A civil appeal was filed by the Appellant ‘Mr. Pravin Kumar’ in the case of Pravin Kumar v. Union of India, where he plea for quashing disciplinary proceedings and setting aside an order dated 5th May 2009, passed by a Division Bench of the High Court of Bombay on charges of corruption and extra-constitutional conduct while he was employed as a paramilitary officer. The Appellant joined Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) as a sub-inspector and after completing the requisite training in Hyderabad was allocated to the Mumbai office and posted at the local unit of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) in March 1996 . Later in 1997, after deputed to perform shift duty, he was deployed in the Crime and Intelligence Wing, where he was specifically entrusted with conducting surprise searches of personnel and taking strict action against anyone indulging in corruption.
One day, it was found that Constable Ram Avtar Sharma was carrying high denomination notes in his pocket near the BPCL compound. A total sum of ?10,780/- was recovered from him in the form of 100 notes of ?100/- and the rest in smaller denominations. An explanation was given by Constable Sharma that an amount of ? 9,000/- had been handed over to him by dog handler Constable KK Sharma as a personal loan after making his false entry at the GD gate. However, it was discovered throughout the investigation that the entry of personal loan was false and there had been made numerous phone calls between the Appellant and Constable KK Sharma, where the Constable was pressurized by the Appellant to alternate his loan theory by giving a false statement and deposit the impounded sum of money in his account.
Therefore, an FIR was registered by the Authorities with the regional Anti-Corruption Branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) acting as a Respondent, under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Additionally, an enquiry was made by an Assistant Commandant PB Patil under Rule 34 of CISF Rules, 1969.
The charge-sheet contained three charges against the appellant, ‘Mr. Pravin Kumar’ which are: Gross misconduct and indiscipline by ordering a false GD entry to the Constable Ram Avtar Sharma; Acting as an extra-constitutional authority by issuing unlawful orders to Constable KK Sharma and giving a false statement to substantiate fake GD entry; and illegally collecting bribe from contractors of BPCL through his subordinates, hence, charges of corruption framed against him.
It was shown in the Investigation and Enquiry report which was submitted by an enquiry officer containing written statements and depositions of six witnesses, an amount of ?10,780/- was seized from the Constable Ram Avtar Sharma and he failed to explain the source of this suspicious amount and his later explanation related to this amount given as a loan by other Constable KK Sharma was negated that he was threatened by the appellant to give a false statement. Also, it was examined that Constable Ram Avtar Singh has received a bundle of notes totaling Rs. 10,000/- from the contractor of BPCL for the job of lifting garbage/waste.
It was contended by counsel on behalf of the Appellant that as this appeal being the last resort, the court must see again into the witnesses and documents. It was submitted by the Appellant that the main witness had repudiated his statement and there was no corroboration between witnesses and documents. Also, the enquiry officer had acted as both the Judge and Prosecutor, this alleged to have vitiated the entirety of the proceedings. The charges which were leveled on him were fallacious as the sum recovered was nothing but a loan extended between two officials in a private capacity, and hence, there was the malicious intention of certain superior regarding duping the Appellant. Finally, an urge was made by the appellant to be lenient and give another 21 years of remaining service to him as the imposition of the severest punishment of dismissal from service was highly disproportionate.
However, it was contended by the counsel on behalf of the Respondent that “this is the case of the deliberate and planned manner of the falsifications and repeated threats were made to the subordinate officials, and the loan theory propounded by the appellant was shown as having been recurrently agitated and discarded by all the previous forums”.
Observations and Conclusion of the Court:
The Court is of the view that the appellant has raised some new grounds before this Court but such an exercise was in vain. The Court said that “The power of judicial review discharged by Constitutional Courts under Article 226 or 32, or when sitting in an appeal under Article 136, is distinct from the appellate power exercised by a departmental appellate authority”. The Constitutional Court while exercising their powers of judicial review would not assume the role of an appellate authority.
Where an appellate or reviewing Court/authority comes to an alternate conclusion, ordinarily the decision under appeal ought not to be disturbed in so far as it remains conceivable or is not discovered debilitated with backwardness. In the present case there is neither evidence, nor is it one where we can arrive at a different conclusion than the disciplinary authority, especially for the reasons stated hereunder. It was further observed by the Court that the appellant's contention that the punishment of dismissal was disproportionate to the allegation of corruption, is without merit. It is a settled legal proposition that the Disciplinary Authority has wide discretion in punishing proven delinquency, subject of course to principles of proportionality and fair play.
Hence, it is concluded that the punishment of dismissal from service is far from disproportionate to the charges of corruption, fabrication, and intimidation which have unanimously been proven against the appellant. It was also held that the “appellants actions would most presumably have caused huge consequential losses to BPCL and lowered the reputation of the CISF amongst members of the public”. Hence, the appeal was dismissed.
BHEL v. M Mani, (2018) 1 SCC 285.