AN INDIAN Police Service (IPS) officer dismissed by the government on Wednesday for “being on unauthorised leave for more than 12 years” said she is going to contest her dismissal as it was in violation of a court order. Marie Lou Fernandes, an IPS officer of the 1991 batch of the Maharashtra cadre, told The Indian Express that a petition for reinstating her in the force is pending before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) since 2014 and the tribunal had passed an interim order asking the status quo to be maintained. “How can the Central government dismiss me when there is an interim order of the tribunal asking for the status quo to be maintained till it can pass a judgment,” Fernandes told The Indian Express.
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“Through my lawyer, I will be writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informing them I have come across reports that I have been sacked and that if they are true, it will be in violation of the CAT order,” said the 51-year-old, who has been a resident of Mumbai since 2012.
Fernandes had “gone missing” from August 8, 2005, when she was a deputy police commissioner of the eastern suburbs of Mulund-Ghatkopar. She had been brought in after a hooch tragedy in Vikhroli that killed 87 people. She was credited with shutting down several illegal dens operating in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai. However, she has not reported to work since August 8, 2005. The government sent several reminders to her address which did not get any response. Later, there were reports that she had gone to the US to complete her Phd.
“It is true that I went to the US to do a Phd from the Department of Social Science on ‘Leadership and Organization Design’, a public administration related topic in 2005 without informing the authorities. I agree that it was a misdemeanor on my part and I am ready to face any enquiry for that,” said Fernandes. Sources close to her said that the reason she left for the US was because she felt “victimised” for four to five years after a departmental enquiry was launched against her for insubordination to a collector. The enquiry had been left open for nearly four years despite her seniors stating that she was not at fault, the sources claimed.
“In 2007, when I read stories in the media that I had gone ‘missing’, I sent in my resignation letter from the US. I did not get any response. In this period, I also visited my children and parents who stay in Australia. In 2012, I returned to India after completing my Phd. When I visited the MHA in Delhi to find out about the resignation letter I sent, they said no action had been taken. Hence, I took my resignation back in 2012 and was waiting for a posting,” said Fernandes.
“When I did not receive any reply for two years, I approached CAT in 2014 to get reinstated. One has to assume that people are reasonable people and one would not easily give up a job like this after putting in so much hard work. There ought to be something more to it,” said the 51-year-old.