Keeping a currency worth ₹50, received from a colleague, in the socks worn while on duty in 1998 almost cost his job for a government employee but for a partial relief given by the High Court of Karnataka by setting aside the Government’s 2004 order of compulsorily retiring him from the service.
However, the court has found correct the finding of the disciplinary committee that petitioner, M.S. Kadkol, who was working as a second division assistant (SDA) in the Public Works Department, Byadgi in Dharwad district, was “guilty of misconduct” as per the provisions of the Karnataka Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeals) Rules, 1957. A Division Bench, comprising Justice S.G. Pandit and Justice Anant Ramanath Hegde, passed the order on January 31, 2022, while partly allowing Mr. Kadkol’s petition. The petitioner had moved the court in 2017, questioning the Karnataka State Administrative Tribunal’s 2016 order of upholding his compulsory retirement.
“No man of ordinary prudence would believe that ₹50 received as a hand loan should find its way to the socks…” the court observed while declining to accept his consistent claim that he had received ₹50 as “hand loan” from his colleague, H.R. Naikar, also an SDA.
Mr. Naikar was trapped by the Lokayukta police in January 1998 for allegedly demanding and accepting ₹150 from one Chandrachari, an Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) of the Public Works Department, for dispatching the complainant’s service records to another office on his transfer.
During the trap, a tainted currency of ₹50, which was part of the total ₹150 paid to Mr. Naikar by the AEE, was found in the socks of the petitioner. The court, from records, found that there was no allegation against the petitioner that he had either demanded or accepted the bribe, and his role was “passive in nature” when compared to the active role played by Mr. Naikar.
Hence, the court said, the punishment of compulsory retirement imposed on the petitioner was “shockingly disproportionate” to the “nature and gravity of offence”. The court directed the disciplinary authority to decide the appropriate quantum of punishment to the petitioner within two months as a disciplinary inquiry was initiated way back in 2002.