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Madras HC: Former CISF Official’s Appeal Dismissed Over Compulsory Retirement Order

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Jagannathan, a CISF official was made to retire compulsorily by an order passed in 2018. He has appealed against the same by filing a Writ Petition. The matter was heard and decided upon by the bench comprising of Hon’ble Chief Justice A. P. Sahi and Hon’ble Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy.

Facts of the Case

In the present case, the appellant joined Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in 1989. He was issued a charge of memorandum in 2012. The first charge being possession of unaccounted money while being deployed in the ‘B’ shift duty from 13.00 hours to 21.00 hours on 03.09.2012.

The second charge being refusal to comply with the instruction to remove his shoes and the act of swallowing the currency note after taking it out from his socks.

The third charge being continued acts of misconduct and indiscipline despite being charge sheeted and penalised on three previous occasions for having over stayed, found sleeping on duty and misbehaving with his senior. The Appellant, Mr. Jagannathan submitted a reply dated 17.09.2012. 

An enquiry was instituted on these charges. The Disciplinary Authority, after their investigation, awarded the punishment of compulsory retirement from service with full pension and gratuity benefits to the Appellant. This award was appealed against in front of Deputy Inspector General, CISF who in turn confirmed the order of the Senior Commandant, CISF. 

The Appellant filed a revision petition against the order by the appellate authority. It was rejected as the Appellant did not make any new points. 

The impugned order in 2018, decided by a High Court Judge, who re-affirmed the orders passed by the Disciplinary Authority, the Appellate Authority and the Revision Authority. 

Arguments Before the Court

The Counsel for the Appellant submitted that since the time Appellant joined CISF in 1989, till 2012, he has had a good performance. 

As regards the said charges, he submitted that Constables are permitted to have a sum of Rs.50/- as pocket money on any given day. The Appellant had spent a sum of Rs.30/- on 03.09.2012. During that shift, it was alleged that the Appellant was in possession of unaccounted money and that he swallowed a currency note by removing it from his socks.

The learned Counsel submitted that the Appellant did not swallow the currency note and that it was unnecessary for him to do so. There was no evidence that the Appellant possessed unaccounted money and, therefore, the charges were not duly proved.

As regards the prior acts of indiscipline, the counsel further submitted that these were minor acts of indiscipline such as over staying and sleeping on duty. The Appellant was unable to defend himself adequately against the charges because the charge memorandum was in the Hindi language.

Although, the Appellant requested the Enquiry Officer to provide a translated version of the charge memorandum, the Enquiry Officer refused to do so. The Counsel also went on to argue that the punishment was grossly disproportionate to the offence. The Appellant was compulsorily retired from service regardless of the fact that he had served the CISF for at least 23 years as of the date of the charge memorandum. 

The Counsel for the Respondents would submit that the appellant being part of CISF, by the nature of the services CISF provides, requires its employees to meet the highest standards of discipline. The counsel maintained that the principles of natural justice were complied with. 

Further, the Counsel with regard to the charge memo being in Hindi and the Enquiry Officer refusing  to provide a translated copy of the charge memo, submitted that the Appellant was conversant in Hindi language and was in a position to read the charge memo. The Counsel maintained that the appellant had also participated in the enquiry proceedings and cross-examined the witnesses. 

Court’s Observations

The Court observed that it does not sit in appeal over such disciplinary proceedings. The Court further noted that the charges were of possession of unaccounted money; refusal to remove his socks when instructed and instead swallowing the currency note; and continued acts of indiscipline.

The Court maintained that during the course of enquiry, the witnesses were deposed. On that basis, the charges are yet to be duly proved. The Court observed that it does not test the quality or sufficiency of evidence except to the limited extent of assessing whether the order was perverse. In the present case, the Court observed that the impugned order was not perverse. 

Further, with regard to the proportion of punishment being awarded, the Court noted that it was entirely within the purview of the Disciplinary Authority. In the present case, the Court does not find the punishment awarded to be grossly inordinate as opposed to the charges. 

The Court placed reliance on B.C. Chaturvedi v. Union of India, (1995) 6 SCC 749 to substantiate its stance. 

Court’s Order

The Court dismissed the Writ Petition. 

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