Retention of tainted employees will pollute workplace: judge

Government servants accused of corruption, misappropriation of funds and such other charges involving moral turpitude cannot seek revocation of their suspension orders on the sole ground of long delay in completing trial in criminal cases faced by them, the Madras High Court has said.

Justice S. Manikumar made the observation while dismissing a writ petition filed by a suspended head constable who was booked by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption sleuths for receiving Rs.3,000 from an individual for releasing a car seized by the traffic police in connection with an accident case.

“Courts being the custodians of law should not interfere with the orders of suspension in cases of corruption, embezzlement or misappropriation of government money. Retention of such persons in service would pollute and contaminate the department… It would also demoralise other government servants and frustrate the object of the Prevention of Corruption Act,” the judge said.

Early disposal

He went on to state: “Though special courts are designated exclusively for the purpose of dealing with corruption cases, for so many reasons, sometimes not bona fide, they are delayed. No doubt, pendency of the trial of an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act causes agony and humiliation, but it is always open to the government servant to approach the court seeking for early disposal of the trial.”

The judge also held that there was nothing wrong on the part of the government authorities in rejecting requests for revocation of suspension orders of officials accused of corruption.

“The appointing/disciplinary authority/government has to maintain honesty, good conduct, efficiency in administration and keep away persons facing serious charges,” he said.

On the role of courts in dealing with such cases, Mr. Justice Manikumar said: “When the misconduct of the government servant attracts criminal liability… it should be left to the absolute discretion of the government to place a government servant under suspension pending investigation/trial. Courts should not obstruct the powers of the government.”

The judge added that “No government servant, particularly a person charged with a misconduct of corruption, has a right to insist that he should be retained in service and allowed to discharge his duties and enjoy the privileges of the post held by him, during the pendency of the enquiry/trial into grave charges.”