The mere presence of a man and a woman inside one roof for some time need not necessarily lead to a conclusion that they were in an illicit sexual relationship, the Madras High Court said and quashed an order dismissing from service a male constable who was found with a woman constable inside his residential quarters.
Justice R. Suresh Kumar said the presence of two individuals of opposite sex inside a locked house need not necessarily lead to a presumption that they were in an immoral relationship. “This kind of presumption prevailing in the society cannot be the basis for initiating disciplinary action and inflicting punishment,” he added.
The judge pointed out that the writ petitioner K. Saravana Babu had joined the Armed Reserve Police as a constable in 1997. On October 10, 1998, a woman constable had entered his residential quarters and the door was locked on the inside. Later, when others knocked the door, the woman was found standing near the kitchen.
When disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the petitioner for the charge of moral turpitude, he explained that the woman constable had come home at about 7:30 a.m. asking for the keys of her house located close by and that while they were talking, someone else locked the door from the outside and then pretended to knock on the door.
After referring to the defence taken by the petitioner, the judge pointed out that some of the witnesses had said the door was locked from outside too. He also agreed with senior counsel R. Singaravelan that there was absolutely no eyewitness or any other concrete evidence to prove that the two constables were found in a compromising position.
“Therefore, based on such suspicion and conjectures, one cannot come to a conclusion that some unlawful or immoral activities had taken place and by virtue of that the employee/delinquent is liable to be punished with a maximum punishment of dismissal of service,” the judge said and quashed the dismissal order passed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police in 1999.
After the dismissal, the petitioner had approached the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal and obtained a stay order. By virtue of the stay order, he joined service but was denied promotions. After the abolition of the tribunal, his case was transferred to the High Court in 2007 and got converted into a writ petition.
Taking up the writ petition for final disposal now, the judge ordered that the petitioner would be entitled to all service benefits under the relevant rules.
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