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If the punishment appears to be grossly disproportionate to the acts complained of or if it shocks the conscience of the court, the court may interfere with the punishment awarded.: Meghalaya High Court

In the limited scope of judicial review exercised in respect of matters of the present kind, the court cannot supplant its discretion in place of that which has been exercised by the disciplinary authority unless the exercise of the discretion is found to be perverse. Indeed, the court, in such a scenario, looks into the decision-making process rather that the decision itself as upheld by the High Court of Meghalaya through the learned bench led by Hon’ble Mr. Justice W. Diengdoh in the case of A. Murali Krishna Vs. Union of India & ors (WA No.16/2019).

The brief facts of the case are that the appellant has been dismissed from service after being found guilty on all four charges levelled against him. The writ petition was made out in such a manner that the papers pertaining to the first set of charges were appended to the writ petition, but the other papers were not. The impression that was sought to be given in the writ petition was that the writ petitioner admitted his guilt in respect of the two minor charges but there may not have been adjudication on the two major charges. However, what is undeniable is that upon the writ petitioner being found guilty on admission on all four charges and being dismissed from service, he preferred a departmental appeal which was dealt with by an order dated May 11, 2017. The writ petitioner also admitted his guilt in respect of the two charges in the second charge-sheet which were far more serious upon the writ petitioner having disobeyed a command to meet the Company Commander and the writ petitioner using abusive and intemperate language in connection therewith.

The Hon’ble Court held, “In the present case, a member of a disciplined force was found to be intoxicated and such member was also found on another occasion to have directly refused to obey a command by his Company Commander and used abusive language in course of such refusal. If the superiors within the disciplined force found that it was imperative that such indiscipline be dealt with in the harshest manner, it does not shock the conscience of the court for the court to step in and interfere with the punishment. At any rate, the entire conspectus was duly considered by the Single Bench while dealing with the matter and appropriate reasons have been furnished as to why no interference was called for. For the writ petitioner‟s misadventure and attempt at misleading the court, the writ petitioner will pay costs assessed at Rs.5,000/-. WA No.16 of 2019 is dismissed without interfering with the judgment and order impugned dated May, 20, 2019.”

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Judgment reviewed by Vandana Ragwani

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