Retired CRPF commandant Brajendra Singh Yambem will have to face fresh disciplinary proceedings for two alleged offences during his service period, the “seriousness” of which was considered by the Supreme Court to be a fit case to pursue to its logical conclusion.
Yambem, while serving as a regular commandant of CRPF’s 61st Battalion in Imphal, allegedly issued service arms and ammunitions to ex-undergrounds. In the process, one service AK-47 rifle with three magazines and 90 rounds of ammunition went missing.
The second case relates to the arrest of 11 personnel and seizure of two trucks of his unit carrying contraband ganja in 1995. Yambem is alleged to have sent three vehicles, one assistant commandant and 18 other ranks of his unit out of the area of operational jurisdiction without the approval of IGP (Ops) Manipur and Nagaland.
Two of the vehicles and 11 men were later intercepted and apprehended by the customs and central excise authorities at Didarganj check post near Patna on August 11, 1995, as a huge quantity of contraband ganja was found in the vehicles.
The retired officer is alleged to have fabricated office records to cover the illegal dispatch of CRPF vehicles and men out of operational jurisdiction.
While the CRPF had initiated a disciplinary proceeding against him in 1998, it could never conclude as Yambem took to the court at every stage, leading to a protracted litigation that continued for 10 years after his retirement in August 2006.
In 2008, the government initiated a fresh departmental inquiry against him after obtaining a sanction from the President of India. The decision was later upheld by the Guwahati high court in 2013.
Yambem had moved the top court contending that the government could not prosecute him after his retirement, even with the sanction of the President, as the alleged offences took place more than four years before the institution of the disciplinary proceedings.
A bench of justice Anil R Dave, justice V Gopala Gowda and justice C Nagappan agreed with Yambem’s argument, saying there was a statutory bar on pursuing disciplinary proceedings against retired government employees if it was not done within four years of the offence.
However, taking note of the “seriousness of the allegations” against Yambem, the Supreme Court invoked its plenary power under Article 142 of the Constitution to do “complete justice” and ordered the disciplinary authority to continue the proceedings.
It further cautioned that the disciplinary proceedings must be completed within six months, failing which the disciplinary authority will not be able to pursue the case further.