No arrogance while discharging duty, advises apex court

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The Supreme Court has advised those in power to ensure that there should be no trace of arrogance and vanity while discharging their official duty.

A bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice A.K. Patnaik gave this counsel to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), while also rebuking it for dismissing one of its head constables Angad Das arbitrarily.

‘People in power and authority should not easily lose equanimity, composure and appreciation for the problems of the lesser mortals. They are always expected to remember that power and authority must be judiciously exercised according to the laws and human compassion,’ said the bench Thursday.

‘Arrogance and vanity have no place in discharge of their official functions and duties,’ the bench said while restoring Das’s original punishment of compulsory retirement with all pensionary benefits and gratuity.

The CRPF June 14, 1996, imposed the punishment of compulsorily retirement on Das, serving in the 51 Battalion in Jammu and Kashmir, on the ground that he obtained the job using a false birth date certificate.

Following the order for his retirement, Das wrote a mercy plea to the authorities begging that he should not be retired and instead be awarded any other punishment.

In his plea, he said that if he is forced to retire, his entire family including his five daughters, would be ruined and would be forced to begging.

He also argued that his birth certificate was not false but was issued to him by the block development officer (BDO) and the panchayat authorities.

Irked by Das’s mercy plea, the CRPF authorities treated it as his appeal against his punishment of compulsory retirement entailing all retirement benefits like pension and gratuity etc and ordered his ‘removal from service’, depriving him from all terminal benefits.

Das appealed in the apex court. The apex court regretted the attitude of the authorities, saying: ‘The appellant had sent a very polite letter of request to the additional deputy inspector general of police praying that his request for re-employment be kindly considered because he has enormous responsibility of educating and marrying his five daughters. The prayer was made with folded hands and touching his feet. The letter reflected pinnacle of humility’.

The apex court said no provision of law permits the authorities to treat a letter of request for re-employment as an appeal.

‘The DIG (Police) has no power or authority to enhance the sentence of the appellant. We fail to comprehend how such an innocuous and polite letter of request seeking re-employment on compassionate ground can ever receive such an unwarranted and arrogant reaction. The order is wholly arbitrary and illegal,’ the apex court said.

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