Twenty-three policemen within the Kochi City Police Commissionerate limits have been dismissed from service on disciplinary grounds in a little over six years, revealed data made available under the Right to Information Act.
Those dismissed included 21 civil police officers and two sub inspectors, stated the data shared by the Kochi City Police Commissionerate on an application filed by RTI activist Raju Vazhakkala.
While 13 were expelled for not joining duty after the expiry of leave without allowance, five got the pink slip for deserting the service. Five were stripped of their uniform for getting involved in criminal cases and committing grave indiscipline and misconduct, thus tarnishing the image of the police department before the media and public. The expulsions came during the period between April 2016 and June 2022.
Asked about the expulsions, C.H. Nagaraju, District Police Chief (Kochi City), said expulsions owing to disciplinary grounds were on the wane in the department citing how there were inherent checks against grave indiscipline by serving police personnel with the punishments either taking a toll on their pay or the service terms.
“Even the induction into training ahead of recruitment is done subject to police clearance of the candidate.
“Some are provisionally recruited after the training period if cases against them are either under investigation or trial and a decision on whether to retain them in the service depends on the outcome of the trial,” he said. Those committing crimes involving moral turpitude or grave offences like rape or cheating are usually removed based on the outcome of an internal inquiry, which in the department parlance is called ‘punishment roll.’
This is done under the Kerala Police Departmental Inquiries, Punishment and Appeal (KPDIPA) Rules, which Mr. Nagaraju claimed was much harsher than the Kerala Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules applicable to other government servants.
Besides, the Kerala Police Act lists out a slew of minor and major punishments for various offences. Dismissal and bar on increment are considered major punishments. Increment bar is slapped either with or without cumulative effect. In the case of the former, the punishment will have a snowballing effect and will last till the time of retirement.
Suspension from service is not a punishment in strict legal terms but an immediate measure to the keep the person concerned away from where he had committed the offence leaving him with little influence over records and witnesses. “However, keeping an officer under suspension for extended period with half the pay is a punishment in itself. They are not easily let back into service but reinstated only after the cases against them are resolved,” said Mr. Nagaraju.