IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS DATED : 9..6..2008 CORAM THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K. CHANDRU W.P. No. 2384 of 1998 V. Anbalagan .. Petitioner Vs. The Sub-Regional Manager Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd. Tiruvarur .. Respondent Petition filed for issuance of writ of Certiorari calling for the records of the respondent passed in Na. Ka. No. 1234/95-A.3 dated 18.11.1997 and quash the same. For Petitioner : Mr. V. Sanjeevi ORDER
In this writ petition, the petitioner, who was working as a Bill Clerk under the respondent Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation, has challenged the order dated 18.11.1997 wherein and by which, he was made responsible for the shortage of gunny bags and jute and also the difference in the quality of the gunny bags, which was found out during the audit done for the years 1994-95 and 1995-96. The petitioner’s liability was fixed as Rs. 1,23,475/- which was to be paid in 124 instalments. In case, it was not able to be recovered during the tenure of the petitioner, the same must be adjusted against the terminal benefits payable to him.
2. Initially, notice of motion was ordered in the writ petition and subsequently, it was admitted on 29.10.1998. Interim stay of recovery was also granted to the petitioner.
3. The ground on which the petitioner moved this Court was that the respondent was not the competent authority to impose the punishment and the prescribed authority is the Regional Manager in terms of the Service Regulations.
4. It is seen from the records that the petitioner was charge-sheeted by a charge-memo dated 13.11.1995 making specific allegations that the loss had occurred due to his callousness and lethargic attitude. The petitioner submitted his explanation. An enquiry was conducted in respect of the charges levelled against him and the Enquiry Officer, by his report dated 06.02.1996, found the petitioner partially guilty of the charges 3 and 4 and in respect of first charge, he was let out. The petitioner submitted an explanation dated 04.11.1996 against the finding.
5. The Manager (Administration), Nagapattinam, by his order dated 05.12.1996 accepted the findings of the Enquiry Officer and imposed penalty of postponement of increment for a period of one year with cumulative effect. The operative portion of the order reads as follows:-
“The Enquiry Officer’s findings for charge No. 1 to 4 are accepted. The delinquent is only a Bill Clerk and he has to assist the Godown incharge and do the work as per the oral / written orders of Godown incharge. But has through all the blames on Godown incharges. He is also squarely responsible for the shortage of gunnies / variety variation. The delinquent deserves severe punishment. I have taking a lenient view and feed that a punishment of stoppage of increment for a period of one year with cumulative effect will alone to meet the end of justice.
Accordingly I order to stop the future periodical increment of Thiru R. Anbalagan, Bill Clerk (under suspension), Thiruvarur Sub-Region for a period of “One year with Cumulative Effect”, exclusive of the period of any spent on leave besides the recovery proceedings for the shortages. I also order that the individual (Under suspension) be restored to duty forthwith. The period of suspension undergone by Thiru R.Anbalagan, Bill Clerk is treated as ‘DUTY’ as per this regulation 4(c) Chapter V of TNCSC Employees’ Service Regulations 1989.
Thiru R. Anbalagan, Bill Clerk is instructed to report before the Senior Regional Manager, Regional Office, Nagapattinam for further postings.
The Sub-Regional Manager, Thiruvarur is requested to work out the loss sustained in this issue with reference to the Audit report / Special Audit report and recover the same from the person concerned separately.”
This order imposing punishment is not under challenge and that order has become final so far as the petitioner is concerned.
6. Even though Mr. V. Sanjeevi, learned counsel for the petitioner submits that he has preferred an appeal, no proof for the same is forthcoming and it is unthinkable that such an appeal could have been kept pending for more than 12 years. The grievance of the petitioner is that the recovery order was made by the respondent, who is not the competent authority under the Service Regulations. For this purpose, the learned counsel relied upon Chapter V of the Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu Civil Service Corporation Employees’ Service Regulations, 1979 prescribing authorities to impose penalties. It is clearly seen from the said Regulations, as far as minor punishment is concerned, the authority prescribed is either the Manager or the Regional Manager.
7. In this case, apart from the punishment imposed due to the disciplinary action taken against the petitioner, the amount of loss sustained by the Corporation and as pointed out by the Audit report, was directed to be calculated by the respondent. The calculation of the loss is consequent on the imposition of penalty and it cannot be challenged independently of the penalty ordered. Further, the competent authority, who imposed the punishment, had directed the respondent to calculate the loss sustained and it is only a ministerial act of mere calculation. The liability to make good the loss arose out of the penalty passed against the petitioner. In the counter affidavit dated 01.3.1999, the respondents have set out that the direction to the respondents was to calculate the loss and recover the amount from the petitioner and the impugned order was passed by the competent authority, viz., Manager (Administration). Though several decisions were cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner, they have no relevance to the facts and circumstances of the present case.
8. Considering the fact that the imposition of penalty was not under challenge and that it has become final, the petitioner cannot collaterally attack the said order in the guise of challenging the recovery order. The writ petition is misconceived and devoid of merits. Accordingly, it will stand dismissed. However, the parties are allowed to bear their own costs.
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Internet : Yes
The Sub-Regional Manager
Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd.
K. CHANDRU, J.
Pre-Delivery Order in
W.P. No. 2384 of 1998