Chh HC | Is it essential for the appointing authority to re-consult PSC before terminating services of a judicial officer in light of Art. 235 of the Constitution of India? HC explains

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of P. R. Ramchandra Menon and Parth Prateem Sahu, JJ.,  dismissed the appeal being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the appellant appointed as Civil Judge, Class II and posted as 1st Civil Judge, Class II and Judicial Magistrate, I-Class (JMFC), Dantewada, was terminated from his services due to some complaints made against him by an employee who was a Reader to Court of Judicial Magistrate, regarding him abusing in filthy language, writing objectionable language in the Court record, along with other allegations. The said termination was made by the Court after due departmental enquiry in accordance with law. Aggrieved by the termination order an appeal under Rule 23 of Chhattisgarh Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rule, 1966 (for short “CCS Rule, 1966”) was filed which came to be dismissed. Assailing the said impugned order a writ petition was filed which was dismissed. Aggrieved by this declination of interference in the writ petition, present appeal was preferred.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that learned Single Judge has not taken into consideration entire grounds with regard to the authority of the Chief Secretary of Law and Legislative Affairs Department, issuing the termination order as it could not have been passed as the Principal Secretary who is a Sub-ordinate Officer to the appointing authority of the appellant. It was further submitted that before termination of the service of appellant, Public Service Commission has not been consulted; hence there is violation of Rule 15 of CCS Rule, 1966 and also violative to Article 320(3) of Constitution of India.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the departmental enquiry has been conducted strictly in accordance with law due to serious allegations being leveled against the appellant not only by employees of Court but also by the President of Bar Association, District Court, Dantewada and based upon which the petitioner was made to dismiss the appellant from services under Sub-Rule IX of Rule 10 of CCS Rules 1996.

With regard to the main point of law regarding whether the appointing authority was supposed to re consult with PSC before terminating the services of the appellant was observed after relying on judgment titled Baldev Raj Guliani v. The Punjab & Haryana High Court , AIR 1976 2490 wherein it was held that

“31. It is true that under Article 235 as well as under the Appointment and Punishment Rules the Governor is the appointing and punishing authority. But under Article 235 the High Court is the sole custodian over the discipline of the judicial officers. There is no warrant for introducing another extraneous body between the Governor and the High Court in the matter of disposal of a disciplinary proceeding against a judicial officer. It is submitted on behalf of the appellants that Article 320(3)(c) provides that the Public Service Commission shall be consulted on all disciplinary matters affecting a person serving under the Government of a State in a civil capacity. Judicial Officers although holding posts in civil capacity are not serving under the Government of a State. They hold posts in connection with the affairs of the State but are entirely under the jurisdiction of the High Court for the purpose of control and discipline. There is, therefore, no constitutional justification or sanction for the Governor, even if he wishes, to consult the Public Service Commission under Article 320(3) (c) in respect of judicial officers. Consultation with the Public Service Commission in this case and preference accorded to its advice ignoring the recommendation of the High Court have introduced a serious constitutional infirmity in the final order of reinstatement passed by the Governor.

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  1. The matter should not be considered from the angle of supremacy of one organ over the other. That will be an entirely erroneous approach. The Constitution reposes certain power in the Governor even under Article 235. He is the authority to pass the order of removal, albeit, on the recommendation of the High Court. That is the constitutional scheme. The Governor, however, cannot pass any order, as has been done in this case, without reference to the High Court and except on its recommendation. Solution must be found in harmony and not in cold war between the two organs.
  2. The Governor could not have passed any order on the advice of the Public Service Commission in this case. The advice should be of no other authority than the High Court in the matter of judicial officers. This is the plain implication of Article 235. Article 320(3)(c) is entirely out of place so far as the High Court is concerned dealing with judicial officers. To give any other interpretation to Article 320(3)(c) will be to defeat the supreme object underlying Article 235 of the Constitution specially intended for protection of the judicial officers and necessarily the independence of the subordinate judiciary. It is absolutely clear that the Governor cannot consult the Public Service Commission in the case of judicial officers and accept its advice and act accordingly to it. There is no room for any outside body between the Governor and the High Court.”

The Court thus held that based on the documents placed on record it is clear that it is not the Principal Secretary who passed the order but he has signed the order to be and in the name of his Excellency Governor who is the appointing authority. It was further observed that the Full Court resolved for dismissal of the appellant from services and that order is in consonance with Article 235 of Constitution of India and hence there is absolutely no requirement for the appointing authority to re-consult with the PSC.

In view of the above, the appeal was dismissed.[Sajjanlal Chakradhari v. State of Chhattisgarh,  2021 SCC OnLine Chh 16, decided on 06-01-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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