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Judiciary

Delhi HC rules against authorities seeking Constables dismissal in sexual harassment case, emphasizes natural justice [Read Judgment]

By Saket Sourav      29 April, 2024 07:40 PM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has set aside a Delhi Police Constables dismissal from service in a sexual harassment case noting that the Constable was not given a full-fledged enquiry, thus violating principles of natural justice.

The court while setting aside the order of dismissal emphasized that the principles of natural justice should not be compromised even in cases of sexual harassment.

The Court held that though the charges against the respondent are very serious and the interest of the complainant deserves to be protected, it does not imply that the principles of natural justice as also the provisions of section 11 of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 should be given a complete go-by on the basis of mere presumptions.

The judgment was passed by a division bench comprising Justice Rekha Palli and Justice Saurabh Banerjee held.

The Court opined that the dismissal order indicated that the authorities had already concluded, that the Constable had committed severe misconduct - however, this was merely on the basis of a preliminary inquiry.

Facts

The case concerned a Constable in Delhi Police who had had a case of sexual harassment lodged against him in 2017, while he was posted at the Police Training College, Jharoda Kalan, New Delhi.

Following a preliminary inquiry and the submission of a report by the Internal Complaints Committee Chairperson in July 2017, an FIR under Sections 354(A), 294, and 509 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against him.

He was suspended in July, and dismissed from service within a week of such suspension itself, i.e. on August 1, 2017 under Article 311(2)(b) of the Constitution of India.

His statutory appeal against his dismissal was rejected in November 2017, following which he challenged his dismissal in the Tribunal. 

The Tribunal rejected his dismissal from service.

Challenging the Tribunal's order, the Commissioner of Police, Delhi argued that the Tribunal had overlooked the detailed reasons provided in the dismissal order which had justified dispensing with the requirement of holding an enquiry. 

Further, they emphasized the grave nature of the charges leveled against him as well as the fact that he had threatened the complainant and the witnesses during the preliminary inquiry itself.

Additionally, they argued that the respondent himself had admitted his guilt, hence conducting an inquiry was unnecessary, a point which the Tribunal failed to consider.

The Constable, on the other hand, argued that no justifiable reason was provided by the authorities for doing away with the departmental enquiry. Further, that the departmental enquiry cannot be dispensed in such a mechanical manner on the mere presumption, that being a police personnel he may threaten the witness.

Decision

After hearing the parties concerned and on perusal of the impugned order, the bench dismissed the Commissioner's petition holding that they had presumed the Constable's guilt while dismissing him from service. 

In the opinion of the Court, this was not an appropriate ground to conclude that it was not reasonably practicable to hold an enquiry against him. The bench considered this as a clear violation of Article 311(2)(b) of the Constitution of India.

It thus concluded that merely on the basis of the gravity of the charges leveled against him, the authorities should not have dispensed with the requirement of an enquiry, on absolutely vague grounds.

[Read Judgment] 



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