Ramesh Singh vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh on 3 March, 2020


Supreme Court of India

Ramesh Singh vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh on 3 March, 2020

Author: Uday Umesh Lalit

Bench: Uday Umesh Lalit, Hon’Ble Ms. Malhotra, Hemant Gupta

                                                                        REPORTABLE


                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                   CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                    CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1918 OF 2020
                                 [Arising out of SLP (C) No.15795/2018]

                  Ramesh Singh                                          …Appellant


                                                  Versus


                  The State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr.                     …Respondent




                                               JUDGMENT

INDU MALHOTRA, J.

Leave granted.

1. The appellant was posted as Zila Basic Shiksha
Adhikari, District Basti in January 2003. The appellant
was the In-charge District Basic Education Officer
Gorakhpur, when he issued appointment letters to 400
candidates holding B.Ed. degrees to the post of
Assistant Teachers in Basic Schools (Primary Schools)
in District Gorakhpur, and 121 candidates in District
Basti during April to June 2003.

Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
MUKESH KUMAR

2. The State vide Office Order dated 24.07.2003 placed the
Date: 2020.03.03

appellant under suspension, and directed a
13:04:54 IST
Reason:

disciplinary/departmental enquiry to be conducted

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under the Uttar Pradesh Civil Service (Discipline and
Appeal) Rules, 1999. The State appointed the Joint
Director, Basic Education as the Enquiry Officer.

The Charge Sheet was filed on 21.08.2003 wherein it
was alleged that the appointments of Assistant
Teachers made by the appellant were irregular, as they
were in violation of Rules 16 and 19(3) of the U.P. Basic
Education (Teachers) Service Rules, 1981 (“1981
Rules”).

3. The appellant submitted his reply to the charge sheet
on 09.11.2003 denying the charges levelled against
him. It was contended that the appointments were
made by him in compliance with earlier orders passed
by the High Court, and directions from senior
functionaries.

4. The enquiry officer found the appellant guilty of the
charges levelled against him in the charge sheet. The
Report of the Enquiry Officer was forwarded to the
Disciplinary Authority on 19.06.2004.

5. The appellant challenged the order of suspension by
way of W.P. (C) 52287/2005, wherein the High Court
vide interim Order dated 28.07.2005 granted stay of the
order of suspension.

6. During the pendency of the Writ Petition, the Deputy
Secretary, Basic Education Department vide Order
dated 10.01.2006 proposed punishment of removal
from service.

The appellant challenged the Order dated 10.01.2006
by filing W.P. (C) No. 14083/2006, wherein vide interim

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order dated 08.03.2006, the High Court directed stay of
the aforesaid Order of proposed punishment.

7. On the basis of the enquiry report, the Government
decided to award major punishment of removal from
service under the provisions of the U.P. Civil Service
(Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1999, and referred the
matter to the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission
vide Government Order dated 17.10.2005. The U.P.
Public Service Commission approved the punishment of
service to the appellant vide letter dated 21.12.2006.
The order of removal from service was passed by the
Governor dated 21.04.2008.

8. The appellant challenged the Order of Removal in W.P.

(C) No. 28842/2008, wherein the High Court vide
interim order dated 20.06.2008 directed that the
operation, implementation and execution of the order of
dismissed dated 21.04.2008 shall remain stayed.
Subsequent to the interim order, the State
Government withdrew the proposed order of
punishment on 19.05.2010.

As a consequence, the High Court dismissed the Writ
Petition on 25.05.2010 with the observation that the
disciplinary proceedings may be concluded in
accordance with law, preferably within a period of 6
months. The appellant was directed to co-operate with
the disciplinary proceedings.

9. The disciplinary authority issued a second show cause
notice along-with the enquiry report.
The appellant inter alia submitted that conditional
appointments had been made against fixed pay scale

3
pursuant to the orders of the court, and pressure from
the government. All appointments made were declared
void ab initio. The enquiry was conducted without
affording any opportunity of hearing and adducing
evidence through production of witnesses.

10. The disciplinary authority granted a personal hearing to
the appellant.

The disciplinary authority found all the charges
proved against the appellant, and passed an order of
removal from service on 27.06.2017.

11. The appellant challenged the order dated 27.06.2017 by
way of Writ A. No. 31098/2017 before the Allahabad
High Court.

The High Court vide the impugned judgment and
order dated 10.05.2018 partly allowed the Writ Petition.
The High Court held that the enquiry officer had not
recorded any finding as to whether the appellant was
given a notice intimating the date, time and place of
holding the oral enquiry. The appellant had expressly
taken the plea that the enquiry officer had not afforded
any opportunity of hearing. The disciplinary authority
while passing the order of punishment overlooked the
mandatory requirement of holding a valid enquiry by
complying with the principles of natural justice.
In these circumstances, the High Court felt that it
would not be appropriate to consider the contention of
the appellant that the appointments were made in
compliance with the order passed by High Court and
pursuant to the directions of the higher authorities,

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since it would require appreciation of the evidence on
record.

The High Court, however, rejected the contention that
the enquiry officer was biased, as there was no material
on record to reveal any element of bias on part of the
enquiry officer.

The Court rejected the contention of the appellant for
parity with the case of K.C. Bharati who had been
awarded a lesser punishment of withholding one
increment for one year, and a censure entry in his
service record.

The High Court concluded that since the enquiry was
held in violation of the principles of natural justice, the
order of dismissal from service dated 27.06.2017 was
liable to be quashed. The matter was remitted to the
disciplinary authority to hold the enquiry afresh from
the stage of charge sheet. It was further directed that
the appellant shall be treated under suspension, during
the pendency of the enquiry and shall be paid
subsistence allowance as per the Rules.
The Court deprecated the casual and callous manner
in which the disciplinary authorities had acted in
conducting an enquiry into grave allegations of
corruption of such a magnitude where hundreds of
appointments were made by the appellant, without
following the due process of law. A direction was issued
to the disciplinary authority to appoint an enquiry
officer with the approval of the Chief Minister, who
should be apprised of the outcome of the disciplinary
proceedings.

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12. Aggrieved by the said judgment, the appellant filed the
present Special Leave Petition before this Court. This
Court vide Order 09.07.2018 issued notice on whether
the appellant should be continued on suspension, and
whether the disciplinary authority should report the
matter to the Chief Minister.

Pursuant to the impugned judgment, the State
granted sanction vide Office Memo dated 11.10.2018 to
re-conduct the enquiry from the stage of the charge
sheet.

By a further order dated 31.10.2018, this Court
ordered stay of the operation of the Office Memo dated
11.10.2018.

13. We have heard learned counsel for the parties, and
perused the record.

The issue which arises for our consideration is
whether the appointment letters issued to 521
candidates who were B.Ed. degree holders for the post
of Assistant Teachers, was conducted de hors the
mandatory procedure prescribed by the Rules.

14. The counsel for the appellant submitted that the
continued suspension of the appellant was not justified,
and that his client had made the appointments
pursuant to an earlier order of the High Court, and also
instructions from higher authorities.
14.1. Reliance was placed on a letter dated 10.04.2003
addressed by the Secretary, Basic Education,
Government of U.P. to all the Divisional Assistant
Directors of Education (Basic) U.P, wherein it was
directed that orders passed by the High Court in

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connection with appointment of teachers be complied
by the District Basic Education Officers.
14.2. It was further submitted that vide letter dated
18.4.2003, the appellant had requested the Director
Basic Education, U.P. to issue directives for
appointment of candidates to the post of Assistant
Teachers in schools, who held qualifications of
B.Ed./L.T./B.P.Ed./C.P.Ed.

14.3. By a further letter dated 21.04.2003, the appellant
informed the Secretary, Basic Education, Govt. of U.P.
that there were posts of Teachers lying vacant in
District Gorakhpur, and there was no provision for
appointment of candidates holding qualifications of
B.Ed./L.T./ B.PEd./C.P.Ed. to the post of Assistant
Teachers.

14.4. The appellant subsequently issued a notification dated
25.04.2003 stating that a decision was taken to issue
appointment orders to candidates with B.Ed./L.T.
pursuant to discussions with the Chief Minister, and
the Minister for Basic Education, Secretary, Basic
Education, Govt. of U.P. held on 23.04.2003. It is also
mentioned that he was given directions that if the
appointments were not made immediately,
departmental proceedings would be initiated against
him.

14.5. Accordingly, the appellant made appointments to 521
posts of Assistant Teachers in Basic Schools during the
period May to June 2003.

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14.6. It was further submitted that the appellant sought the
advice of the Chief Standing Counsel for the State of
U.P.

The Chief Standing Counsel vide letter dated
01.05.2003 stated that the Government Order dated
10.04.2003 was general in nature. The appellant was
advised to take a decision with the consent of the
Government since such cases may affect the State in
similar cases.

14.7. The appellant addressed another letter dated
06.05.2003 to the Secretary, Basic Education Council
seeking instructions on whether the appointment of
candidates holding higher qualifications of
B.Ed./L.T./B.PEd./C.P.Ed. could be made in
accordance with the High Court orders/directives.
14.8. The Secretary Basic Education vide Order dated
28.05.2003 directed all Divisional Assistant Director
(Basic Education) to make appointments of candidates
to the post of Teachers only in those cases in which
final/interim orders had been passed by High Court by
02.06.2003.

14.9. The appellant placed reliance on an earlier judgment of
the division bench of the Allahabad High Court in
Special Appeal No. 21(SB)/1993. The High Court took
note of an earlier judgement in Firoz Alam Khan v. State
of U.P. & Ors
. 1986 UP LBC 674 wherein it was directed
that if sufficient number of B.T.C. trained candidates
were not available for appointment as Assistant
Teachers in the Basic Schools, the candidates who

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qualified for appointment as stated in the advertisement
could be appointed.

The High Court in that case had referred to the
judgement of this Court in Mohd. Riazul Usman Ghani
and Ors. v. District & Sessions Judge, Nagpur
1, wherein
it was held as under:

“21. A criterion which has the effect of denying a
candidate his right to be considered for the post on the
principle that he is having higher qualification than
prescribed cannot be rational. We have not been able to
appreciate as to why those candidates who possessed
qualifications equivalent to SCC Examination could not also
be considered. We are saying this on the facts of the case
in hand and should not be understood as laying down a
rule of universal application.”
[emphasis supplied]

15. We have perused the Uttar Pradesh Basic Education
(Teachers) Service Rules, 1981, which lays down the
procedure for appointment of Assistant Teachers in
basic schools in U.P.

Sub-rule (1)(b) of Rule 2 defines the “competent
authority” as under:

“(b) ‘Appointing Authority’ in relation to teachers
referred to in Rule 3 means the District Basic Education
Officer”

Rule 8 prescribes the academic qualifications for the
post of Assistant Teachers as:

“8. Academic qualifications. – (1) The Essential
qualifications of candidates for appointment to a post
referred to in clause (a) of Rule 5 shall be shown below
against each :

                                    Post           Academic Qualifications
                       …

                       (ii)   Assistant            A Bachelor’s Degree from a

1   (2000) 2 SCC 606

                                           9
            Master     and        University established by law
            Assistant             in    India   or   a     Degree
            Mistress     of       recognized        by         the
            Junior    Basic       Government as equivalent
            Schools               thereto together with the
                                  training          qualification
                                  consisting    of    a      Basic

Teacher’s Certificate, Vishshit
Basic Teacher’s Certificate
(B.T.C), Hindustani teacher’s
Certificate, Junior Teacher’s
Certificate, Certificate of
teaching or any other Training
Course recognized by the
Government as equivalent
thereto.

Rule 16 provides for constitution of the Selection
Committee for making appointments to any post under
these Rules :

“16. Constitution of Selection Committee – For selection
of candidates for appointment to any post under
these Rules, there shall be constituted a Selection
Committee comprising –

a) Principal, District Institute – Chairman
of Education and Training

b) District Basic Education – Member -Secretary
Officer

c) Principal, Government Girl’s – Member
Intermediate College at the
District Head-quarters

d) District Non-Formal – Member
Education Officer

e)

f) One Specialist in Hindu, – Member
Urdu or other languages, as
the case may be,
nominated by District
Magistrate
…”

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Rule 19(3) provides that no appointment shall be
made except upon the recommendation of the Selection
Committee.

“19. Appointment. –

(3) No appointment shall be made except with the
recommendation of the Selection Committee, and in
the case of direct recruitment except on production of
residence certificate issued by the Tahsildar.”
[emphasis supplied]

16. A perusal of the aforesaid Rules reveals that the
appellant as the District Basic Education Officer, being
the appointing authority was empowered to make
appointments only on the basis of recommendations of
the Selection Committee as contemplated by Rules 16
and 19(3) as set out hereinabove.

It is the case of the Respondent-State that the
appellant made the appointments without complying
with the 1981 Rules. Serious allegations of corruption
have been raised against the appellant by the state,
which would require determination in a full-fledged
enquiry by the disciplinary authority. It is pertinent to
note that all these appointments were declared to be
void ab initio by the State, as mentioned in the
appellant’s reply dated 04.12.2012 to the second show
cause notice.

The plea of the appellant that the appointments were
made in compliance with an earlier order passed by the
High Court, and under the directions of senior
functionaries, would require to be considered in the
enquiry.

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17. We uphold the impugned judgment passed by the High
Court in remitting the matter to the disciplinary
authority, which would be conducted from the stage of
the charge sheet. The disciplinary authority will
conduct the enquiry in accordance with the principles
of natural justice, after giving a full opportunity of
hearing to the appellant, who will be allowed to produce
both oral and documentary evidence. No unnecessary
adjournments will be granted to the parties.
The appellant will continue to remain under
suspension during the period of enquiry. The enquiry is
directed to be completed within a period of 4 months.
We modify the impugned judgement to the extent
that the enquiry officer be appointed by the Chief
Secretary.

Let a copy of this order be despatched to the Chief
Secretary.

It is clarified that there is no expression of any
opinion on the merits of the case.

The Civil Appeal is dismissed.

Pending Applications, if any, are accordingly disposed of.
Ordered accordingly.

………..…………….J.

(S. ABDUL NAZEER)

.…………………….J.

(INDU MALHOTRA)
New Delhi;

March 3, 2020.

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