The Madras High Court set aside the punishment to a police officer in a criminal case involving leakage of question papers during the Grade-II police constable recruitment examination in 2005 on the grounds of discrimination as the co-delinquents, an IAS officer and another constable, were not awarded any punishment.
In the meantime, the petitioner was issued with a charge memo on August 19, 2005. Pursuant to this, a departmental enquiry was conducted and the charges against the petitioner were held to be proved. Following this, the Commissioner of Police, Greater Chennai, had awarded the constable a punishment of postponement of increment for two years without cumulative effect.
The punishment order, which came to be challenged, was also rejected by the Director General of Police, leading to the present petition.
The petitioner’s counsel had placed his arguments on the ground of discrimination that one of the co-delinquents, Dharmaraj, was awarded with punishment of a mere ‘black mark’ while another co-delinquent, T Radhakrishnan, an IAS officer, was neither placed under suspension nor was any departmental action initiated against him.
Justice M S Ramesh, before whom the plea came, said, “The aforesaid two cases of Dharmaraj and Radhakrishnan would clearly establish that all is not well in the manner in which the petitioner was dealt with the punishment, unlike his co-delinquent and the other person who were involved in the criminal case. In the absence of any explanation to the same from the respondents, this court is of the affirmed view that the punishment awarded against the petitioner cannot be sustained, on the ground of discrimination.”
Also, noting that the petitioner was also similarly placed as that of Dharmaraj, whose name was also dropped from the charge sheet, Justice Ramesh held,
“There is absolutely no explanation as to how the petitioner was imposed with punishment of stoppage of increment for two years without cumulative effect, and the co-delinquent with similar overt acts, was imposed with the punishment of ‘Black Mark’. In view of the absence of any explanation, the ground of discrimination gains significance.”
Based on this, the judge held that the petitioner shall be entitled to all monetary and other promotional benefits, which he would have been otherwise entitled to, in the absence of the punishment awarded.