of the applicant with the superior Deputy

Postmaster was not acceptable, as a certain modicum of respect and

disciplined behaviour has to be maintained between superior and
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O.A.060/00189/2017

subordinate. He also contends that the disciplinary authority had

processed the case in accordance with the departmental rules and the

punishment inflicted is commensurate to the guilt proved and goes on to

reject the petition.

11. In OA No. 213/HR/2011, the Tribunal had held that the

transfer of the applicant on the ground of misconduct was a punitive order

and set aside the same.

12. The respondents submit that the applicant did not cooperate

with the inquiry and the applicant submits that he was proceeded ex

parte. Whereas, we would not like to enter into this dispute, the fact is

that there was an act of indiscipline in the form of a physical attack on the

senior functionary of the office. Whereas trade union activities are

recognized, and applicant had a right to agitate his cause, misbehaviour

with any office functionary is not to be tolerated as this would extend and

encourage the freedom to indulge in indiscipline and misbehaviour in the

respondent office which has dealings with members of the public.

13. Postal service under clause 2(1)(a) of Essential Service

Maintenance Act, 1968, has been declared as essential service. The

Supervisor against whom the applicant had misbehaved, was required

under clause 2(1)(b) of Essential Service Maintenance Act, 1968 to

ascertain whether the applicant was causing temporary cessation or

retardation of work, which would have caused cessation or retardation of

work in an essential service. Thus, the applicant because of his

behaviour had obstructed the implementation of ESMA by the Supervisor

which could have very well been avoided.

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O.A.060/00189/2017

14. The scope of judicial review of disciplinary actions has been

succinctly stated by the Apex Court in B.C. Chaturvedi Vs. UOI and

Ors., 1996 SCC (LS) 80. The Apex Court held as follows:-

“Judicial review is not an appeal from a decision but a review of the manner
in which the decision is made. Power of judicial review is meant to ensure that
the individual receives fair treatment and not to ensure that the conclusion
which the authority reaches is necessarily correct in the eye of the court. When
an inquiry is conducted on charges of misconduct by a public servant, the
Court/Tribunal is concerned to determine whether the inquiry was held by a
competent officer or whether the inquiry was held by a competent officer or
whether rules of natural justice are complied with. Whether the findings or
conclusions are based on some evidence, the authority entrusted with the
power to hold inquiry has jurisdiction, power and authority to reach a finding
of fact or conclusion. But that finding must be based on some evidence.
Neither the technical rules of Evidence Act nor of proof of fact or evidence as
defined therein, apply to disciplinary proceeding. When the authority accepts
that evidence and conclusion receives support therefrom, the disciplinary
authority is entitled to hold that the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge.
The Court/Tribunal in its power of judicial review does not act as appellate
authority to re- appreciate the evidence and to arrive at its own independent
findings on the evidence. The Court/Tribunal may interfere where the authority
held the proceedings against the delinquent officer in a manner inconsistent
with the rules of natural justice or in violation of statutory rules prescribing the
mode of inquiry or where the conclusion or finding reached by the disciplinary
authority is based on no evidence. If the conclusion or finding be such as no
reasonable person would have ever reached, the Court/Tribunal may interfere
with the conclusion or the finding, and mould the relief so as to make it
appropriate to the facts of each case.”

The same position has been reiterated in R.S. Saini Vs. State of Punjab

and Ors., (1999) 8 SCC 90 wherein it was observed by the Apex Court

as follows:-

“……….If there is some evidence to reasonably support the conclusion of the
enquiring authority, it is not the function of the court to review the evidence
and to arrive at its own independent finding. The enquiring authority is the
sole Judge of the fact so long as there is some legal evidence to substantiate
the finding and the adequacy or reliability of the evidence is not a matter
which can be permitted to be canvassed before the court in writ
proceedings.”

In Damoh Panna Sagar Rural Regional Bank and Another Vs. Munnal

Lal Jain (2005) 10 SCC 84, it was held as follows:-

“…….the Court would not go into the correctness of the choice made by the
administrator open to him and the Court should not substitute its decision to
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O.A.060/00189/2017

that of the administrator. The scope of judicial review is limited to the
deficiency in decision- making process and not the decision…….”

15. We also called for the original record file pertaining to this

case and find that Deputy Postmaster, Ambala GPO had made a

complaint on 24.01.2011 regarding assault made on him by the applicant.

The file also contains several newspaper cuttings regarding this incident.

Further, the Senior Postmaster, Ambala GPO has also addressed the

Senior Superintendent of Post Office, Ambala regarding speedy inquiry

on the complaint made by Tarsem Singh Rana, Deputy Postmaster,

Ambala GPO regarding manhandling by Charanjit Singh, Postman,

Ambala GPO, applicant in this case.

16. Taking stock of the facts and circumstances of the case, we

are of the view that there is no need to interfere with the findings of the

disciplinary authority, appellate authority and revisionary authority. The

appellate and revisionary authorities have taken into consideration the

relevant facts and circumstances of the case while agreeing with the

decision taken by the disciplinary authority. We also do not think that the

punishment awarded to the applicant is disproportionate to the gravity of

the delinquent act, or against the principles of proportionality. The

penalty imposed is not so outrageously disproportionate so as to

persuade us to interfere with the same. Judicial review of an

administrative action in a disciplinary case is not against a decision, but

against the decision making process. The Tribunal is not sitting in

judgement on the correctness of the decision made by the statutory

authorities appointed under the CCS (CCA) Rules. Applicant chose to

not cooperate with the inquiry, thereby, forcing the Inquiry Officer to
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proceed ex parte in the matter. Any technicalities which do not occasion

failure of justice, cannot be allowed to defeat the ends of justice.

17. For the foregoing discussion and observations, this OA,

being devoid of merit, is dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.

(P. GOPINATH)
MEMBER (A)

(SANJEEV KAUSHIK)
MEMBER (J)
Dated:

ND*

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