Allahabad High Court: In a writ petition filed against an order of suspension from service pending inquiry dated 21-06-2023 passed against the petitioner by the Chairman, Nagar Palika Parishad without jurisdiction, J.J. Munir, JJ. while dismissing the petition, has directed that the inquiry against the petitioner to be concluded within a period of three months. Further, the petitioner, during the period of suspension, shall be paid his subsistence allowance regularly. It also said that the reference to ‘Court’ or bar to the Court’s jurisdiction under Section 17(2) of the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayuktas Act, 1975 would apply to Courts of ordinary jurisdiction; not the High Court exercising its writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.
The petitioner submitted that the proceedings passed by the Chairman is without jurisdiction, because on identical grounds, the services of the petitioner had earlier been terminated by the Chairman vide an order dated 16-09-2019, which was quashed by this Court on ground that no departmental inquiry was held, and further that there was no cutting or overwriting regarding the petitioner’s date of birth entered in his service book, as evident from an extract of the service book brought on record with the counter affidavit. This Court, by the judgment and order dated 05-11-2019 quashed the order terminating the petitioner’s services and directed his reinstatement, with all consequential benefits. Thus, the Nagar Palika Parishad cannot proceed afresh on the same charge against the petitioner. Therefore, there is no jurisdiction with the Chairman to place the petitioner under suspension and proceed against him on the same charge of manipulating his date of birth in the service book.
The Court noted that the order dated 16-09-2019 is not an order of termination of services. It is an order ceasing the petitioner’s services, on the ground that he had already crossed the age of superannuation. The order of 16-09-2019 was passed based on recommendations of a committee set up by the District Magistrate.
The Court opined that, the reasoning of the order dated 05-11-2019 that there is no ‘cutting’ or ‘overwriting’ in the petitioner’s service book, as appears from the extract of the service book, does not close all avenues of inquiry. Thus, the Court said that the order dated 05-11-2019 cannot be held to exclude the scope of any inquiry being undertaken by the Nagar Palika Parishad in its disciplinary jurisdiction to determine whether the petitioner had, indeed, manipulated and caused an incorrect date of birth to be entered in his service records.
The Court relied on Devendra Pratap Narain Rai Sharma v. State of U.P., 1961 SCC OnLine SC 90, wherein it was observed that an adjudication on merits by a quasi-judicial body may or may not debar commencement of another inquiry in respect of the same subject matter.
Concerning the issue that as the impugned order was passed pursuant to recommendations by the Lokayukta, cannot be questioned before this Court, in view of the provisions of Section 17(2) of the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up Lokayuktas Act, 1975, the Court remarked that the reference in Section 17(2) excluding the jurisdiction of the Court to review or quash the order of Lokayukta or Up-Lokayukta, except on ground of jurisdiction, cannot be pleaded as a bar to this Court’s jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. The reference to ‘Court’ or bar to the Court’s jurisdiction under Section 17(2) of the Act would apply to Courts of ordinary jurisdiction; not the High Court exercising its writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.
[Masood Ahmad Khan v State of UP, 2023 SCC OnLine All 2335, Order dated 19-10-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Counsel for Petitioner:– Senior Advocate Siddharth Khare
Counsel for Respondent:– Chief Standing Counsel Manas Bhargava, Advocate Nipun Singh