1. It would require no prolix record of the facts involved in this case, since the adjudicational issue is squarely within the realm of law, juxtaposed on the manner of exercise of discretion by an Administrative Authority.2. Compendiously, the petitioner was placed under suspension and then proceeded against by the 1st respondent — Kerala Small Scale Industries Development Corporation (hereinafter SIDCO for short), through a disciplinary enquiry, which culminated in a 'warning' being issued to him.3. The corollary question arose as to how the petitioner's period of suspension of 28 days is to be treated.4. The Board of Directors of SIDCO, in their 299th meeting held on 08.05.2019, considered this and decided to regularize the period of suspension of the petitioner, treating it as part of the 'earned leave' to his credit.5. The petitioner, who has now retired from the services of SIDCO, after serving it as a Manager (Accounts), assails the above order of the Board of Directors of SIDCO — a copy of which is appended to this writ petition as Ext.P6 — as being illegal and intended to subject himself to double punishment.6. Smt.Molly Jacob, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, predicates that since her client has already been awarded a punishment of 'warning' in the disciplinary action, the regularization of his period of suspension by treating it as being part of earned leave amounts to double jeopardy, since he loses Rs.76,439/- from his retiral benefits — such period being reduced from the earned leave eligible for commutation.7. The answer of SIDCO to the afore allegation is offered by their learned Standing Counsel Sri.G.Biju, stating that, as per Regulation 112(c) of the SIDCO Staff Regulations (Regulation for short), the period of suspension of an employee shall be treated as period spent on duty only if he is fully exonerated; and otherwise as leave, if he is subjected to punishment.8. Sri.G.Biju, thus contends that, going by the afore mentioned Regulation, it is the discretion of the disciplinary authority to decide as to which kind of leave the period of suspension of the petitioner is to be treated, unlike the proviso to Rule 56(5) of Part I of the Kerala State Rules (KSR), which mandates that such period be converted into a leave of any type admissible, as desired by the employee. He says that consequently, the petitioner cannot demand that the period of his suspension be treated as leave other than “earned leave” and therefore, that this writ petition is liable to be dismissed.9. I must say upfront that I find no favour with the afore submissions of Sri.G.Biju or with the impugned Ext.P6 order for the reasons, I will presently record.10. There is no dispute that Regulation 112 (c) of the Regulations vests discretion on the competent Authority to treat the period of suspension of an employee, who has been subjected to a punishment in the disciplinary enquiry, as leave. I can also travel along with Sri.G.Biju when he says that the word “leave'” is not qualified in any manner in the said Regulation, in contradistinction to the terms of the proviso to Rule 56(5), Part I of the KSR.11. The self-evident question is whether this would enable the Board of Directors of the SIDCO to regularize the period of suspension of the petitioner by treating it as 'earned leave' and thus subject him to a monetary detriment, even when, concededly, he has to his credit other species of leave.12. The SIDCO has no case that their Board can only treat the period of suspension of the petitioner as 'earned leave'; but that it is their discretion to do so or to treat it as other types of leave.13. I can agree with this also, from the manner in which the afore mentioned Regulation is framed.14. However, it is the fundamental canon of jurisprudence, which enlivens all administrative action, that discretion is required to be exercised fairly, justly and reasonably. An exercise of discretion which leads to caprice or perversity cannot be approved and will have to be put down by the full might of law.15. From such stand point, when one evaluates Ext.P6 proceedings of the Board of Directors of SIDCO, it becomes luculent that they chose to regularize the period of suspension of the petitioner treating it as 'earned leave' to his credit, knowing fully well that this will impose a financial detriment on him.16. The Board of SIDCO was also fully aware that the petitioner had only been awarded the punishment of 'warning' though the disciplinary proceedings against him; and must, therefore, be construed to be cognizant that the regularization of the period of suspension in the afore manner would have the certain effect of again mulcting him with a pecuniary detriment, which can only operate as a further punishment.17. This, unmistakably, is double jeopardy for the petitioner for the same accusation; thus being impermissible under the protectional imperatives of our constitution.18. The manifest arbitrariness and unreasonableness of the exercise of discretion by the Board of Directors of SIDCO become apodictic, since it is admitted, even before this Court, that the petitioner had other species of leave to his account, against which the period of suspension could be set against.19. The fact that the Board of Directors of the SIDCO did not even consider this adds to the severity o
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f the flaw; particularly when law requires Administrative Authorities to choose sagaciously from the multiple choices open to them in exercise of its discretion. Had this been done, this Court would not surrogate its view to it.In the inevitable result, Ext.P6 deserves to be set aside and I do so; with a consequential direction to the Board of Directors to reconsider the regularization of the period of suspension of the petitioner in line with my observations herein, which shall be done within a month from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment.This writ petition is thus ordered.