Read Order: Constable Om Parkash v. The Director General of Police, Haryana and others  

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, April 25, 2022: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the order of dismissal of a Punjab Police constable who was last deputed as a gunman in the office of ADC to the Governor of Haryana at Raj Bhawan Chandigarh, on the ground of remaining absent from duty and not joining despite a notice being sent to him to do so.

Also, the Court added that enough opportunity was given to the petitioner to appear before the disciplinary authority and despite service, he failed to do so and that a proper procedure was adopted while holding the inquiry. 

The Bench of C also held, “As the petitioner had worked from 3.10.1989 and was dismissed from service on 25.7.1997, he would not be entitled to pension as he had not worked for 15 years to qualify for pension.”

In this case, in the year 1989, the petitioner was appointed as Constable in District Rohtak. He was then deputed as a gunman in the office of ADC to the Governor of Haryana at Raj Bhawan Chandigarh. The petitioner claimed House Rent allowance, but a complaint was filed against him by his brother-in-law regarding demand of dowry and maltreatment of his wife, the sister of the complainant. 

As a result, an inquiry was ordered and the petitioner was directed to appear before the Superintendent of Police, Bhiwani. When he appeared on the date specified, he was directed to appear on any date specified on this behalf (November 17, 1996). On the said date, the Superintendent of Police, Bhiwani, was busy on account of an inquiry in an air crash and as such the petitioner was directed to go back to the Raj Bhawan at Chandigarh and report on duty. 

The petitioner reported for duty on November 19, 1996. In the month of December, the petitioner went to the office of Superintendent of Police, Bhiwani, for collection of his salary for the month of November when he was intimated that he was going to be dismissed from service as he absented from duty. 

A departmental inquiry was held and as the petitioner did not appear he was proceeded ex-parte and dismissed from service. The appeal and the revision filed by him against this order of dismissal were also dismissed upholding the order of dismissal. Hence, this writ petition. 

The counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner submitted that the petitioner was never served with any charge sheet nor was he informed about any departmental inquiry pending against him. It was contended that as per Rule 16.2 (1) of the Punjab Police Act 1934, the act of being absent without leave does not fall within the ambit of the gravest act of misconduct. Also, it was contended that there was no material on the record to prove incorrigibility and complete unfitness in the police, to warrant dismissal of the petitioner. 

Further, it was argued that the authorities concerned were well aware that the petitioner was residing in Chandigarh as he claimed HRA, but the alleged service of show cause notices was shown to be effected upon him at his village address and that the authorities were to consider the length of service, which the petitioner had rendered, before dismissing him from service. 

On the contrary, the counsel for the respondents submitted that the petitioner in fact remained absent from duty from November 12, 1996, till the date of his dismissal i.e May 28, 1997.  It was also requested that the petitioner may be taken on District Strength. He argued that the petitioner was directed through Police Station Salahwas, his permanent home address, to appear before the third respondent but the petitioner did not turn up, thereafter a notice was sent to him to join duty, but again he remained absent. 

Thereafter, a regular departmental inquiry was ordered to be held against the petitioner and a notice was issued to him at his permanent address directing him to join the inquiry, but again he did not turn up. It was also submitted that the Inquiry Officer then sent a summary of allegations, a list of PWs and documents along with the notice directing the petitioner to join the inquiry, but again the petitioner remained absent. The Inquiry Officer was allowed to proceed ex-parte; he recorded the statement of 5 witnesses; framed a charge sheet; sent a copy of it to the petitioner’s home address along with the notice directing him to join the inquiry and to produce defence witnesses, if any, but again there was no response from the petitioner.

The counsel added that again a notice was sent to the petitioner to produce his defence witnesses and written statement but the petitioner remained absent throughout the proceedings. Thus, the Inquiry Officer held the petitioner guilty of charges and sent a notice to the petitioner’s home directing him to appear before the third respondent for a personal hearing and to join his duty, clearly mentioning that no further opportunity will be given to him. The petitioner neither appeared nor joined his duty which resulted in his order of dismissal. It was further submitted that the order of dismissal along with a copy of the finding of the Inquiry Officer was sent to the petitioner’s home address, which was received by the father of the petitioner.

Lastly, it was submitted that the copies of the inquiry report and the dismissal order were not sent to ADC to Governor Haryana because the petitioner was reported to be absent from office since November 12, 1996, as intimated by the ADC himself and thus all correspondence was issued to his permanent address as available on the police records. 

Countering this argument, the petitioner’s counsel argued that in fact, the petitioner was residing in Chandigarh in rented accommodation which was well within the knowledge of the respondent authorities and, therefore, his service ought to have been effected upon him at Chandigarh which was never done. 

Not finding much substance in this contention, the Court opined that there was a letter available on the record which showed that the petitioner was getting his pay from Bhiwani. The Court also noted that the ADC to the Governor of Haryana, by a letter, sent a communication to the SP Bhiwani that the petitioner absented himself from Duty since November 12, 1996, and, therefore, there would be no occasion to send any communication to Chandigarh. 

Further, it was observed that the petitioner on several occasions was asked to participate in the inquiry proceedings and show cause notice and notices were sent to his permanent address, however, he still failed to put in an appearance before the departmental inquiry, despite the fact that notices were received by his father. 

Also, the Court added that had the petitioner put in an appearance before the Inquiry Officer and given any plausible explanation for his absence the same would have been taken into consideration, otherwise it would become a case of abandonment of service.

Also, on the plea that the petitioner had no knowledge of the proceeding pending against him, the Court termed it to be “unsubstantiated” while observing that since the petitioner was withdrawing his salary from Police Station Bhiwani personally, it would be an automatic reaction to check why his salary was not being released to him in December 1996, and at that point, he would become aware of the proceedings pending. 

“The bald statement given that he was waiting for dismissal orders to be passed does not stand to reason”, held the Court. 

Thus, the court opined that enough opportunity was given to the petitioner to appear before the disciplinary authority and despite service, he failed to do so and that the proper procedure was adopted while holding the inquiry.  

Also, while parting the Court remarked that in the present case, the punishing authority came to a finding that the misconduct attributed to the petitioner was ‘grave misconduct and indiscipline’ especially being a member of the disciplined force he remained absent from duty and did not join despite a notice being sent to him to do so. 

It was also noted that there was also no explanation forthcoming as to why the petitioner did not join after being relieved from Chandigarh. As the petitioner worked from October 3, 1989, and was dismissed from service on July 25, 1997, he would not be entitled to a pension as he did not work for 15 years to qualify for a pension, held the Court. Consequently, the writ petition was dismissed.

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