The Andhra Pradesh High Court observed that Railway Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1968, an appellate authority cannot be the revisional authority as well.

The court noted that the Revisional Authority has to be higher than the appellate authority as per the Rules.

The Court held thus in a writ petition filed by the Union of India and its authorities against the judgment passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Hyderabad.

A Division Bench of Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari and Justice B.V.L.N. Chakravarthi observed, “In view of the rule position, we are of the view that even if the appellate order was passed by the Divisional Commercial Manager (Senior Scale Officer) who functions under the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager cannot act as revisional authority. The appellate authority under the rules being Junior Administrative Grade Officer, i.e Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, the same authority cannot be the revisional authority as well. The Revisional Authority has to be higher than the appellate authority as per the Rules.”

Central Government Counsel Venna Hemanth Kumar appeared for the petitioners while Advocate K.R.K.V. Prasad appeared for the respondent.

Facts of the Case -

The respondent working as a Ticket Examiner in Guntakal Division was issued the Charge Memorandum by the Assistant Commercial Manager, South Central Railway under Rule 9 of the Railway Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1968. The charges were related to the alleged misconduct of him during a decoy check by the Vigilance team of Railways in a train wherein he was working as Travelling Ticket Collector in the Checking Squad. He allowed a decoy passenger to travel without a ticket by collecting Rs. 30/- for which no railway receipt was issued and thereby violated the provisions of Indian Railway Commercial Manual and Railway Service Conduct Rules.

He denied the charges and the Disciplinary Authority appointed an Enquiry Officer who after conducting the enquiry, submitted his report recording the findings that both the Articles of Charge were proved. Thereafter, the Disciplinary Authority/Assistant Commercial Manager (ACM) imposed a penalty of ‘withholding of his Annual Increments for a period of 40 months (NR)’. A show cause notice was issued proposing to enhance the penalty to that of ‘Compulsory Retirement’ which was challenged by him. However, CAT dismissed his challenge and hence, he filed a writ petition which was disposed of with a direction to withdraw the show cause notice. Then the Appellate Authority/Divisional Commercial Manager (DCM) dismissed the appeal and confirmed the order of penalty, and therefore, the matter was before the High Court.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “In Union of India, Rep by the Additional Divisional Railway Manager South Central Railway Vijayawada and another vs. S. Rama Rao in (W.P.No.11851 of 2001 decided on 01.03.2011), a Co-ordinate Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh held that the Revising Authority in respect of a Travelling Ticket Examiner is only the Divisional Railway Manager and not even the Additional Divisional Railway Manager who is below the rank of the Divisional Railway Manager.”

The Court further referred to the judgment in the case of Union of India Rep by the Additional Divisional Railway Manager South Central Railway Hyderabad Division Secunderabad v. S. Harikrishna (W.P.No.1490 of 2002) in which it was held that from rule 25(4)(ii) of the Rules, the revisional power is conferred on the Higher Authority i.e., higher than the appellate authority.

“On point No.2, in view of the above consideration we hold that the revisional order passed by the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, enhancing the penalty to compulsory retirement has been highly held to be without jurisdiction. … We do not find force in the submission of the learned Central Government Counsel that if the revisional order was not passed by the competent authority, the Tribunal should have maintained the order of penalty as passed by the Disciplinary Authority, for the obvious reason, that on the findings recorded by the Tribunal and considered in Point No.1 (supra) even the penalty order of the disciplinary authority cannot be sustained”, said the Court.

The Court also observed that once the original order of penalty is unsustainable, its enhancement by the authority revising it for higher punishment cannot stand, irrespective of the point of jurisdiction.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the writ petition and refused to interfere in the impugned order.

Cause Title- Union of India, rep. by General Manager, S.C Railway and others v. B.S. Purushotham

Click here to read/download the Judgment