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Discrepancies in the evidence of the department not a ground to interfere with the findings of the d

THE STATE OF KARNATAKA & ANR.  v.  N. GANGARAJ, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8071 OF 2014- February 14, 2020.

CORAM: Two judge bench comprising of Justice S. ABDUL NAZEER and Justice HEMANT GUPTA.

The respondent herein was working as a Police Inspector at Mysore. A complaint was lodged against the respondent in Mysore Lokayukta Police Station under Section 7, 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1998. A charge sheet was filed in the Court of Special Judge where the respondent was acquitted. In addition to the criminal trial, the respondent was also proceeded against for the misconduct in the departmental proceedings. The Director General and Inspector General of police passed an order of dismissal of the respondent. The respondent filed an appeal before the Government which was dismissed.  The respondent appealed before the tribunal against the order of Punishment. The tribunal set aside the order of punishment. The High Court affirmed this order. Aggrieved by this order the State has preferred the appeal before this court.

The court here observed that the inference in the order of punishment by the Tribunal and High Court suffers from patent error. The power of judicial review is confined to the decision-making process. The power of judicial review conferred on the constitutional court or on the Tribunal is not that of an appellate authority. In State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. v. S. Sree Rama Rao it was held that the High court is not a court of appeal over the decision of the authorities holding departmental enquiry against a public servant. In B.C. Chaturvedi v. Union of India & Ors. it was held that the power of judicial review is not an appeal from a decision but a review of the manner in which the decision is made. The power of judicial review is to ensure that the individuals receive fair treatment. The court/Tribunal does not act as an appellate authority to reappreciate the evidence and to arrive at its own independent findings on the evidence in its power of judicial review.

In High Court of Judicature at Bombay through its Registrar v. Shashikant S. Patil & Anr it was held that the interference with the decision of departmental authorities is permitted if such authority had held the proceedings in violation of the principals of natural justice or in violation of statutory regulations prescribing the mode of such enquiry while exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. In State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur v. Nemi Chand Nalwaya this court held that the courts will not act as an appellate court and reassess the evidence led in the domestic enquiry, nor interfere on the ground that another view is possible on the material on record. If the enquiry has been fairly and properly held and the findings are based on evidence, the question of adequacy of the evidence or the reliable nature of the evidence will not be ground for interfering with the findings in departmental enquiries.

In Union of India v. P.Gunasekaran this Court held that while reappreciating evidence the High Court cannot act as an appellate authority in the disciplinary proceedings. The Court held the parameters as to when the High Court shall not interfere in the disciplinary proceedings. In Allahabad Bank v. Krishna NarayanTewari this Court held that if the disciplinary authority records a finding that is not supported by any evidence whatsoever or a finding which is unreasonably arrived at, the Writ Court could interfere with the finding of the disciplinary proceedings.

The Tribunal or the High Court could not interfere with the findings of the disciplinary authority. The guilt of the respondent for misconduct has been inferred only on the ground that there are discrepancies in the evidence of the department and that will not make it a case of no evidence. Once the evidence has been accepted by the departmental authority, in exercise of power of judicial review, the Tribunal or the High Court could not interfere with the findings of facts recorded by reappreciating evidence as if the Courts are the Appellate Authority.

Therefore, the orders passed by the Tribunal and the High Court suffer from patent illegality and thus cannot be sustained in law. Accordingly the appeal is allowed and orders passed by the Tribunal and the High Court are set aside and the order of punishment imposed is restored.

–  PRIYADHARSHINI R

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