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P. Mani vs The Managing Director, Tamil Nadu … on 10 September, 2003

Madras High Court
P. Mani vs The Managing Director, Tamil Nadu … on 10 September, 2003
Author: P Dinakaran
Bench: P Dinakaran


ORDER

P.D. Dinakaran, J.

1. The petitioner, who was working under the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (hereinafter referred to as “TWAD Board), was deputed to the Power Pumps Maintenance Cell, Collectorate at Dharmapuri Circle and was working as an Assistant Executive Engineer from 7.6.1989 till he was repatriated to the TWAD Board on 10.7.1992. when he was about to retire on superannuation on 30.9.2001, a charge memo dated 26.9.2001 was served by the TWAD Board on the petitioner with respect to certain serious irregularities said to have been committed by the petitioner when he was working in the Power Pumps Maintenance Cell at Dharmapuri Collectorate. However, by proceedings dated 27.9.2001, the petitioner was permitted to retire from TWAD Board on 30.09.2001 a.n. after attaining the age of superannuation, but without prejudice to the disciplinary action initiated against the petitioner.

2. The charge levelled against the petitioner is related to the purchase of materials, viz., pipe line, power pump pipe and other repairing materials from the firms, which are not approved by the department. Alleging that the department had incurred a loss to the tune of Rs. 37,054/- due to the above irregularities said to have been committed by the petitioner in violation to the instructions of the Collector, Dharmapurai, the charge memo dated 26.9.2001 was served on the petitioner. In that regard, a criminal action was also initiated against the petitioner by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anti Corruption, Dharmapuri, on 6.12.2002.

3. Immediately, after the receipt of the order dated 27.9.2001, the petitioner by his representation dated 3.10.2001, admitted his charge and gave consent to recover the abovesaid amount, viz., Rs.37,054/- from his death-cum-retirement gratuity and the petitioner also expressed his option that he did not propose to have any personal enquiry into the said charge. The petitioner also requested that the said admission of the charge may be finalised and final orders may be passed in the matter.

4. In the light of the above representation of the petitioner dated 3.10.2001, the first respondent by proceedings dated 31.10.2001, sanctioned a provisional pension of Rs. 4,609/- per month with effect from 01.10.2001. However, the petitioner by his subsequent representation dated 28.1.2002, withdrew his consent given under the representation dated 03.10.2001, stating that he gave consent to recover the said sum of Rs. 37,054/- from his gratuity wanting a peaceful retirement.

5. A careful reading of the representation of the petitioner dated 28.1.2002, makes it clear that the statement made by him on 3.10.2001 was not obtained by any force or coercion exercised on him by whomsoever and the same was voluntary. However, the first respondent – TWAD Board, in view of the representation of the petitioner dated 28.1.2002, proposed to continue with the enquiry initiated under the charge memo dated 26.9.2001, referred to above and also appointed an Enquiry Officer – the fourth respondent herein.

6. Since the enquiry was pending for a considerable time, the petitioner moved this Court in Writ Petition No. 23083 of 2002 seeking a final order in the matter, which was disposed of by this Court, by order dated 28.6.2002 with a direction to dispose of the representation of the petitioner dated 28.1.2002 within six weeks from the date of receipt of the said order.

7. Pursuant to the directions of this Court dated 28.6.2002, made in Writ Petition No. 23083 of 2002, the first respondent – TWAD Board by proceedings dated 29.5.2003 directed the petitioner to appear before the fourth respondent in W.P. No. 17729 of 2003 – Project Officer/Additional Collector (Development), Dharmapuri.

8. Questioning the initiation of the disciplinary action by the parent department, viz., TWAD Board, appointing the fourth respondent as Enquiry Officer by proceedings dated 29.5.2003, the petitioner seeks a writ of Certiorarified Mandamus to call for the records connected with the Charge Memo No. 90208/Estt(DP)/A2/2001-1 dated 26.9.2001 issued by the first respondent, the Memo No. 90208/Estt.(DP-I)A2/2001-29 dated 29.5.2003 issued by the second respondent and the proceedings of the third respondent issued in Roc. No. 30586/93/VC.II-2 dated 5.4.2003, quash all the above orders in so far as the petitioner is concerned and consequently, direct the third respondent to initiate appropriate action, if any, on the ground that the same lacks jurisdiction.

9. The core contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that since the said irregularities had taken place only when the petitioner was working as an Assistant Executive Engineer in the Power Pump Maintenance, Collectorate, Dharmapuri, the parent department, namely, TWAD Board, has no jurisdiction to initiate disciplinary action.

10. That apart, alleging that his pension pass book was not handed over with necessary entries, the petitioner also filed another Writ Petition No.19968 of 2003 seeking a writ of Mandamus to direct the respondent to issue the pension payment order (PPO) book with upto date entries of his eligibility and payment to the petitioner.

11. This Court ordered notice in both the writ petitions and heard both sides.

12. Even though the very jurisdiction of the TWAD Board to initiate the impugned disciplinary action was originally questioned by the petitioner, Mr. S. Arunuchalam, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, makes it clear that it would be sufficient that if the first respondent deducts a sum of Rs.37,054/- from the petitioner’s death-cum-retirement gratuity amount, and settles the entire balance terminal benefits, as admitted by the petitioner in his representation dated 3.10.2001 and also sanctions pension for his entire period of service.

13. Mrs. Sudharsana Sundar, learned counsel appearing for the TWAD Board and Mr. P.S. Jayakumar, learned Government Advocate appearing for the third respondent-borrowing authority, have made it clear that the respondents are not interested to hold an enquiry any more if the petitioner agrees for the deduction of Rs.37,054/- towards the loss sustained by the PPM Cell, Collectorate at Dharmapuri District, during his service as Assistant Executive Engineer on deputation, as alleged in the charge memo dated 26.9.2001. Further, the first respondent – TWAD Board makes it clear that except the said sum of Rs.37,054/-, nothing more would be deducted either from the petitioner’s gratuity or from his pension towards the above mentioned charge. The first respondent is also willing to settle the full pension benefits to the petitioner, as he would be otherwise entitled to for his entire service.

14. In that view of the matter, both the above writ petitions are disposed of under the following terms:

(i) The petitioner is permitted to make a representation to the first respondent – TWAD Board in terms of the submissions made by the learned counsel for the petitioner as referred to above, requesting the entire balance of terminal benefits after deducting the sum of Rs. 37,054/- towards the impugned charges, within fifteen days from the date of receipt of a copy of this order;

(ii) on receipt of such representation, the first respondent, after deducting the said sum of Rs. 37,054/- from the terminal benefits of the petitioner, shall settle the entire terminal benefits and also finalise the full pension payable to the petitioner for his entire service, within thirty days from the date of receipt of representation; and

(iii) After making necessary entries with respect to the final pension to be paid to the petitioner as indicated above, the first respondent shall hand over the pension pass book to the petitioner immediately thereafter.

These writ petitions are ordered accordingly. No costs. Consequently, WPMP. Nos. 22163 and 22164 of 2003 are closed.

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