The Supreme Court has ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to pay Rs 10 lakh to a retired Indian Forest Service officer after being falsely implicated in a corruption case. The officer fought a legal battle for 10 years after a case was allegedly registered because he refused to comply with the instructions of the then chief minister in 2003.
Though the top court does not entertain petitions filed directly before it seeking compensation, it did so in this case after noting that the circumstances were very peculiar. A bench headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi said it was necessary to protect an honest public servant not only in his interest but in the larger interest of the society. Ram Lakhan Singh, the court held, should be compensated for the harassment and mental agony he underwent during the protracted battle.
“Some upright officers resist corruption but they cannot alone change the system which victimises them through frequent punitive transfers, threat to their families and fabricating, foisting false cases,” the bench noted.
“In such a scenario, until and unless we maintain a fine balance between prosecuting a guilty officer and protecting an innocent officer from vexatious, frivolous and mala fide prosecution, it would be very difficult for the public servant to discharge his duties in free and fair manner. The efficiency of a public servant demands that he should be free to perform his official duties fearlessly and without any favour,” stated the court, adding there was a dire necessity is to fill in the existing gap by protecting the honest officers while making the corrupt officers realize that they are not above law.