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The State of Andhra Pradesh, Rep. by its Special Chief Secretary to Government Environment, Forests, Science & Technology Department, Secretariat, Guntur District & Others v/s R.V. Prakash


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    Writ Petition No. 10935 of 2019

    Decided On, 08 August 2019

    At, High Court of Andhra Pradesh

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE A.V. SESHA SAI & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE G. SHYAM PRASAD

    For the Petitioner: G.P. for Services. For the Respondent: Mahadeva Kanthrigala, Advocate.



Judgment Text


A.V. Sesha Sai, J.

1. Heard learned Government Pleader for Services appearing for the petitioners and Sri Mahadeva Kanthrigala, learned counsel for the applicant-respondent herein, apart from perusing the entire material available on record.

2. The order, dated 25.10.2018, passed by the A.P.Administrative Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as 'the Tribunal'), in O.A.No.4455 of 2016, is under challenge in the present Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

3. Vide proceedings in RC.No.823/2012/GS, dated 25.02.2013, the office of the Divisional Forest Officer, Chittoor issued charge memo, framing the following Article of Charge against the respondent herein:

"ARTICLE 1: That the said Sri R.V.Ravi Prakash, Forest Beat Officer, Talakona Central Beat presently working on O.D. basis in Chamala East Beat of S.V.National Park, Chamala Range of Wildlife Management Division, Tirupati and presently under suspension has colluded with the Red Sander smugglers and helping them in illicit cutting and transportation of valuable and endangered species of Red Sanders from the Reserve Forests of Wildlife Division, Tirupati which clearly shows the misbehaviour, negligence and misconduct on the part of the Forest Beat Officer in discharging his legitimate duties. Hence, the charge".

4. In response to the said charge memo and the charge contained therein, applicant-respondent herein submitted his explanation and, thereafter, enquiry was conducted and finally an order of dismissal was passed on 02.09.2015. The said order was assailed by the applicant-respondent herein by way of filing O.A.No.5766 of 2015 on the file of the Tribunal and the Tribunal, by way of the order, dated 30.12.2015, allowed the said Original Application, setting aside the order of dismissal and also permitted the authorities to undertake de novo enquiry. The said order of the Tribunal was assailed by the authorities by filing W.P.No.12898 of 2016 before this Court. This Court, on 26.04.2016, dismissed the said Writ Petition and the operative portion of the said order reads as under:

"In our opinion, it is for the petitioners to substantiate the charges framed against respondent No.1 by producing the relevant oral/documentary evidence and prove the charges based on preponderance of probabilities. Therefore, it is not necessary for this Court to suggest any particular method for proving the charges. If the cited witness is not available, the petitioners are entitled to produce any other material to support the charges. Since, the order of dismissal is set aside, respondent No.1 is deemed to be under suspension and he is entitled to be paid subsistence allowance for the time being. The petitioners shall complete the enquiry and pass afresh order within a period of three months from the date of receipt of this order. Subject to the above observations and directions, the Writ Petition is dismissed".

5. Subsequent to the said order of this Court, enquiry was undertaken by appointing a fresh Enquiry Officer, who submitted a report on 24.08.2016. A copy of the said enquiry proceedings is made available along with the present Writ Petition.

6. After submission of the enquiry report and after communicating the said enquiry report, the disciplinary authority i.e., Divisional Forest Officer, by way of an order, vide proceedings in Rc.No.823/2012/G2, dated 24.10.2016, awarded the punishment of dismissal from service, which shall be a disqualification for future employment under the Government. Assailing the validity and legal sustainability of the said order of dismissal, passed by the disciplinary authority, the applicant-respondent herein approached the Tribunal, by way of filing O.A.No.4455 of 2016. The Tribunal, by way of the questioned order, allowed the said Original Application, by setting aside the order of dismissal, and further directed that the applicant would be entitled for all the consequential benefits from the date of dismissal till the date of filing the Original Application and further directed to extend the notional and monetory benefits. The said order passed by the Tribunal is under challenge in the present Writ Petition.

7. According to the learned Government Pleader, the order of the Tribunal, which is impugned in the present Writ Petition, is highly erroneous, contrary to law and opposed to the very spirit and object of the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1991 (for brevity, 'APCS(CCA) Rules'). It is the further submission of the learned Government Pleader that, having regard to the gravity of the allegations against the applicant, the Tribunal ought not to have interfered with the order of dismissal passed by the disciplinary authority. It is the further submission of the learned Government Pleader that, strictly adhering to the provisions of the APCS (CCA) Rules, the authorities passed the impugned order, as such, the Tribunal grossly erred in meddling with the said order. It is the further submission of the learned Government Pleader that, having regard to the evidence available on record, the disciplinary authorities are perfectly justified in dismissing the applicant from service.

8. On the contrary, it is contended by the learned counsel for the applicant-respondent herein that there is no error nor there exists any infirmity in the impugned order passed by the Tribunal and, in the absence of the same, the order passed by the Tribunal is not amenable for any judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. It is further submitted by the learned counsel that, despite the orders of this Court in W.P.No.12898 of 2016, dated 26.04.2016, the petitioner-authorities, in deviation to the mandatory provisions of the APCS (CCA) Rules, passed the order of dismissal, as such, the order of the Tribunal, setting aside the same, cannot be faulted. It is the further submission of the learned counsel that, without being supported by any evidence on record, the disciplinary authority imposed punishment of dismissal from service, as such, the Tribunal is perfectly justified in setting aside the same.

9. In the above backdrop, now the issue that emerges for consideration of this Court is:

"Whether the order passed by the Tribunal, setting aside the order of dismissal passed by the disciplinary authority is sustainable and tenable and whether the same warrants any interference of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India?.

10. As noted supra, when the order of dismissal, dated 02.09.2015, was questioned before the Tribunal, in the earlier round of litigation, the Tribunal, in O.A.No.5766 of 2015, did set aside the said order and directed de novo enquiry and the said order, passed by the Tribunal, became final, in view of the orders of this Court in W.P.No.12898 of 2016.

11. A perusal of the order, dated 26.04.2016, passed in W.P.No.12898 of 2016, in clear and vivid terms, discloses that this Court, while confirming the orders of the Tribunal, observed that it is for the petitioners therein to substantiate the charges framed against the respondent herein by producing the relevant oral/documentary evidence and to prove the charges based on preponderance of probabilities and that it would not be necessary for the Court to suggest any particular method of proving the charges and, in the event of non-availability of the cited witnesses, petitioners would be entitled to produce any other material to support the charges. It is also to be noted that, pursuant to the said order of this Court, a fresh enquiry was undertaken and Enquiry Officer was appointed and he submitted a report on 26.08.2016. The enquiry report, which is filed as a material paper along with the Writ Petition, shows that, except recording answers for the questions, the Enquiry Officer did not record any finding as to the guilt of the applicant with reference to the charge framed. On that ground alone, the enquiry conducted by the authorities, pursuant to the order of this Court, cannot be approved. It is not the case of the petitioners herein that, pursuant to the orders of this Court in W.P.No.12898 of 2016, in the enquiry conducted any witnesses were examined by the Department to substantiate the charge framed against the applicant-respondent herein.

12. A perusal of the order passed by the Tribunal discloses that the Tribunal recorded a categorical finding that neither any witnesses were examined nor any evidence was produced during the course of enquiry to substant

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iate the charge framed against the applicant-respondent herein. The Tribunal also observed that no witnesses were examined and no documents were relied upon by the Enquiry Officer except the preliminary enquiry report. The Tribunal also referred to the judgment of the Honourable Apex Court with regard to the validity of placing reliance on the preliminary enquiry report for arriving at the conclusions. It is a settled and well established principle of law that, unless the order impugned suffers from any jurisdictional error, patent perversity and passed in violation of the provisions of natural justice, the writ in the nature of certiorari cannot be issued by this Court in exercise of the powers conferred under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. 13. For the aforesaid reasons, Writ Petition is dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs. 14. Miscellaneous petitions, if any pending, in the Writ Petition, shall stand closed.
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