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Delhi HC: Retention of Dishonest Government Employee Will Send Wrong Signals

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In the case of Sunil Kumar Yadav v Union of India and ORS. Justice Asha Menon held that if a government employee is dishonest, who kept smuggled gold in his possession and for such seizure, he did not make any reports to his superiors. Retention of such employees in service will send inappropriate messages.

Brief Facts

Petitioner was initially a constable at SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) when he received information from his source regarding gold smuggling from Muzaffarpur to Delhi by a certain person. He and a constable with him apprehended a smuggler in the train and informed his superior. He also recovered half kilogram gold. At the time the return smuggler escaped custody somehow, while SAOs (Sh. S.K.Sharma, Sub-Area Organiser, and Sh. Alok Pandey, Sub-Area Organiser ) were waiting for a third person in the vehicle.

After this, the petitioner was asked to deposit the recovered gold with the nearest SSB, and the SAOs themselves left the place. On the way to the Tuthibari SSB unit, local police intercepted the petitioner and detained him, and then handed over to customs authorities. Consequently, he was penalized by the Customs Authorities ₹1 lakh fine in December 2015. 

Based on the inquiry of the Court, a General Force Court (GFC) was convened, on whose conclusion the petitioner was found guilty of the two charges and it recommended that the petitioner should undergo two years rigorous and be dismissed from service. The Confirming Authority however reduced 2-year imprisonment to 1 year. Upon which petitioner has filed this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India against his dismissal from the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

Submissions Before the Court

  1. The petitioner sought the application of the ‘Doctrine of Equality’ in his favour. Where charges of the commission of offences were framed against the petitioner, whereas no action was taken against the SAOs.
  2. The petitioner claimed that he only did what his superiors asked of him per the mandate of Rule 9(5) of the SSB Rules, 2009.
  3. Charges were wrong as preparation of seizure memo u/s 102 of the Cr. P.C was vested in Constable ranks.
  4. Petitioner only proceeded to the Tuthibari SSB unit to deposit smuggled gold as per the order of SAO Sh. S.K.Sharma, prosecution by the Customs Authorities was illegal and in violation of Section 132(2)(d) Cr. P.C. 

Arguments before the Court

Learned counsel for the petitioner, contended that though the SAOs had a significant role in the whole episode, no disciplinary proceedings were taken against them. It was also contended that the petitioner has already undergone the sentence, it was prayed that the dismissal is set aside.

Learned counsel for the respondents submitted that the petitioner was found in possession of smuggled half kilo gold, which he didn’t report. Petitioner was apprehended proceeding to his home instead of the SSB unit or the police or the Customs for depositing the recovered gold. Petitioner failed to report the incident of the alleged escape of the SAOs to any superior officer. 

Court’s Observation

The Court found that Petitioner’s contentions were without force/merit. Petitioner did not approach the court until now, against the assessment of evidence by the COI and GFC. Action was already taken against Sh. S.K. Sharma and Sh. Alok Pandey, whatever happens to them will not dictate punishment of the petitioner. 

Court noted submissions made by petitioner that he admitted being the one receiving smuggling information and apprehended the smuggler with the smuggled gold. The petitioner then went further ahead of Tuthibari with smuggled gold.

Court’s Decision

The Court held that the Doctrine of Equality had no application to the facts of this case. If a government employee is dishonest, who also kept smuggled gold in his possession, and for such seizure, he did not make any report. Retention of such employees in service will send inappropriate messages. Accordingly, the plea was rejected and the petition was dismissed.

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