The Supreme Court of India has confirmed dismissal of a Civil Judge. He couldnot explain bank balance of Rs. 35036 !
Dinesh Chandra Pandey, was appointed to the post of Civil Judge in the M.P. Judicial Service (Class II) on 27th January, 1982. On completion of the training period, he joined as Civil Judge, Dhamtari on 12th September, 1982.
Charge 1 which had been established reads as under:
"That the said Shri D.C. Pandey while his posting as Civil Judge, Class-II and J.M.F.C. Raipur had a Bank account in State Bank of India Account No. SB/8833, the balance whereof swelled from Rs.2170.01 to Rs.35036.92 paise within the period from January 1984 to 6th May, 1985, his explanation in this behalf having been found unconvincing considering the disproportionateness of the said increase in his bank balance to his salary income and pattern and frequency of deposits the said increase in balance is capable of no other reasonable explanation than that of illicit gains as the source of money which renders his integrity gravely doubtful."
The allegations were denied by him and on 30th January, 1989 he submitted that he owns 37 acres of land in Bilaspur (Madhya Pradesh) and has agricultural income to the extent of Rs. 50,000/- p.a. It is out of this agricultural income that he has been depositing amounts in the bank and has not committed any violation of service regulations or other offence which would attract disciplinary action against him. The competent authority decided to conduct a regular departmental enquiry appointed Shri G.R. Pandya, District & Sessions Judge, Raipur as enquiry officer. Besides appointing an enquiry officer, the High Court also appointed Shri Ram Krishna Behar, Addl. Judge as Presenting Officer. During the course of enquiry, Pandey made an application for permission to engage a legal practitioner to assist him in the departmental enquiry. This request was declined by the High Court vide order dated 4th December, 1989. Pandey participated in the enquiry and the enquiry officer submitted his report on 4th April, 1990 and returned the finding of guilt against Pandey. The concluding paragraphs of the report read as under:
"Shri Pandey was saving Rs.600/- p.m. out of his salary and, therefore, this amount was quite insufficient for making such a large saving. More saying of Shri Pandey received the amounts frequently from his mother is not sufficient. Something more was required to explain the deposits. This type of explanation was already given by Shri Pandey during the preliminary inquiry and was already found unsatisfactory, hence further opportunity was given to Shri Pandey, by holding this inquiry to give reasonable and convincing explanation regarding the source of his income. I am sorry to say that Shri Pandey could not assess the seriousness of the matter and went on repeating that the money was sent by his mother. The mother of Shri Pandey as well as the customers who had purchased the produce of the messenger who used to bring the money frequently from Bilaspur to Raipur has not been examined. Under these circumstances, bald statement of Shri Pandey that money was received by him from his mother does not appear to be correct. Thus, I come to the conclusion that charge no. 1 regarding the frequent deposits made by Shri Pandey within a span of short period is proved against him.”
Disciplinary authority, after receiving the said report, issued show cause notice to Pandey on 16th March, 1991 informing him that finding of the enquiry officer on Article (1) had been accepted and as to why punishment should not be imposed upon him to which he submitted a detailed reply. The disciplinary authority vide its order dated 10th June, 1992, opined that the stand taken by Pandey was not satisfactory and consequently, imposed the punishment of removal from service. Dinesh Pandey preferred an appeal against this order before the Governor which also came to be dismissed vide order dated 3rd February, 1993. The order of removal from service, as confirmed by the appellate authority, was challenged by Pandey by filing a Writ Petition being Misc. Petition No. 3847 of 1992 in the High Court which also came to be dismissed by the Ld. Single Judge vide its order dated 1st July, 2003. Still dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court, Letter Patent Appeal was filed which also met the same fate and was dismissed by the Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court vide order dated 17th December, 2004. The legality and correctness of this order has been challenged by Pandey by an appeal in the Supreme Court of India vide Civil Appeal # 2622/2005 under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.
While rejecting the plea of Dinesh Pandey, the Supreme Court Bench comprising of Dr. Justice BS Chauhan & Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar noted that ..…
“we must notice that the conduct of Pandey can hardly be appreciated in regard to deposit of money in the Bank regularly during the entire period of 1984-85. The Department had showed that the deposits have been made and the bank balance of Pandey, on a particular date, was beyond the known sources of his income to which, Pandey has raised a defence that he owned the land and the income received was an agricultural income. However, he produced no evidence during the departmental enquiry to show that some person was making payment to him and/or some person was depositing the money in the Bank so received from agricultural activity in every 2-3 days. Once a person is carrying on agricultural activities like Pandey, the obvious result thereof would be that there would be persons who would be carrying on agricultural activities on the land on his behalf, would be harvesting the crops and then selling the same on his behalf and that there would be persons who would be buying such crops and disposing the crops in the open market directly or indirectly. Thus, these persons would have been easily available to Pandey to produced in departmental enquiry to substantiate his defence. No such effort was ever made by Pandey. Non- examination of these witnesses and non-production of necessary documents must lead to draw an adverse inference against Pandey. In any case, Pandey cannot take advantage of that fact and contend that the inquiry officer has failed to appreciate evidence in its correct perspective. At this stage, we may also notice that during the course of hearing, we had called for the original personal file of the officer where he had filed property returns to the Department. In the property return for the year 1984-85 (copy of which is stated to have been produced before the Enquiry Officer), which is the relevant year, Pandey is shown to have 1/3rd share in the agricultural land located at two different places. There is a specific column relating to income from agriculture. In that form it was filled in by Pandey as `uncertain' (anishchit). This return had been filed on 27th March, 1985.
The bench further noted:
In other words, on that date he did not know whether he had earned any amount from the agricultural income or not. The period in question was January, 1984 to May 1985, thus, for the substantial period, he was fully aware of his income received from agricultural activity but he still chooses to keep it vague and not declare his true income in the return. Now, in the departmental proceedings and in the reply to the charge-sheet, he submitted that there was an income of more than Rs.50,000/- p.a. and that he owned 37.53 acres of land in village Bilaspur at two different places. It is again strange that he did not disclose in his reply that this was a land jointly owned with his brothers and family members and what was the extent of his holding individually.
While rejecting the plea of Dinesh Pandey, the Supreme Court concluded that:
In the return, he himself claimed one-third share in the property. The total land indicated at two different places being 26 acres + 18 comes to 44 acres and one third of which, merely 14 acres approximately, would be the land owned by him and not 37 acres as claimed. This, itself shows that Pandey has not approached the Court with clean hands and has not disclosed true facts which were known to him alone. In the departmental proceedings, he took incorrect defence contrary to his return and failed to discharge the onus placed upon him. In the departmental enquiry, Pandey produced no income tax returns to show that in addition to his salary, he had other sources of income and what was the extent of income from these sources. In his written statement of defence he never took up the plea that any such returns were filed and he made no effort to bring on record the copies of such income-tax returns, if at all filed. The delinquent officer could have stated in his statement if he was not filing any return and reason thereof. We are certainly of the considered view that it was obligatory on the part of the delinquent officer to disclose all such relevant facts which were only within his personal knowledge. He belongs to a service which is looked upon by the public at large as a service cadre of high integrity and professional values. The Judges are expected to apply stringent social and moral values to their standard of living. It was expected of Pandey to disclose all true and correct information and documents in his power and possession before the Enquiry Officer. It was not required of him to withhold relevant material and take such a defence which could not be substantiated during the course of departmental enquiry. Having failed to produce relevant documentary evidence as well as examine the witnesses, Pandey cannot argue that the Disciplinary Authority or the Courts have not appreciated the evidence in its correct perspective.