Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bombay high court upholds rule that CISF staff on duty can carry only Rs 20

The Bombay high court has upheld a 2007 circular of the Central Industrial Security Force allowing its personnel to keep only up to Rs 20 with them while on duty. 

A division bench of justices NH Patil and RV Ghuge agreed that the measure was a step towards curbing illegal gratification and possible security breach at various sensitive locations in the country that CISF personnel guard. The court said the office order/circular of August 23, 2007, cannot be a substitute to a rule or service condition but "keeping in view the object and purpose for which the CISF has been brought into existence, we are of the opinion that the office order needs to be given due importance". 

The ruling came on a plea by constable Ram Tiwari, 41, who was found on August 3, 2008, with Rs 500 while on duty at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Navi Mumbai. On April 10, 2009, he was held guilty of illegal gratification and removed from service. On September 8, 2009, "keeping in mind his unblemished service record of 16 years", CISF authorities replaced the punishment with "compulsory retirement" with full pension. 
The chargesheet said an inspector saw Tiwari counting money and directed a sub-inspector to frisk him. While removing Tiwari's belt, notes worth Rs 500 fell near his leg. Tiwari denied the money belonged to him and claimed the inspector implicated him due to an animosity. 
CISF advocate Vinod Joshi argued that the Rs 500 found on Tiwari could only have come by way of bribes as he had declared before duty he had only Rs 20. The possibility of CISF personnel indulging in illegal gratification from container drivers cannot be ruled out and to curb such acts the circular allowed "CISF personnel on duty to keep only Rs 20 on their person as pocket money". Earlier, the amount permitted was only Rs 10. Joshi said if the punishment is set aside, it will send a wrong signal and "seriously affect the discipline maintained in the CISF". 

The judges concluded that the charge of keeping excess money had been proved against Tiwari. Moreover, violation of the circular would not only amount to disobedience, but was tantamount to an act subversive of discipline on duty. "Nevertheless, we are not convinced that punishment of removal from service which amounts to civil death of an employee could be said to be commensurate to the seriousness of an act of disobeying an office order," they said, giving Tiwari partial relief. 

Agreeing with Tiwari's advocate Sandeep Marne that the charge of illegal gratification was not part of the chargesheet or proved in the disciplinary inquiry, the court directed Tiwari's reinstatement without back wages (from date of his compulsory retirement). The unpaid back wages shall "amount to a punishment" to Tiwari for violating the circular, the court added. 

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