The Supreme Court today refused to show leniency and directed the Centre to obey a Gauhati High Court order on the issue of contempt against top CRPF officials saying that bureaucrats are not above the law.
The top court only dispensed with the direction asking the Director General of CRPF to be personally present before the high court, which has initiated a contempt proceeding against some top officials of the paramilitary force.
It said a DIG-level officer would remain present before the high court, which had directed personal appearance of the top CRPF official in a matter in which the court had ordered reinstatement of a constable whose service was terminated in June 2007 after a disciplinary proceeding.
"Bureaucrats are not above the law. Why you (Centre) have come at the last moment? You go and appear there. We will not stay it. One officer has to go there. You choose that one officer," a vacation bench of justices R K Agrawal and S K Kaul said.
Senior advocate Ajit Kumar Sinha, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the man was recruited in reserved category for which original records were also produced before the single judge of the high court.
He contended that the high court's division bench, while declining to grant interim order, had erred in holding that he was recruited against an open category vacancy and not as an Scheduled Tribe (ST) category candidate.
"The petitioners may approach the high court and produce the records and seek modification of the impugned order. The special leave petition stands disposed of," the bench said.
Sinha also said that in the contempt proceedings, the high court has directed some top officers of CRPF to appear personally before it on June 19.
"He (Centre's counsel) wanted that the contempt proceedings be stayed and the officers be not present on that date before the court. We are not inclined to pass such an order," the apex court said.
"In the interest of justice, we direct the Head of Department concerned who is stationed in the state of Assam shall appear before the court," it said.
The high court had directed the Centre to reinstate the man, who was recruited as a general duty constable in CRPF in February 2003, but his service was terminated in June 2007.
The man was recruited in CRPF against a ST category vacancy, but eventually, after noticing that a false claim was made by him on the ST category, a disciplinary proceeding had commenced against him.
Following the inquiry, he was terminated from service after which he had approached the court against the order.
A single judge of high court had ordered reinstatement of the man holding that he was terminated without following the due process.
The Centre then challenged the single judge order before a division bench of the high court which later held that the government has to reinstate the man.
Thereafter, the man had filed a contempt plea in the high court claiming that the government has not complied with its order.
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