Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo-motu cognizance of a media report that after 5 years in jail in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh for the crime they didn’t commit, a couple can’t find their two kids, who had been reportedly sent to some orphanage in their absence.

Considering it as a serious issue of human rights violation, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The reports should include the enquiry/action taken, if any, against the police officers and the public servants who were responsible to ensure social security to the innocent children of the victim couple.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that the gross negligence committed by a public servant has devastated the entire family. The State authorities including the police and the social welfare authorities of the district Agra have acted in a reckless manner, showing no respect towards the basic human rights.

According to the media reports, carried on the 23-01-2021, the couple was arrested by the police in the year 2015, when a boy aged five years was found murdered and they were named in the case. The Additional District and Sessions Court, while releasing the couple had mentioned in the order that it is unfortunate that innocent people have spent five years behind the bars and the main accused is still free. The Court has reportedly directed the Senior Superintendent of Police to take action against the investigating officer for his negligence. The Court has also recommended re-investigation of the case on the basis of the available evidences, to arrest the actual perpetrator.

It is specifically mentioned in the news report that the then Sub-Inspector, who was working with the investigating officer, had admitted in the Court that he did not even try to find out as to against whom the FIR was registered.

As mentioned in the news report, the victim Narendra Singh, who was earlier working as a teacher, has been asking as to what was the fault of their children, son aged 5 years and daughter aged 3 years. The wife of Narendra Singh, who was also lodged in the jail with her husband, has reportedly written a letter to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Agra to search for their missing children. The couple never met their children after their arrest, and their bail application was rejected by the District Judge in the year 2015. It is also mentioned in the news report that the victim couple could not go further to approach the High Court due to their inability to afford the expenses.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 28-01-2021]

Armed Forces Tribunal
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal: The Division Bench of Justice S.V.S. Rathore (Chairperson) and Air Marshal BBP Sinha (Member) A, partly allowed the instant application challenging the promotion and retirement policies of the IAF.

The applicants, in this case, had been promoted as Group Captain (Time Scale) and had retired on specific orders of respondents at the age of 54 years instead of 57 years of age i.e. the specified age of retirement for Group Captain Rank. Retirement age in Armed Forces is linked to last rank held and hence missing on promotions automatically results in relatively early retirement. The Armed Forces also have a system whereby if an officer misses his first merit-based promotion, in three consecutive promotion boards, then he is given a time scale promotion, after completing certain specified years of service. This discriminatory policy of retiring Group Captain (Time Scale) at the age of 54 years was challenged in AFT (PB) New Delhi, whereby the Tribunal vide its order dated 02-05-2013 quashed the discriminatory policy and ruled that for the purpose of retirement, Group Captain (Time Scale) and Group Captain (Select) are ‘one and the same’ rank and therefore Group Captains (Time Scale) are entitled to retire at the age of 57 years. This decision was further upheld by the Supreme Court vide its judgment dated 24-09-2014.

Counsel for the applicants, Abhishek R Shukla argued that there was gross negligence by the respondents in correcting their mistake and not passing the due benefits to the applicants despite their discriminatory retirement policy being set aside by AFT (PB) and the same being upheld by the Supreme Court. It was further stated that the respondents had unfairly decided to extend the benefits of the Supreme Court order only to those who have retired on or after 02-05-2013.

To ascertain whether the applicants deserve condonation of delay, the Bench relied on Union of India v. Tarsem Singh, (2008) 8 SCC 648, where the Supreme Court had held, Normally, a belated service related claim will be rejected on the ground of delay and laches or limitation. One of the exceptions to the said rule is cases relating to a continuing wrong. Where a service related claim is based on a continuing wrong, relief can be granted even if there is a long delay in seeking remedy.”

The Bench observed that pension revision of Armed Forces personnel is primarily based on twin factors of last rank held and total years of service rendered, therefore these applicants would continue to suffer financial losses in future after every pension revision due to OROP revision and new Pay Commission revisions. Thus, it was found out that the instant case was a case of continuing wrong because it was related to pension of the applicants. Considering the above mentioned, the Bench reached to the conclusion that ends of justice would be met if the applicants would be provided relief on all issues related to their pension.

However, it was ordered that, since other retirement benefits did not fall in the category of continuing wrong, the same should be treated as final and should not be reopened. The retirement of the applicants at the age of 54 years was set aside and the applicants were held entitled to notional service for additional three years till they attain the age of 57 years. The respondents were directed to conclude the matter within four months failing which a simple interest at 8 per cent per annum from the due date till the date of actual payment was levied. [Vijay Suman Sharma v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 4563, decided on 29-07-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where Sub-Inspector in the Railway Police was compulsorily retired for gross neglect of duty, the 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra* and KM Joseph, JJ has set aside the Bombay High Court order that directed re-instatement with consequential benefits, and payment of backwages to the extent of 50%.

The respondent, the present case, was charged with gross neglect of duty for failing to detect and prevent three instances of theft and abuse of authority by using unnecessary violence towards a passenger.

Holding that the High Court was not justified in setting aside the order of compulsory retirement, the Court said,

“A police officer in the Railway Protection Force is required to maintain a high standard of integrity in the discharge of his official functions. In this case, the charges proved against the Respondent “were of neglect of duty” which resulted in pecuniary loss to the Railways. The Respondent was a Sub-Inspector in the Railway Police discharging an office of trust and confidence which required absolute integrity.”

It was further stated that the primary object of constituting the Railway Protection Force is to secure better “protection and security of the railway property.”

“The restricted power of arrest and search conferred on members of this Force is incidental to the efficient discharge of their primary duty to protect and safeguard railway property, and to uphold the law.”

On the scope of interference by the High Court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction with respect to disciplinary proceedings, the Court said that it is not the function of the High Court under its writ jurisdiction to review the evidence, and arrive at an independent finding on the evidence. The High Court may, however interfere where,

  • the departmental authority which has held the proceedings against the delinquent officer are inconsistent with the principles of natural justice,
  • the findings are based on no evidence, which may reasonably support the conclusion that the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge, or in violation of the statutory rules prescribing the mode of enquiry, or the authorities were actuated by some extraneous considerations and failed to reach a fair decision, or allowed themselves to be influenced by irrelevant considerations, o
  • the conclusion on the very face of it is so wholly arbitrary and capricious that no reasonable person could ever have arrived at that conclusion.

If however the enquiry is properly held, the departmental authority is the sole judge of facts, and if there is some legal evidence on which the findings can be based, the adequacy or reliability of that evidence is not a matter which can be permitted to be canvassed before the High Court in a writ petition.

In the present case, the Court found that there was no allegation of malafides against the disciplinary authority i.e. Chief Security Commissioner, or lack of competence of the disciplinary authority in passing the order of compulsory retirement, or of a breach of the principles of natural justice, or that the findings were based on no evidence.

It hence, held that the High Court was not justified in re-appraising the entire evidence threadbare as a court of first appeal, and substituting the Order of punishment, by a lesser punishment, without justifiable reason.

[Director General of Police, Railway Protection Force v. Rajendra Kumar Dubey, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 954, decided on 25.11.2020]


*Justice Indu Malhotra has penned this judgment 

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Coram of R.K. Agrawal (President), J. and M. Shreesha (Member) allowed an appeal against the order of State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, Punjab that directed a doctor to compensate an aggrieved couple for the death of their three year old daughter caused by gross negligence.

Respondent herein was the father of a three-year-old girl who was diagnosed with blood cancer. The child was admitted to appellant-hospital where Dr Raman Arora (appellant 3 herein) prepared a written protocol of the treatment detailing that the patient was to be given four cycles of chemotherapy for which injections of Vincristine were to be given intravenously and injections of Methotrexate were to be administered intrathecally. Dr Vandana Bhambri and Dr Harjit Singh Kohli assisted him. The patient was given three cycles of chemotherapy, and then her bone marrow test was conducted which showed that her condition had improved. The requisite injections for the fourth cycle were handed over to Dr Harjit Singh Kohli in a sealed packet where it was clearly written that the medicine Vincristine was to be administered intravenously only. However, Dr Kohli administered the injection intrathecally, which led to the depletion in the health of the patient and ultimately she died. The aggrieved parents of child (respondents herein) filed a complaint before the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission which held that the doctors and hospital (vicariously) committed gross negligence. The present appeal was filed by the hospital and doctors challenging the said order.

Learned counsel for appellants Y. Rajagopala Rao, contended that the injection Vincristine was not administered on the given date, and the State Commission had erred in giving a finding that Vincristine was administered by an anesthetist i.e. Dr Kohli. Furthermore, he stated that the Histopathology report and the chemical examination report read together with the post-mortem report did not state that the death was due to Vincristine injection. Moreover, the State Commission had failed to consider the expert report which opined that the cause of death in the present case was Toxaemia of Acute Lymphoid Leukaemia, which is a natural cause in case of cancer patients. Also, he argued that Dr Raman Arora is not liable as he did not administer the medicine.

Learned counsel for respondents, Prashant Sareen, contended that the injection was given by Dr Kohli who had testified that he, along with the help of Dr Vandana, had administered the injection intrathecally and later on acquired the knowledge that such administration was fatal. Moreover, he accused Dr. Arora for being negligent as he did not even read the ordinary precautions for treatment.

The Commission relied on S.K. Jhunjhunwala v. Dhanwanti Kumari, (2019) 2 SCC 282, and applied the principle of Bolam Test that gives grounds to hold a professional liable for negligence; and ruled that the doctors were negligent in their conduct. It was held that that admittedly the entire standard protocol was given by Dr Raman Arora and the entire treatment was rendered under his care. Therefore, he was liable for any acts/ commission or omissions done by his team or the assistants who assisted him in rendering treatment to the patient.

The National Commission remarked that the State Commission had rightly relied on the expert opinion given by the Indian Medical Association, Ludhiana which held the doctors responsible for gross negligence.

Placing reliance on Achutrao Haribhau Khodwa v. State of Maharashtra, (1996) 2 SCC 634, it was held that the hospital was vicariously liable for the negligent acts of its doctors.[Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Treatment & Research Foundation v. Prashant Sareen, 2019 SCC OnLine NCDRC 75, decided on 24-05-2019]