Dismissed IB sleuth wins back job, honour

March 26th, 2008 - 12:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Rana Ajit
New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) Almost 25 years after he was slapped with charges of smuggling and subsequently dismissed, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) official is to be reinstated with full honours on the orders of the Supreme Court. The long battle for justice has finally paid off for Inspector Naman Singh Shekhawat.

An apex court bench consisting of Justices S.B. Sinha and Harjit Singh Bedi has also ordered the home ministry to compensate the sleuth with Rs.100,000 for hounding him out of service and engaging him in prolonged litigation. The bench delivered the judgement March 14.

Shekhawat’s saga began in August 1983 when he was posted in the border district of Barmer in Rajasthan. During a reconnaissance of the area, Shekhawat stumbled upon an abandoned cache of smuggled goods that he subsequently loaded in his jeep and proceeded towards the nearest customs office to deposit the same.

But while transporting the contraband, a notorious smuggler of the area, Bhoor Singh, intercepted Shekhawat’s vehicle and directed him to the nearest police station.

Interestingly, Singh was accompanied by a head constable, Bhori Das, and another constable, Kirta Ram, in his jonga jeep where the policemen booked the IB sleuth on charges of smuggling.

The customs authorities too initiated proceedings against Shekhawat under the Customs Act but failed to pursue the matter and a local court absolved him of charges of smuggling in 1991 as police failed to explain the presence of its own men in the smuggler’s vehicle.

Neither the Rajasthan government nor the union government appealed against Shekhwat’s acquittal and he continued in service. But Shekhawat’s travails did not end there.

In 1993, the IB initiated departmental proceedings against Shekhawat and summarily dismissed him for his alleged involvement in smuggling.

Shekhawat’s next round of legal action began when he challenged his dismissal before the Jaipur bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in 2001. After a long wait of three years Shekhawat was reinstated.

The CAT adjudicates disputes with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public service and posts in connection with the affairs of the union or other local authorities within the control of the government.

But the central government, unhappy with the CAT ruling, stepped in and appealed against it in the Rajasthan High Court. The court dismissed the appeal in 2005.

Finally, the government moved the Supreme Court in early 2006 and the result proved costly - a fine of Rs.100,000 for singling out Shekhawat.

In its ruling, the apex court also came down heavily on the central government for ignoring the apparent nexus between local Barmer police and the infamous smuggler Bhoor Singh.

“Trans-border smuggling is a subject of federal functioning. We fail to understand as to why no deeper probe was made in regard to the involvement, if any, of the role of the police officers of the concerned police station. Larger public interest demanded such a probe,” the bench observed.

“The competent authority of the central government should have taken up the matter with the state government. Such inaction on the part of the government is a matter of deep pubic concern,” ruled the bench.

(Ajit Rana can be contacted at rana.ajit@ians.in)

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