High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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ST ATE OF PUNJAB & Ors v. NAVAL RAI - RSA-506-2005  RD-P&H 8 (10 May 2005)
State of Punjab and others v. Naval Rai
Present:- Mr.H.P.S.Gill, D.A.G., Punjab, for the State-appellant.
for the respondent.
Ashutosh Mohunta, J.
Whether or not one month's notice of resignation dated 26.2.1998 (Ex.D1), alleged to have been submitted by plaintiff-respondent Naval Rai, has legally been proved by the defendant-appellants?
is the short question that arises for consideration in the present appeal.
The plaintiff, who was employed as Sweeper-cum-Chowkidar in the District Consumer Redressal Forum, Jalandhar, proceeded on earned leave from 27.2.1998 to 18.3.1998. However, due to the demise of his uncle during this period, the plaintiff did not join the duty on 19.3.1998. Instead of that he reported for duty only on 24.3.1998 and he submitted his application for extension of leave from 19.3.1998 to 23.3.1998. His application for extension of leave was accepted by the authorities concerned but a notice dated 26.3.1998 was served on him vide which his explanation was called as to why he remained absent from duty from 19.3.1998 to 23.3.1998. He was directed to furnish his explanation within three days. Instead of waiting for three days, the authorities concerned relieved him of his duty vide order dated 27.3.1998. The acceptance of his leave from 19.3.1998 to 23.3.1998 R.S.A.No.506 of 2005
was conveyed to the plaintiff-respondent on 31.3.1998. He was also paid his dues thereafter. Naval Rai plaintiff challenged the termination his services vide order dated 27.3.1998 on the ground of its arbitrariness and illegality before the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Jalandhar. On receipt of the notice from the trial Court, the defendants took up the plea that the plaintiff had resigned from his post and he had given one month's notice therefor on 26.2.1998. The defendants did not produce the original resignation letter allegedly submitted by the plaintiff. Rather they produced a photocopy thereof (Ex.D1) by taking the plea that the original letter was torn by Miss Saroj Kumari, Stenographer posted in the office of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Jalandhar (for short `the District Forum). The defendants moved an application before the trial Court under Section 65 of the Indian Evidence Act to prove seven documents including the letter dated 5.3.1998 (Ex.P8) issued by the President of the District Forum to the Secretary, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Punjab, Chandigarh (for short `the Commission) and another letter dated 18.3.1998 (Ex.D9) conveying the approval for acceptance of the resignation of the plaintiff. Despite contest raised on behalf of the plaintiff, the trial Court allowed the application vide its order dated 6.12.2001, which is reproduced hereunder:-
"The resignation is required to be proved by means of R.S.A.No.506 of 2005
secondary evidence which is necessary for fair, just and final adjudication of the matter. Under the given circumstances and in the interest of justice, the document in the form of said "resignation" is allowed to be proved by means of secondary evidence subject to all just exceptions and subject to the proof of existence and loss of document."
Ultimately, after hearing the counsel for the parties and on examining the evidence adduced on record, the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Jalandhar, decreed the suit of the plaintiff in his favour with all consequential benefits to him along with interest at the rate of 18% per annum vide judgment and decree dated 30.3.2002. The appeal filed by the defendants was dismissed by the Additional District Judge, Jalandhar, vide judgment and decree dated 20.5.2003. Now the State has filed this appeal to challenge the judgments and decrees passed by both the Courts below.
It has been contended by the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State of Punjab that both the Courts below have erred in holding that the resignation letter (Ex.D1) does not stand proved in spite of the fact the same had been proved by the defendants by leading cogent evidence.
The contention raised by the learned Deputy Advocate General has vehemently been controverted by Mr.D.V.Sharma, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the plaintiff-respondent.
R.S.A.No.506 of 2005
In order to prove the resignation letter dated 26.2.1998 the defendants have produced on record a photocopy thereof (Ex.D1) on the plea that the original had been torn by Miss Saroj Kumari, Stenographer. As per the order dated 6.12.2001 (which has been reproduced above) the trial Court had granted permission to the defendants to produce the photocopy of the resignation letter (Ex.D1) subject to the proof of existence and loss of the document. In order to prove the receipt of the original, the defendants produced before the trial Court as well as the lower appellate Court certified copy of the register wherein the entry thereof was allegedly made at No.73 dated 26.2.1998. It was found by the Courts below that Entry No.73 was left blank and cross lines were marked on it. It was nowhere established that the said resignation letter was received in the office of the District Forum vide Entry No.73 dated 26.2.1998. The defendants had examined D.W.1 Madan Lal Gheek, Ex-Superintendent in the office of the District Forum. In his statement Madan Lal Gheek nowhere stated whether the original resignation letter was destroyed or it was torn. He remained silent about the disappearance of the original resignation letter. Not only this, Miss Saroj Kumari Stenographer, who had allegedly torn the resignation letter, has not been examined by the defendants in order to prove the loss of the original document. Moreover, the order dated 27.3.1998 (Ex.P8), vide which the plaintiff-respondent was relieved of his duties, does not make any mention R.S.A.No.506 of 2005
with regard to the acceptance of resignation allegedly submitted by him. For the sake of ready reference, the said letter is reproduced hereunder:- "To
District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Jalandhar.
After the completion of your one month's notice on 27.3.1998 and in terms of your order of appointment and with the approval of State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Pb., Chandigarh, conveyed to this office vide letter No.SCDRC/PB/98/2674 dated 18.3.1998, you stand relieved from the post of Sweeper-cum-Chowkidar w.e.f. afternoon of 27.3.1998.
District Consumer Disputes
Redressal Forum, Jalandhar.
A perusal of the afore-quoted order dated 27.3.1998 (Ex.P8) reveals that it does not make any mention therein that the resignation submitted by plaintiff-respondent had been accepted and, accordingly, he stood relieved of this duties. It is the case of the plaintiff that he had been relieved arbitrarily without issuing any show-cause notice and giving any opportunity of hearing to him. Furthermore, the plaintiff had been relieved of his duties with effect from 27.3.1998 (Afternoon) but his earned leave from 19.3.1998 to R.S.A.No.506 of 2005
23.3.1998 was sanctioned on 31.3.1998 (Ex.D7).
To sum up, the defendants have concealed the best evidence from the Court. They did not produce the original resignation letter allegedly submitted by the plaintiff. In order to prove the plea that the same had been torn by Ms.Saroj Kumari, Stenographer, she has also not been examined by them. Even the alleged Entry No.73 dated 26.2.1998 in the register has been left blank. It nowhere shows that it pertained to the resignation letter submitted by the plaintiff. Not only, this the defendants also did not produce the original register on record. They only produced before the Court the certified copy thereof. It all shows that the original evidence has been concealed by the defendants to every possible extent. In view of all this, I do not find any infirmity in the well-reasoned judgments passed by both the Courts below and I uphold the same.
Both the Courts below have given concurrent findings of fact which cannot be interfered with in the second appeal in view of the provisions of Section 100 of the Civil Procedure Code, as no substantial question of law arises therein.
Lastly, it has been contended on behalf of the State that the interest awarded to the plaintiff at the rate of 18% is very unreasonable. The counsel for the State has prayed that the rate of interest ought to be reduced.
I find merit in the contention raised by the learned Deputy R.S.A.No.506 of 2005
Advocate General. The interest at the rate of 18% is very much on the higher side. The prevailing rate of interest in the bank deposits have considerably been reduced in the recent years. Therefore, the rate of interest is liable to be reduced as has been done by Hon'ble the Supreme Court in Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation Ltd. v. S.Raj Priya and others, 2005(2) Punjab Law Reporter 650. Accordingly, I reduce the rate of interest from 18% to 6% per annum.
Consequently, there is no merit in this appeal. It is, accordingly, dismissed except for the reduction in the rate of interest, as mentioned above.
July 29, 2005. ( Ashutosh Mohunta )
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