Parthasarathi vs State Of Andhra Pradesh, 1973 AIR 2701

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Brief Facts:

The appellant was appointed in the service of Andhra Pradesh Government in 1940 as Clerk-cum-Typist in the Public Works Department. on June 7, 1952, he was posted as Office Superintendent in the Information and Public Relations Department and was confirmed in the post in 1956. The Deputy Director of Information and Public Relations Department, during the period from 1956, to 1957 was one Narsing Rao Manvi, hereinafter referred to as Manvi. The appellant was under his immediate administrative control.

The Deputy Director was inimical towards him and harassed him in various ways. Manvi was appointed as Director-in-charge, on August 1, 1957. As Director-in-charge, Manvi caused the appellant to be suspended from service and thereafter he framed certain charges against the appellant on May 13, 1959 and they were communicated to the appellant. The appellant protested saying that

The appellant protested saying that Manvi should not conduct the inquiry on the basis of the charges for the reason that Manvi had a bias against him and that he was not duly authorized to conduct the inquiry. In spite of the protest, Manvi conducted the inquiry. The appellant wanted to inspect several files and documents in the inquiry for the purpose of his defense, but his requests in that behalf were not granted. The appellant, therefore, refused to participate in the inquiry. The inquiry was conducted and the appellant was found guilty of some of the charges. On the basis of the inquiry report, the Director issued a show cause notice to the appellant why he should not be dismissed from service. The appellant submitted a written explanation stating that the inquiry was vitiated on account of the bias of the inquiring officer, that he was not given a reasonable opportunity of defending himself in the inquiry as he was not supplied with copies of the relevant documents nor given an opportunity to inspect the. concerned files and that the enquiring officer had no jurisdiction to conduct the inquiry.

The inquiry was conducted and the appellant was found guilty of some of the charges. On the basis of the inquiry report, the Director issued a show cause notice to the appellant why he should not be dismissed from service. The appellant submitted a written explanation stating that the inquiry was vitiated on account of the bias of the inquiring officer, that he was not given a reasonable opportunity of defending himself in the inquiry as he was not supplied with copies of the relevant documents nor given an opportunity to inspect the. concerned files and that the enquiring officer had no jurisdiction to conduct the inquiry.

The Director, however, found the appellant guilty and passed an order removing him from service with effect from April 11 1960. Thereafter, the Government, on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission, modified the order of removal and ordered the compulsory retirement of the appellant from service.

Procedural History:

The appellant filed a suit for quashing the order passed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh on November 10. 1961 retiring him compulsorily on the basis of the finding in a disciplinary proceeding against him. The trial court decreed the suit. The Government of Andhra Pradesh appealed against the decree to the High Court. The High Court allowed the appeal and dismissed the suit. This appeal, by certificate, is against that decree.

Issue: In the present facts and circumstances of the case, was the Deputy Director authorized to conduct an inquiry?

Arguments of the appellant:

  1. The inquiring officer was biased against the appellant
  2. The inquiring officer had no authority to conduct the inquiry and
  3. The appellant was not given a reasonable opportunity as he was denied access to several files which are in his defense.

Ratio:

  • The cumulative effect of the circumstances stated in the case was sufficient to create, in the mind of a reasonable man, the impression that there was a real likelihood of bias in the inquiring officer.
    • There must be a “real likelihood” of bias and that means there must be a substantial possibility of bias.
    • The court will have to judge of the matter as a reasonable man would judge of any matter in the conduct of as own business
    • The test of likelihood of bias which has been applied in a number of cases is based on the “reasonable apprehension” of a reasonable man fully cognizant of the facts.
    • The tests of “real likelihood” and “reasonable suspicion” are really inconsistent with each other.
  • The court must look at the impression which other people have.
    • This follows from the principle that justice must not only be done but seen to be done. If right-minded persons would think that there is real likelihood of bias on the part of an inquiring officer, be must not conduct the enquiry; nevertheless, there must be a real likelihood of bias.
    • Surmise or conjecture would not be enough. There must exist circumstances from which reasonable men would think it probable or likely that the inquiring officer will be prejudiced against the delinquent. The court will not inquire whether he was really prejudiced. If a reasonable man would think on the basis of the existing circumstances that. he is likely to be prejudiced, that is sufficient to quash the decision
  • When the Government made it clear that the Director should conduct the enquiry, the Director as Head of the Department cannot exercise his power under the rule by designating another person to conduct the enquiry and therefore the order which was passed authorising Manvi as Deputy Director to conduct the enquiry could not invest him with the power to do so.
    • The court held that the Director, as Head of the office had no power to designate or appoint an inquiry officer, as Government, the appointing authority, had already directed that the Director should himself conduct the inquiry.
    • It would be anomalous to hold that both the appointing authority, namely, the Government and the Head of the Office, namely, the Director, could, in the same case, appoint two persons to conduct the inquiry.
Held: The Court aside the judgment and decree of the High Court and restore the decree passed by the trial court.

Parthasarathi vs State Of Andhra Pradesh, 1973 AIR 2701

Before the Supreme Court of India

Decided on: 20 September 1973

Author of the Judgement: Kuttyil Kurien Mathew

Bench: Kuttyil Kurien Mathew, B.K. Mukherjea.

Advocate for the appellants: B.R.L. Aiyanagar and H.K.Puri.

Advocate for the respondent:  P. Ron Reddy and P. Parmeswararao.

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