Dismisses petition despite complainants having turned hostile

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai has refused to interfere with the punishment of reduction of time scale of pay by three stages imposed on a Head Constable for allegedly demanding and receiving a bribe of Rs. 900 from a retired school teacher and a real estate broker despite the two of them having turned hostile during a departmental enquiry.

Justice S. Manikumar dismissed the writ petition filed by the Head Constable P. Shanmugam attached to Thennilai police station in Karur district at the time of the incident in July 2005.

The judge termed as unbelievable the deposition of the two victims that they had wrongly accused the Head Constable during a preliminary enquiry as they were tense and under the influence of alcohol.

The judge said that the accusation against the petitioner as well as another constable Rajkumar was that they had visited Thondukalipalayam village on July 10, 2005, without informing even the Sub-Inspector concerned, and demanded bribe from the two victims for sparing them from the embarrassment of being taken to the police station in connection with a false gambling case.

On coming to know about the incident, an Additional Superintendent of Police visited the village on the next day and conducted a preliminary inquiry into the alleged receipt of bribe.

Then, the two victims asserted that the writ petitioner as well as another constable had threatened to foist a false case of gambling against them and hence they paid the money to escape the embarrassment.

However, during the departmental enquiry conducted by the Superintendent of Police, the victims turned a volte-face and said that one of them was tense and the other was in an inebriated mood at the time of preliminary enquiry. They also said that some other individuals might have taken money from them in the guise of policemen.

Despite both of them turning hostile, the SP held the petitioner guilty on the basis of evidence adduced by other witnesses including the Additional Superintendent of Police and dismissed him from service.

However, on appeal, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tiruchi Range, reduced the punishment to reduction in time scale of pay after considering the petitioner’s long service of 21 years.

Assailing the DIG’s order, the petitioner said that he had been punished sans any evidence though he and the other constable had gone only to Kulandaipalayam and Karvili villages, on the day of the alleged incident, as recorded by them in the police station register. He also claimed to have produced witnesses during the departmental enquiry to prove his visit to the two villages.

Disagreeing with the contentions raised by the petitioner, the judge said that the petitioner’s involvement was easily discernible as the other constable Rajkumar had accepted his guilt and also the penalty imposed on him.

Further, there would be no necessity for an Additional Superintendent of Police to visit a village for enquiry if the incident was totally without any basis, the judge added.