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Sandeep Kumar Singh v. Managing Director U.P. Rajya Bhandaran Nigam New Hyderabad - WRIT - A No. 51163 of 2003  RD-AH 7139 (18 April 2007)
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 51163 of 2002
Gaya Prasad Yadav Vs. State of U.P. & another
Hon'ble Vineet Saran, J.
The petitioner was Accountant in the Agra Treasury. For some instance of wrong payment made in the year 1990, an F.I.R. was lodged against seven persons, which did not include the name of the petitioner. However, departmental enquiry was initiated against the petitioner, in which chargesheet was submitted on 26.8.1992, to which the petitioner submitted his reply. However, in the meantime, in the criminal case, out of seven persons named, four persons were found to be guilty of offences and were identified. However, the remaining three persons could not be identified. The same was communicated by the Economics Offences Wing, U.P. to the State Government vide communication dated 26.12.1996, wherein it was mentioned that the departmental proceeding may be initiated against some official of treasury, including the petitioner.
After submission of the charge sheet and reply given by the petitioner in the departmental proceedings on 26.8.1992, an enquiry report was submitted only on 15.9.2000 and thereafter vide order 24.5.2002 passed by the District Magistrate, Agra the punishment of dismissal of service and recovery of Rs.1,54,481/- was directed to be made from the petitioner. Challenging the said order, the petitioner filed an appeal which was decided by the Commissioner, Agra Division, Agra on 23.10.2002 whereby the punishment of dismissal was reduced to that of reversion to the next lower grade in the pay scale of Rs 4000-6000 but the same was also subject to the condition that the petitioner deposited the sum of Rs.1,54,481/-. It was further directed that the petitioner would not be entitled to salary during the period he remained out of service. Aggrieved by the aforesaid orders dated 24.5.2002 and 23.10.2002 the petitioner has filed this writ petition.
By a detailed interim order dated 2.12.2002, the operation of the aforesaid orders dated 24.5.2002 and 23.10.2002, insofar as they direct the petitioner to deposit Rs.1,54,481/- had been stayed. Consequently, the petitioner was permitted to join on the reverted post in the pay scale of Rs.4000/6000. During the pendency of this writ petition, the petitioner has retired from service on 31.1.2004.
I have heard Sri Manu Khare, learned counsel for the petitioner as well as learned Standing Counsel appearing for the respondents and have perused the record.
The submission of learned counsel for the petitioner is that even in the enquiry report the three charges against the petitioner had only been said to be proved partly but still the impugned order punishing the petitioner has been passed. It has further been submitted that the petitioner was not the person responsible for payment of pension and it was the Pension Disbursing Officer who was responsible for the same. It has thus been urged that order of reversion as well the order directing the recovery from the petitioner is wholly unjustified and liable to be quashed. It has also been submitted that as per the instructions issued by the Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) Government of India regarding payment of pension, in para 10 it has been provided that Pension Disbursing Officers are to be personally responsible for the acts of their subordinates and Government will hold them responsible for any loss which may result from their own supineness or the dishonesty of their subordinates. As such, the contention is that the petitioner, who was only an Accountant, could not be held responsible for any such wrong payment of pension.
Learned Standing Counsel has, however, submitted that since the charges have been partly proved against the petitioner, the punishment imposed by the appellate authority is fully justified and liable to be confirmed.
The summary of three charges levelled against the petitioner are that; (i) the payment of pension was made on a photocopy of the Pension Payment Order and not the original; (ii) the signature of the pensioner was made by the sketch pen and not by ink pen, and even then pension was accepted by the petitioner; and (iii) the pensioner was not properly identified by two witnesses.
With regard to the first charge, even though the finding recorded by the enquiry officer is to the effect that the photocopy of the Pension Payment Order bore the duly Embossed Seal of the Competent Officer and that it was the duty of Pension Disbursing Officer to see the correctness of the documents and not that of the accountant or clerk, but still the enquiry officer held the charge against the petitioner to be partly proved. As regards the second charge, even though the enquiry officer admitted that the provision of signature of the pensioner was to be made by the ink pen and that sketch pen was also an ink pen, but in the end the enquiry officer stated that the said charge was also partly proved. With regard to third charge, relating to identification by two witnesses, the enquiry officer has stated that although there was no provision under the Rules for such identification, but as per practice, it was being done for first payment. It was admitted by the enquiry officer that despite no such requirement, the identification had been done by two existing pensioners but it was then stated that had the accountant and the Pension Disbursing Officer made enquiries from those identifying, then false payment could have been avoided. In the end, the enquiry officer has also mentioned that it is true that the responsibility of making such payment was of the Pension Disbursing Officer but since the petitioner was to assist the Pension Disbursing Officer, he would also be responsible and thus this charge was said to be partly proved against the petitioner.
With regard to the first charge, once the pension papers produced were having Embossed Seal of the Competent Officer, it could not be said that there was any fault of the petitioner, specially when the responsibility for payment of pension was that of Pension Disbursing Officer and not the petitioner. As regard the second charge, the signature had been made by sketch pen which is also an ink pen. In the absence of the Rule providing for any specific pen to be used for the signature, the petitioner cannot be held guilty of the charge. The third charge, as stated above, has been partly proved against the petitioner, merely because the petitioner was assisting the Pension Disbursing Officer. The petitioner could not be held responsible for any act of some other officer responsible for performance of such duty under law. In such circumstances at best, the petitioner could have been warned for his conduct as a person who assisted the Pension Disbursing Officer, but he could not be held responsible for acts or performance of duty specifically assigned to the Pension Disbursing Officer. As such, none of the three charges could be said to have been proved against the petitioner so as to warrant any punishment. Even the order directing recovery from the petitioner has been wrongly made, as admittedly it was the responsibility of the Pension Disbursing Officer to make such payment and not that of the petitioner. If at all, recovery could have been made from to officer concerned and not from the person who assisted such officer. In its order, the appellate authority has also observed that the petitioner was having 38 years of service career with unblemished record and still awarded such punishment of reversion and recovery, without the petitioner being found responsible for such acts, which is wholly unjustified and cannot be sustained in the eyes of law.
For the foregoing reasons, the order impugned orders in this writ petition deserve to be quashed.
Accordingly, this writ petition stands allowed. The impugned orders 24.5.2002 and 23.10.2002 passed by the District Magistrate, Agra, respondent no.1 and Commissioner, Agra Division Agra, respondent no.2 are quashed. The petitioner shall be entitled to all consequential benefits. No order as to cost.
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