Disciplinary Proceedings III

Pravin Kumar (‘Kumar’) joined the Central Industrial Security Force in January, 1995 as a Sub-Inspector. Eventually, he was deployed in the Crime and Intelligence Wing. As evidenced, Kumar was specifically entrusted with conducting surprise searches and taking strict action against anyone indulging in corruption.

On 28.02.1999, Constable Ram Avtar Sharma (‘Sharma’) was commuting in a CISF bus near the BPCL compound when Inspector Hiralal Chaudhary noticed a large bundle of high­-denomination notes in Sharma’s pocket. A total sum of Rs. 10,780/- in the form of 100 notes of Rs. 100/- and the rest in smaller denominations was recovered. No explanation for the large sum of unaccounted cash was forthcoming from Sharma, except for a plea for mercy. The amount was seized and the incident was recorded in the General Diary (‘GD’) kept at the North-Gate of the BPCL compound. It was found, a conflicting GD entry had been made at the Main-Gate. It noted how an amount of Rs. 9,000/- had been handed over by Dog­-Handler Constable K.K. Sharma (‘K.K.’), on behalf of another, as a personal loan to Sharma. This entry was false and had been registered at the instance of Kumar who made numerous phone calls to ASI Surjan Singh who was stationed at the Main-Gate and was in-­charge of the other GD register. The following morning, K.K., who was projected to have delivered the cash to Sharma, was pressurized by Kumar to falsely support the alternate loan theory.

FIR was registered with the Regional Anti­-Corruption Branch of Central Bureau of Investigation, on 06.03.1999, under various provisions of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 and The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Simultaneously, an enquiry under Rule 34 of CISF Rules, 1969, with Assistant Commandant P.B. Patil as the Enquiry Officer, was also initiated.

In a disciplinary enquiry, strict rules of evidence and procedure of a criminal trial are inapplicable. The employer always retains the right to conduct an independent disciplinary proceeding, irrespective of the outcome of a criminal proceeding. The disciplinary authority has wide discretion in imposing punishment for a proved delinquency, subject of course to principles of proportionality and fair play. In matters of disciplinary proceedings, Courts only interfere on grounds of proportionality when they find that the punishment awarded is inordinate to a high degree or if the conscience of the Court itself is shocked.

The punishment of dismissal from service is far from disproportionate to the charges of corruption, fabrication and intimidation which have unanimously been proven against Kumar. Taking any other view would be an anathema to service jurisprudence. Kumar’s actions would most probably have caused huge consequential losses to BPCL and lowered the reputation of the CISF amongst members of the public. Once shattered through acts of intimidation, forgery, and corruption; only the severest penalty ought to be imposed.”

Hon’ble Justice Surya Kant, Pravin Kumar v. Union of India, [Civil Appeal No. 6270 of 2012].