Monthly Archives: February 2013

[A.01] S. Govinda Menon vs The Union Of India & Anr on 2 February, 1967 = 1967 AIR 1274, 1967 SCR (2) 566:-

[A.01] S. Govinda Menon vs The Union Of India & Anr on 2 February, 1967 =  1967 AIR 1274, 1967 SCR (2) 566:-

The Supreme Court, in S.  Govinda  Menon  Vs.  Union of India,  AIR 1967 SC 1274, has held as under:-

”  ….. It is not necessary that a member of the service  should   have committed  the alleged act or omission in the  course of discharge of his duty as a servant  of the Government in order  that it may form the subject  matter of disciplinary proceedings.    In other words, if the act or omission is such as to  reflect the reputation of the officer for  his  integrity  or   good  faith  or devotion  to duty, there is no reason why disciplinary  proceedings  should not  be taken  against  him for that act or omission….  The test is whether the act or omission has some reasonable occasion with nature and condition of his service or  where the act or omission has  caused any reflection upon the reputation of the member  of  the service for integrity  or devotion  of duty as a public servant…. The proposition put forward was that quasi-judicial orders, unless  vacated under  the  provisions  of the  Act,  are final and binding and cannot be questioned  by  the executive  government through  disciplinary proceedings….. The charge is,   therefore, one of misconduct  and recklessness disclosed by the  utter  disregard of the relevant provisions……. But in the  present proceedings what is sought to be challenged  is not the correctness or the legality of the decision of the Commissioner but the   conduct of the appellant in the discharge of his duty as Commissioner. The appellant was proceeded against   because in   the discharge  of  his function, he acted  in utter  disregard of the provisions of the Act  and the Rules.  It is the manner in which he discharges his function that brought up in these proceedings…..It is  manifest, therefore, that though  the propriety and legality of the sanction to the  leases may be question in appeal  or revision  under the Act the Government is not precluded from taking  disciplinary act  if there is proof that the has acted in gross recklessness in the discharge of his  duties  or  that he  failed  to  act honestly  or  in  good faith or  that  he omitted   to  observe   the   prescribed conditions  which  are essential for  the exercise of the statutory power.”

Thus, the aforesaid judgment is an authority that disciplinary proceedings can  be initiated  against an employee in respect of  the action, even  if  it  pertains   to  exercise  of judicial or quasi-judicial powers.

In S.  Govinda  Menon  (supra), the Hon’ble  Supreme Court had  relied upon the judgment in Pearce Vs.  Foster, (1966)  17  QBD 536, wherein it had  been held as under:-

“If a servant conducts himself in a way inconsistent  with the faithful discharge of  his  duty  in   the  service,  it  is misconduct   which   justifies  immediate dismissal.”

The Supreme Court in Union of India  & Ors. Vs. K.K. Dhawan, AIR 1993 SC 1478, very heavily relied upon its earlier judgment in S. Govinda Menon   (supra) and observed that the officer who exercises judicial or quasi-judicial powers, acts negligently or recklessly or in order to confer undue favour on a person, is not acting as a Judge, and in the disciplinary proceedings, it is the conduct of the officer in discharge of his official  duties  and  not   the  correctness  or legality  of his decisions or judgments which are to be examined,  as the legality of the orders can be questioned  on appellate or revisional  forum. In such a case  the Government cannot be  precluded from taking the disciplinary action for violation of the Conduct  Rules.  The Court summarised some circumstances in which disciplinary action can be taken, which are as under:-

“(i) Where the Officer had acted in  a manner as would reflect on his reputation or integrity or good faith or devotion of duty;

(ii) if there is, prima facie, material to show  recklessness  or misconduct in  the discharge of his duty;

(iii) if he has acted in a manner  which is unbecoming of a Government servant;

(iv) if he had acted negligently or that he  omitted  the   prescribed  conditions which  are essential for the exercise  of the statutory powers;

(v) if  he had acted in order to  unduly favour a party;

(vi) if he had been actuated by  corrupt motive,  however, small the bribe  may  be, because Lord Coke said long ago ” though the  bribe may be small, yet the fault is great.”

The Court further observed that the said instances were not exhaustive.  However, it was further observed by the Supreme Court that each case would    depend upon the facts and circumstances of that case, and no absolute rule can be postulated.


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