Supreme Court judge Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi has called upon departmental authorities to ensure free and fair treatment of officials who are facing disciplinary proceedings.
“There is no denial to this fact that the departmental authorities may not be obliged to strictly follow the procedure of law in the manner as is observed by judicial forums but still they are under legal obligation to observe general principles of law and act independently to ensure free and fair treatment.
“Dismissal from service is a stigma and financial and reputational loss apart from mental torture, agony and distress are logical consequences.
“An employee/civil servant is not just an individual but his entire family is connected with him, whose needs depend on his job and the salary he earns,” Justice Naqvi stated in his dissenting note.
A three-member bench led by Justice Yahya Afridi heard a case regarding dismissal of two Punjab Police officials. The Punjab Service Tribunal had upheld the departmental decision regarding their dismissal.
The majority judges maintained the service tribunal’s verdict by reiterating that the acquittal in a criminal trial does not serve as an embargo against disciplinary proceedings, and that departmental and criminal proceedings may proceed concurrently, and the result of one does not impinge upon the other.
“Nonetheless, an acquittal in a criminal case may be considered during disciplinary proceedings but cannot be the sole determining factor in deciding the fate of the disciplinary proceedings.”
The majority verdict authored by Justice Afridi said the overall conduct of the petitioners, including unauthorized travel in police uniform and the subsequent abuse of their official position, paints a clear picture of gross misconduct.
“These actions are not only in violation of the trust placed in them by virtue of their positions but also signal a disregard for the laws and procedures they were entrusted to uphold.
Such conduct necessitates a thorough examination and underscores the importance of maintaining integrity within the police.
“The gravity of these actions stands independently of the outcome of the criminal proceedings and is sufficient to justify disciplinary action.
“The principles of accountability and the rule of law must be upheld to preserve the sanctity of the legal system, and in this particular case, the evidence points unequivocally towards a breach of these principles by the petitioners.
“Therefore a robust response in the form of disciplinary action is not only justified but essential to deter similar conduct in the future.” said the majority order.
However, Justice Naqvi in his dissenting note said throwing out a civil servant without following due process and fulfilling the requirements of justice and fair play and especially in a slipshod manner not only affects him but his entire family.
“When a civil servant is dismissed from service, it becomes difficult for him to be employed again owing to the fact that a dismissal from service on his record has the effect of either barring him from further employment or making it considerably more difficult for him to be employed again.
“Such blot on his service permanently marks the civil servant for the rest of his life and is only washed away when he dies. In this scenario, if a complaint was lodged, the same had to be gauged with utmost abandoned caution especially keeping in view the prevailing circumstances in this country.”
He said the dynamics of the discipline and character of the society is at the verge of decline wherein the contribution made by the drug peddlers is very huge.
“They are well-connected and they want to turn things according to their own nefarious designs, which include the winning of sympathies of superior officers of the disciplined forces.
“In such circumstances, it is incumbent upon the courts to evaluate the totality of the facts as a joint venture to arrive at a just conclusion otherwise the leverage already taken by such evils of the society might infiltrate to ruin the whole fabric of the society any moment.
“This is an alarming situation, which has to be curbed with iron hands and such people should not be allowed to fulfill their dreams of immoral motivation under the contours of justice,” said Justice Naqvi.