Topic: Miss Radha Bai Vs The Union Territory Of Pondicherry Represented By...

when Radhabai, Secretary to D Ramchandran, the then social minister for state protested against his abuse of girls in the welfare institutions, he attempted to molest her, which was followed by her dismissal. The Supreme Court in 1995 passed the judgment in her favor, with back pay and perks from the date of dismissal

Miss Radha Bai Vs The Union Territory Of Pondicherry Represented By Its Chief S
Equivalent Citations: 1995 Air 1476, 1995 Scc (4) 141 -Bench: Paripoornan, K.S.(J) & Kuldip Singh (J) - Date Of Judgment20/04/1995

Citation: 1995 Air 1476 1995 Scc (4) 141 - Jt 1995 (4) 34 1995 Scale (2)842


Paripoornan, K.S., J.:

1. The Petitioner in Writ Petition No. 1329 of 1979 of the High Court of Madras, is the appellant herein.    This appeal is filed against the Judgment of the High Court of Madras dated 26.10.1983, in pursuant to the special leave granted by this Court on 13.1.1986 in S.L.P.(C) No. 3643 of 1984. There are three respondents in this appeal. They are:     The Union Territory of Pondicherry represented by its Chief Secretary, The     Union of India     represented by Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Sri D. Ramachandran, former Home Minister of Pondicherry.

2. The relevant facts which gave rise to this appeal     may be stated. The date of birth of the appellant is 25.8.1934. She was appointed as a Child Welfare Organiser under     the Pondicherry State Social Welfare Advisory     Board     on 21.11.1958. The service of the employees of the Board     was merged    with the Government service. The employees of     the Advisory Board became Government employees. On 11. 12.1962 the appellant was appointed as Social Education Organiser in the Development Department, Government of Pondicherry.     In 1973, the appellant was Assistant Director of     the Social Welfare Department. At that time, the third respondent     was the Minister for Social Welfare in     the Government of Pondicherry. In that year a protective and shelter home for women arrested under the Suppression of Immoral Traffic     Act was started at Reddiarpalayam by the Social Welfare Doctorate. It is the appellant's case, that in 1973,     she received a report that the above institution was being misused     by the third respondent herein with the connivance of the Superintendent, for illegal and


immoral     purposes.    The appellant     reprimanded     the Superintendent.     This infuriated the third respondent     and other officers who apprehended that their misdeeds will be exposed. They began teasing the appellant. The appellant was transferred from Pondicherry to Karaikkal.     On an     en- quiry by the Inspector-General of Police on the orders of Lt. Governor    conducted in 1976, the Secretary, Local Administration Department was transferred in January, 1977. In 1977, the    third respondent again became the    Home Minister. He continued to use the women's institutions as before    for his immoral activities with the help of    some officials. The appellant's presence was an Irritation to the third respondent and other officials. In September, 1977, some false criminal charges were leveled against     the appellant by the said officials and attempts to commit     her to prison were made on the ground that she was     a lunatic. She demanded an enquiry in the matter. Therefore, she     was suspended from service with effect from October 14, 1977. Thereafter, the appellant resorted to fast,    and on     the assurances of the Chief Minister and the Union Minister     for Tourism that remedial action will be taken, she gave up     the fast.     On 10.7.1978, the     appellant submitted     a representation to the Governor of Tamil Nadu Sri Prabhudas Patwari who had taken over the administration of Pondicherry by then. In her representation, she alleged attempts    made to molest her and other misdeeds of officials and prayed for intervention to set right the matters.    A detailed petition was also sent     later.     On 22.7.1978, the Governor     of Pondicherry, in his capacity as Administrator of Pondicherry Administration,     directed that an enquiry be held into     the allegations contained    in the complaint filed    before    him. The authorities failed to give effect to    this order. Thereupon the appellant moved the High Court of Madras in Writ Petition    No. 1329 of 1979 and prayed for issue of a writ of mandamus to implement the orders passed by     the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the Administrator of the Union Territory of Pondicherry dated 22.7.1978, and for other reliefs. The    High Court of Madras by its Judgment dated 26.9.1983 held that the order dated 22.7.1978 is incomplete and in-executable and denied relief to the appellant. It is thereafter, the appellant moved this    Court by S.L.P.(C) No.3643     of 1984, and obtained leave by order dated 13.1.1986. This Court ordered expeditious hearing of     the appeal.     Thereafter, the appeal came up for hearing on a few occasions and finally on 26.7.1994, this Court     passed     the following order:

"Miss Radha Bai, the appellant, was working as Assistant     Director, local Administration Department,     Govt. of Pondicherry.    She made a

written complaint before the Governor     of Pondicherry wherein it was alleged that     the Minister    in-charge and other officers, named therein,    were misusing    the Social Welfare Department and they attempted to     molest     the appellant. The Governor in his    capacity as the Administrator     of Pondicherry

Administration by his order dated July     22, 1978 directed that an enquiry be held into the allegation contained in the complaint filed before him by Radha Bai.     The operative    part of the order was as under:

`proceedings of the Governor of Tamil Nadu And

Administrator of the Union Territory     of Pondicherry.


Dated: 22nd July, 1978.

Sub:Representation from    Miss N.     Radha    Bai, Assistant     Director, Local Administration Department.

After giving full consideration to     the representation of Miss N. Radha Bai, Assistant Director,     Local Administration     Department, Pondicherry, and     after    going through     the comments     of the Chief Secretary to     the Government of Pondicherry presented to me today at     12 Noon, 1 feel that     the matter regarding     allegations    against     Shri     D. Ramachandran, Shri T.T. Joseph and Shri    S.V. Ranganathan about the endeavours to molest the applicant     need independent enquiry in     the interests     of justice and in order to keep up the prestige of the Administration and    par- ticularly women members of the staff. 1 order that a Judicial     Officer of the rank     of District    Judge be appointed to    conduct     the enquiry only for the above points.'

The order of the Governor, quoted above,     was not complied with by the Administration and no enquiry was held. Radha Bai filed a    writ petition     under     Article 226/227 of     the Constitution of India before the Madras    High Court seeking a direction to the     Pondicherry Administration to hold an enquiry as directed by the Governor.     The writ petition was    dis- missed by the High Court.     This appeal by     way of special leave is against the    judgment of the High Court.

We have     heard    learned     counsel for-     the parties.     We are of the view that the    High Court fell into patent error in dismissing the writ petition. Instead of doing     substantial justice in the case the High Court declined to interfere     on the reasoning which     was wholly irrelevant and against law.     We are of the vie w

that the order passed by the Governor in     his capacity    as the Administrator of     Pondicherry Government was valid and     the Administration was bound by the same. We    direct     the Pondicherry Administration through its Chief Secretary     to request the District Judge Pondicherry to hold an enquiry into     the complaint made by the appellant as ordered on July 22,     1978 by the then Governor.    This shall be done by the Chief Secretary within two weeks of the receipt of this order. The District Judge shall give opportunity to    Miss Radha bai and the persons named in     the complaint to adduce evidence oral as well as documentary in support of their respective contentions. The District Judge shall complete    the enquiry within three months of the receipt of the request to him from     the Chief Secretary.     The enquiry report be    sent to the Chief Secretary, Union Territory of Pondicherry and a copy of the same be sent to this Court.

The appeal to be listed for further directions on 6.12.1994.

Registry to send the copy of this order to the Chief Secretary and     District Judge, Pondicherry before 9.8.94. "

3.The    enquiry     by the District Judge,    Pondicherry, unfortunately    took some time and this Court granted extension of time for submitting the report. There is    only one District Judge in Pondicherry. He has    submitted a report    containing 40 pages (56 paragraphs). In the    said report, the deposition of 19 witnesses (PW1 - PW 19) and the documents (Ext. P1- Ext.P12) have been adverted to.     The finding     of the District Judge is to the effect that     the allegations of the appellant against the third respondent and two others "are not proved by corroboration of     the evidence of the complainant or her documents." In more 40

places than one, after adverting to the evidence of PW-1 (to PW-19) (appellant and others) the learned District Judge has stated    that there is no corroboration for the    evidence so given.     The learned District Judge failed to bear in    mind the long lapse of time after the incident, in    appreciating the evidence in the case.

4.We heard Sri K. Sukumaran, Senior Counsel who appeared for the appellant, Sri A.S. Nambiar, Senior Counsel who appeared for the first     respondent, and also the counsel for     the respondent Nos. 2 and 3. Written submissions have also    been submitted by counsel    for the appellant and    counsel     for respondent Nos.     1 & 3. We perused the same.

5.In the earlier order passed by this Court on 26.7.1994, this Court found that the    High Court failed to     do substantial justice in this case and declined to interfere in the     matter     on the basis     of irrelevant and faulty reasoning and so the Judgment is erroneous in law. We    have no doubt that it is so. In the light of the above, one of the main prayers of the appellant in the writ    petition to give effect to the order passed by the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the Administrator of Union Territory of Pondicherry dated 22.7.1978 was given effect to by this Court by order dated 26.7.1994 and the District Judge was    directed to conduct the enquiry. We are sorry to note that the Enquiry Report submitted by the District Judge is unhelpful, infirm and is unsustainable. As we indicated earlier     the substantial reasoning and conclusion of the learned District Judge is to the effect that the evidence (statements) of the appellant are    not corroborated by other material. It is rather surprising that the law laid down by this Court in a series    of decisions from 1952 as to whether there is     any need to insist upon corroboration to the testimony of prosecutrix in sexual offence, has been completely ignored by the     District Judge in submitting his report. We     may mention     only two cases as illustrative of the principle to be borne in mind in appreciating the testimony of     the victims     of sexual offences.     In Bharwada     Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai v. State of Gujarat 1983 (3) SCC 217, at p.226, this Court stated the law thus:

"On principle the evidence of a victim of sexual assault stands on par with evidence of an injured witness. Just as a witness who has sustained     an injury (which is not shown or believed    to be self inflicted) is the    best witness in the sense that she is least Rely to exculpate the real offender, the evidence of a victim of a sex offence is entitled to great weight,     absence of corroboration notwithstanding............ if the evidence of the victim does not suffer from any basic infirmity, and the 'probabilities factor' does not render it unworthy of credence, as a general rule, there is no reason to insist on corroboration."

Again in State of Maharashtra v. Chandraprakash Kewalchand Jain etc. 1990 (1) SCC 550, at p.559, this Court laid    down the law thus:

"...if a prosecutrix is an adult and of    full understanding the Court is entitled to base a conviction on her evidence unless the same is shown to be infirm and not trustworthy.     If the totality of the circumstances appearing on the record of the case    disclosed that     the prosecutrix does not have a strong motive to falsely involve the person charged, the Court should ordinarily have     no hesitation in accepting her evidence. We have, therefore , no doubt     in our minds that ordinarily     the evidence of a prosecutrix who does not    lack under-


standing    must be accepted. The degree of proof required must not be higher is expected of an injured witness......

Ordinarily the evidence of a prosecutrix    must carry the same weight as is attached to an injured person who is a victim of violence, unless there are special circumstances which call for     greater caution, in which case it would be safe to act on her testimony if there is independent evidence lending assurance to her accusation. "

(emphasis supplied)

6. In     the light of the above decisions of this Court     the report    submitted by the District Judge, Pondicherry in pursuance of the order passed by this Court is    unacceptable and we reject the same.

7. It     is unfortunate that     an order passed by     the Administrator of Pondicherry on 22.7.1978, nearly 17 years ago, was not given effect to by the Administration and    even when the appellant approached the     High     Court     for implementing the said order, it was opposed and relief     was denied    to her, by Court. No useful purpose will be served by ordering an enquiry again at this     distance of time. Reading     the affidavits filed by the appellant,     her statements of allegations, the various documents and    also the other relevant papers filed in the case,    we have no doubt in our    mind, that something,     as stated by     the appellant, should have happened in a broad sense though     the precise details relating thereto have not come to light. The entire episode is really unfortunate and we express     our anguish     in the matter. It also appears that all was     not well with regard to the manner and method of the running of the institution started at Reddiarpalayam by     the Social Welfare Directorate and the steps taken in that regard by the appellant to set right the matter seems to have provoked "the powers that be". It is evident that there was inaction and attempt to cover up the entire episode. The fact    that the high constitutional dignitary, Governor of Tamil Nadu, who was the Administrator of Pondicherry, felt that a prima facie case is disclosed and ordered that the allegations regarding the    endeavour to molest the appellant    need independent enquiry in the interest of justice cannot be and should not have been ignored. The Administration failed in its duty to give effect to     the said order within a reasonable time. On the other hand, the attempt was to " shelve"     the matter, by putting forward untenable pleas. A responsible statutory authority or administration, owes a duty to the public, to discharge its functions     reasonably, honestly and bonafide, without driving the aggrieved persons from pillar to post, and should there be any non-excusable lapse    on this score, the     concerned authority     or administration,     should be held responsible for the loss or damage accruing thereby to the aggrieved persons. Even     the High Court on     an erroneous view declined relief to     the appellant. It     cannot be gain said that the modesty of a woman is very precious to her from all points of view     and when attempts were made to molest her and also to thwart the genuine     attempts made by her to set right the     undesirable happenings in the shelter home for women, any person placed in the position of the appellant will certainly feel annoyed and ashamed.    There is every reason for the appellant to feel greatly humiliated. There is    bound to be moral indignation or resentment. Even a judicial enquiry, ordered by the highest constitutional functionary in the State to investigate the matter, was rendered futile by the concerned officials and


for a    period    of 17 years no redress or remedy has    been rendered to the appellant.    This is sad indeed!     The appellant entered service in 1958. Due to estranged rela- tionship, events one after another followed and eventually the appellant was removed from service on 30.9.1981 and     she was driven from pillar to post to seek redress for the wrong done to her. On the day when she was removed from service she had 23 years of qualifying service.     She was entitled to pension. Under Rule 48-B of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 weightage of a period not exceeding 5 years can be added to the actual service rendered by a civil servant as period of grace, if the total qualifying service does not exceed 33 years and if it does not take the civil servant     beyond the date of superannuation. In     the normal course the appellant would have attained superannuation only on 25.8.1992, her date of birth being 25.8.1934. There     are materials available in the records    to show that     the appellant was a highly competent, hard working, sincere     and devoted     official. She has been referred to as an asset to the department.     But for the estranged relationship and     the acrimonious battle, she would have normally served the State till superannuation.    There was no impediment therefore. Considering the totality of the circumstances and the    non- excusable lapses of the administration and in doing complete justice in the matter, we are of the view that it should be declared that the appellant was compulsorily retired on at training the age of superannuation an should    be afforded pension and all other consequential and incidental benefits, of the basis that she was compulsorily retire from service on 25.8.1992.    She would be entitled to pension and other retirement benefits.    Besides, the appellant should be afforded relief by award of a lump-sum compensation for     the loss of her reputation and honour and the agony she had to suffer    in the     long battle, which we fix at Rs. 3 lacs, payable     jointly by respondents 1 and 3, within one month from today. We order accordingly.

8. The appeal shall stand disposed of as above with no order as to costs.