The Madras High Court on Tuesday expressed concern over the reluctance to suspend the Special DGP, law and order, who was recently accused of sexually harassing an IPS officer and stalling her from filing a complaint.
The Court, which is monitoring the CB-CID inquiry underway in the case, pointed out that the failure to suspend the accused DGP may jeopardise the investigation.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh made the observation given that the officers handling the CB-CID inquiry are below the rank of the accused officer, who was holding the highest post of Special DGP.
“When such a superior officer who has been kept on a mere compulsory wait, is interrogated by an officer of a subordinate rank, the same will psychologically intimidate the officer from carrying on with the interrogation in a free and fair manner. This is where the suspension of A-1 assumes significance. A-1, coming with his official paraphernalia, even though he is kept under compulsory wait, will jeopardize the investigation from being carried out effectively,” the Court said.
The Judge added that keeping the accused DGP on “compulsory wait” in a case that involves serious allegations can hardly be viewed as a punishment.
“Placing an officer under compulsory wait does not attach any stigma to it and such compulsory wait is resorted to only in cases where a government servant is not able to be accommodated in a suitable post or vacancy for extracting his services. Till such suitable post or vacancy is identified, the government servant is kept under compulsory wait. It is settled law that the period during which a government servant is kept under compulsory wait is construed to be a ‘period spent on duty’. The concerned government servant will be entitled for all the service benefits including allowances during this period of compulsory wait. It is therefore, clear that keeping an officer under compulsory wait can never be construed as a punishment,” the order stated.
The Court pointed out that if such allegations had been levelled against a police officer of a subordinate rank, the officer would have been suspended in contemplation of disciplinary proceedings. This would be to ensure that the officer does not misuse his position and so that a free and fair investigation can be carried out.
“This practice gains more significance when it comes to investigation of a crime of a delinquent officer, belonging to the police force. In the present case, A-1 is holding the highest post of Special DGP- Law and Order in Tamil Nadu Police,” the Court added.
Moreover, when the second officer accused in the case has been placed under suspension, considering the gravity of the allegations, the Court opined that the same yardstick must be applied to the accused DGP officer, irrespective of his position. The Court has called on the State to consider its observations with due seriousness.
“The fact that this Court has taken upon itself to monitor the investigation in this case shows that it involves public interest, and also the dignity of the police force in the state of Tamil Nadu. Therefore, taking a positive step by suspending A-1, pending the investigation will bring in more confidence in the perception of the public that the issue has been taken up with all seriousness and the investigation will progress in a free and fair manner. The sentiments expressed by this court in the present order should be given due weightage by the state, and necessary steps shall be taken and reported before this court,” it was emphasised.
The matter will be heard next on March 23. During the previous hearing, the Court had restrained disclosure of the names of the accused officer and the IPS officer who filed the sexual harassment complaint, in the interest of ensuring that there is no parallel or media trial.
The Court had also called on politicians to refrain from politicising the matter. On Friday, the Judge declined to lift the media gag, observing that the case has to be handled with maturity and neutrality has to be maintained to ensure that truth is unearthed.
The accused DGP officer allegedly misbehaved with the complainant in his vehicle on February 21 and an attempt was made later to stop the complainant from lodging her complaint with the Home Secretary, Chennai.
It was also reported that many police officers allegedly attempted to intercept the vehicle of the complainant at Chengalpet on directions by the District Superintendent of Police, while she was enroute to file a complaint after the incident.