A Kerala cop dismissed for 18 proven offences was taken back to service on an order by the Additional Director General of Police, who observed that the offences proved to be committed by the cop were not serious in nature and did not deserve dismissal.
There were 30 complaints against this cop filed by various people regarding atrocity and harassment and misuse of power, out of which 18 were proved to be true during investigation. The investigations were conducted by the IG Vigilance on an order by the Kerala High Court. The High Court, after examining the investigation report, observed that ‘the continuation of this police officer in the service will be a threat to the public and to the enforcement of law’. Despite the highest court of the state having made such an observation, the police seniors found that the proven crimes were ‘minor in nature’ which do not attract as harsh a punishment as dismissal.
Also read: KIIFB case: Kerala HC grants relief to Thomas Isaac; tells ED he has right to privacy
High Court orders inquiry
The story began in August 2018 when Babychan Varkey, a native of Thodupuzha, filed a writ petition in the Kerala High Court, alleging harassment by N G Sreemon, the Inspector of Police at Thodupuzha police station in Idukki. The High Court issued an order to conduct detailed inquiry into the offences alleged to have committed by the police officer. There were 30 complaints against the cop and detailed investigation was conducted. Two reports were then submitted to the High Court – one by the IG Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau and the other by the ADGP of Intelligence.
The concluding remarks in the report submitted by the ADGP of intelligence were: “The inquiry against Inspector Sreemon revealed that he has repeatedly committed grave violation of the law, rules and regulations. He has repeatedly involved himself in civil disputes over which he has no jurisdiction. The inquiry reveals that there is substantiated allegation of illegal physical abuse by the Inspector. Inspector N G Sreemon also has the tendency to misuse and abuse the authority vested in him due to his position as a police officer.”
The IG Vigilance recommended either to remove Sreemon from the service, or to reduce him to a lower rank, or to ask for compulsory retirement. The inquiry reports categorically made it clear that out of the 30 allegations, 18 were proved. Even among these 18 offences, 14 of them were of the nature proving his involvement in civil matters that did not come under his jurisdiction. Three charges proved were that of abuse and misuse of his power and authority.
In addition to these, there were criminal cases pending against him in various magistrate courts. According to the order issued by Justice Muhammad Mushtaq of the High Court in March 2020, Sreemon even reached out to Babychan Varkey, the petitioner, and forced him to withdraw the complaint and promised to bear the court charges incurred so far.
Subsequent to the reports and the observations made by the High Court, Sreemon was dismissed from service on February 12, 2021. He filed an appeal with the ADGP against the dismissal, on which proceedings were conducted. After one-and-a-half years, On August 19, 2022, ADGP Vijay Sakhare cancelled his dismissal, making the observation that the proven charges were ‘not very serious’. He has made this observation about the same offences on which the High Court had said that his continuation in the service would be ‘a threat to the public and to the enforcement of law’
The offences which ADGP found to be ‘minor’
The order issued by Vijay Sakhare, of which The Federal accessed a copy, gives the list of the proven offences, most of them committed in 2016 and 2017. The offences included abusing and insulting one Jaison Paul in a civil matter beyond the jurisdiction of Thodupuzha Police Station; arresting one Muhammad Salim by adding false charges to make a criminal case which was later quashed by the High Court as that of civil nature; and, abusing and threatening a platform vendor and manhandling his son; threatening two postal staff on complaint of a lost parcel and taking Rs 8,000 from them.
Similarly, there were cases against him for abusing and threatening a teacher of Perumpally UP School of Thodupuzha; undressing and manhandling a suspect in the police station; abusing and threatening a doctor at the government hospital; abusing, harassing and threatening the surety (for bail) to an accused; abusing and threatening a witness and an accused and the accused’s son and daughter to settle a case; and, mediating is a dispute and threatening one party though the case did not fall under his jurisdictional.
Reinstating the cop
After listing the 18 offences Vijay Sakhare, the ADGP made this observation: “After careful examination, I have observed that out of 30 charges against the delinquent only 1B charges have been proved. lf these 18 charges are taken separately, all of them are minor charges which will attract minor penalty only. ln view of minor delinquencies, I feel that the punishment of dismissal from service is excessive and too harsh”.
Also read: Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan moves SC for bail
He further stated that the punishment was disproportionate to the nature of delinquency. “Considering the fact that he is the sole bread winner of the family, I reduce the punishment of dismissal,” he stated in his report adding, the punishment is reduced to “withholding his next three increments with cumulative effect”. Besides, the period of absence due to the dismissal from service has been regularised as admissible leave to the office.