Being found at the house of an accused has cost a court employee dear. Describing Kanta Ranis conduct as one that could tarnish the image of those manning the justice administration system,the Delhi High Court on Tuesday upheld her dismissal from service.
A bench of Justices B D Ahmed and V K Jain said that the charges against Rani,who was at the time posted as a reader in a trial court,was grave in nature and amounted to gross misconduct and,hence,her dismissal from the job was not disproportionate to the accusations proved against her.
Rani was apprehended by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on January 20,2001,from the residence of one V P Gulati,whose trial in a corruption case was being held in a Tis Hazari court. Rani was working in the same court. Gulati had lodged a complaint with the CBI,alleging that she demanded Rs 1 lakh as bribe to get him bail. A trap was laid and Rani was caught from Gulatis house in Old Rajinder Nagar,allegedly with bribe money amounting to Rs 55,000.
Following an inquiry,the District and Sessions judge concluded that even though accepting bribe could not be established beyond reasonable doubts,her presence at Gulatis house connoted that she had failed to maintain absolute integrity and had compromised the position of trust and confidence reposed in a court official. The judge dismissed Rani from service by an order in July 2009.
She subsequently filed a petition before a single judge bench,which found no merit in her plea and maintained the disciplinary authoritys order.
Rani filed a petition before a division bench and contended that the charge against her pertained to accepting the bribe and,hence,penalty for visiting the complainants house was an erroneous decision. She claimed that she had visited Gulatis house because she knew him through a common acquaintance.
The bench discarded her plea and said she knew it very well that Gulati was facing prosecution in the court where she was posted as a reader and,moreover,it was established that she handled the tainted money.
We are in full agreement with the inquiry officer and the disciplinary authority that the act of the petitioner in visiting the house of a person,who was facing trial in the court in which she was posted as reader,and being found present there,constituted an act which clearly exhibited lack of absolute integrity, noted the bench.