Cops not required to do moral policing: SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said police officers are not  required to do moral policing and ask for
physical favour or material  goods as it upheld the order of the disciplinary authority for the  removal of a
CISF constable from service.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and J K Maheshwari set aside the  verdict of the Gujarat High Court of
December 16, 2014, by which it had  allowed the plea of CISF constable Santosh Kumar Pandey and
directed his  reinstatement in service with 50 per cent back wages from the date of  his removal.
Pandey, who was working as a constable with the Central Industrial  Security Force (CISF), was posted at
the Greenbelt Area of the IPCL  Township, Vadodara, Gujarat, where he was charge-sheeted vide
memorandum  dated October 28, 2001 on allegations of misconduct.
According to the charge sheet, Pandey, on the intervening night of  October 26 and October 27, 2001,
when he was posted as a constable on  night duty at the Greenbelt Area of the IPCL Township, Vadodara,
Gujarat  at about 1 am, one Mahesh B. Chaudhry and his fiance had passed through  the area on
motorcycle and had stopped in the corner, which is when  Pandey had come forward and had questioned
them.
As per the allegations, Pandey had taken advantage of the situation  and had told Chaudhry that he would
like to spend some time with his  fiance.
The charge sheet said that when Chaudhry had protested and did not  agree, Pandey had asked him to
give something to him and Chaudhry had  then given a watch he was wearing at that time.
A complaint was made the next day by Chaudhary, which led to inquiry  against Pandey resulting in an
order for termination of his service.

The bench said that in its opinion the reasoning given by the High Court is faulty on both facts and law.
“On the question of proportionality of punishment, we have to observe  that the facts in the present case
are startling and distressing.  Respondent No. 1- Santosh Kumar Pandey is not a police officer, and even
police officers are not required to do moral policing, ask for physical  favour or material goods,” it said.
It said that in view of the factual and legal position, they accept  the appeal filed by the CISF and set aside
the impugned judgment of the  Gujarat High Court.
“Accordingly, Special Civil Application filed by Respondent No. 1  -Santosh Kumar Pandey before the High
Court will be treated as  dismissed. The order of removal from service passed by the disciplinary  authority
is upheld,” it said.
The bench said it takes reservations regarding the reasoning given in  paragraphs of the impugned
judgment as it fails to take notice and  properly apply the law of judicial review.
“Judicial review is not akin to adjudication of the case on merits,  and adequacy or inadequacy of evidence,
unless the court finds that the  findings recorded are based on no evidence, perverse or are legally
untenable in the sense that it fails to pass the muster…,” it said.
The top court added that the power of the High Court under Articles  226 and 227 of the Constitution of
enables exercise of judicial  review to correct errors of law, including procedural law, leading to
manifest injustice or violation of principles of fairness, without  normally venturing into re-appreciation of
evidence.
“The writ court, when disciplinary action is challenged, is primarily  concerned with examination of the
decision making process, which  requires satisfaction that the competent authorities have held inquiry  as
per the prescribed procedure, and have duly applied their mind to the  evidence and material placed on
record, without extraneous matters  being given undue consideration, and the relevant factors have been
cogitated,” it said.
The top court said that the conclusions of fact, which are based upon  evaluation and appreciation of
evidence, when meticulously reached by  the authorities, should not be interfered with merely because the
court  may have reached a different conclusion.
“Thus, error of law is apparent in the reasoning vide paragraph 10 of the impugned judgment,” it said.