In a bid to ensure that a fair trial prevailed in cases where police and other uniformed officials are arrayed as accused, the Madras High Court directed the Home Secretary to file necessary application before the High Court for transfer of trial of these cases to nearby district sessions court to enable private prosecution and independent witnesses to depose without any fear or influence of the local persons.
Justice RMT Teekaa Raman issued the direction while dismissing the plea moved by a sub-inspector challenging his compulsory retirement from service on the order of the Tirunelveli police Commissioner.
As per the case, when the petitioner R Senthilnathan was working as sub-inspector at Palayamkottai station, Tirunelveli City, Sivaraman, a Grade – I constable died under mysterious circumstances on March 28, 2006. The petitioner and head constable Gnanasekaran Pandian were said to be in Sivaraman’s company and were allegedly responsible for his death.
It is said that during a quarrel, the SI allegedly kicked Sivaraman on his back resulting in him having a fatal fall. But he was acquitted by a sessions court as the prosecution witness turned hostile. However, in the departmental inquiry, he was placed under compulsory retirement as he had failed to inform senior officers about the death of a co-worker. It had come to light only after a complaint was received from the doctor that Sivaraman was admitted in a critical stage.
Justice Teekaa Raman held that the petitioner’s conduct in scuttling the responsibility to the superior officer could not be accepted. “The inaction on his part is deliberate, and non-disclosure and concealment of the death of co-police team member amounts to misconduct. The order of compulsory retirement is on a par with the gravity of the charges proved. Hence, I find no mistake or error in the impugned order,” the judge said.
Finding that prosecution witnesses turned hostile in the case, he then directed the Home Secretary to transfer such cases to the neighbouring districts.