Courts should not be guided by "misplaced sympathy" while examining quantum of punishment of an offender, the Supreme Court has said as it ordered removal of a clerk from service for going to work in a drunken state.
A bench of justices SJ Mukhopadhaya and AK Sikri set aside the Meghalaya High Court decision ordering reinstatement of the man, who was working as an upper division clerk (UDC) in Kendriya Vidayala Sangthan and removed from job for going to work under the influence of alcohol during duty hours.
"Repeatedly this court has emphasised that the courts should not be guided by misplaced sympathy or continuity ground, as a factor in judicial review while examining the quantum of punishment," the bench said.
The high court had ordered for reinstatement of the clerk on the ground that the penalty of removal from service was disproportionate to the nature and gravity of his misconduct.
The school authorities had approached the apex court questioning the reasoning and rationale of the direction given by the high court.
The apex court, however, held that the reasoning of the high court was "unacceptable" and restored the decision of Central Administrative Tribunal upholding the punishment of removal of the man from service.
"We find that the high court has totally downplayed the seriousness of misconduct. It was a case where the respondent employee (clerk) had gone to the place of work in a fully drunken state. Going to the place of work under the influence of alcohol during working hours (it was 11.30am) would itself be a serious act of misconduct.
"What compounds the gravity of delinquency is that the place of work is not any commercial establishment but a school i.e. temple of learning. The high court has glossed over and trivialised the aforesaid aspect by simply stating that the respondent was not a habitual drunkard and it is not the case of the management that he used to come to the school in a drunken state regularly or quite often. Even a singular act of this nature would have serious implications," the bench said.