Parity Of Punishment – Gujarat HC Reduces Deduction Of Pension To 25% Of Police Officer Accused Of Helping Prisoner To Escape
Justice A.Y. Kogje of Gujarat High while referring to the principles of parity and proportionality has reduced the deduction of pension from 100% to 25% of a sub-inspector accused of helping a prisoner to escape from the custody of the police.
In this case, the Petitioner who was serving as a Police Sub-Inspector was proceeded departmentally on account of an incident involving the escape of under trial prisoner from the custody.
The undertrial prisoner was charged with offences under Sections 302, 344, and 364 IPC. He was admitted to a hospital for treatment. The prisoner was a serious offender accused of double murder and had absconded from the legal custody of the persons who were with him in surveillance and the Petitioner had to collude with the accused and with the doctor of the hospital. The Petitioner was allegedly actively involved in aiding the under-trial prisoner to escape.
The Petitioner had challenged the order of 2015 passed by the Respondent-State by which the punishment was inflicted upon the Petitioner by deduction of 100% monthly pension. In 2016, the State had also refused to renew/consider the impugned order of 2015.
Aggrieved, the Petitioner approached the High Court.
The High Court noted that in service jurisprudence, it is the preponderance of probabilities on the basis of which the authority is expected to arrive at a conclusion and observed –
"In that view of the matter, it is not required for the authority to search for the evidence which is in the nature to establish the guilt beyond reasonable doubt, but in the facts of the present case, the parameters of preponderance of possibilities is clearly achieved on the basis of ocular evidence of the witnesses as well as supporting documentary evidence. In that view of the matter also, the Court is not inclined to interfere with the finding arrived at by the authority against the petitioner."
The Court further also observed that there is no serious challenge to the departmental inquiry conduced against the Petitioner which further indicates that the principles of natural justice have not been violated and there is no procedural lapse, thus the Bench held –
"In view of the aforesaid also, the Court is not inclined to interfere with the decision of the authority in holding the petitioner guilty of the charges."'
The Court also considered the second aspect where 100% pension of the Petitioner was deducted.
In this context, the Bench noted that on the ground of parity with other delinquent, the punishment of 100% withdrawal of the pension was harsh; hence, the Court deemed fit to modify the impugned order to the extent of punishment.
Further, the Bench held –
"The Court has also considered the fact of the long tenure of the service period of the petitioner. During his career, nothing adverse is brought on record and this being the sole incident, the entire service record cannot be disregarded."
Thus, the Court reduced the deduction of pension of the Petitioner to 25% from 100% and partly allowed the Petition.