All cops in a team responsible for consequences of an incident: HC - Hindustan Times
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All cops in a team responsible for consequences of an incident: HC

By, Chandigarh
Oct 27, 2023 08:36 AM IST

A constable had challenged punishment awarded by Chandigarh Police in a graft case, citing he was only abiding by his senior’s order

In a significant judgment, the Punjab and Haryana high court has upheld the decision of the Chandigarh Police on awarding punishment to two cops accused of demanding bribe in 2011 while out on patrol as a team.

The plea was from a constable, Pardeep Kumar, who, along with constable Rajesh Kumar, was accused of misbehaviour and demanding <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>300 from a couple during night patrolling duty in Sector 20 in July 2012. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The plea was from a constable, Pardeep Kumar, who, along with constable Rajesh Kumar, was accused of misbehaviour and demanding 300 from a couple during night patrolling duty in Sector 20 in July 2012. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“The tribunal has rightly held that an ordinary and prudent man could come to a conclusion that when put on duty as a team, the team is responsible for the consequences of the incident or the complaint raised by a public member on any action by the team,” the bench of justice Deepak Sibal and justice Sukhvinder Kaur observed while upholding decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).

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The plea was from a constable, Pardeep Kumar, who, along with constable Rajesh Kumar, was accused of misbehaviour and demanding 300 from a couple during night patrolling duty in Sector 20 in July 2012.

No FIR was registered and the money reportedly received was given back to the couple when the matter reached the police station.

A departmental inquiry was ordered and subsequently in September 2012, a chargesheet was issued.

After charges were proved against them, they were issued show-cause notice in July 2013 and in July 2015, stoppage of 15 annual increments was ordered against the petitioner and the co-accused.

Constable Pardeep appealed against the same within the department and the penalty was reduced to stoppage of 10 annual increments. Later, his mercy petition was dismissed by the home secretary in 2016, following which he had approached CAT that provided him no relief in its November 2018 order. It was this order which was under challenge before the high court.

In his plea, he had argued that he was in service for one year only and was put on duty with Rajesh Kumar, who had 19 bad entries in service record of 21 years. Thus, any person deployed on duty was prone to suffer on account of misconduct of a history sheeter and therefore, petitioner should not have been deputed with such a person on public duty. Another argument taken was that only he was awarded punishment not the volunteer, who was also with them.

The court said CAT had rightly held that they were doing duty together, so the complaint was also to be taken against both.

“… the argument of the petitioner that he knew of the demand made for money, but had no alternative except to abide by the order of his senior, does not absolve him of being a co-participant in the harassment and demand of illegal gratification from a member of the public,” the bench said, adding that being a member of a disciplined force, he was duty bound to maintain integrity at every step of his service, even when he was having only one year service at the relevant time.

The court found no procedural irregularities during inquiry, and said it was supported and substantiated by the evidence. As of the volunteer, who was not named in the probe, had deposed against the co-accused, Rajesh Kumar. The punishment awarded was not excessive and it cannot be said that it pricks the conscience of a prudent man, considering the fact that a protector of law chose to violate the law himself, by demanding illegal gratification and causing harassment, it added.

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