In 2002, the police constable was arrested for alleged involvement in a murder. During pendency of trial, he faced disciplinary proceedings. The trial court acquitted him in October 2003. But the disciplinary proceedings held him guilty of charges and dismissed him from service in December 2003. It said criminal trials required evidence beyond doubt, while disciplinary proceedings took a broad view based on material facts. A single judge bench of the HC rejected his plea for reinstatement, but a division bench ordered his reinstatement.
Deciding the state government’s appeal, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrchud and Indira Banerjee said there may not have been sufficient evidence to fasten guilt on the constable but “the state had sufficient material to conclude that the connection of the respondent constable to the incident would affect the reputation of its police force and that the presence of the respondent as a member of the force was not in the interest of public administration”.
“Evidently direct evidence to sustain a charge of conspiracy is difficult to come by even in the course of a criminal trial. Quite independent of this is the issue whether the connection of the respondent constable with the circumstances leading to the murder affected his ability to continue in the state police force without affecting its integrity and reputation. The latter aspect is the one on which the judgment of the division bench is found to be deficient in its reasoning,” said Chandrachud, writing the judgment.