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Disciplinary Proceedings - High Court Cannot Interfere With Quantum Of Punishment Unless It Is Grossly Disproportionate: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
5 March 2022 5:49 AM GMT
Disciplinary Proceedings - High Court Cannot Interfere With Quantum Of Punishment Unless It Is Grossly Disproportionate: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that courts cannot interfere with the quantum of punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority unless it is grossly disproportionate.Quantum of punishment is within the discretionary domain and the sole power of the decision-making authority once the charge of misconduct stands proved, the bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi observed.In...

The Supreme Court observed that courts cannot interfere with the quantum of punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority unless it is grossly disproportionate.

Quantum of punishment is within the discretionary domain and the sole power of the decision-making authority once the charge of misconduct stands proved, the bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi observed.

In this case, a constable in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was dismissed from service after it was found that he abused, misbehaved and assaulted an officer. Though the disciplinary authority awarded only the penalty of reduction of pay by two stages, the Appellate authority allowed the appeal filed by CISF to award the penalty of dismissal from service. Allowing writ petition filed by the constable, the Orissa High Court restored the penalty awarded by disciplinary authorities by setting aside the penalty of dismissal awarded by the Appellate authority.

The bench noted that the High Court has equated the appellate power under Rule 52 of the CISF Rules, 2001, with power of judicial review exercised by constitutional courts.  Rule 52 of the CISF Rules, 2001 empowers the appellate authority to examine whether the penalty imposed is excessive, adequate or inadequate and pass consequential order confirming, enhancing, reducing or setting aside the penalty, the court noted.

On the scope of Judicial review, the bench observed thus:

Quantum of punishment is within the discretionary domain and the sole power of the decision-making authority once the charge of misconduct stands proved. Such discretionary power is exposed to judicial interference if exercised in a manner which is grossly disproportionate to the fault, as the constitutional courts while exercising the power of judicial review do not assume the role of the appellate authority. Writ jurisdiction is circumscribed by limits of correcting errors of law, procedural error leading to manifest injustice or violation of principles of natural justice. The decision are also disturbed when it is found to be ailing with perversity. On the question of quantum of punishment, the court exercising the power of judicial review can examine whether the authority has been a reasonable employer and has taken into consideration measure, magnitude and degree of misconduct and all other relevant circumstances and excluded irrelevant matters. In the context of quantum of punishment these aspects are examined to consider whether there is any error in decision making process. On merits of the quantum of punishment imposed, the courts would not interfere unless the exercise of discretion in awarding punishment is perverse in the sense the punishment imposed is grossly disproportionate.

The bench said that the punishment of dismissal imposed by the Appellate Authority was not grossly disproportionate to the quantum of the offence. While allowing the appeal, the court observed:

Given the nature of the appellant's force, sense of integrity, commitment, discipline, and camaraderie is paramount. Discipline is the essence of the organization and structure of police force. No indulgence or latitude can be granted when the case is of violence and assault on the officer who had checked and reprimanded the respondent. To condone the misconduct will have ramifications. Discipline in the police force cannot be compromised. In the background of facts, and as the respondent had not even expressed any remorse or pleaded a good ground for having acted in the manner he did, we do not accept that the punishment of dismissal imposed by the Appellate Authority by order dated 8th February 2012 was grossly disproportionate to the quantum of the offence.

Headnotes

Constitution of India, 1950 ; Article 226 - Judicial Review Of Disciplinary Proceedings - Disciplinary Proceedings - The courts would not interfere unless the exercise of discretion in awarding punishment is perverse in the sense the punishment imposed is grossly disproportionate - Quantum of punishment is within the discretionary domain and the sole power of the decision-making authority once the charge of misconduct stands proved - While exercising the power of judicial review, the court do not assume the role of the appellate authority. Writ jurisdiction is circumscribed by limits of correcting errors of law, procedural error leading to manifest injustice or violation of principles of natural justice. The decision are also disturbed when it is found to be ailing with perversity. (Para 9)

Constitution of India, 1950 ; Article 226 - CISF Rules, 2001 ; Rule 52 - Appellate power under Rule 52 of the CISF Rules, 2001, cannot be equated with power of judicial review exercised by constitutional courts. (Para 9)

Police Force- Discipline is the essence of the organization and structure of police force. No indulgence or latitude can be granted when the case is of violence and assault on the officer who had checked and reprimanded the respondent. To condone the misconduct will have ramifications. Discipline in the police force cannot be compromised. (Para 10)

Summary - Appeal against High Court judgment setting aside punishment of dismissal awarded by appellate authority and restoring lesser punishment awarded by disciplinary authority - Partly allowed - Punishment of dismissal imposed by the Appellate Authority was not grossly disproportionate to the quantum of the offence.

Case:  Union of India vs Managobinda Samantaray | CA 1622-1623 OF 2022 | 24 Feb 2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 244

Coram: Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi




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