Protection to an honest public servant required in the larger interest of society; Supreme Court grants 10 Lakh compensation to an IFS officer haunted with corruption charges [Read Judgment]

Protection to an honest public servant required in the larger interest of society; Supreme Court grants 10 Lakh compensation to an IFS officer haunted with corruption charges [Read Judgment]

The dire necessity is to fill in the existing gap by protecting the honest officers while making the corrupt officers realize that they are not above law. The protection to an honest public servant is required not only in his interest but in the larger interest of society, the bench said while granting ten lakh compensation to the Petitioner.

Supreme Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to pay Ten Lakh Rupees to a Retired IFS officer as compensation for making him spend about 11 days in jail and fight a decade long legal battle against the state, even when there were no proved charges of corruption against him. Apex Court bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana allowing the petition, observed that no material in support of allegations levelled against the petitioner has been made available by the state.

Dr. Ram Lakhan Singh, IFS officer, who argued in person, submitted that he served the Government as an IFS officer for about 35 years till his retirement and in 2003 he was illegally detained by the State Government authorities after implicating him in false vigilance cases and dishonouring the High Court’s directions. He contended that, due to the malicious, willful and contemptuous acts of the State, he and his family members had to suffer a great ordeal of mental agony and heavy financial loss besides being defamed in the society. He prayed this Court to express displeasure over the violation of his family members’ fundamental rights and to direct the state to pay compensation for the loss of his professional career, reputation and for causing mental agony.

The court observed that there has been a clear procedural lapse on the part of the respondent which caused mental agony and financial loss to the petitioner. The court also added that the initiation of vigilance proceedings and statements made before the High Court by officers of the State led to the arrest of the petitioner causing great loss to him. The court also observed that, all the actions against the petitioner have been declared as null and void, by the state, in a statement filed before the High Court in 2012. But in the entire process, the petitioner had to suffer mental agony and loss of reputation in the society besides huge financial loss. Even the retrial benefits have been paid to the petitioner belatedly which is attributable to the negligence and irresponsible act of the State, the Apex Court bench said.

The court opined that dishonesty and corruption are biggest challenges for any developing country. The court also said that the upright officers resist corruption are often victimized through frequent punitive transfers, threat to their families and fabricating, foisting false cases.Until and unless we maintain a fine balance between prosecuting a guilty officer and protecting an innocent officer from vexatious, frivolous and mala fide prosecution, it would be very difficult for the public servant to discharge his duties in free and fair manner, the bench said.

The bench also added that the existing system can be corrected only by protecting the honest officers and by making the corrupt officers realize that they are not above law. The court said “The protection to an honest public servant is required not only in his interest but in the larger interest of society. This Court time and again extended assurance to the honest and sincere officers to perform their duty in a free and fair manner towards achieving a better society”.

The court said that though it normally show reluctance in determining or granting any compensation while exercising its jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution, it is inclined to grant compensation to the petitioner keeping in view the peculiar facts and circumstances. The court said “Taking into consideration the age and trauma suffered by the petitioner who spent about 11 days in jail and fought the legal battle for about a period of 10 years before various forums and more particularly in the absence of any proved charges of corruption against the petitioner, we deem it fit that a lump sum amount of Rs.10 lakhs be awarded as compensation to the petitioner on all forms”.

Read the Judgment here.