Read Judgment: Union Of India & Ors. vs. Dalbir Singh

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, September  22, 2021 : While affirming the punishment of dismissal from service of a CRPF constable, the Supreme Court has observed that the burden of proof in departmental proceedings is not of beyond reasonable doubt as is the principle in the criminal trial but probabilities of the misconduct.

The observation came to be passed by a Division Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V. Ramasubramanian in reference to a petition filed by the Union of India challenging the order of Delhi High Court, whereby the respondent was directed to be reinstated and also was found entitled to arrears of pay from the date of dismissal of service till the date he actually joins the duty.

Going by the background of the case, an FIR came to be registered against the respondent Constable in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), for an offence u/s 302 & 307 of IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act, 1959 on the accusation of having fired from his service revolver on Head Constable resulting in the death of one and injury to another.

Accordingly, the respondent was convicted by the Trial court and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, in appeal, the High Court acquitted him of the charges framed against him by giving benefit of doubt for the reason that 20 cartridges were fired but only 7 empties were recovered whereas none of the bullets had been recovered.

The respondent was earlier dismissed from service on account of his conviction in the criminal trial. However, since he was granted benefit of doubt in appeal by the High Court and was subsequently acquitted, he was reinstated by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, CRPF, Patna.

After considering the arguments and evidence, the Top Court quoted the decision in case of Noida Entrepreneurs Association v. NOIDA & Ors., to observe that the inquiry in a departmental proceeding relates to conduct or breach of duty of the delinquent officer to punish him for his misconduct defined under the relevant statutory rules or law, where the strict standard of proof or applicability of the Evidence Act stands excluded.

“The allegations in the chargesheet dated 25.2.2013 that the writ petitioner has fired from the official weapon is a reliable finding returned by the Departmental Authorities on the basis of evidence placed before them. It is not a case of no evidence, which alone would warrant interference by the High Court in exercise of power of judicial review. It is not the case of the writ petitioner that there was any infraction of any rule or regulations or the violation of the principles of natural justice”, observed the Top Court.

Hence, while setting aside the order passed by the High Court for reinstatement along with arrears, the Apex Court upheld the dismissal of the constable from service.  

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