SC Mandates Administrative Inquiry Before Punitive Action Against Public Servants for SC/ST Atrocities Act Violations

The top court delivered the verdict in a case involving a police officer who had refused to register a first information report (FIR) under the legislation.
SC Mandates Administrative Inquiry Before Punitive Action Against Public Servants for SC/ST Atrocities Act Violations
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New Delhi: In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled that conducting an administrative inquiry is mandatory before initiating punitive action against any public servant for dereliction of duty under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The top court delivered the verdict in a case involving a police officer who had refused to register a first information report (FIR) under the legislation. Such dereliction of duty under the law can lead to an imprisonment of up to six months.

The apex deliberated on whether a complaint against a public servant can be acknowledged without a prior recommendation for administrative inquiry.

A division bench of justices MM Sundresh and SV Bhatti emphasized in their order that an administrative inquiry is indispensable before taking punitive measures, including recognizing the offense of dereliction of duty.

HC Decision Overturned

Initially, the trial court in Delhi declined to initiate action against the station house officer (SHO) due to the absence of a recommendation for administrative inquiry.

However, following an appeal by the aggrieved party, the High Court directed to proceed with legal action in accordance with the law.

The SHO challenged the superior court’s decision in the Supreme Court, presenting a legal challenge. The highest court accepted the appeal and overturned the High Court’s decision.

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