Madras High Court Reiterates That ‘Ignorance of Law’ Is Not an Excuse and Dismisses Petition by a Constable

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A Constable committed bigamy and deserted his service for more than 21 days. After dismissal from his service, he moved to Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal (TNAT). However, after the abolition, the case was transferred to this Court as W.P. 18275 of 2007. The matter was heard and decided upon by Hon’ble Justice P. Velmurugan.

Facts of the Case

Rajmohan, the petitioner, was working as Constable in 4th Battalion, Coimbatore. He was charged as a deserter as he failed to come to service for more than 21 days. Action was taken against him under Section 3(B) of the Tamil Nadu Police Subordinate Service (Discipline and Appeal) Rules. Another allegation levelled against the petitioner was that he married a lady constable Jayanti on 27.08.2000 and later on 15.09.2000 he married one Vijayalakshmi while the first marriage was in subsistence. By doing so, he contravened Rule 23(1) (6) 1964. After the enquiry, he was dismissed from service by order dated 04.04.2002. 

This case was originally filed as Original Application No.1102 of 2004 before the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal (TNAT). After the abolition of the TNAT, the application was transferred to the Madras High Court. 

Arguments Before the Court

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner had filed a proper medical certificate issued by a Medical Officer. This certificate acknowledged that he was in regular treatment, however, the same was not considered by the disciplinary authority. 

The counsel for the respondents submitted that while the petitioner was on duty, neither did he attend office nor did he seek any permission for leave. The absence of the petitioner from service from 04.10.2000 to 25.10.2000 i.e., 21 days and counting, was noted. He was thus, declared as a deserter. The counsel maintained further that the medical certificate given by the petitioner is only an afterthought. 

The counsel for the respondents also submitted that the petitioner married another woman, while his first marriage was in subsistence. He, therefore, contravened Rule 23(1)(6) of Tamil Nadu Police Subordinate Service (D&A) Rules. The petitioner has himself admitted that he was unaware of the Service Rules and procedures, but subsequently, he divorced Vijayalakshmi on 16.05.2003. It shows that he married for a second time when the first marriage was in subsistence. Based on the enquiry report, the disciplinary authority rightly awarded the punishment of removal from service.

Court’s Observations

The Court perused the documents made available by both sides. The Court noted that the petitioner had cited ‘family circumstances’ owing to his absenteeism. However, if it were the case, the petitioner should have informed his Superior Officer. Even after the petitioner was searched, he was not found in his residence address during his duty. It was observed that the medical certificate was submitted only to escape the disciplinary action against him. 

Further, the Court noted that the petitioner did commit bigamy by marrying another woman while he was already married. The Court found that the action taken by the disciplinary authority to dismiss the petitioner from the service was right and in proportion.

Court’s Decision

The Court maintained that the excuse of ‘ignorance of the law’ by the petitioner was unfounded. The Court found no merits in the petitioner’s case. The case was, thus, dismissed. 

Read the original judgment here. 


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