The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) last week set aside summary dismissal of two constables from Pune who had allegedly used a police vehicle to rob a jeweller of valuables worth Rs 7.5 lakh by posing as CBI officers.
The authorities cannot deviate from normal rule of holding departmental inquiry and instead resort to summary dismissal merely because they are time consuming, observed the MAT bench comprising members SR Sathe and AP Sinha.
The bench appreciated that when such a grave incident takes place there is general expectation from people that immediate and stern action must be taken.
“However, that does not mean to take an action which is not sustainable in law,” observed the bench, adding, “On the contrary, when such hasty, improper, illegal action is taken, then ultimately the delinquent government servant is benefited.”
The constables, Navnath Pingale, from the dog squad of Pune city crime branch, and Pratap Gaikwad of motor transport section, had allegedly robbed Yuvrajsingh Bias while he was travelling by a state transport bus in 2007.
The constables were arrested after a complaint was lodged by Bias.
They were suspended the very next day. On May 10, the then police commissioner dismissed them from service.
Both of them had challenged the summary dismissal before MAT. Their counsel Arvind Bandiwadekar had pointed out that holding departmental inquiry is a rule and to dispense with it was an exception.
Bandiwadekar had further pointed out that summary dismissal was allowed only when conducting an inquiry is not reasonably practicable, and in the case of the two constables, the complainant and witnesses were very much available.
Presenting officer AJ Chougule, on the other hand, had contended that the commissioner was compelled to pass the order of summary dismissal in order to maintain the image of the police force.
Chougule had tried to justify the order stating that the constables had misused their posts and had committed a serious criminal offence.
But the contention failed to impress the MAT bench, which set aside the summary dismissal. The constable duo, however, would not be allowed to resume duty in view of deemed suspension on account of their arrest and 48-hour police custody.