The Bombay High Court refused to quash the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal’s (MAT) order revoking the suspension and ordering for reinstatement of a senior police officer, noting the suspension orders cannot be kept pending indefinitely. The appeal was dismissed under the learned bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Gauri Gods in the case of Shri Santosh Keshav Sonawane versus The Additional Commissioner of police, Pune City (ORIGINAL APPLICATION NO.615 OF 2022)
FACTS OF THE CASE:
Dhiraj Patil, a superintendent of police level officer, held the post of executive director (security and enforcement) at the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co Ltd (MSEDCL), at the time of his suspension.
In light of DE, the applicant is suspended on September 30, 2021, pursuant to Rule 3 of the Maharashtra Police (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1956. Although the applicant has not yet received a charge-sheet, the suspension is being extended. The applicant attempted to make submissions in letters dated 30.12.2021, 20.02.2022, as well as occasionally afterward, but in vain.
OBSERVATION OF THE COURT:
“The allegations made by the petitioner (woman) against the respondent No 1 (Patil) in her complaint are personal in nature. The petitioner has reserved her right to file a criminal complaint against respondent No 1 for offences punishable under sections 376 (rape), 420 (cheating) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of IPC,” the high court said.
It further mentioned that the departmental investigation into Patil had also focused on similar claims. Even the MAT mentioned the summary of these claims in its order, but it said that it had not reached a conclusion about whether or not they were true.
“In such circumstances, we do not find it appropriate to deal with these allegations,” the court said.
The bench additionally stated that the law governing suspension orders was well established and that the high court would only interfere with them if they were manifestly unconstitutional or made in bad faith. It further stated that the departmental inquiry must be completed within a set period of time since the MAT had correctly established that the order of suspension could not last indefinitely.
“Thus, we find no illegality or perversity in the order passed by the MAT. Hence, we find no reason to interfere with the order passed by the MAT,” the court said.
“What the petitioner seeks is nothing but the continuance of suspension of respondent No 1 possibly for some indefinite period. The petitioner has no such legally enforceable right to demand continuance of the suspension,” the court opined.
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Judgement reviewed by – Sudarshana Jha