The orders passed by the Inquiry Officer and affirmed by the Disciplinary Authority and Appellate Authority were on proof of acceptance of bribe by the petitioner: Calcutta High Court

It seemed that the petitioner could not make out his supplication out of his petition. Thus, not finding any merit in the instant writ petition and accordingly, the same was dismissed on the contest, however, without costs.  The Hon’ble High Court at Calcutta before the Hon’ble Justice Bibek Chaudhuri held such an opinion in the matter of  Bhubaneswar Das vs. Union of India & Ors. [WPA/17108/2004].

The petitioner invoked  Article 226 of the Constitution of India for the third round of litigation of such a case. The writ petitioner was a constable in Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF). The petitioner was posted at Group Centre(GC) around 1991 at Durgapur. It was alleged that he took bribe from two persons in lieu of ensuring jobs of constable in C.R.P.F, resulting in his suspension from his service on 12 December 1991.

A disciplinary proceeding was commenced after the order of suspension was made. The Enquiry Officer found the writ petitioner guilty under Article 1 of the charge. The Disciplinary Authority who passed an order of removal from service against the petitioner with effect from 19th January 1993 was given the report of the Enquiry Officer. Earlier, the petitioner solicited the constitutional writ jurisdiction of this Court by filing C.O. No. 3628 (W) of 1993 alleging, inter alia, that the removal order was passed in violation of Section 11 of the Central Reserve Police Force Act, 1949. 

Although it was relevant to mention that the said writ petition was dismissed, still, a Coordinate Bench of this Court passed the following order: – “However, it will be open to the petitioner to prefer an appeal under Rule 28 of the said Rules, 1955. For the purpose of calculating the period within which such appeal is to be filed, the period between the date of moving this writ petition and the date of its disposal shall be excluded. If, after exclusion of the said period, the appeal is not within the time, the delay may be condoned, if sufficient grounds is shown, and the appeal may be disposed of, in accordance with law on merits, within 3 months of making such appeal.”

A statutory appeal before the Appellate Authority by the petitioner. However, the said appeal was dismissed the instant writ petition is filed.  The Learned Advocate for the petitioner at the beginning submitted that the order passed by the Enquiry Officer and also by various authorities up to the Disciplinary Authority were based on assumptions and speculations. It was alleged that a sum of  Rs.24,000/- was taken as a bribe from two-person namely Gopal Das and Tarakeswar Kewat on the condition that he would ensure their service in the Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF). 

The learned advocate of the petitioner stated that there is absolutely no evidence that the petitioner had accepted a bribe from the above-named two persons. The learned advocate also submitted that there were 15 candidates who were not considered for appointment in the Force on the ground that they filed false academic certificates, which includes the mentioned two persons Gopal Das and Tarakeswar Kewat. Even so, the said Gopal Das and Tarakeswar Kewat did not recuse their candidature on the ground that they paid a bribe to the writ petitioner amounting to Rs.24,000/-. This claim instigated the superior officer of the Force to start disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner. The learned advocate also submitted that the petitioner was falsely subjected to disciplinary inquiry on the ground of his repayment of a sum of Rs.11,000/-, stating that nobody saw the petitioner accept bribe from the above-named two candidates. It was contended by the learned Advocate of the petitioner that the amount was paid under compulsion to secure his service by referring to a decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of  Commissioner of Police, Delhi & Ors. –Vs.- Jai Bhagwan reported in (2011) 6 SCC 376.

 In the case, a police constable faced disciplinary proceedings on the claim made by a passenger that a sum of Rs.100/- was taken by him as bribe from the said passenger at 161 Airport, Delhi, and thereafter, a departmental proceeding was initiated. It was brought on record that the constable returned the amount of Rs.100/- to the complainant. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in paragraph 15 said:- “15. In the present case, although there is some evidence that an amount of Rs.100/- was returned by the respondent to the complainant but there is no such direct and reliable evidence produced by the appellants in the departmental proceedings which could clearly prove and establish that the respondent demanded and received an illegal gratification of the said denomination. It seems that the proof of taking such illegal gratification has been drawn from the evidence of returning of Rs.100/- to the complainant by way of a link-up”.

It was further held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the above-mentioned report in paragraph 17 as hereunder:- “17. In the absence of such a definite/clear proof supporting the case of the appellants, it is difficult to draw a finding of taking illegal gratification by the respondent from the complainant. Therefore, as rightly held by the High Court the present case is a case of no evidence”

The writ petitioner’s advocate further referred to the case of  Narinder Mohan Arya –Vs.- United India Insurance Co. Ltd. and Others reported in (2006) 4 Supreme Court Cases 713. Through this case, he submitted that an employee cannot be subjected to disciplinary proceedings and should not be punished under surmise and conjecture because such presumptions cannot take the place of proof even in domestic inquiry. In the instant case, the petitioner was punished after a departmental inquiry of removal from office which was based on suspicion and/or presumption.

After going through all the submissions made on behalf of the petitioner’s party, it appeared that “..two candidates namely Gopal Das and Tarakeswar Kewat did not want to leave and stuck to their candidature on the ground that they gave a bribe of Rs.24,000/- to the petitioner. They identified the writ petitioner as the person who accepted a bribe. They also deposed during inquiry proceeding against the delinquent i.e., the petitioner. Therefore, payment of bribe and acceptance thereof is proved by direct evidence during disciplinary inquiry against the writ petitioner and on factual score ratio of the decision in the case of Jai Bhagwan (supra) is not applicable in the instant case” 

The counsel of the Union of India in his submissions stated in paragraph 27 of the affidavit-in-opposition specifically took on the provisions contained in Government of India, MHA Letter no.1/45027/I/84DO(Pers. II) dated 17th January 1984 as incorporated in Appendix-V to GC& Bn Officers’ Manual, the Additional Deputy Inspector General of Police in the Central Reserve Police Force shall be the Commandant of Respective Group Centre and shall continue to perform the functions and implemented the powers vested in a Commandant under the Central Reserve Police Force Act, 1949. 

The Hon’ble High Court at Calcutta before the Hon’ble Justice Bibek Chaudhuri considered these facts and stated, “In view of such office order, this Court has no other alternative but to hold that the final order passed by the Addl. D.I.G.P. G. C., Durgapur is not an order beyond his authority under Rule 27 of Central Reserve Police Force Rules”.

The Hon’ble Court was also of the opinion that “… I cannot but hold that the orders passed by the Inquiry Officer and affirmed by the Disciplinary Authority as well as Appellate Authority were passed on proof of acceptance of bribe by the petitioner and therefore, there is no reason to interfere with the impugned administrative decisions. In view of the aforesaid, I do not find any merit in the instant writ petition and accordingly, the same is dismissed on a contest, however, without costs”

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Judgment Reviewed by Bipasha Kundu

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