Service forfeited by three years after he was found napping while on security duty at Rashtrapati Bhavan,Constable Surender Singh has got a breather: the Central Administrative Tribunal has directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to reconsider the penalty.
Singhs seniors had also claimed that he was in an inebriated state on the night intervening December 13-14,2003,and that a bottle of rum was recovered from his coat pocket. The penalty meant Singh lost three years of his experience for promotion and increment purposes.
Singh,though,vehemently contested the claim of being intoxicated on duty during the internal inquiry,to little avail though.
But the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) last week accepted Singhs petition. Directing the police chief to reconsider the punishment,it held that the prosecution had failed to substantiate the allegation that he was inebriated while on duty.
The punishment was too harsh and disproportionate when the only charge that could be proved was on-duty slumber,the tribunal bench presided by vice-chairman L K Joshi held. It would be appropriate for the disciplinary authority to reconsider whether the quantum of punishment is appropriate for the charge of sleeping while on duty and negligently placing his weapon alongside the wall, the bench observed.
Rifle against the wall
Late on the night of December 13,2003 Singh was reportedly found snoozing in his dome,with his rifle placed along a wall. The checking officer tried to wake him up but in vain. Singh,it was alleged,was in a drunken state; the checking officer reportedly also recovered a bottle of alcohol from him.
The disciplinary inquiry committee slammed Singh for the serious lapse saying such acts could prove fatal to VVIP security and that his conduct was unbecoming of police personnel. Based on a doctors certificate stating that Singh smelled of alcohol at the time,the authorities slapped him with forfeiture of three years of approved services.
After an appeal against the order failed,Singh approached the CAT,the adjudicatory body for government employees.
Singh contended that besides the doctors certificate,there was no other evidence to prove he had consumed alcohol. Moreover,his signature was not present on the seizure memo recording confiscation of a bottle of rum from him,he argued.
He also contended that the doctor who wrote the certificate was not examined,nor was the bottle allegedly found from him sent for forensic test to ascertain whether it contained alcohol.
The police contended that the certificate was substantial evidence and the doctor was not called upon as he was busy. They also argued that it was not considered necessary to ask Singh to sign the memo.
But the bench found the polices arguments vague and the evidence insufficient. We cannot hold that the applicant was under the influence of liquor merely on the basis of the certificate that his breath smelled of alcohol, it observed.
The bench,however,observed that the police could punish him as per rules if it was proved that Singh was sleeping while on duty.