The Central Administrative Tribunal has quashed the punishment order of the Delhi police which had censured a sub-inspector for failing to verify the residential address of an accused.
"As there is nothing under the (CrPC) Act or the (Punjab Police) Rules which bounds or mandates a police officer to verify the residential address of surety, in good faith the ration card was found to be an apt and legal proof of the surety," the Tribunal comprising Members N D Dayal and S Raju said.
It passed the order on a petition of Om Prakash, the sub-inspector, challenging the punishment of censure by the Delhi police on the ground that he had not committed any misconduct as the address was given on the basis of the ration card.
"Om Prakash has not misconducted in any manner...It is trite that if there is no misconduct, one cannot be punished and even if misconduct is as a result of error of judgement, one cannot be held guilty of the misconduct," the Tribunal said.
The Tribunal also disapproved of the practice of holding the inquiry behind the back of the applicant, saying it is a violation of the principles of natural justice.
Earlier, the Delhi Police had contended that Om Prakash has a duty to verify the address of the surety and his authenticity before granting bail.
"Having not done so, he has acted negligently for which penalty imposed is not only legal but also commensurate with the misconduct," the Delhi Police had said.
Om Prakash contested the contention, saying there might be an error of judgement but it cannot be treated as a misconduct.
The accused was released on bail but when he did not appear in the subsequent proceedings during the trial, a notice had been issued which was received back unexecuted with the comments that he was not residing at the given address.
On inquiry, it was found that the accused never resided at the place, following which the sub-inspector was issued a punishment of censure for acting negligently in not verifying the address of the accused when he was given bail.