Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., addressed the instant appeal against the order of High Court whereby the High Court had quashed the disciplinary actions taken against the respondent and had directed for reinstatement with consequential benefits. The Bench stated,

“…the fairness of the departmental proceedings is obvious on the fact that all charges relating to bribery had been held in favour of the respondent and those charges have been rejected.”


The respondent joined the Department of Posts as Postal Assistant in the year 1991 and earned his promotion to Assistant Superintendent of Posts in 2008, a Group-B Gazetted cadre post. A charge memo was issued to the respondent the Disciplinary Authority, Department of Posts under Rule-14 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965 which enumerated 9 charges. Though, certain charges were related to procedural lapses in discharge of duties while another set of charges dealt with alleged illegal gratification received by way of bribes.

It had been contended by the respondent that since the charges included allegations of bribery and had a vigilance angle, the same could not have been issued without prior approval of the Central Vigilance Officer as mandated by a circular dated 18-01-2005 of the Department of Posts, Ministry of Communication and I.T. The Circular advised that all cases of officers below Group ‘A’ involving vigilance angle should be referred to the Directorate for consideration and advice by the CVO of the relevant department.

The decision of the High Court upholding the memo released by authority was challenged before the Supreme Court. However, since the departmental proceeding against the respondent culminated in an adverse report against him, another memo dated 24-03-2017 was issued. In terms of the 2017 Memo, none of the charges of bribery were made out against the respondent but all charges relating to procedural lapses on the part of the respondent were held to have been proved. The respondent was inflicted with a punishment of compulsory retirement from service with immediate effect. Therefore, the Bench had disposed of the matter with the liberty to the respondent to re-agitate the issue by challenging the order of punishment.

Issue before the Bench

Pursuant to the order of the Supreme Court, the order of punishment was challenged by the respondent before Central Administrative Tribunal on the ground of non-compliance with the Circular. The Tribunal took the view that, since the bribery charges were not proved, the case of the respondent could not be said to be prejudiced by not referring it to the CVO. However, regarding the punishment issue, the Tribunal found that the punishment of compulsory retirement was unduly harsh and shockingly disproportionate considering that none of the bribery charges had been found sustainable. To that extent, the order of the disciplinary authority was set aside with a direction to impose an appropriate minor penalty. In appeal, the High Court had set aside the order of the Tribunal and directed to reinstate the respondent into service with all consequential benefits.

Assessment by the Court

The Bench opined that if procedural safeguards are provided the same should be observed as they prevent any arbitrary exercise of power. In Moni Shankar v. Union of India (2008) 3 SCC 484, it had been stated that, “a departmental instruction cannot totally be ignored”. However, the Bench was of the view that the case of the respondent differed in issue as the plea of the respondent that the action of the appellants was retributive in character, as he had earlier endeavoured to highlight the manipulations in the result of Postal Service Group-B cadre examinations and the legal proceedings that followed there from; the Bench opined that,

“The fairness of the departmental proceedings was obvious on the fact that all charges relating to bribery had been held in favour of the respondent and those charges had been rejected.”

The reliance on the Circular really did not help the case of the respondent inter alia for the reason that it was found that the case did not has a vigilance angle, albeit after conclusion of inquiry. As far as the procedural lapses were concerned, it really showed that there was negligence on the part of the respondent in performing his duties. That being so, it was inappropriate for the High Court to have set aside the result of the proceedings against the respondent by giving him a clean chit on the issue on the ground that the Circular was not being followed. Lastly, while upholding the views taken by the Tribunal on the issue of disproportionality of punishment, the Bench reiterated that the punishment of compulsory retirement was completely disproportionate and harsh; keeping in mind the finding arrived at by the disciplinary authority. The Bench stated, perhaps the charges originally levelled might have persuaded the authority concerned to impose punishment; losing site of the fact that the allegations qua bribery had not been found against the respondent.

Hence, observing that the nature of charges found against the respondent could hardly be one to call for a major penalty, keeping in mind that there was no bribery charge. The Bench stated,

“Anyone can make mistakes. The consequences of mistakes should not be unduly harsh”

The impugned judgment of the High Court was set aside and the order of the Tribunal was restored.

[Union of India v. P. Balasubrahmanayam,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 169, decided on 04-03-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

*Judgment by: Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Know Thy Judge| Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Appellant: Addl. Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj,

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Setting aside the Central Government and Central Vigilance Committee’s (CVC) October 23, 2018 order divesting CBI Director Alok Verma of his charge, the 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and SK Kaul and KM Joseph, JJ ordered reinstatement of Alok Verma with riders. The Court made it explicit that Alok Verma’s role as the Director, CBI during the interregnum and in terms of this order will be confined only to the exercise of the ongoing routine functions without any fresh initiative, having no major policy or institutional implications.

The Court said that the elaborate directions given by the Court in Vineet Narain v. Union of India, (1998) 1 SCC 226; the amendments made to the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and the enactment of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 cannot be bypassed as the provisions and the judgement ensure the insulation of the CBI director from all external interference if the CBI has to live up to the role and expectations of the legislature and enjoy public confidence to the fullest measure. The Court said:

“the clear legislative intent in bringing the aforesaid provisions to the statute book are for the purpose of ensuring complete insulation of the office of the Director, CBI from all kinds   of   extraneous   influences,   as   may   be,   as   well   as   for upholding the integrity and independence of the institution of the CBI as a whole.”

Interpreting the words “transferred   except   with   the   previous   consent   of   the Committee” mentioned in Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act, the Court said:

“If the word “transferred” has to be understood in its ordinary parlance and limited to a change from one post to another, as the word would normally convey and on that basis the requirement of “previous   consent   of   the   Committee” is understood to be only in such cases, i.e. purely of transfer, such an   interpretation   would   be   self­defeating   and   would   clearly negate the legislative intent.  In such an event it will be free for the State Authority to effectively disengage the Director, CBI from functioning by adopting various modes, known and unknown, which may not amount to transfer but would still have the same effect as a transfer from one post to another, namely, cessation of exercise of powers and functions of the earlier post.   This is clearly not what the legislature could have intended.”

The Court hence, set aside the 3 impugned orders in question and directed that the matter be considered by the Committee under Section 4A(1) of the DSPE Act, 1946 which may be so done at the earliest and, in any case, within a week from the date of this order. Till then reinstated CBI director Alok Verma will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions.

The aforementioned impugned orders dated October 23, 2018 came after there arose a dispute between Alok Verma and the CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana who accused each other of corruption and the feud became public.[Alok Verma v. Union of India, WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.1309 OF 2018, decided on 04.01.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, JJ. proceeded with the matter regarding CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana in the alleged corruption charges, pursuant to Supreme Court’s order in Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2249 in which CVC was directed to file its enquiry report under the supervision of the retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A.K. Patnaik.

The Bench in the present matter on perusal of the CVC enquiry report stated that a copy of the same should be furnished to the petitioner i.e. Alok Verma in order to preserve and maintain the sanctity of the institution of the CBI and public confidence in the said institution.

Further, the report has been asked to be furnished to the office of Attorney General for India and learned Solicitor General of India representing CVC.

Learned Senior Counsel F.S. Nariman submitted on behalf of Alok Verma that he will be ready with the response to the report of CVC by 19-11-2018. The said response has to be submitted to Secretary-General of this Court on 19-11-2018.

The matter is further listed for consideration on 20-11-2018. [Alok Verma v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2454, Order dated 16-11-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and S.K.Kaul, J. addressed the progress in the matter regarding CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana in the alleged corruption charges.

The CVC filed its enquiry report of CBI Alok Verma in a sealed cover in the Supreme Court. Interim CBI Director M. Nageswara Rao also filed report on decisions taken by him for the period of 23-10-2018 to 26-10-2018.

Further, it was observed by the Supreme Court that, Registry was open on Sunday but no intimation in that regard was made for the filing of the report, for which Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apologised.


 Interim directions by the Supreme Court were as follows:

  • Enquiry in regard to the allegations made against the present Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Alok Verma shall be completed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) within a period of two weeks.
  • The stated enquiry will be conducted under the supervision of the retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A.K. Patnaik.
  • M. Nageswara Rao who has been entrusted with the task of looking after the duties of the Director of the CBI shall not take any policy decisions or any major decisions and will perform the routine tasks that are essential to keep the functionality of CBI.

The matter will be considered on Friday, i.e. 16-11-2018. [Common Cause v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2423, Order dated 12-11-2018]

Appointments & TransfersNews

Shri Sharad Kumar (Indian Police Service, Retd., HY:1979) has been appointed as the Vigilance Commissioner in the Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi for a term of four years from the date on which he enters upon his office, or till he attains the age of sixty five years, whichever is earlier.

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions


Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Hearing the petition challenging the appointment of the incumbent CVC, K V Chaudhary, and vigilance commissioner (VC) T M Bhasin on ground that they did not have “clean record” and a non-transparent procedure was followed while appointing them, the bench of Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar, JJ said that it would not go into the aspect of “political favouritism” but only examine whether a person appointed to the posts of central vigilance commissioner and vigilance commissioners met the criteria of having “impeccable integrity”.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, alleged that despite several representations against KV Chaudhary, the government appointed him as the CVC as he was their “favoured candidate”. To this, the Court said that the question before it was of impeccable integrity and not political favouritism.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the Court that the decision taken by the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Leader of Opposition was unanimous. On the allegations, he said that all these aspects were considered and discussed by the committee before arriving at a decision and the inquiries as alleged by the petitioner were “closed” after deliberation. He also placed before the court the files relating to the procedure and discussions by the committee on the issue of appointment of the CVC and VC.

The Court asked Attorney General to go through the files before arguing the matter has listed the matter for hearing on 07.09.2017.

Source: PTI