The Bombay High Court has refused to grant relief to a Head Constable who was found sleeping while on duty. The Court dismissed his plea challenging the penalty of compulsory retirement imposed upon him.

"A member of force in possession of a weapon sleeping during the course of duty who is deputed to guard the Main Gate under construction is the highest degree of indiscipline.", the Bench of Justice Sandeep V. Marne and Justice Mangesh S. Patil observed.

"CISF is an armed force of the Union and being the member of the armed force, maintenance of discipline amongst its members is paramount.", the Bench added.

The petitioner had joined services in Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), in 1993. While working as Head Constable, he was placed under suspension in contemplation of initiation of disciplinary proceedings. It was alleged that while being posted in Training Centre on the Main Gate with a weapon, he was found sleeping during the course of checking by the Night Checking Officer and upon being questioned, he misbehaved with the officer.

It was also alleged that while being posted as mess commander, he misbehaved with his superior officer upon being questioned about excess quantity of Tomatoes.

The penalty of compulsory retirement imposed on him by the disciplinary authority came to be confirmed by the appellate authority and the revisional authorities.

Aggrieved, the petitioner approached High Court.

Advocate Yashodeep P. Deshmukh appeared for the petitioner whereas AGP, Bhushan B. Kulkarni appeared for CISF.

The High Court noted that the disciplinary proceedings were conducted in accordance with the CISF Rules.

Further, while dealing with the contention that the Petitioner was already subjected to punishment within the meaning of Rule 38 of the CISF Rules of 2001, the Court noted thus "Firstly, we fail to understand as to how the misconduct of sleeping on duty by a member of the armed force of the Union carrying a weapon, who is deputed on watch and watch duty, can be treated as petty breach of discipline. Secondly, we cannot draw an inference on the basis of endorsement made on the night checking report that the verbal warning given to the petitioner amounts to punishment within the meaning of Rule 38."

The Court also rejected the contention of the petitioner that the penalty imposed on the petitioner was discriminatory as the two other members of the force, who were also found sleeping in the Night Checking Report, were let off with verbal warning.

In this context, the Court held thus "We do not find any merit in this contention of Mr. Deshmukh, since in addition to the charge of sleeping on duty, the petitioner was indulged in the act of misbehaviour with the officer."

The Court also noted that instead of showing remorse, the petitioner indulged misbehaved with the officers and challenged their authority on two subsequent occasions.

The Court also rejected the contention of penalty being disproportionate to the misconduct alleged and proved.

"It is not that the Petitioner is compulsorily retired at the beaning or middle of his career. He has put in substantial period of service and would earn substantial pension therefor. Also, it is trite that that the Courts cannot, in exercise of power of judicial review, modify the penalty imposed in the disciplinary proceedings unless the same is found to be shocking disproportionate to the misconduct proved. In the present case, the penalty imposed on the petitioner does not shock our conscience.", the Court held while dismissing the petition.

Cause Title- Pralhad Bhaurao Thale v. Union of India & Ors.

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