At, High Court of Andhra Pradesh
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE RAMACHANDRA RAO
For the Petitioner: D. Reddeppa Reddy, M.N. Narasimha Reddy, Advocates. For the Respondents: R1 to R3, P. Rama Rao for 3rd Govt. Pleader on behalf., R4, T. Dasaratha Ramaiah, Advocate.
Ramachandra Rao, J.
1. In this writ petition, the petitioner seeks the issue of a writ to quash the order of the Government in Memo No. 75098-H/70-6 dated 6-11-1971 in the following circumstances. The office of the village headman of Tutrallapally village fell vacant due to the removal of the permanent headman one M.P. Mahalingappa. Applications were invited for filling up the said vacancy. The petitioner and the 4th respondent and another by name Narayanappa submitted their applications. The applications were sent to the Revenue Inspector, Yadiki for enquiry. Meanwhile the vacancy was published as required by Rule 10 of the Andhra Pradesh Village Officers (Andhra Area) Rules, 1969. Notices were given to all the applicants and the Tahsildar, Tadparti sent a report to the Revenue Divisional Officer, Anantapur and the Revenue Divisional Officer interviewed all the candidates on 8-5-1970 and asked the following order:
"Sri V. Narayanappa is the oldest of all. Though he has some experience as V.M. in 1937 and 1938 as contended by him he has not produced any record to that effect. Having regard to his age, he may not withstand the strain of work load attached to the post of V.M. Thutrallapalli is a factious village. It requires a strong man. His application is therefore rejected.
Sri B.C. Gurivi Reddy was once a Sarpanch of the village. He was fined Rs. 100/- in the court of the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Tadparti in C.C. No. 314/65 and it Was reduced to Rs. 50/- by Additional District Court for not handing over the records of the Sarpanch. Though he pleads that at that time he was in the hospital and that therefore he could not give the records, no credit can be given to his version in the face of the fact that he was fined Rs. 50/- by the court. So he is not free from bad conduct and local politics. Though he has got previous experience as V.M. his involvement in factions is evident. Otherwise there is no reas
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n why he should withhold the records. It is not desirable to keep a man of this type in charge of the responsible post of the V.M. His application is therefore rejected.The Tahsildar, Tadparti has not reported anything bad against the candidate, Sri V. Venkataswamy. He is young and energetic and educationally better qualified than the remaining two candidates. He is considered to be better suitable to hold the post of the village Munsif of Thulrallapalli village. He is therefore appointed as village Munsif of Thutrallapalli village on a regular basis, subject to offering security, before taking up the appointment as required by the A.P. (Andhra Area) Village Officers Service Rules, 1969.''2. Against the said order, the petitioner preferred an appeal to the District Collector, Anantapur which was heard by the Personal Assistant to Collector, Anantapur who by his order D. Dis. 6102/70-A-6 dated 23-9-1970, confirmed the order appointing the 4th Respondent. In that order, it was observed as follows -"The Revenue Divisional Officer, Anantapur has observed in his orders that though the Appellant is otherwise qualified for being appointed as V.M. he has incurred a disqualification under Rule 10 (2) (1) of the rules issued by the Government in G.O. Ms. No. 608 Rev. dated 26-6-1969 as he was convicted by Criminal Court for offence involving moral turpitude. I entirely agree with the observation of the Revenue Divisional Officer, Anantapur and find the appellant Sri B.C. Gurivi Reddy to be unsuitable for being appointed as V.M.Sri V. Venkataswamy who has been preferred by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Anantapur for appointment is an young man of about 34 years, fully qualified technically and educationally to hold the post of V.H. He is native of the charge village having sufficient solvency and knowledge of the rural conditions. The apprehension expressed by both the other appellants that he would quit the post of V.H. soon after he secures a job as Telugu Pandit for which he is qualified is a far-fetched presumption and it cannot be given any consideration. I find him to be more deserving and suitable for being appointed as V.H. than the other two appellants."In this view, the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer appointing the 4th respondent as village headman has been confirmed.3. Against the said order of the Collector, the petitioner preferred a revision petition to the Government on 7-10-1970 through Advocate Sri M.N. Narasimha reddy. It appears to have been directly presented to the then Minister for Revenue Sri P. Thimma reddy who passes the following order:"Secretary (Rev.) Let the karnam remain in additional charge and call for the details and put up.Sd/- P. Thimma Reddy,7-10-1970."On 5-12-1970 a memo was filed on behalf of the 4th respondent by his counsel Sri T. Dasaratharamayya on which the Minister passed an order fixing 28-12-1970 as the date of hearing at his residence. The hearing was adjourned from time to time and finally the revision petition was heard on 23-8-1971 and the then Minister Sri P. Thimma reddy passed an order which reads as follows:"Heard Advocates of both the parties.The claim of the petitioner was rejected mainly on the ground that he was disqualified under Rule 10 (2) (ii) (c) as he was convicted for not handing over Panchayat records. Advocate for the petitioner cited AIR 1963 All 527 and AIR 1966 Punj 393 in support of the case of the petitioner to show that the offence for which he is convicted is not an offence involving moral turpitude.My attention is drawn to the following passage."From consideration of the dictionary meaning of the words "moral" and "turpitude" as well as ratio decided of the cases the principle which emerges appears to be that the question whether a certain offence involves moral turpitude or not will necessarily depend on the circumstances in which the offence is committed. It is not every punishable act that can be considered to be an offence involving moral turpitude. Had that been so, the qualification involving "moral turpitude" would not have been used by the legislature and it would have disqualified every person who had been convicted of an offence. The tests which should ordinarily be applied for judging whether a certain offence does or does not involve moral turpitude appear to be: (1) whether the act leading to conviction was such as could shock the moral conscience of the society in general (2) whether the motive which led to the act was a base one and (3) whether on account of the act having committed the perpetrator could be considered to be of a depraved character or a person who has to be looked down upon by the Society." It is held in these cases that offence under Government of U.P. Excise Department and under Section 19 (b) of Indian Arms Act is not an offence involving moral turpitude.In view of these decisions I am sure that the offence for which the petitioner was found guilty is not an offence involving moral turpitude.Though there is an allegation against the petitioner that he is a fictionist, it stands unsubstantiated as there is no material to warrant such conclusion.The petitioner has worked as V.M. of Passalur and Yadiki for nearly ten years and during that period there were no complaints against him. On the other hand the respondent has no previous experience. I am sure that the petitioner with his past experience would serve the Village better. Therefore the R.D.O. and P.A. to Collector committed an error in preferring the respondent who has no experience when an experienced person was .available.In the circumstances I set aside the order of R.D.O. and P.A. to Collector appointing the respondent herein and direct that the petitioner be appointed as V.M. of Thutrallapalli village. The petition is accordingly allowed.Sd/- P. Thimma Reddy,18-9-1971Minister (Revenue)."After the passing of the said order, the Deputy Secretary again put up a note which reads as follows:"Notes at para 8. n. f. may be seen, It is necessary that a village officer should be non-partisan. It is for orders whether M. (Rev) would like to reconsider.Sd/- N. Raghava,7-10-71."By that time there was a change in the Ministry' and Sri K. Achutarcddy became the Minister for Revenue and the file was put up to the said Minister who passed the order to the following effect: on 14-10-1971:"I am not in agreement with the view taken by my predecessor. The R.D.O. after careful consideration has selected an young man for the post of V.M. The petitioner does not seem to be above board and it is the discretion of the officer concerned to select a person who is capable of discharging the duties carefully and honestly and who is free from any adverse remarks in the performance of his duties in the previous post he held. I agree with the opinion of D.S. The file may be circulated to C.M. if it is necessary to meet the procedural difficulties.Sd/- K. Achutareddy,14-10, M. (Revenue)".Thereafter the file was put to the Chief Minister who signed the same on 3-11-1971. On the basis of the order passed by the Minister for Revenue Sri K. Achutareddy on 14-10-1971 an order was communicated by the Government to the petitioner in their memo No. 7508./H/70-6 dated 6-11-1971 which reads as follows:"....... The petitioner Sri B.C. Gurivi Reddy is informed that the Government do not see any reason to interfere on his behalf. The petition is rejected.Sd/- N. Raghava,Deputy Secretary to Government."It is this order that is now challenged in this Writ Petition. In the records produced in court by the Government Pleader the file No. 7508-H/70-6 dated 6-10-1971 did not contain the orders passed by the two Ministers for Revenue. Hence an order was passed by me on 12-7-1973 directing the Government Pleader to arrange for the production of the entire file. On 16-7-1973 the Government Pleader stated that the Government had sent the file. Thereupon I passed the following order -"Today the Government Pleader says that the Government has sent the file. This shows that the file which was available was removed from the file and not produced in answer to Rule Nisi issued by this Court. This action of the respondents in not producing the file pant amounts to disobedience to the orders of this court. The Government Pleader should take care to see that all the files are produced in the court in answer to Rule Nisi and these lapses will not recur hereafter."It is regrettable that a file which is available with the Government which contained the relevant and material papers should have been removed from the file and not made available to the court at the time of hearing. It is only on specific orders passed by this Court that they were produced before this Court. It is needless to mention that it is the duty of the Government to produce the entire files in answer to the Rule Nisi. It is hoped that the authorities concerned will take steps to see that such omissions will not occur hereafter.4. Coming to the merits of the case, it is contended by Sri Narasimhareddy, the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the then Minister for Revenue Sri P. Thimmareddy, heard the advocates of the parties and passed the order on 18-9-1971 extracted earlier and it appears that the Minister expressed in the presence of the advocates that he was going to allow the revision petition as he was satisfied the offence for which the petitioner was convicted did not involve any moral turpitude. Normally this order should have been straightway communicated by the Secretariat to the parties. But instead of doing so, the Deputy Secretary put up a note once again for reconsideration of the matter by the new Minister for Revenue.5. Sri Narasimhareddy, the learned Counsel for the petitioner contended that the order passed by the Minister in revision under Rule 75 of the Village Officers Service Rules 1969 (hereinafter referred to as the rules) is final and is binding on the parties and that it cannot be reviewed, that Rule 67 of the Rules prohibits an authority, who passed an order under the rules, from reviewing its own order.6. In the counter-affidavit, the Assistant Secretary to Government stated in paragraph 3 as follows:"I submit that the contention of the Writ Petitioner that the Government have no powers to review the orders passed by them under Rule 67 is not correct. This rule has been amended in G.O. Ms. No. 7 Revenue dated 5-1-1972. Rule 67 has been changed as Rule 67 (1) and sub-rule (2) has been added thereto. Under Rule 67 (2) the Government may, either suo motu or on application from any person interested may within 90 days of the passing of an order, review the order, if it is found that it was passed by them under any mistake, whether of fact or of law, or in ignorance of any material fact. Hence the contention of the writ petitioner that the Government have no powers to review the orders once passed is not at all correct."7. But this amended rule came into force only on 5-1-1972, whereas the order of Sri P. Thimma Reddy is dated 18-9-1971 and therefore this amended rule has no application and this is also conceded by the learned Government Pleader.8. But the learned Government Pleader contends relying upon a recent judgment of a Division Bench of this Court in W.A. No. 214 of 1973 D/- 23-4-73 (Andh. Pra.) that two things are necessary before an order of the Government becomes final and effective, i.e., the order should have been issued in the name of the Governor and it should have been communicated to the officer or person concerned who is affected by the order and that in the instant case the order not having been expressed to be in the name of the Governor and not having been issued in the name of the Governor and the order not having been further communicated to the parties, there is no finality attached to the order passed by the then Minister for Revenue on 18-9-1971 and that under the Andhra Pradesh Government Business Rules and Secretariat instructions, it is open to the Secretary to Government to put up the matter once again to the Minister concerned for reconsideration and therefore the successor Minister for Revenue could validly reconsider the matter and pass orders on the revision petition.9. Even assuming that this contention is correct, the question still remains whether the successor Minister could have passed the subsequent order on 14-10-1971 without giving a further hearing to the parties concerned. It is to be remembered that in the instant case the previous Minister for Revenue expressed a desire to hear the parties and fixed a date for hearing and actually heard the counsel for the parties and also expressed in the presence of the counsel that he was going to allow the revision petition. No doubt the actual order came to be passed later on 18-9-1971. But the fact remains that the parties were heard through their counsel before the Minister made up his mind and passed the order. If the successor Minister wanted to reconsider the matter afresh, justice and fair play and principles of natural justice require that he should give an opportunity to the parties once again to make their representations personally or through their counsel before passing orders on the revision petition. Further, in the instant case the parties particularly the petitioner were made to believe that the revision petition was going to be allowed. In those circumstances. even though technically there may not be a finality attached to the order, as - contended by the Government Pleader, principles of natural justice require that if there was any change of mind with regard to the matter and fresh orders were going to be passed on the revision petition contrary to the decision taken earlier by the then Minister for Revenue, it was proper that the parties should have been heard before passing such orders. In this view I do not think the order passed by the successor Minister on 14-10-71 satisfied the principles of natural justice and is liable to be quashed.10. Sri T. Dasaradha Ramaiah, the learned Counsel for the 4th respondent sought to contend that no principle of natural justice is violated because the petitioner who filed a revision petition need not be further heard and that only the respondents to the revision petition should be heard as required by the proviso to Rule 75 of the rules. That may be so if the Minister had, in the first instance decided not to hear the parties at all. But in the instant case, the Minister desired to hear the parties and actually heard them through their counsel on 23-8-1971 and passed orders on 18-9-1971 and therefore if the matter were to be reopened and reconsidered by the successor Minister, the parties should have been given a similar opportunity to be heard before the revision was disposed of. In the circumstances of the case I am therefore of the opinion that the order is vitiated as the principles of natural justice have not been observed in disposing of the revision petition on 14-10-1971 by the successor Minister for Revenue.11. Further it will be seen that though the successor Minister had passed an order giving several reasons, in the order communicated to the party no reasons at all have been disclosed. It is not explained as to why in the Government Order which was communicated to the parties, the reasons given by the Minister were not incorporated. The order is not, therefore, a speaking order. The Government in exercising the powers of revision under Rule 75 of the Rules functions as a quasi judicial authority and therefore the orders passed by it should be reasoned orders or speaking orders. The impugned order of the Government not only does not contain any reasons but also does not set out the reasons given by the then Minister. The order, is. therefore, clearly vitiated on this ground. Further, the order passed by the Government is not also expressed to be in the name of the Governor or issued in the name of the Governor and therefore it does not conform to the requirements of Article 166 of the Constitution of India.12. It is contended by Sri Narasimha Reddy that the petitioner cannot be disqualified for appointment as village headman, on the ground that he had been convicted for an offence involving moral turpitude and that this conviction under Section 221 (3) (a) of the Gram Panchayats Act and sentence of fine of Rs. 50/- awarded to the petitioner does not amount to a conviction for an offence involving any moral turpitude. He relies upon a decision of the Punjab High Court in Risal Singh v. Chandgi Ram, AIR 1966 Punj 393. But I do not propose to go into that question in the view I have taken that the impilgned order of the Government is liable to be quashed and the Government has to dispose of the revision petition afresh and this question can also be gone into by the Government while disposing of the revision petition.13. In the result this writ petition is allowed and the impugned order is quashed and the Government is directed to dispose of the revision petition filed by the petitioner on 7-10-1970 in accordance with law and in the light of the observations contained herein. The petitioner will have his costs from the 1st respondent-State of Andhra Pradesh. Advocate's lee Rs. 200/-.Petition allowed.
"1973 (2) ALT 283" == "1974 LIC 491,"