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Ami Lal v/s Commandant, 52nd Battalion, Central Reserve Police Force, Manipur & Another


Company & Directors' Information:- E FORCE (INDIA) PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U45201GJ1987PTC045575

Company & Directors' Information:- C. LAL LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51909HR2012PLC046499

Company & Directors' Information:- E FORCE (INDIA) PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U99999MH1987PTC042765

Company & Directors' Information:- AMI INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74999PN2014FTC151288

    Writ Petition (Civil) No. 2926 of 2005

    Decided On, 11 September 2019

    At, High Court of Orissa

    By, THE HONOURABLE DR. JUSTICE A.K. RATH

    For the Appearing Parties: Sanjat Das, P.K. Padhi, Advocates.



Judgment Text

1. The petitioner, who is a quondam employee of Central Reserve Police Force ('CRPF'), Manipur, assails the order of dismissal from service passed by the Commandant 52nd Battalion, Central Reserve Police Force, Manipur, as well as the order of Deputy Inspector General, CRPF, Bhubaneswar, appellate authority vide Annexures-5 & 6 respectively.

2. Bereft of unnecessary details, the short fact of the case is that the petitioner was appointed as a Constable in CRPF on 02.03.1983. He was transferred to Manipur in the year 1998 as Head Constable and posted at Imphal. On 01.11.1999 at about 23.25 hours, he failed to keep the AK-47 rifle in safe custody. There was a scuffle between the petitioner and his colleague-Deep Singh as a result of which, eight rounds were fired from his service rifle resulting death of Deep Singh. A departmental proceeding was initiated against him. Chargesheet was issued in respect of four allegations. An Enquiry Officer was appointed. After examining the witnesses, the Enquiry Officer submitted the report stating that charges have not been proved. But then, the Disciplinary Authority proposed to initiate the second departmental enquiry and issued chargesheet, vide Annexure-3. He submitted show-cause. The Enquiry Officer submitted the report stating that the charges have been proved. A copy of the enquiry report was supplied to him on 15.04.2001. He submitted his reply on 23.04.2001. The Commandant 52nd Battalion, CRPF, Manipur dismissed him from service on 30.04.2001, vide Annexure-5. Unsuccessful petitioner filed appeal before the Deputy Inspector General, C.R.P.F., Bhubaneswar, opposite party no.2, which was eventually dismissed, vide Annexure-6.

3. A counter affidavit has been filed justifying the stand of the opposite parties for initiating the second disciplinary proceeding and imposing punishment of dismissal.

4. Heard Mr.Sanjat Das, learned counsel for the petitioner and Mr.P.K.Padhi, learned Central Government Counsel for the opposite party nos.1 and 2.

5. Mr.Das, learned counsel for the petitioner submits that on 01.11.2019, while the petitioner was sleeping at the Head Quarter in Manipur, he felt that somebody had taken away his weapon. He woke up and caught hold of him. There was a scuffle between them, as a result of which, the weapon went off. He sustained injuries. His colleague Deep Singh died on the spot due to accidental firing. Thereafter, FIR was lodged against him. He is facing criminal trial. The Disciplinary Authority initiated a disciplinary proceeding against him. Number of witnesses had been examined by the Department. The Enquiry Officer submitted the report stating that charges had not been proved against him. However, a second departmental proceeding initiated against him for the self-same charges, which is not permissible under the Central Reserve Police Force Act,1949 (' CRPF Act') and Central Reserve Police Force Rules,1955 ('CRPF Rules'). Thus the order of punishment passed by the Disciplinary Authority, vide Annexure-5, and the order passed by the Appellate Authority, vide Annexure-6, are vitiated. To buttress the submission, he places reliance on the decisions of the apex Court in the case of K.R.Deb vs. The Collector of Central Excise Shillong, (1971) AIR SC 1447 and The State of Assam and another vs. J.N.Roy Biswas, (1975) AIR SC 2277.

6. Per contra, Mr.Padhi, learned CGC for the opposite parties submits that there was shortcomings in the first departmental enquiry. In view of the same, opposite party no.1 by order dated 03.12.2000 directed for initiation of a fresh proceeding against the petitioner. Sufficient opportunity was provided to him. He participated in the second enquiry. The Enquiry Officer submitted the report stating that charges have been proved. Thereafter, the disciplinary authority had passed the order dismissing the petitioner from service, which is upheld by the Appellate Authority. He further submits that since the petitioner has participated in the proceeding, merely because the result is not palatable to him, he cannot say that the second inquiry is vitiated. He further submits that Rule 102 of the CRPF Rules provides the application of Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules,1965 in respect of the proceeding initiated by the Department. Referring to D.G., P&T's Letter No.114/324/78-Disc.II, dated the 5th July,1979, issued under Rule-15 of CCS (CCA) Rules, he submits that second enquiry is permissible.

7. Admittedly, the disciplinary proceeding was initiated against the petitioner in respect of four charges. An Enquiry Officer was appointed. He submitted the report stating that the charges had not been proved. Thereafter, a second enquiry was made. In the said enquiry, petitioner was found guilty. The Disciplinary Authority dismissed him from service, which was upheld by the Appellate Authority.

8. The sole question that hinges for consideration as to whether a second disciplinary proceeding is contemplated under the CRPF Act and CRPF Rules.

9. The sheet anchor of Mr.Padhi's submission is that under Rule 102 of CRPF Rules, the second enquiry is permissible. Rule 102 of CRPF Rules,1955 provides:

"102. Other conditions of service- The conditions of service of members of the Force in respect of matters for which no provision is made in these rules shall be the same as are for the time being applicable to other officers of the Government of India of corresponding status."

10. On a bare perusal of the aforesaid rule, it is evident that the conditions of service of members of the force in respect of the matters for which no provision is made in the rules shall be the same as are for the time being applicable to other officers of the Government of India of corresponding status.

11. Chapter VI of CRPF Rules deals with discipline. Rule 27 deals with procedure for award of punishments. Rule 27 governs the condition of service in respect of matters pertaining to disciplinary proceeding. The Rule does not contemplate that the circular issued by the Government of India from time to time is applicable to the members of the Force in respect of disciplinary proceeding.

12. Reliance placed on letter dated 5th July,1979 issued by the Government of India is totally misplaced. The same provides:

"XXX XXX XXX

(3) Reasons for cancellation of original charge-sheet to be mentioned if for issuing a fresh charge-sheet - It is clarified that once the proceedings initiated under Rule 14 or Rule 16 of the CCS (CCA) Rules,1965, are dropped, the Disciplinary Authorities would be debarred from initiating fresh proceedings against the Delinquent Officers unless the reasons for cancellation of the original chargesheet or for dropping the proceedings are appropriately mentioned and it is duly stated in the order that the proceedings were being dropped without prejudice to further action which may be considered in the circumstances of the case. It is, therefore, important that when the intention is to issue a subsequent fresh chargesheet, the order cancelling the original one or dropping the proceedings should be carefully worded so as to mention the reasons for such an action and indicating the intention of issuing a subsequent charge-sheet appropriate to the nature of charges the same was based on.

[D.G. P. & T's Letter No.114/324/78-Disc. II, dated the 5th July,1979]"

13. The word 'without prejudice' means 'without prejudice to the delinquent employee'. In the instant case, an enquiry was held. Number of witnesses had been examined by the Department. The reason assigned by the Disciplinary Authority to initiate second proceeding is difficult to fathom. Once an enquiry is held and the Enquiry Officer submitted the report, it is open to the authority to accept the same or not; but in the absence of Rule, no second departmental proceeding can be initiated.

14. In K.R.Deb, the apex Court held that if in a particular case there has been no proper enquiry because some serious defect has crept into the inquiry or some important witnesses were not available at the time of the inquiry or were not examined for some other reason, the Disciplinary Authority may direct for fresh enquiry over the matter. In the instant case, there was a full-fledged enquiry, whereafter, the Enquiry Officer had submitted the report. There was no justification to hold second enquiry.

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/>15. In J.N.Roy Biswas, the apex Court held that no rule of double jeopardy bars but absence of power under a rule inhibits a second inquiry by the Disciplinary Authority after the delinquent had once been absolved. But once a disciplinary case has closed and the official re-instated, presumably on full exoneration, a chagrined Government cannot re-start the exercise in the absence of specific power to review or revise, vested by rules in some authority. 16. In view of the foregoing discussions, the order of the Commandant 52nd Battalion, Central Reserve Police Force, Manipur and order of the Deputy Inspector General, CRPF, Bhubaneswar dated 12.6.2001, vide Annexures-5 & 6 are quashed. 17. Since the petitioner has attained the age of superannuation, no direction need be issued to re-instate him. The petitioner shall be entitled to the retiral benefits as admissible in law. The writ petition is allowed.
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