Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has upheld the termination of a Scientific Officer in National Agriculture Division of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, saying the inquiry against him had produced evidence to show that he had accepted illegal gratification.
Sahivanagouda Patil has alleged that he was victimised by another Scientific Officer, N S Rao, who was senior to him by one day and allegedly jealous of his work.
An inquiry was instituted against the petitioner into the allegations that he had given seeds to the farmers at a cost, although the seeds were distributed free by BARC.
It was the Patil’s case that he had a meritorious career. By his successful research, he developed high yielding and disease tolerant groundnut seed varieties which are even now commercially cultivated and has benefited the nation.
The petitioner further contended that his work has been appreciated and rewarded. He was granted promotions to higher grades till 1976 when he was promoted as Scientific Officer.
Besides, he had won several national awards and traveled to many foreign countries in connection with work.
However, the High Court bench comprising Justices V M Kanade and G S Kulkarni ruled: “Having considered the aforesaid fact position as emerged in the inquiry proceedings, we find that there is no merit in any of the submissions as made on behalf of the petitioner”.
Counsel for the petitioner, Mihir Desai contended there was no evidence against the petitioner to substantiate the charge and therefore, the petition deserves to be allowed.
“The submission on behalf of the petitioner cannot be accepted and deserves to be rejected”, said the Judges in their recent order.
“…From the evidence which has come on record of the inquiry proceedings, it speaks quite clearly that the petitioner was not only the beneficiary of the amounts but actually has received the amounts of Rs 2295 and Rs 500 as mentioned in the charges”, the Judges observed.
“In the present case, the charges were not ambiguous but were clear. The facts and circumstances as established on evidence as also corroborated by petitioner’s own statements clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that he was the only beneficiary of the said amounts. In fact, the evidence does not lead to any other conclusion,” the bench said.
“If that to be the position, then, by virtue of the well established test of preponderance of probability, the respondents were justified in imposing punishment of dismissal against the petitioner,” the court observed.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the punishment awarded to his client is disproportionate and sought interference of the court.
However, the court held, “the charges which stand proved against Patil of receiving illegal gratification were serious. Once it is held that the charges of such gravity are proved, the doctrine of proportionality cannot be applied.”
“In any event, considering the gravity of the charges and the punishment awarded, it cannot be said that punishment is totally irrational or is outrageously disproportionate so as to shock the conscience of the court”, the judges noted.
The judges said that after examining the facts they Cannot agree with the submissions of the petitioner that the case is of no evidence.
“The court had noted that the evidence on record of inquiry proceedings was sufficient to infer the petitioner to be the beneficiary of the amounts as mentioned in the charges levelled against him,” the bench said.
The bench further said that there was nothing on record which could give any credence to the allegation of the petitioner that it was a case of victimisation at the hands of another scientific officer N S Rao.
“Before parting, we may note that the petitioner had good credentials and a meritorious record of public service which could have gone a long way to benefit the people at large particularly working in an organisation like the BARC.
“However his own actions in the discharge of the duties of a public office as held to be proved and rightly so has brought him to such undesirable position. We are not exceptions not to be pained by this”.
The judges said they did not find that there was any perversity or illegality in the findings as recorded by the Tribunal, so as to warrant interference by the court.
“In view of this, the writ petition fails and is rejected,” the bench said.