Allahabad HC: Scope of Delegation of a Discretionary Administrative Power with Respect to Delegation made by Statute

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The question which falls for consideration is as to whether the Superintendent of Police could have passed the order of suspension in contemplation of departmental proceedings against an officer of the rank of an Inspector whose appointing authority is the Deputy Inspector General of Police in the purview of his delegated authority.

In this case, petitioner has been placed under suspension pending initiation of departmental proceedings in which the principal contention sought to be raised is that the appointing authority of the petitioner, who is presently working on the post of Inspector, is the Deputy Inspector General of Police and in view, thereof the authority competent to pass the order of suspension would be the appointing authority i.e. the Deputy Inspector General of Police and not the Superintendent of Police who has passed the order impugned. Reliance is sought to be placed upon Rule 17(1)(a) of The Uttar Pradesh Police Officers of the Subordinate Ranks (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1991 (in short ‘the Rules, 1991’) according to which the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Chitrakoot Dham, Range Banda in terms of an order dated 22.11.2019, exercising powers under Rule 17(1)(a) of the Rules, 1991, has authorized the Superintendent of Police, Chitrakoot to exercise the powers of suspension in respect of his sub-ordinate officers including Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors, in cases where departmental proceedings were contemplated against them.

The power to place under suspension a Police Officer of the subordinate rank against whose conduct an enquiry is contemplated, or is pending, is provided for under Rule 17 of the Rules, 1991. It shows that a Police Officer against whose conduct an enquiry is contemplated, or is proceeding, may be placed under suspension pending conclusion of enquiry in the discretion of the appointing authority or by any other authority not below the rank of Superintendent of Police, authorized by him in this behalf which means power of suspension which is to be exercised by the appointing authority may also be exercised by any other authority, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police who is authorized by the appointing authority in this behalf.

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As a general rule, whatever a person has the power to do himself, he may do by means of an agent. This broad rule is limited by the operation of the principle that a delegated authority cannot be re-delegate i.e. delegatus non potest delegare. The naming of a delegate to do any act involving a discretion indicates that the delegate was selected because of his peculiar skill and the confidence reposed in him, and there is a presumption that he is required to do the act himself and cannot re-delegate his authority. As a general rule, “if the statute directs that certain acts shall be done in a specified manner or by certain persons, their performance in any other manner than that specified or by any other person than one of those names is impliedly prohibited”. The maxim does not embody a rule of law. It indicates a rule of construction of a statute or other instrument conferring an authority that would best achieve the purpose and object of the statute should be adopted.

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