The Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the conviction of a Constable who was accused of misbehaving with a couple travelling at night. It said that the protector of law chose to violate the law himself.

The Court was dealing with a writ petition wherein the prayer was for the issuance of a writ of certiorari for quashing the order vide which the original application filed by the petitioner under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 was dismissed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, (CAT) Chandigarh Bench.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Deepak Sibal and Justice Sukhvinder Kaur observed, “It has also been rightly observed by the Tribunal that a perusal of the allegations proved and the penalty imposed upon the petitioner will show, that the same is not excessive and it cannot be said that it pricks the conscience of a prudent man, considering the fact that a protector of law chose to violate the law himself, by demanding illegal gratification and causing harassment.”

Advocate Rohit Seth appeared for the petitioner while Addl. Standing Counsel Anand Bishnoi and Senior Panel Counsel Prateek Mahajan appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the petitioner joined as Constable U.T., Police Chandigarh in 2011 and one night in 2012, the petitioner along with another Constable and volunteer was on night patrolling duty. At about 2.00 A.M., on receiving wireless message, ASI reached at Aroma Light Point and found another ASI along with one person present there. It was alleged by the said person that while he went to drop his friend at her PG accommodation, they were stopped and harassed by a police patrolling party and the police party took Rs. 300/- from him. As his friend was very scared and started weeping, he reported to the PCR vehicle and thereafter, he along with the police party were taken to police station and Rs.300/- were returned. A departmental inquiry was initiated against the petitioner and another Constable.

The Disciplinary authority passed an order vide which punishment of stoppage of fifteen annual increments with permanent effect was imposed upon the petitioner. Feeling aggrieved against the same, the petitioner preferred an appeal under Rule 16.29 of Punjab Police Rules, however, the said appeal was rejected by the appellate authority with modification in the punishment of stoppage of ten annual increments with permanent effect. The petitioner filed a revision petition which was also rejected by the revisional authority and then the mercy petition filed by him was also rejected by the Home Secretary. Challenging the charge-sheet and punishment orders culminating therefrom, the petitioner approached CAT and the Tribunal dismissed the same, resulting in filing of the writ petition.

The High Court in view of the above facts noted, “The present case cannot be treated as a case of no evidence qua appellant-Pardeep Kumar. In the enquiry report a reference has been made to statement of Kavita, wherein she identified both C-Pardeep Kumar and C-Rajesh Kumar as those two persons who alongwith another police personnel had harassed her and misbehaved with her on that night. The Tribunal has rightly held that an ordinary and prudent man could come to conclusion that when put on duty as a team, the team is responsible for the consequences of the incident or the complaint raised by a public member on any action by the team.”

The Court said that in the event of demanding illegal gratification or harassment, the accused would be equally responsible for the action of the team and that the Tribunal rightly held that the attempt of petitioner to disassociate himself from the event, when he was a member of the patrolling party appears to be a poor defence and not substantiated in the inquiry proceedings.

“So when the enquiry has been held according to the prescribed procedure, there was no violation of principles of natural justice in conducting the proceedings and there is no material regarding mala fide on the part of the authorities and the punishment imposed is not excessive, then no interference in the impugned orders is required by this Court”, held the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the writ petition and upheld the conviction.

Cause Title- Pardeep Kumar v. Union of India and Others (Neutral Citation: 2023:PHHC:137380)

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