The Supreme Court has asked senior government officers not to be arrogant towards subordinates in the discharge of their official functions.

“People in power and authority should not easily lose equanimity, composure and appreciation of 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. Arrogance and vanity have no place in discharge of their official functions and duties,” said a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A.K. Patnaik.

In the instant case, Angad Das was recruited as constable in Central Reserve Police Force in 1969 and promoted Lance Naik and then head constable. As head constable in Jammu and Kashmir, he was served a show-cause, dated April 11, 1995, by the CRPF Commandant, 51 BN alleging that the date of birth as given by Das at the time of his joining service was found to be false. After an enquiry, he was compulsorily retired from service in July 1996.

Thereafter Das sent a polite letter to the Additional District Inspector-General of Police seeking re-employment as he had to educate and marry off five daughters. The prayer was made with folded hands and by touching his feet. The DIG, CRPF, Avadi, however, treated this letter as an appeal and the punishment of compulsory retirement was enhanced to removal from service.

The Special Director-General upheld the DIG’s order. Since he did not get relief in the Delhi High Court, Das moved the Supreme Court.

‘Pinnacle of humility’

Writing the judgment, Justice Bhandari pointed out that the appellant’s letter was the pinnacle of humility. “No provision of law permits the DIG of Police to treat a letter of request for re-employment as an appeal. The DIG 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 grounds can ever receive such an unwarranted and arrogant reaction. The order is wholly arbitrary and illegal.”

The Bench said the order was legally untenable and the Special Director-General also seriously erred in upholding it. The appellant and his family suffered tremendous mental agony and harassment caused by the arbitrary orders. It set aside the orders and restored the order of compulsory retirement.

“We hope and trust that senior officials in future would not be totally oblivious of the problems of the humble and modest employees and [would not] pass similar orders,” the Bench said.

The Bench directed that the appellant be paid all pension benefits which had become due and payable to him, with nine per cent interest per annum, within two months. It directed the Union of India to pay him Rs. 50,000 in costs within two months.

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