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Madras HC orders reinstatement of ‘whistleblowing agent’ after 23 years

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court (MHC) ruled that a humane and logical approach is required to regulate the disciplinary aspects of the police force and directed the state to reinstate a second grade police officer who was dismissed from service 23 years ago for writing an anonymous letter out of frustration.

A division bench of Justice SM Subramaniam and Justice C Kumarappan wrote that despite the charges against the appellant being held to be proven, this Court is of the view that the quantum of punishment imposed on the proven charges appears excessive while allowing an appeal that was filed by the agent who was removed from service. .

In 1998, M. Balachandran, the appellant, was working as a constable in Coimbatore. The disciplinary authority dismissed him from service on charges of misconduct. He was later removed from the service as it was proven that he had written several anonymous letters to an inspector stating that the police officers were being treated like slave labor, which brought shame to the department.

Balachandran challenged his removal and moved the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal. In 2007, the case was transferred to the Supreme Court.

After hearing the case, the single judge ruled that there was discipline and therefore the punishment for dismissal was in accordance with the service rules. Balachandran was saddened by the order and appealed.

There is no doubt that writing anonymous letters by police officers is misconduct. The HC bench was of the view that removing Balachandran from service was harsh as the letters were written out of frustration.

Since the appellant has accepted his misconduct before the disciplinary authority, a lenient attitude should be taken regarding the amount of the punishment imposed, the court wrote.

The Court also ordered the State to take corrective measures to maintain high discipline in the police.

The court clarified that appellant is entitled to continuity of service only for the limited purpose of calculating eligible services and for retirement benefits. He cannot claim back wages and financial benefits; read the verdict.