CHENNAI: The procedures adopted for departmental disciplinary proceedings and criminal court of law are distinct and different, the Madras High Court said while ruling being acquitted in a criminal case was not a ground to seek exoneration from disciplinary proceeding.
While strict evidence is required to convict a person under the criminal court of law, it is not required to punish a government employee under the Discipline and Appeal Rules, noted Justice SM Subramaniam and dismissed a petition by Paramasivam, a former head constable.
“Even moral turpitude is sufficient to impose a penalty under the Discipline and Appeal Rules. Therefore, the findings of the criminal court may not be considered for the purpose of exonerating an employee from departmental disciplinary proceeding,” he added.
The petitioner, who was accused of abetting a murder (Section 302 IPC), was acquitted by the trial court in 2012. However, the Home Department initiated disciplinary proceedings and ordered compulsory retired from service.
“There was no evidence to establish the offense and he was acquitted. Therefore, the different view taken by the departmental disciplinary authority is perverse and liable to be set aside,” senior advocate A Sirajudeen, assisted by lawyer J Deliban, submitted.
But government advocate S Rajesh objected to the contention. “He was placed under suspension and a charge memo was issued under Rule 3 (b) of the Tamil Nadu Police Subordinate Service (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1955. The enquiry officer who conducted an elaborate investigation had held that the charges were proven,” he said, adding that the original order was to dismiss Paramasivam.
When he appealed this, the Tiruchy range DIG, who was the appellate authority, modified the order and imposed compulsory retirement, which Paramasivam challenged before the High Court.