Tamil Nadu

Madras High Court comes to rescue of real life ‘Encounter Ekambaram’

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Court upholds quashing of disciplinary action against policeman

In an unusual reversal of real life imitating celluloid, a soft hearted policeman, much like Vadivelu as the iconic ‘Encounter Ekambaram’ in the 2007 Arjun-starrer Marudhamalai, was cleared of charges of indiscipline by a bench of the Madras High Court earlier this week.

To the uninitiated, comedian Vadivelu as ‘Encounter Ekambaram’ holds a special place among his fans for his role as Head Constable who often gets into trouble due to his antics. In one hilarious scene, ‘Encounter’ Ekambaram empathises with a criminal, who says he wants to meet his mother before being produced in court for remand, and ends up letting him escape. Needless to say, the soft touch Head Constable is punished by his superiors.

An identical incident came up before the first Division Bench of the Madras High Court, led by Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad, during the hearing of a writ appeal preferred by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Thanjavur Range, challenging a single judge’s order.

The case related to punishment imposed by the department more than a decade ago on police constable M. Kulothungan, for having allowed an accused in his custody to have food at a private person’s place while being taken to court. The constable was also charged with having allowed some persons to garland the accused. The constable had filed a writ petition way back in 2006 challenging the punishment imposed on him. After about four years, Justice D. Hariparanthaman (since retired) had allowed the writ petition on January 25, 2010 and set aside the punishment. While allowing the case, the single judge had come to a conclusion that the departmental inquiry proceedings were severely vitiated on account of the inquiry officer having relied on material that had been collected by the police department behind the constable’s back to hold him guilty.

Aggrieved over the single judge’s decision, the DIG as well as the Thajavur Superintendent of Police had preferred a writ appeal in 2011. However, the appeal had gathered dust for about eight years until it was taken up for final disposal this week by the first Division Bench which upheld the single judge’s decision. The Chief Justice’s Bench was of the view that the inquiry officer ought not to have relied upon the report of a preliminary inquiry, which was conducted without the knowledge of the constable, to hold him guilty. “This was in clear violation of principles of natural justice,” the Bench said while dismissing the appeal.

“This procedure, in our opinion, was clearly faulty in as much as the witnesses who had allegedly deposed during preliminary inquiry not turning up to support the case of the department during disciplinary proceedings. It was not open to the disciplinary authority to have indicted the respondent on the strength of some evidence collected behind his back,” the judges opined.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 10:46:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-high-court-comes-to-rescue-of-real-life-encounter-ekambaram/article30126905.ece

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