The Supreme Court has observed that punishment awarded should to a CRPF jawan cannot be merely disproportionate but should be strikingly disproportionate to warrant interference by the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution and only in an extreme case, where on the face of it there was perversity or irrationality, judicial review under Articles 226 or 227 or under Article 32 of the Constitution could be there.

The Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice C.T. Ravikumar observed that “it cannot be said that the punishment of dismissal can be said to be strikingly disproportionate warranting the interference of the High Court in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. In the facts and circumstances of the case and on the charges and misconduct of indiscipline and insubordination proved, the CRPF being a disciplined force, the order of penalty of dismissal was justified and it cannot be said to be disproportionate and/or strikingly disproportionate to the gravity of the wrong.”

In this case, the respondent was serving in disciplined force- CRPF and in the departmental inquiry against him charges of misbehaving with superior and giving threats of dire consequences to the superior and to his colleagues, under the influence of intoxication, were proved. An order, dismissing the respondent from service was passed as per Rule 27 of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Rules, 1955 and in exercise of powers under Section 11 of the CRPF Act, 1949.

Aggrieved, the respondent approached the Rajasthan High Court wherein the High Court allowed the appeal, set aside the penalty imposed by the disciplinary authority, and had directed the authority to reinstate him in service with notional benefits. Aggrieved of the order of High Court the appellants approached the Apex Court.

ASG Madhavi Diwan appeared for the Union of India- appellant while Advocate Abhishek Gupta appeared for the respondent before the Court.

The Apex Court, disagreeing with the view taken by the High Court, referred to its decision in the case of Commandant, 22nd Battalion, CRPF Vs. Surinder Kumar; (2011) 10 SCC 244 and observed that in a case when a CRPF personnel was awarded imprisonment under Section 10(n) of the Act for an offence which was less heinous, he could be dismissed from service, if misconduct was found to be prejudicial to good order and discipline of CRPF.

The Court said that High Court was not justified in observing that the penalty of dismissal was disproportionate as the misconduct of misbehaving with the superior/senior officer and of insubordination was a very serious misconduct, which could not be tolerated in a disciplined force like CRPF and the penalty awarded to the respondent was not strikingly disproportionate.

Accordingly, the Appeal was allowed and the impugned judgment was set aside.

Cause Title- Union of India and Ors. V. Const Sunil Kumar

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