Neither the Constitution nor the laws preclude the State Government from holding CBI enquiry/investigation into the complaints of serious nature against the UPPSC as a whole.
The Allahabad High Court has upheld the CBI enquiry ordered by the Central Government into serious allegations against the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) in respect of examinations and their results held/declared during the period between 01.04.2012 and 31.03.2017.
The commission had challenged the order issued by the Central Government with the consent of the state government. The crux of the submission made by the commission was that if the government has any grievance against the working of the UPPSC, the Governor, on the recommendation of the state government, can approach the President of India to make reference to the Supreme Court under Article 317 of the Constitution. Holding an enquiry/investigation through CBI or any other agency for that matter, would amount to interference in the functioning of the Public Service Commission and also bypassing the procedure contemplated under Article 317 of the Constitution, for removal of its Chairman and Members, it was argued.
The commission also relied on a division bench ruling wherein it was held that vigilance enquiry by the state government against the chairman and members of UPPSC is impermissible and is colourable exercise of power, and it was initiated just to pressurize the chairman and members of the commission to obey the command of the government.
Referring to various Supreme Court judgments, the bench comprising Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale and Justice Suneet Kumar observed that a criminal case/complaint and enquiry under Article 317 operate in distinct and different jurisdictional areas and hence proceedings in a criminal case and enquiry under Article 317 can go simultaneously. “The enquiry under Article 317 and the enquiry/investigation by any agency, such as CBI cannot be equated. The enquiry/investigation by CBI is to find out whether a “criminal offence” has been committed, whereas enquiry under Article 317, is only to find out whether Member of a Public Service Commission rendered him liable to be removed on the ground that his conduct amounted to “misbehaviour” within the meaning of this Article 317 of the Constitution,” the court observed.
The bench observed: “The Constitution or the laws, however, do not afford any protection to the Chairman or the Members of a Public Service Commission against any such enquiry by the State or an independent agency appointed by the State or for lodging an FIR involving criminal offence against them. In other words, no constitutional protection is available to the Chairman/Members of a Public Service Commission from being investigated/interrogated and even arrested while in the office, if an FIR is lodged against them, no immunity has been recognized by the Supreme Court under any of the provisions contained in the Constitution of India in Part XIV.”
The court also said though Article 317 ensures complete security and protection of tenure to the chairman/members of a Public Service Commission, it does not provide for complete immunity from enquiry/investigation into the allegations of serious nature being conducted by any agency, like CBI or Vigilance Department/Bureau.
Read the Order Here