Sanjay Marutirao Patil vs Union Of India Ministry Of Defence on 24 January, 2020


Supreme Court of India

Sanjay Marutirao Patil vs Union Of India Ministry Of Defence on 24 January, 2020

Author: Ashok Bhushan

Bench: Ashok Bhushan, M.R. Shah

                                                               REPORTABLE
                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                  CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                                  CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2448 OF 2010


          Sanjay Marutirao Patil                             …Appellant


                                      Versus


          Union of India and others                          …Respondents


                                           JUDGMENT

M.R. SHAH, J.

Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

judgment and order dated 31.01.2008 passed by the High Court

of Judicature at Bombay in Writ Petition No. 423 of 2005, by

which the High Court has dismissed the said writ petition

preferred by the appellant herein and has refused to interfere

with the order of dismissal passed by the respondent dated

29.04.2002, the original writ petitioner has preferred the present
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
ARJUN BISHT
Date: 2020.01.24
16:49:30 IST
Reason:

appeal.

1

2. The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as

under:

That the appellant herein – original writ petitioner

(hereinafter referred to as the ‘Appellant’) joined the Indian Army

as a Sepoy on 30.08.1990. In the year 1994­95, he was

promoted as Naik. Thereafter, he became qualified for promotion

to the post of Hawaldar. He was served with a charge sheet

dated 3.8.1999 levelling three charges of misconduct. That the

three charges were framed against the appellant under Section

63 of the Army Act, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Army

Act’). With respect to the above charge sheet, the appellant was

called upon to face a Summary Court Martial. The appellant

pleaded guilty to each of the charges in writing. After considering

his defence, the Summary Court Martial proceedings were

completed/concluded and the appellant was awarded with the

punishment of reduction in rank, vide order dated 7.8.1999.

That thereafter the appellant was served with a show cause

notice dated 24.3.2000, by which the appellant was called upon

to show cause as to why he should not be discharged from Army

service under the provisions of Section 20 of the Army Act, read

2
with Rule 17 of the Army Rules, 1954 (hereinafter referred to as

the ‘ Army Rules’). That the appellant replied to the said show

cause notice on 10.4.2000. He denied the allegations made

therein. According to the department, though the appellant

pleaded guilty to the three charges, he denied those charges in

the reply to the show cause notice dated 24.3.2000 and therefore

the same were fraudulent in nature. According to the

department, upon such denial, a Court of Inquiry came to be

held in January, 2001 to ascertain the facts revealed by the

appellant in the notice. According to the department, thereafter

again meeting of the Court of Inquiry was held. The appellant

appeared as a witness. He was examined. The Court of Inquiry

put to him such questions as it thought desirable for testing the

truth or accuracy of the statement made by him in his reply and

for eliciting the truth. According to the department, the report of

the Court of Inquiry was submitted to the authority concerned.

According to the department, the Court of Inquiry gave the

finding that the appellant has given false and misleading reply in

his say as well as in his evidence before the Court of Inquiry.

According to the department, the appellant was, therefore, issued

a show cause notice on 17.4.2001 to show cause as to why he

3
should not be discharged from the Army under Rule 13(3) item

III(V) as his services were no longer required, being undesirable.

That the appellant filed his reply to the said show cause notice on

14.6.2001. That thereafter the respondents terminated the

appellant’s services on 29.4.2002, in exercise of the powers under

Section 20 of the Army Act, read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules.

2.1 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order of

termination dated 29.4.2002, the appellant preferred an appeal,

which came to be rejected on 22.12.2003. That thereafter the

appellant approached the High Court by way of present writ

petition challenging the order of dismissal of the appellant as well

as the order dismissing the appeal.

2.2 Before the High Court, it was the case on behalf of the

appellant that once the appellant faced the Summary Court

Martial and the appellant was awarded the punishment of

reduction in rank, thereafter for the same charges, the appellant

could not have been dismissed from service in exercise of powers

under Section 20 of the Army Act, read with Rule 17 of the Army

Rules. It was the case on behalf of the appellant that once the

Summary Court Martial awarded the punishment, thereafter to

4
dismiss the appellant by passing an administrative order under

Section 20 of the Army Act, read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules,

would be double jeopardy, which is not permissible. However, the

High Court did not agree with the same and dismissed the writ

petition by observing that the administrative power under Section

20 of the Army Act, read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules, is an

independent power and therefore the order of dismissal passed

under Section 20 of the Army Act, read with Rule 17 of the Army

Rules, is not required to be interfered with. Consequently, the

High Court by the impugned judgment and order has dismissed

the said writ petition and has refused to interfere with the

administrative order dismissing the appellant from service, which

was passed in exercise of the powers under Section 20 of the

Army Act, read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules.

3. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

judgment and order passed by the High Court, the appellant –

original writ petitioner has preferred the present appeal.

4. Shri. Braj K. Mishra, learned Advocate appearing on behalf

of the appellant – original writ petitioner has vehemently

submitted that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the

5
High Court has committed a grave error in dismissing the writ

petition and not interfering with the termination order passed by

the respondent­authority dated 29.4.2002.

4.1 Shri. Braj K. Mishra, learned Advocate appearing on behalf

of the appellant – original writ petitioner has vehemently

submitted that the High Court has materially erred in not

appreciating the fact that the order passed by respondent no.3

thereby dismissing the appellant from service was actually illegal

and bad in law and would tantamount to double jeopardy.

4.2 It is submitted by the learned counsel appearing on behalf

of the appellant that the High Court has not properly appreciated

and considered the fact that the appellant for the one and the

same offence was sought to be punished twice by the

respondents. It is submitted that earlier the appellant was made

to face Summary Court Martial in respect of charges of

misconduct enumerated in the charge sheet dated 3.8.1999.

The appellant was found guilty of the same misconduct and on

7.8.1999 the Court Martial imposed the punishment of reduction

in rank under Section 71 of the Army Act. It is submitted that

the said proceedings concluded after the order of punishment

6
was given to the appellant. It is submitted therefore, after

passing the order of punishment passed by the Summary Court

Martial and the same had attained finality, thereafter it was not

open for respondent no.2 to re­open the matter and initiate any

further proceedings against the appellant on the same set of

charges.

4.3 It is submitted by the learned counsel appearing on behalf

of the appellant that in the present case despite there being a

sentence awarded by the Summary Court Martial, which was

after the conclusion of the proceedings of the Summary Court

Martial, the respondents issued a show cause notice dated

24.3.2000 alleging against the appellant that the particulars of

charges disclosed that the offence was fraudulent in nature. It is

submitted that therefore the show cause notice dated 24.3.2000

itself was illegal and bad in law.

4.4 It is vehemently submitted by the learned counsel appearing

on behalf of the appellant that after the conclusion of the

Summary Court Martial in which the appellant was given the

punishment of reduction in rank, thereafter respondent no.3 had

no jurisdiction to take any further action in respect of very same

7
misconduct of the appellant. It is submitted that if at all the

offences were said to be fraudulent in nature, it was open for

respondent no.3 to impose any punishment upon the appellant

at the time of conducting the Summary Court Martial itself. It is

submitted that, however, at the relevant time, respondent no.3

had taken a conscious decision to impose the punishment of

reduction in rank of the appellant. It is submitted that in that

view of the matter, thereafter respondent no.3 was not legally

entitled to re­open the matter and initiate fresh proceedings on

the same set of charges for which the appellant had already been

awarded sentence by way of reduction in rank. In support of his

above submissions, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the

appellant has taken us to the relevant provisions of the Act, more

particularly Sections 121, 161 and 162 of the Army Act.

4.5 It is further submitted by the learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the appellant that even the manner in which the Court

of Inquiry was subsequently conducted by the respondents is

also illegal and ab initio void. It is submitted that the appellant

had issued a show cause notice dated 24.3.2000 in which it was

alleged that the particulars of the charges mentioned in the show

8
cause notice disclosed that the offence is fraudulent in nature. It

is submitted that therefore it was necessary for respondent no.3

to conduct further investigation/enquiry if at all permissible in

law only in respect of allegations which were called fraudulent in

nature of charges mentioned in the show cause notice dated

3.8.1999. It is submitted that as such in view of the conclusion

of the Summary Court martial, the same was not permissible. It

is submitted that, however, according to respondent no.3, the

Court of Inquiry was conducted from the fresh facts allegedly

revealed in the reply on behalf of the appellant to the show cause

notice. It is submitted that by the show cause notice dated

24.3.2000, the appellant was called upon to submit his reply in

respect of alleged fraudulent nature of charges made against him

in charge sheet dated 3.8.1999. It is submitted therefore that as

a defence the appellant denied the charges by stating that the

same are not fraudulent nature of charges. It is submitted that

even otherwise, if at all respondent no. 3 was of the opinion that

the appellant had made false statements or given any false

information in his reply dated 10.4.2000 and for that purpose it

was necessary to proceed against the appellant under the Act

and the Rules made thereunder, then it was necessary for

9
respondent no.3 to come up with a fresh charge sheet making

specific allegations against the appellant with respect to specific

contents of the appellant’s reply to the show cause notice. It is

submitted that it was also necessary for respondent no.3 to give

an appropriate and reasonable opportunity to the appellant to

meet with those specific allegations in relation to the alleged false

statements made by the appellant in his reply to the show cause

notice. It is submitted that, however, admittedly neither such

fresh charge sheet was issued to the appellant nor any

opportunity was given to the appellant by firstly explaining to

him which of the statements and contents of his reply to the

show cause notice were false, misleading etc. It is submitted that

the appellant was also not called upon to submit his explanation

to the same. It is submitted that respondent no.3 straightway

proceeded to conduct the Court of Inquiry and came to the

conclusion that the appellant has committed the misconduct

while submitting his reply to the show cause notice and for such

misconduct, he is not authorised to retain in service or that

further retention of the appellant in service is considered

undesirable. It is submitted that therefore the entire proceedings

conducted by respondent no.3 are illegal, bad in law and without

10
jurisdiction and the same are also in breach of the Army Act and

the Rules made thereunder and therefore the same ought to have

been set aside by the High Court.

4.6 It is further submitted that the exercise of the

administrative powers by respondent no.3 under Section 20 of

the Army Act read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules after the

conclusion of the Summary Court Martial and award of sentence

under Section 71 of the Army Act for the very charge

sheet/grounds for which the Summary Court Martial was

conducted, is wholly illegal and without jurisdiction.

4.7 In support of his submissions, learned counsel

appearing on behalf of the appellant has relied upon a decision of

this Court in the case of State of Madhya Pradesh v. Hazari Lal

reported in (2008) 3 SCC 273.

4.8 Making the above submissions and relying upon the

above decision of this Court, it is prayed to allow the present

appeal.

5. The present appeal is vehemently opposed by Ms.

Sonia Mathur, learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of

the respondents. Learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of

11
the respondents has vehemently submitted that the order of

termination passed by respondent no.3, challenged before the

High Court, was an administrative order passed in exercise of

powers under Section 20 of the Army Act, read with Rule 17 of

the Army Rules. It is submitted that powers under Section 20 of

the Army Act, read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules are

independent powers available to respondent no.3. It is submitted

that therefore the contention on behalf of the appellant that a

subsequent administrative order of termination passed under

Section 20 of the Army Act read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules

is double jeopardy has no substance.

5.1 It is further submitted by the learned Senior Advocate

appearing on behalf of the respondents that proceedings under

Section 20 of the Army Act, read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules

are administrative in nature. It is submitted that the

administrative proceedings are independent of the criminal

proceedings and even both can run in parallel. It is submitted

that assuming that the proceedings under Section 20 of the Army

Act are criminal proceedings, still the offences tried for in the

Court Martial were different from those under Section 20 of the

12
Army Act and therefore there cannot be a case of double jeopardy

as the action taken under Section 20 of the Army Act cannot be

considered to be a “prosecution” under Article 20(2) of the

Constitution of India.

5.2 It is further submitted that in the present case the

impugned order of termination in exercise of powers under

Section 20 of the Army Act read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules

was passed after following due procedure as required, by passing

the order under Section 20 of the Army Act. It is submitted that

Section 20 of the Army Act provides that the Chief of Army Staff

or other officers may dismiss or remove from the service any

person subject to the Army Act, other than an officer. It is

submitted that the only procedure prescribed under the Army

Rules for dismissal under Rule 17 of the Army Rules is that no

person shall be dismissed or removed unless he has been

informed about the cause of action against him and allowed

reasonable time to state in writing any reasons he may have to

urge against his dismissal or removal from service.

5.3 It is submitted by the learned Senior Advocate appearing on

behalf of the respondents that as per the scheme of the Army Act,

13
Chapter 4 deals with conditions of service. It is submitted that in

the said Chapter, Section 18 provides the doctrine of pleasure of

President. Sections 19 & 20 further provides power of Central

Government to terminate the services of the officer on

misconduct and the power of Chief of Army Staff and other officer

to terminate the service of other ranks. It is submitted that in

Chapter 3 of the Rules, Rules 14 and 17 deal with the procedure

for the termination of service by the Central Government on

account of misconduct in respect of the officer and dismissal or

removal by Chief of Army Staff and by other officers in respect of

other ranks respectively.

5.4 It is submitted by the learned Senior Advocate appearing on

behalf of the respondents that in Rule 14 the phrase conviction

by Court Martial is not mentioned which is given in Rule 17 in

respect of other ranks. It is submitted that therefore the

Parliament has included the said phrase in Rule 17 because only

other ranks can be tried by Summary Court Martial which does

not require confirmation in terms of Section 153 of the Army Act.

It is submitted that in the absence of any power of confirmation

which is available in case of General Court Martial, Summary

14
Court Martial and District Court Martial, the Summary Court

Martial cannot be sent for revision once signed by the

Commanding Officer after the trial. It is submitted that in other

words the scheme of the Army Act and the Army Rules provide a

mechanism to rectify any error committed by Court Martial by

way of revision under Section 160 of the Army Act read with Rule

68 of the Army Rules, which is not available in the case of

Summary Court Martial. It is submitted that in order to avoid

miscarriage of justice, Parliament has empowered the competent

authority to take the recourse of Section 20 of the Army Act read

with Rule 17 of the Army Rules by providing power to dismiss the

individual after being convicted by Court Martial.

5.5 It is further submitted by the learned Senior Advocate

appearing on behalf of the respondents that in the present case

the charges framed against the accused (appellant herein –

original writ petitioner) were all under Section 63 of the Army Act

which were very serious which warranted trial by either General

Court Martial or District Court Martial. It is therefore submitted

that it was imperative on the part of the Commanding Officer to

refer the same for proper legal advice. It is further submitted

15
that there was no proper application of mind at the relevant time

when the Summary Court Martial was held and conducted and

the Commanding Officer dealt with the matter without any

proper application of mind. It is submitted that the case of

frauds needs to be dealt with appropriately and laxity of the

nature shown in this case defeated the ends of justice and the

wrong precedent was set for the prospective offenders. It is

submitted that therefore in order to ensure that the accused does

not escape from the natural consequences of his fraudulent acts,

recourse was therefore taken to terminate his services under

Section 20 of the Army Act read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules.

It is submitted that therefore the action of termination under

Section 20 of the Army Act read with Rule 17 is legally in order,

as Rule 17 provides for dismissal of a person convicted by a

Court Martial whose retention in service is not desirable.

5.6 Now so far as the submission on behalf of the appellant on

exercise of the powers by the Chief of Army Staff under Section

163 of the Army Act is concerned, learned Senior Advocate

appearing on behalf of the respondents has heavily relied upon

the decision of this Court in the case of Union of India and others

16
v. Harjeet Singh Sandhu
reported in (2001) 5 SCC 593. It is

submitted that in the aforesaid decision, this Court considered in

detail the entire scheme of the Army Act and the Rules with

respect to Summary Court Martial etc. and the powers of the

Commanding in Chief Staff under Section 20 of the Army Act

read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules, and the case of an officer

whose service is proposed to be terminated on the ground of

misconduct which has led to his conviction by a criminal Court.

It is submitted that in the aforesaid decision, this Court

recognised the independent powers under Section 20 of the Army

Act read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules. Relying upon the

aforesaid decision, it is vehemently submitted by the learned

Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the respondents that the

proceedings under Section 20 of the Army Act are administrative

in nature and not on the same footing as that of a Court Martial

proceedings. It is further submitted that there cannot be a case of

double jeopardy as the action taken under Section 20 of the Army

Act cannot be considered to be a “prosecution” under Article

20(2) of the Constitution of India.

17
5.7 Learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the

respondents has heavily relied upon the decision of this Court in

the case of Chief of Army Staff v. Major Dharam Pal Kukrety

reported in (1985) 2 SCC 412 in support of her submission that in

the present case the exercise of powers by the Chief of Army Staff

under Section 20 of the Army Act does not suffer from any

illegality.

5.8 It is further submitted by the learned Senior Advocate

appearing on behalf of the respondents that even otherwise on

merits also, the order of termination passed by respondent no.3

in exercise of powers under Section 20 of the Army Act read with

rule 17 of the Army Rules is not required to be interfered with.

5.9 It is submitted that in the present case the initial show

cause notice dated 24.3.2000 clearly set out that the conduct

which led to reduction in rank by the Summary Court Martial

was fraudulent in nature and therefore the appellant was called

upon to show cause as to why action under Section 20 of the

Army Act read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules be not taken. It is

submitted that in reply thereto, the appellant categorically stated

that he was not present in the unit till 29.2.1996. It is submitted

18
that the assertion of the appellant’s reply regarding his absence

was subject of a Court of Inquiry presided by a Colonel which

found the said statement to be incorrect and recommended

suitable disciplinary action. It is submitted that on the basis of

the opinion of the Court of Inquiry, the Brigade Commander

recommended disciplinary action for giving false and misleading

reply to the show cause notice. It is submitted that it was in the

above background a further independent show cause notice

dated 17.4.2001 was issued to the appellant to show cause as to

why he should not be discharged under Rule 13(3) item III(v) as

his services are no longer required, being undesirable. It is

submitted that power to discharge is under Section 22 of the

Army Act. It is submitted that the appellant has duly understood

the difference between the two show cause notices, namely, show

cause notice dated 24.3.2000 and the subsequent show cause

notice dated 17.4.2001 and replied accordingly on 14.6.2001. It

is submitted that the first show cause notice dated 24.3.2000

was issued under Rule 17 which provides for dismissal or

removal from service while the second show cause notice was for

discharge under Section 22 read with Rule 13. It is submitted

that both the show cause notices were issued in exercise of

19
distinct powers vested under the Army Act and the Army Rules.

It is submitted that eventually the order dated 29.4.2002 for

dismissal has been passed under Section 20 of the Army Act read

with Rule 17 of the Army Rules. It is submitted that therefore

the procedural requirements of Section 20 of the Army Act read

with Rule 17 have been duly complied with. It is submitted that

there is no contention regarding any non­compliance of any

procedural requirement. It is submitted that the only issue

raised was availability of the power to initiate administrative

action after the proceedings of Court Martial have attained

finality. It is submitted that thereafter having been satisfied that

in the larger interest the appellant cannot be continued in service

and therefore his services have rightly been terminated/he is

rightly dismissed from service under Section 20 of the Army Act

read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules.

5.10 Making the above submissions and relying upon the

aforesaid decisions of this Court, it is prayed to dismiss the

present appeal.

6. We have heard the learned counsel appearing for the

respective parties at length.

20
6.1 At the outset, it is required to be noted that in the present

case, the appellant has been dismissed from service by the

Commander, respondent no.3 herein, while exercising powers

under Section 20 of the Army Act read with Rule 17 of the Army

Rules.

6.2 It is the case on behalf of the appellant that as earlier he

was subjected to the Summary Court Martial for the very charges

of misconduct for which the order of dismissal has been passed

and earlier the Summary Court Martial passed an order of

reduction in rank, the subsequent order of dismissal passed by

respondent no.3 herein in exercise of powers under Section 20 of

the Army Act is bad in law and would be violative of the principle

of double jeopardy.

6.3 On the other hand, it is the case on behalf of the

department that power of dismissal under Section 20 of the Army

Act vested with the Chief of Army Staff and other officers is an

independent power and the two Sections, Section 20 and 71 of

the Army Act, are, therefore, mutually exclusive. While

considering the submission on behalf of the department that

power under Section 20 of the Army Act is an independent power

21
vested with the Chief of Army Staff and other officers, the

decision of this Court in the case of Harjeet Singh Sandhu (supra)

is required to be referred to and considered.

6.4 While considering the similar power of termination of service

by the Central Government under Section 19 of the Army Act, it

is observed and held by this Court that power under Section 19

(vested with the Central Government) is an independent power.

It is further observed and held by this Court in the aforesaid

decision that the Central Government or the Chief of the Army

Staff may arrive at a satisfaction that it is inexpedient or

impracticable to have the officer tried by a Court Martial, then

the Court Martial may not be convened and additionally, subject

to formation of the opinion as to undesirability of the officer for

further retention in the service, the power under Section 19 read

with Rule 14 may be exercised. It is further observed and held

that such a decision under Section 19 read with Rule 14 may be

taken either before convening the Court Martial or even after it

has been convened and commenced, subject to satisfaction as to

the trial by a Court Martial becoming inexpedient or

impracticable at which stage the Central Government or the Chief

22
of the Army Staff may revert back to Section 19 read with Rule

14. At the same time, it is further observed and held that there

shall be finality to the finding and sentence of Court Martial

subject to their being confirmed and not annulled. It is further

observed that questions of correctness, legality and propriety of

the order passed by any Court Martial and the regularity of any

proceedings to which the order of Court Martial relates can be

raised by way of petition under Section 164. It is further

observed that once the finding and the sentence, if any, have

been confirmed, the Court Martial being a Special Tribunal

dispensing military justice, it would not be permissible to

exercise additionally the power conferred by Section 19 read with

Rule 14 and to inflict a penalty thereunder if the Court Martial

has not chosen to inflict the same by way of punishment under

Section 71. It is further observed that to permit such a course

would be violative of the principle of double jeopardy and would

also be subversive of the efficacy of the Court Martial

proceedings, finding and sentence. It is further observed and

held that so long as a final verdict of guilty or not guilty,

pronounced by a Court Martial and confirmed by the competent

authority so as to be effective is not available, the power to

23
proceed under Section 19 read with Rule 14(2) exists and

remains available to be exercised.

6.5 In light of the aforesaid observations and the law laid down

by this Court, the order of dismissal dismissing the appellant

from service which was passed by respondent no.3 herein in

exercise of power under Section 20 of the Army Act and its

legality is required to be considered.

7. From the facts emerging from the record, it appears that

earlier the appellant was subjected to Summary Court Martial on

the following lapses:

“(a) Not correctly preparing certified Receipt convoy note against
receipt convoy note 599 date 27 Feb. 1996.

(b) Not dispatching the consignments pertaining to OTG and
receipt Convoy Note on 29th Feb. 1996 and 02 March, 1996 and
instead dispatching consignments pertaining to receipt convoy
Notes of others.

(c) Furnishing false information to the court that buckets steel
Qty 3700 were not received in OTG contrary to the fact that Qty
268 packages of buckets steel were unloaded in OTG on 27 Feb.

1996.”

However, it is required to be noted that at the relevant time,

the aforesaid lapses/charges were not considered to be

fraudulent in nature and the appellant was tried by Summary

Court Martial for the said lapses/charges under Section 63 of the

24
Army Act. Thereafter, the appellant was inflicted with the penalty

of reduction in rank. Nothing is on record that the order passed

by the Summary Court Martial by which the appellant was

reduced in rank was even confirmed by the Chief of the Army

Staff in exercise of powers under Section 164 of the Army Act.

Therefore, it cannot be said that the order passed by the

Summary Court Martial by which the appellant was inflicted with

the penalty of reduction in rank attained finality on being

confirmed by the competent authority (in the present case the

Chief of the Army Staff). Therefore, considering the observations

made by this Court in paragraphs 24 to 27(more particularly,

paragraph 27) in the case of Harjeet Singh Sandhu (supra), it was

open for the competent authority to exercise powers under

Section 20 of the Army Act read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules.

The power vested with the Chief of the Army Staff and conferred

under Section 20 of the Army Act is an independent power

available and for which the procedure under Rule 17 of the Army

Rules is required to be followed, however, subject to the

restrictions as observed by this Court in paragraph 27 in the case

of Harjeet Singh Sandhu (supra). Meaning thereby that only in a

case where the final verdict of guilty or not guilty pronounced by

25
a Court Martial has been confirmed by the competent authority

and has attained finality, the power to proceed under Section 19

read with Rule 14 or Section 20 read with Rule 17 shall not be

available to be exercised. In other words, so long as a final

verdict of guilty or not guilty pronounced by a Court Martial and

confirmed by the competent authority as to be effective is not

available, the power to proceed under Section 19 read with Rule

14 or Section 20 read with Rule 17, as the case may be, exists

and remains available to be exercised. Therefore, in the facts and

circumstances of the case and in the absence of any confirmation

of the order passed by the Summary Court Martial by which he

appellant was reduced to rank, the respondent no.3 herein was

justified in exercising the power under Section 20 read with Rule

17. At this stage, it is required to be noted that while exercising

the power under Section 20 of the Army Act, the only procedure

which is required to be followed would be under rule 17 of the

Army Rules, namely, a person who is sought to be dismissed or

removed from service has been informed of the particulars of the

cause of action against him and allowed reasonable time to state

in writing any reasons he may have to urge against his dismissal

or removal from the service. In the present case, such an

26
opportunity has been given to the appellant and therefore the

proper procedure has been followed before dismissing the

appellant from service, in exercise of powers under Section 20 of

the Army Act.

8. Now so far as the submission on behalf of the appellant that

the order of dismissal passed under Section 20 of the Army Act

would be violative of the principle of double jeopardy is

concerned, for the reasons stated above, the same cannot be

accepted. There is one another reason also why the order of

dismissal under Section 20 of the Army Act cannot be said to be

violative of the principle of double jeopardy. It is required to be

noted that when earlier the appellant was treated by the

Summary Court Martial, he was tried for the offences under

Section 63 of the Army Act only. However, subsequently the

Chief of the Army Staff was of the opinion that the particulars of

charges for which earlier the appellant was tried by the Summary

Court Martial and which were tried under Section 63 of the Army

Act disclose that the offences were fraudulent in nature.

Therefore, while treating and considering the offences as

fraudulent in nature and thereafter after giving an opportunity to

27
the appellant as required under Rule 17 and thereafter having

been satisfied that the appellant cannot be continued in service,

the order of dismissal has been passed by respondent no.3 herein

in exercise of powers under Section 20 of the Army Act read with

Rule 17 of the Army Rules and the said order of dismissal has

been confirmed by the Chief of the Army Staff while exercising the

powers under Section 164 of the Army Act on a petition filed by

the appellant. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the

case, the order of dismissal passed under Section 20 of the Army

Act and confirmed by the Chief of the Army Staff cannot be said

to be violative of the principle of double jeopardy.

9. Now so far as the submission on behalf of the department

that subsequently the appellant was served with the show cause

notice dated 17.04.2001 by which the appellant was called upon

to show cause as to why he should not be discharged under Rule

13(3) item III(v) which was on the allegation that in reply dated

10.04.2000 to the show cause notice dated 24.03.2000, the

appellant made a false and misleading reply and thereafter the

Court of Enquiry was conducted and thereafter having found that

the services of the appellant is no longer required being

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undesirable and therefore the order of discharge has been passed

after following due procedure is concerned, it is required to be

noted that the order of dismissal which is the subject matter of

the present appeal has not been passed under Rule 13(3) item

III(v). The order of dismissal in the present case is specifically

passed under Section 20 of the Army Act read with Rule 17 of the

Army Rules. Therefore, the justification of the order of dismissal

which is the subject matter of the present appeal on the aforesaid

ground is not sustainable. However, at the same time, and for

the reasons stated above, order of dismissal dated 29.04.2002

which was the subject matter before the High Court and even

before this Court which has been passed under Section 20 of the

Army Act read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules is just, proper,

legal and valid and the same is rightly not interfered by the High

Court. We are in complete agreement with the ultimate

conclusion arrived at by the High Court in the impugned

judgment and order.

10. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the

present appeal fails and is liable to be dismissed and is

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accordingly dismissed. However, in the facts and circumstances

of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.

……………………………………J.

                                 [L. NAGESWARA RAO]


NEW DELHI;                       ……………………………………J.
JANUARY 24, 2020.                [M.R. SHAH]




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