New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed the penalty of removal from service for a head constable of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) for entering the women’s barracks at midnight, to offer a “New Year” gift to his friend.
A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna said: “The nature of misconduct which has been committed by the appellant stands proved and is unpardonable. Therefore, when the disciplinary authority considered it appropriate to punish him with the penalty of ‘removal from service’, which is confirmed by the appellate authority, thereafter it was not open for the single judge to interfere with the order of punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority”.
It said as observed by the top court in Diler Singh case, a member of a disciplined force is expected to follow the rules, have control over his mind and passion, guard his instincts and feelings, and not allow his feelings to fly in a fancy.
The bench said if the conduct on the part of the appellant entering the women’s barracks of the battalion in the midnight is approved, in that case, it would lead to compromising the security of its occupants.
“Therefore, the disciplinary authority was absolutely justified in imposing the punishment/penalty of ‘removal from service’ by modifying the earlier punishment of dismissal”, it added.
The head constable’s counsel argued that a female constable was his friend and he went to meet her to offer her a gift on New Year and entered her barracks after she herself unlocked the barrack gate. He was apprehended by six women constables.
The woman constable, who allowed him inside, was given a punishment of forfeiture of two years seniority. The appellant moved the Gauhati High Court challenging the punishment imposed on him and a single judge bench ruled that the penalty of removal from service was disproportionate, considering the female constable was given a lesser penalty. It sent the matter back to the authorities, but a division bench of the high court in April 2018, set aside the single bench order. The petitioner challenged this order in the top court.
The appellant was charged with violation of good order and discipline, under Section 43 of the SSB Act, 2007, for having entered the women’s barracks of the battalion at around 12.15 a.m. on the intervening night of April 14-15, 2013.
Dismissing the appeal filed by the constable, the top court said: “The disciplinary authority was absolutely justified in imposing the punishment/penalty of ‘removal from service’ by modifying the earlier punishment of dismissal. The same cannot be said to be disproportionate at all to the misconduct held to be proved against the appellant – delinquent.”
The constable was charged with indiscipline and misconduct leading to compromising the security of the occupants of the women’s barracks.
Before the Summary Force Court, the appellant pleaded not guilty to both the charges and accordingly, the evidence was recorded. Thereafter, the SFC found the appellant guilty of the charges and initially ordered his dismissal on April 29, 2013. But, subsequently, the penalty of dismissal was converted to ‘removal from service’ on June 21, 2013, by the Commandant of the Battalion. The appellate authority upheld the disciplinary action under its order dated January 24, 2014.