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T. GUNASEKARAN V/S THE REVENUE DIVISIONAL OFFICER, PATTUKKOTTAI TALUK, PATTUKKOTTAI , decided on Wednesday, December 12, 2007.
[ In the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench), W.P(MD)No.10221 of 2007 and M.P(MD) No.1 of 2007 . ] 12/12/2007
Judge(s) : N. PAUL VASANTHAKUMAR
Advocate(s) : N. Mohamed Asif R. Vijayakumar.
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judgment - (PRAYER: Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to issue a Writ of Certiorari calling for the records relating to the impugned order of suspension in ref.Na.Ka.2121/2007 a.1 dated 18.10.2007 of the respondent and quash the same.)Prayer in this writ petition is to quash the order of suspension dated 18.10.2007 passed against the petitioner.2. The brief facts necessary for disposal of the writ petition are as follows:(a) Petitioner is working as Village Administrative Officer of Seruvaviduthi Village Pattukottai Taluk Thanjavur District. He was issued with a charge memo dated 14.5.2007 under Rule 17(b) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules alleging that he had abstained from duty from 3.5.2007 onwards without obtaining proper leave and in view of his absence on 7.5.2007 final list of voters could not be completed. It is further alleged therein that the petitioner was insubordinate to the higher officers and he had not properly recovered the taxes to the tune of Rs.10 240/-. (b) Petitioner submitted his explanation on 30.5.2007 contending that it is not correct to state that he was unauthorisedly absent on those dates; that the allegation of insubordination is vague; that he had already recovered the taxes to the tune of Rs.10 240/- and deposited the same in the State Bank of India Pattukkottai; and that the said accounts have also been audited by the respondent and hence the charge memo does not have any basis.(c) Petitioner states that without considering the said explanation the respondent issued the impugned suspension order alleging that the petitioner had not informed the office about the fire accident that took place on 11.10.2007 and that he did not appeared for enquiry on 15.10.2007. It is further alleged in the order of suspension that an FIR has been registered against the petitioner in crime No.83 of 2007 on the file of Thiruchitrambalam Police Station under sections 341 323 506(ii) IPC.(d) Petitioner submitted a representation on 26.10.2007 stating that he had immediately informed about the fire accident on 11.10.2007 and compensation was paid to the victim on 12.10.2007 by the Tahsildar. With regard to the allegation that on 15.10.2007 he had not appeared for the enquiry he explained that he did not receive any notice for the enquiry. In respect of the criminal case petitioner states that the FIR was lodged by one Chinnathambi who is none other than the close relative of the petitioner due to personal animosity with regard to property dispute between them.(e) Stating the above reasons petitioner has filed the present writ petition to quash the Hence this writ petition to quash the suspension order.3. Heard the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner.4. The point in issue is whether the suspension order passed against the petitioner is justified or not.5. Admittedly the petitioner is a Government servant bound by the Government Servants Conduct Rules and he can be proceeded under the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules. Petitioners involvement in the criminal case and the pendency of criminal case against him are not in dispute.6. Rule 17(e) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules empowers the disciplinary authority to place a Government servant on suspension on his involvement in criminal case either during investigation or pending framing of charges or pending trial. The said power has been exercised by the first respondent on public interest. Rule 17(e)(1) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules which reads as follows:?Rule 17(e)(1) A member of a service may be placed under suspension from service where (i) an enquiry into grave charges against him is contemplated or is pending; or(ii) a complaint against him or any criminal offence is under investigation or trial and if such suspension is necessary in the public interest.?A Division Bench of this Court considered Rule 17(e) of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules in W.A.No.1114 of 2007 and by Judgment dated 5.11.2007 upheld the order of suspension pending investigation/trial of criminal offence. 7. The power of the department to place an officer under suspension on public interest pending enquiry into the disciplinary proceeding/criminal investigation/trial is well settled.(a) The Supreme Court in the decision reported in AIR 1959 Supreme Court 1342 (Hotel Imperial Vs. Hotel Workers Union) in paragraph 10 held thus ?10. The first question therefore that falls for consideration is the extent of the power of the employer to suspend an employee under the ordinary law of master and servant. It is now well settled that the power to suspend in the sense of a right to forbid a servant to work is not an implied term in an ordinary contract between master and servant and that such a power can only be the creature either of a statute governing the contract or of an express term in the contract itself. Ordinarily therefore the absence of such power either as an express term in the contract or in the rules framed under some statute would mean that the master would have no power to suspend a workman and even if he does so in the sense that he forbids the employee to work he will have to pay wages during the so-called period of suspension. Where however there is power to suspend either in the contract of employment or in the statute or the rules framed thereunder the suspension has the effect of temporarily suspending the relation of master and servant with the consequence that the servant is not bound to render service and the master is not bound to pay. These principles of the ordinary law of master and servant are well settled and have not been disputed before us by either party. Reference in this connection may be made to Hanley v. Pease and Partners Ltd. 1915-1 KB 698 Wall work v. Fielding 1922-2 KB 66 Secretary of State v. Surendra Nath ILR (1939) 1 Cal 46: (AIR 1938 Cal 759) and Rura Ram v. Divisional Superintendent N.W. Railway ILR 1954-7 Punj 415: (AIR 1954 Punj 298).?(b) Again in the decision reported in AIR 1964 SC 787 (R.P.Kapur v. Union of India) the Supreme Court held that the authority entitled to appoint a public servant would be entitled to suspend him pending departmental enquiry into his conduct or pending criminal proceeding which may eventually result in departmental enquiry against him.(c) In AIR 1968 SC 800 (B.R.Patel v. State of Maharashtra) a question arose as to whether a person who was placed under suspension pending further orders due to pendency of criminal case gets automatically restored into the service if the criminal case ended in acquittal. The Supreme Court held that even after the acquittal a fresh order revoking the order of suspension should be passed by the department and there is no automatic revocation of suspension arises.8. In the case on hand petitioner who is a Government Servant was suspended due to his involvement in criminal case in Cr.No.83 of 2007 on the file of Thiruchitrambalam Police Station. When a criminal case is pending against the petitioner and the suspension order having been passed in exercise of powers conferred under Rule 17(e) of the Tamil Nadu Government Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules on public interest no exception could be taken to interfere with the order of suspension passed against the petitioner.9. There is no merit in the writ petition and the same is dismissed in limine. This order will not preclude the petitioner from seeking revocation of the order of suspension before the competent authority and if any such application is filed it is for the respondent to consider the same on its own merits and in accordance with law. Connected miscellaneous petitions are also dismissed.