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Comm. Of Management And Anr. v. D.I.O.S.& Others - WRIT - A No. 35218 of 1996  RD-AH 12356 (27 July 2006)
Court No. 26
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 35218 of 1996
Committee of Management & Anr.,
The District Inspector of Schools, Jaunpur & Ors.,
Hon. Dilip Gupta, J.
The Committee of Management of the Laxmi Narain Uchchtar Madhyamik Vidalayaya Bhora, Jaunpur (hereinafter referred to as the ''College') and its Manager have filed the present petition for quashing the order dated 14/15th October, 1996 passed by the Regional Deputy Director of Education (Secondary) Jaunpur Region, Jaunpur, (hereinafter referred to as the ''Deputy Director') on the appeal filed by the Committee of Management against the order of the District Inspector of Schools refusing to grant approval to the termination of services of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi who had been appointed as an Assistant Teacher in the C.T. Grade in the College in the year 1980 and is respondent no. 4 in the present petition
The College is a recognised Intermediate College which came on the grant in aid list of the State Government in December, 1985. An inquiry was initiated against Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi in respect of certain allegations of misconduct. He was suspended by the Committee of Management by the resolution dated 19th August, 1986 and the Manager of the Committee of Management was appointed as the Inquiry Officer. A Charge-sheet dated 22nd August, 1986 was also served upon Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi and after holding the enquiry, the Inquiry Officer submitted his report with the findings that Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi had embezzled a sum of Rs. 1025.95 and that he had remained absent continuously for a long period and that he had indulged in acts of indiscipline. The report of the Inquiry Officer was placed before the Committee of Management. Opportunity was provided to Sri Tripathi by the Committee of Management against the enquiry report but he did not avail of the same. It was, therefore, resolved by the Committee of Management by the resolution dated 12th October, 1986 to terminate the services of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi as the charges were very serious in nature.
The papers relating to termination of service were then forwarded to the District Inspector of Schools for his approval but the District Inspector of Schools by the order dated 1st July, 1987 disapproved the resolution of the Committee of Management. An appeal under Section 60-G (3) (c) of the Uttar Pradesh Intermediate Education Act, 1921 (hereinafter referred to as the ''Act') was filed before the Deputy Director against the aforesaid order of the District Inspector of Schools but as the same remained pending, the Committee of Management filed a writ petition in this Court which was disposed of on 8th December, 1992 with a direction to the Deputy Director to decide the appeal within a period of one month from the date of filing of the certified copy of the order. The Deputy Director then disposed of the appeal by the order dated 27th January, 1994 with a direction to the District Inspector of Schools to decide the matter afresh by a speaking order. This order was challenged by Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi by filing a writ petition in this Court, being Writ Petition No. 14026 of 1994, which was disposed of on 11th April, 1994 with a direction to the District Inspector of Schools to pass an appropriate order within one month after providing an opportunity of hearing to Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi and the Committee of Management. Pursuant to the aforesaid directions issued by this Court, the District Inspector of Schools by the order dated 17th January, 1996 disapproved the resolution of the Committee of Management to terminate the services of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi. It was observed by the District Inspector of Schools in the aforesaid order that amongst all the charges levelled against Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi only one or two appeared to be serious in nature for which a warning should have been issued and if the charge relating to embezzlement of Rs. 1025.95 was found to be proved then in such a situation a direction should have been issued to Sri Tripathi for depositing the same so that the revenue of the State did not suffer. The charges according to the District Inspector of Schools were not that serious which warranted an order of termination.
This order was challenged by the Committee of Management by filing Writ Petition No. 5690 of 1996 in which initially an interim order was passed on 13th February, 1996 but was subsequently modified by the Court on 2nd May, 1996 by directing that Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi shall continue in service and shall be paid salary. Feeling aggrieved by the said order, the Committee of Management filed a Special Appeal in this Court being Special Appeal No. 408 of 1996 which was disposed of by this Court by means of the judgment and order dated 15th May, 1996. The Court noticed that a statutory appeal could be filed under Section 16-G (3) (c) of the Act and, therefore, that remedy should have been exhausted before approaching the Court. The Committee of Management then filed an appeal before the Deputy Director and it is the order passed by the Deputy Director on 14/15th October, 1996 that has been impugned in the present petition.
The order passed by the Appellate Authority makes an interesting reading and, therefore, deserves to be mentioned in detail. It proceeds to observe that even earlier in the year 1988 the Associate District Inspector of Schools, during inquiry, had found that Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi was not present in the College and that even the letter dated 2nd May, 1989 sent by the Associate District Inspector of Schools to the Deputy Director mentions that on 22nd April, 1989 when Sri Paras Nath Dubey had inspected the College along with two other officers, it was found on enquiry that Sri Tripathi was present in the College till June, 1986 but thereafter had stopped attending the College. This fact was also verified from the students of Class VIth, VIIth and VIIIth who stated that neither Sri Tripathi attended the College and nor did he teach in the College, though at times he was seen outside the College in the fields and at times grazing the buffaloes. It has further been observed in the order that many other Associate Inspector of Schools made inquiries and found that Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi was not present in the College. A specific finding has also been recorded by the Deputy Director in his order, that Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi had at no point of time been physically stopped from attending the College but had on his own stopped attending the College. This had even prompted the Appellate Authority to comment that as a teacher it was the responsibility of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi to attend the College and teach the students but he had failed to discharge his duties and, therefore, the Management was justified in issuing the order of suspension. Surprisingly, even after recording all these findings, the Appellate Authority without recording any specific reason confirmed the order passed by the District Inspector of Schools refusing to accord approval to the order of termination passed by the Committee of Management and in the operative part of the order directed that if in future Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi was found absent without any justification then action should be taken against him. A warning was also issued to Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi to discharge his duties properly and not to indulge in any acts of indiscipline.
On 14th November, 1996, an interim order was passed by this Court in this petition that until further orders the operation of the appellate order dated 14/15th October, 1996 shall remain stayed. Affidavits have been exchanged between the parties.
Sri Prakash Padia learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that the charges levelled against Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi were very serious in nature and once the Appellate Authority had arrived at the conclusion that he deliberately on his own had not been attending the College, it should have approved the resolution of the Committee of Management terminating the services of Sri Tripathi. He further contended that no reasons whatsoever were assigned by the Deputy Director for not granting approval to the resolution of the Committee of Management and there was no occasion at all to take such a lenient view in the matter by directing that Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi should mend his ways in future and start attending the College. Sri Prakash Padia also contended that the matter regarding approval to the resolution of the Committee of Management of the College termination of services of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi has been pending for the last 20 years and, therefore, this Court instead of asking the Authorities to reconsider the matter, in the event the order was set aside, should itself examine the issues and grant approval to the said resolution.
Sri P.N. Tripathi learned counsel appearing for Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi respondent no. 4 has, however, submitted that the inquiry against Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi had not been conducted in accordance with law and, therefore, the District Inspector of Schools was justified in not granting approval to the resolution passed by the Committee of Management; that the punishment imposed upon Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi by the Committee of Management was highly disproportionate to the charges levelled against him and, therefore, the order passed by the Deputy Director reinstating him with a warning was justified and proper in the circumstances of the case; that discrimination had been practiced against Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi inasmuch as in similar circumstances Sri Jagdish Prasad Singh had been reinstated by the Committee of Management; that as the inquiry reports relied upon by the Appellate Authority had been subsequently obtained they could not have been taken into consideration as no opportunity was provided to Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi; that in spite of specific directions by the District Inspector of Schools, the Manager and Principal of the College did not permit Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi to discharge his duties as an Assistant Teacher and that, if the Court did not agree with his submissions then the matter should be remanded to the Appellate Authority to consider the matter afresh.
I have carefully considered the submissions advanced by the learned counsel for the parties.
I do not find any force in the contention advanced by Sri P.N. Tripathi, learned counsel appearing for Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi that the inquiry was not conducted in accordance with law as apart from the fact that Sri Tripathi has not been able to point out any specific flaw in the inquiry, the District Inspector of Schools and the Appellate Authority have also not found any defect in the enquiry. The submission of Sri P.N. Tripathi regarding discrimination having been practiced against Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi cannot also be accepted as the circumstances under which Sri Jagdish Prasad Singh was reinstated have not been brought on record and even otherwise Article 14 of the Constitution cannot come to the aid Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi in such a case. Thus merely because Sri Jagdish Prasad Singh was reinstated in service cannot be made a ground to pass an order for reinstatement of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi in service. The contention of Sri Tripathi that the Manager did not permit Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi to discharge his duties relates to the period after the District Inspector of Schools had not approved the resolution of the Committee of Management to terminate his services. It is not for the period covered by the charge-sheet for which period the Appellate Authority has recorded a specific finding that the Manager of the College had not stopped him from attending the College but he on his own had stopped attending the College. This contention, therefore, deserves to be rejected.
The Charges leveled against Sri Tripathi were that not only had he absented from the College for an unduly long period without any justification but he had also embezzled a sum of Rs. 1025.95 and had indulged in acts of indiscipline. The District Inspector of Schools while proceeding to decide the matter regarding grant of approval to the resolution of the Committee of Management to terminate the services of Sri Tripathi had observed that at least one or two charges were serious in nature. In respect of the embezzlement of Rs. 1025.95 the District Inspector of Schools observed that a direction could have been issued to recover the amount so that revenue of the State did not suffer and for the rest of the charges a warning could have sufficed. It is for this reason that the District Inspector of Schools did not accord approval to the resolution of the Committee of Management. The Appellate Authority concentrated on just one issue namely unauthorised absence from College and even while considering this issue, the Appellate Authority recorded a categorical finding that Sri Tripathi had stopped attending the College from July, 1986 which was unbecoming of a teacher of a College whose primary duty was to ensure that teaching work was carried out in a proper manner. What is surprising is that even after recording specific findings against Sri Tripathi, the Appellate Authority, without giving any reasons whatsoever, confirmed the order passed by the District Inspector of Schools whereby approval was not granted to the resolution of the Committee of Management and Sri Tripathi was let of with a warning that if he continued to absent himself from the College in future then the Committee of Management should take action against him. It would, therefore, be seen that the District Inspector of Schools and the Appellate Authority have not found that the charges levelled against Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi were not proved. In respect of the embezzlement charge, the District Inspector of Schools had observed that the amount should have been directed to be recovered so that the revenue of the State did not suffer but the Appellate Authority is absolutely silent on this issue. In respect of the charge relating to continuous absence from the College for a long period without any justification, the District Inspector of Schools thought that such a charge was not that serious enough to warrant an order of termination while the Appellate Authority merely observed that a warning to Sri Tripathi to attend the College in future was sufficient. I have no hesitation in holding that both the authorities have completely misdirected themselves.
The Inquiry Officer had found as a fact that Sri Tripathi had stopped attending the College on his own. This finding has not been reversed either by the District Inspector of Schools or by the Appellate Authority. The question that arises for consideration is that whether even in such circumstances, they were justified in not granting approval to the resolution of the Committee of Management. Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi was a Teacher in the College. A teacher is required to build the character of the students and, therefore, a teacher cannot be without character. He must inspire confidence in the students and, therefore, his conduct must be exemplary. Without a dedicated and disciplined teacher, even the best education system is bound to fail and, therefore, it is the duty of the teacher to take such care of the students as a careful parent would take of his children.
It may be useful to refer to some of the observations made by the Supreme Court in Avinash Nagra Vs. Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti & Ors., reported in (1997) 2 SCC 534 in respect of the qualities a teacher must possess and I consider it appropriate to reproduce certain passages :-
"In The Social and Political Thought of Dr S. Radhakrishnan by Clarissa Rodrigues, at p.120, it has been stated that education helps to improve the social order.........................
On the functions of a teacher, at p.133, according to Dr. Radhakrishnan, the success of the educational process depends considerably on the teacher, for it is the teacher who has to implant aims, and to build the character of the students. According to Laski, at bottom of the education, the quality of a university is always in direct proportion to the quality of its teacher. A good teacher is one who knows his subject, is enthusiastic about it and one who never ceases to learn. Communication with the students and sense of commitment to his work are necessary. A good teacher, therefore, according to Dr. Radhakrishnan, is one who is objective, just, humble and is open to correction. According to Whitehead the teacher must be a self-confident learned man. The teacher, therefore, is the primary functionary to transmit the intellectual and ethical values to the young. He should encourage the attitude of free enquiry and rational reflections. The teacher should try to remove the leaden weights of pride and prejudice, passion and desire which are likely to cloud a student's vision. The devoted teacher is not only concerned with the child's intellectual development but also has the obligation to attend to his moral, emotional and social growth as well.
Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation has stated that "a teacher cannot be without character. If he lacks it, he will be like salt without its savour. A teacher must touch the hearts of his students. Boys imbibe more from the teacher's own life than they do from books. If teachers impart all the knowledge in the world to their students but do not inculcate truth and purity amongst them, they will have betrayed them". Shri Aurobindo has stated that "it is the teacher's province to hold aloft the torch, to insist at all times and at all places that this nation of ours was founded on idealism and that whatever may be the prevailing tendencies of the times, out children shall learn to live among the sunlit peaks". Dr. S. Radhakrishnan has stated that "we in our country look upon teacher as gurus or, as acharyas. An Acharya is one whose aachar or conduct is exemplary. He must be an example of Sadachar or good conduct. He must inspire the pupils who are entrusted to his care with love of virtue and goodness. The ideal of a true teacher is andhakaraniridhata gurur itya bhidhiyate. Andhakar is not merely intellectual ignorance, but is also spiritual blindness. He who is able to remove that kind of spiritual blindness is called a guru. Are we deserving the noble appellation of an acharya or a guru?" Swami Vivekananda had stated that "the student should live from his very boyhood with one whose character is blazing fire and should have before him a living example of the highest teaching. In our country, the imparting of knowledge has always been through men of renunciation. The charge of imparting knowledge should again fall upon the shoulder of Tyagis".
It is in this backdrop, therefore, that the Indian society has elevated the teacher as "Guru Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheswaraha". As Brahma, the teacher creates knowledge, learning, wisdom, and also creates out of his students, men and women, equipped with ability and knowledge, discipline and intellectualism to enable them to face the challenges of their lives. As Vishnu, the teacher is preserver of learning. As Maheswara, he destroys ignorance. Obviously, therefore, the teacher was placed on the pedestal below the parents. The State has taken care of service conditions of the teacher and he owes dual fundamental duties to himself and to the society. As a member of the noble teaching profession and a citizen of India he should always be willing, self-disciplined, dedicated with integrity to remain ever a learner of knowledge, intelligently to articulate and communicate and imbibe in his students, as social duty, to impart education, to bring them up with discipline, inculcate to abjure violence and to develop scientific temper with a spirit of enquiry and reform constantly to rise to higher levels in any walk of life nurturing constitutional ideals enshrined in Article 51-A so as to make the students responsible citizens of the country. Thus the teacher either individually or collectively as a community of teachers, should regenerate this dedication with a bent of spiritualism in broader perspective of the constitutionalism with secular ideologies enshrined in the Constitution as an arm of the State to establish egalitarian social order under the rule of law. Therefore, when the society has given such a pedestal, the conduct, character, ability and disposition of a teacher should be to transform the student into a disciplined citizen, inquisitive to learn, intellectual to pursue in any walk of life with dedication, discipline and devotion with an enquiring mind but not with blind customary beliefs. The education that is imparted by the teacher determines the level of the student for the development, prosperity and welfare of the society. The quality, competence and character of the teacher are, therefore, most significant to mould the caliber, character and capacity of the students for successful working of democratic institutions and to sustain them in their later years of life as a responsible citizen in different responsibilities. Without a dedicated and disciplined teacher, even the best education system is bound to fail. It is, therefore, the duty of the teacher to take such care of the pupils as a careful parent would take of its children and the ordinary principle of vicarious liability would apply where negligence is that of a teacher. The age of the pupil and the nature of the activity in which he takes part are material factors determining the degree and supervision demanded by a teacher." (Emphasis supplied)
In Raj Pal Verma & Ors., Vs. Chancellor of Meerut University (renamed as Ch. Charan Singh University), Raj Bhawan, Lucknow & Ors., reported in AIR 1997 SC 2708 the Supreme Court also had an occasion to examine the role of teachers and had observed:-
"............... Honest and effective performance of the duties in teaching and in the management of the Universities is sagging and disappearing. Centres of learning meant to prepare the student with broad, enlightening and secular breed to improve excellence, higher learning, rational thinking and scientific temper with objectivity and fairness, are breading with narrow minded and cynical attitude. Objectivity and secular outlook would be brought back on board only when teacher becomes Guru and serves as Guru Devo Bhava but not as caste demon. The true teacher scintillates the young receptive minds with scientific thought and rational thinking and makes him progressive minded man to occupy any chosen faculty, profession, avocation, service to serve the society with pride of his almamater".
It is indeed ironical that the Appellate Authority even after having made observations about the qualities the teacher must possess failed to bring the matter to its logical end. What must not be forgotten is that the Appellate Authority had recorded a categorical finding that the teacher had stopped attending the College and that the students had not seen Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi teaching in the College though at times he was seen outside the College in the fields and at times grazing buffalos. Such a teacher can hardly inspire any confidence in the students and, therefore, there was no reason at all for the authorities to take such a lenient view in the matter. The decision taken by them not to grant approval to the resolution of the Committee of Management is clearly arbitrary and cannot be sustained. In fact what surprises most is that no reason at all has been given by the authorities for taking such a lenient view.
Even in respect of matters under Section 11-A of the Industrial Disputes Act where certain amount of discretion is vested with the Labour Courts/Industrial Tribunal in interfering with the quantum of punishment awarded by the Management where the workman concerned is found guilty of the misconduct, the Courts have defined the area of discretion.
In U.P. State Road Transport Corpn. Vs. Subhash Chandra Sharma & Ors., (2000) 3 SCC 324, the Supreme Court, after referring to the scope of interference with punishment under Section 11A of the Industrial Disputes Act, held that the Labour Court was not justified in interfering with the order of removal from service when the charge against the employee stood proved. It was also held that the jurisdiction vested with the Labour Court to interfere with punishment was not to be exercised capriciously and arbitrarily. It was necessary, in a case where the Labour Court finds the charge proved, for a conclusion to be arrived that the punishment was shockingly disproportionate to the nature of the charge found proved, before it could interfere to reduce the punishment.
In Regional Manager, U.P. SRTC, Etawah & Ors., Vs. Hoti Lal & Anr., reported in (2003) 3 SCC 605 the Supreme Court observed as follows:-
"It needs to be emphasized that the court or tribunal while dealing with the quantum of punishment has to record reasons as to why it is felt that the punishment was not commensurate with the proved charges. As has been highlighted in several cases to which reference has been made above, the scope for interference is very limited and restricted to exceptional cases in the indicated circumstances. Unfortunately, in the present case as the quoted extracts of the High Court's order would go to show, no reasons whatsoever have been indicated as to why the punishment was considered disproportionate. Reasons are live links between the mind of the decision taken to the controversy in question and the decision or conclusion arrived at. Failure to give reasons amounts to denial of justice. [See Alexander Machinery (Dudley) Ltd. V. Crabtree.] A mere statement that it is disproportionate would not suffice. A party appearing before a court, as to what it is that the court is addressing its mind. It is not only the amount involved but the mental set-up, the type of duty performed and similar relevant circumstances which go into the decision-making process while considering whether the punishment is proportionate or disproportionate. If the charged employee holds a position of trust where honesty and integrity are inbuilt requirements of functioning, it would not be proper to deal with iron hands. Where the person deals with public money or is engaged in financial transactions or acts in a fiduciary capacity, the highest degree of integrity and trustworthiness is a must and unexceptionable."
In Bharat Forge Company Ltd. Vs. Uttam Manohar Nakate, AIR 2005 SC 947, the Supreme Court again reiterated that the jurisdiction to interfere with the punishment should be exercised only when the punishment is shockingly disproportionate and that each case has to be decided on its facts and that the Labour Court or the Industrial Tribunal, as the case may be, in terms of the provisions of the Act, has to act within the four corners thereof. It cannot sit in appeal over the decision of the employer unless there exists a statutory provision in that behalf. The Tribunal or the Labour Court cannot interfere with the quantum of punishment based on irrational or extraneous factors and certainly not on what it considers to a compassionate ground.
The principles enunciated in aforesaid decisions for interfering with the quantum of punishment can certainly be applied in the present case. The authorities have not at all indicated as to what prevailed upon them to take such a lenient view in the matter. It was obligatory on the authorities to have arrived at a conclusion that the punishment was shockingly disproportionate before they could have reduced the punishment and they could not have reduced the punishment merely on compassionate grounds.
The charge relating to embezzlement of Rs. 1025.95 was considered only by the District Inspector of Schools and not by the Appellate Authority. The District Inspector of Schools did find the charge to be serious in nature but according to him, in such situation, the teacher could have been directed to refund the entire amount. Such an approach is clearly arbitrary and irrational and cannot be countenanced. It has been repeatedly held by the Courts that in cases of embezzlement of money, the Courts must not show any leniency and the appropriate order that deserves to be passed is the order of termination. In this connection reference may be made to the decision of the Supreme Court given in the case of Regional Manager, UPSRTC, Etawah (supra). In Divisional Controller, KSRTC (NWKRTC), Vs. A.T. Mane, reported in AIR 2004 SC 4761 the Supreme Court observed as follows:-
".....Coming to the question of quantum of punishment, one should bear in mind the fact that it is not the amount of money misappropriated that becomes a primary factor for awarding punishment, on the contrary, it is the loss of confidence which is the primary factor to be taken into consideration. In our opinion, when a person is found guilty of misappropriating corporation's fund, there is nothing wrong in the Corporation losing confidence or faith in such a person and awarding a punishment of dismissal.
This Court in the case of B.S. Hullikatti (supra) held in a similar circumstances that the act was either dishonest or was to grossly negligent that the respondent therein was not fit to be retained as a conductor. It also held that in such cases there is no place for generosity or misplaced sympathy on the part of the judicial forums and thereby interfere with the quantum of punishment."
Sri P.N. Tripathi learned counsel for the respondents then submitted that principles of natural justice had been violated as the Appellate Authority had relied upon certain reports relating to absence of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi from the College without hearing the said teacher.
It cannot be doubted that the principles of natural justice cannot be put into a strait-jacket formula and that its application will depend upon the fact situation obtaining therein. It cannot be applied in a vacuum without reference to the relevant facts and circumstances of the case. This is what has been held by the Supreme Court in K.L. Tripathi Vs. State Bank of India & Ors. AIR 1984 SC 273; N.K. Prasad Vs. Government of India & Ors. (2004) 6 SCC 299; State of Punjab Vs. Jagir Singh (2004) 8 SCC 129; Karnataka SRTC Vs. S.G. Kotturappa (2005) 3 SCC 409 and in Viveka Nand Sethi Vs. Chairman, J&K Bank Ltd. (2005) 5 SCC 337.
In Union of India Vs. Tulsiram Patel AIR 1985 SC 1416 the Hon'ble Supreme Court held:-
"Though the two rules of natural justice, namely, nemo judex in causa sua and audi alteram partem, have now a definite meaning and connotation in law and their content and implications are well understood and firmly established, they are nonetheless not statutory rules. Each of these rules yields to and changes with the exigencies of different situations. They do not apply in the same manner to situations which are not alike. These rules are not cast in a rigid mould nor can they be put in a legal straitjacket. They are not immutable but flexible."
It is equally well settled that the principles of natural justice must not be stretched too far and in this connection reference may be made to the decisions of the Supreme Court in Sohan Lal Gupta Vs. Asha Devi Gupta (2003) 7 SCC 492; Mardia Chemicals Ltd. Vs. Union of India AIR 2004 SC 2371 and Canara Bank Vs. Debasis Das AIR 2003 SC 2041.
Wade ''On Administrative Law' 5th Edition at pages 472-475 has observed that it is not possible to lay down rigid rules as to when the principles of natural justice are to apply and nor as to their scope and extent. Everything depends on the subject-matter. The application of principles of natural justice, resting as it does upon statutory implication, must always be in conformity with the scheme of the Act and with the subject-matter of the case. In the application of the concept of fair play there must be real flexibility. There must also have been some real prejudice to the complainant; there is no such thing as a mere technical infringement of natural justice. The requirements of natural justice must depend on the facts and the circumstances of the case, the nature of the inquiry, the rules under which the tribunal is acting, the subject-matter to be dealt with, and so forth.
The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Managing Director ECIL, Hyderabad Vs. B. Karunakar AIR 1994 SC 1074 made reference to its earlier decisions and observed:-
"In A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India, AIR 1970 SC 150 it was held that the rules of natural justice operate in areas not covered by any law. They do not supplant the law of the land but supplement it. They are not embodied rules and their aim is to secure justice or to prevent miscarriage of justice. If that is their purpose, there is no reason why, they should not be made applicable to administrative proceedings also especially when it is not easy to draw the line that demarcates administrative enquiries from quasi-judicial ones. An unjust decision in an administrative inquiry may have a more far reaching effect than a decision in a quasi-judicial inquiry. It was further observed that the concept of natural justice has undergone a great deal of change in recent years. What particular rule of natural justice should apply to a given case must depend to a great extent on the facts and circumstances of that case, the framework of the law under which the inquiry is held and the constitution of the tribunal or the body of persons appointed for that purpose. Whenever a complaint is made before a Court that some principle of natural justice has been contravened, the Court has to decide whether the observance of that rule was necessary for a just decision on the facts of that case. The rule that inquiry must be held in good faith and without bias and not arbitrarily or unreasonably is now included among the principles of natural justice.
In Chairman, Board of Mining Examination v. Ramjee AIR 1977 SC 965 the Court has observed that natural justice is not an unruly horse, no lurking landmine, nor a judicial cure-all. If fairness is shown by the decision-maker to the man proceeded against, the form, features and the fundamentals of such essential processual propriety being conditioned by the facts and circumstances of each situation, no breach of natural justice can be complained of. Unnatural expansion of natural justice, without reference of the administrative realities and other factors of a given case, can be exasperating. The Courts cannot look at law in the abstract or natural justice as a mere artifact. Nor can they fit into a rigid mould the concept of reasonable opportunity. If the totality of circumstances satisfies the Court that the party visited with adverse order has not suffered from denial of reasonable opportunity, the Court will decline to be punctilious or fanatical as if the rules of natural justice were sacred scriptures."
As seen above, the principles of natural justice cannot be put into a straitjacket formula and its application depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. It is for the Court to decide whether the observance of this rule was necessary for a just decision on the facts of the case and unnatural expansion without reference to the administrative realities and other factors of a given case would be injudicious. If the totality of circumstances satisfies the Court that the party visited with adverse order has not suffered because of denial of reasonable opportunity, the Court will decline to be ''punctilious or fanatical as if the rules of natural justice were sacred scriptures'.
It is in the light of the aforesaid principles that the facts of this case have to be examined. The Inquiry Officer had found that Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi had stopped attending the College. This finding was accepted by the Committee of Management. The District Inspector of Schools also did not upset this finding. The Appellate Authority had merely made an attempt to find out whether the said teacher had attended the College or not. No prejudice can be said to have been caused to Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi even if opportunity had been granted to him as he has not been able to substantiate that the finding recorded by the Disciplinary Authority was perverse.
The question, however, that still remains to be considered is whether in this matter which relates to the year 1986, this Court should remand the matter back to the District Inspector of Schools to pass a fresh order or should this Court itself pass an appropriate order. This has to be examined considering the fact that both the authorities namely District Inspector of Schools and the Appellate Authority have not reversed the findings of the Enquiry Officer and have proceeded to take a lenient view by issuing a warning to the teacher concerned to be careful in future. The charges related to not attending the College and embezzlement of money. There was no occasion for the District Inspector of Schools or the Appellate Authority to have shown any compassion in the matter as has been held by the Supreme Court in Bharat Forge Company Ltd. (supra). The resolution of the Committee of Management for termination of service of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi, in such circumstances, was required to be approved. The matter has been pending since the last twenty years. The District Inspector of Schools has already examined it thrice while the Appellate Authority has examined it twice. In such circumstances, I consider it appropriate that instead of remanding the matter back to the District Inspector of Schools, this Court should itself grant approval to the resolution of the Committee of Management terminating the services of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi.
The writ petition, therefore, succeeds and is allowed. The order dated 14/15th October, 1996 passed by the Deputy Director and the order dated 17th January, 1996 passed by the District Inspector of Schools are quashed. The resolution of the Committee of Management passed in the meeting held on 12th October, 1986 for terminating the services of Sri Onkar Nath Tripathi is approved.
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