New Delhi: The Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of three CRPF men for display of "cowardice" and "dereliction of duty" during an ambush by militants in Assam 12 years ago in which five personnel of the paramilitary force were killed.
A bench of justices Mukundakam Sharma and AR Dave said fair opportunity was given to head constables Emmanuel Herenz and Jai Shankar Sharma and constable Sanjay Singh and it would not be proper for the court to substitute the departmental findings.
The ambush took place when the CRPF`s 60th Battalion was escorting a water tanker at Haflong in NC Hills district on March 13, 1999.
It was found that during the ambush, instead of repulsing the attack, the two head constables fled the scene and hid themselves in a gorge, while Sanjay Singh failed to carry his official weapon despite standing instructions.
A single judge of the Guwahati High Court upheld the dismissal and a division bench affirmed the same following which the aggrieved personnel appealed in the apex court.
"So far as the departmental proceedings are concerned it is for the departmental authorities to conduct an inquiry in accordance with the prescribed rules. The role of the court in the matter of departmental proceedings is very limited and the court cannot substitute its own views or findings by replacing the findings arrived at by the authority on detailed appreciation of the evidence on record.”
"In the present case two benches of the high court after looking into the records have found that there is no violation of the principles of natural justice and that the charges have been established against all the appellants and that the punishment awarded is not disproportionate to the offences alleged," the apex court held.