SC penalises Centre for terminating services of IB SI

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New Delhi, Apr 3 (UNI) The Supreme Court has come down heavily on the Centre for terminating the services of an Intelligence Bureau Sub-Inspector who was given the responsibility of collecting sources of information in border area and has imposed a cost of Rs one lakh on it.

A Bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and Harjeet Singh Bedi, while dismissing the appeal of the Centre, directed that Naman Singh Sekhawat would be reinstated forthwith all consequential benefits and the order of the Tribunal must be complied with in its entirety forthwith.

Sekhawat was proceeded against when he was found in the company of a driver of an official jeep and the jeep was intercepted by a jonga jeep, which was being driven by Bhoor Singh, a known smuggler.

The respondent Sekhawat was charged with criminal conspiracy with the smuggler, criminal breach of trust read with Section 13 (2) of the Foreigners Act, Section 27 of the Arms Act and also under Section 110 of the Customs Act.

Sekhawat was chargesheeted on the basis of the statement of Mool Singh, driver of the vehicle who later did not support the prosecution's case at all and the respondent was acquitted by the Court.

The apex court in its judgement noted, ''The identity and the activity of the private person, who was found in the company of the respondent, should have been investigated by the competent authority, particularly when the respondent was working in the Intelligence Department.'' ''As trans-border smuggling was the common theme both before the said authority and also in the Criminal Court, the Department concerned was expected to keep a strict vigil thereover.'' ''The bias on the part of the inquiry officer is explicit from the record. There cannot be any doubt whatsoever, as has been submitted by the learned Additional Solicitor General, that initiation of Departmental proceedings is permissible even after the judgement of acquittal is recorded by the Criminal Court,'' the Court said.

''But, the same would not mean that a proceeding would be initiated only because it is lawful to do so. A departmental proceeding could be initiated if the Department intended to adduce any evidence which is in its power and possession to prove the charges against the delinquent officer.'' ''Such a proceeding must be initiated bonafide. The action of authority even in this behalf must be reasonable and fair,'' it added.

UNI SC SG RN2009

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