New Delhi, Apr 16 (ILNS): The Delhi High Court today upheld an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which rejected the Rajasthan government’s dismissal of an IPS officer, because the officer was having an illicit affair and also had an issue from a woman other than his wife.
The High Court pointed out that it was not willing to interfere into any government servant’s private life, if it did not interfere with his work as an officer. The original rejection of the dismissal order was challenged by the government in the High Court.
The officer is involved in a divorce case with his estranged wife, while he lives with the other woman. However, the Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Amit Bansal said: “If CAT were to find that the misconduct was in the realm of private life of government servant and such misconduct in private life, though breaching the ethical standards, did not affect the public at large or did not become an issue so as to disturb the peace and harmony in the living quarters of its servants and did not disturb the image of the service and the government servant concerned, had ultimately settled the issue to the satisfaction of the aggrieved private party, this Court would not ordinarily interfere.”
Senior Advocate Manish Singhvi, appearing for the Rajasthan government, submitted: “The sentence meted out…of dismissal from service for contracting a second marriage during the subsistence of his earlier marriage, while in an elite service as the IPS, cannot be said to be so disproportionate so as to shock the conscience of this Court.”
However, the counsel appearing for the IPS officer submitted that the first wife of the officer was never interested in living with him and rather, wanted to marry someone else and has also given an affidavit in this regard.
The bench noted: “Ethical standards have been changing over the last half a century, when the All India Services (Conduct) Rules were framed and the said Rules, like law, have to be considered as a living organism, the purport and meaning whereof changes with the changes in societal behaviour.
“It was the contention of the Court that what may have been unethical standard in 1968, is not necessarily unethical today or not necessarily unethical of such severity as in 1968, the society has changed with a lot of affairs of family, which earlier were a matter of public debate, being now confined to the private domain, the concept, definition and standards of morality also has been changing, with the changes in appearance, dressing, language etc, the behaviour which shocked 50 years ago, is now considered as normal or at best an aberration.”
Observed the bench: “CAT is right to that extent, that the Disciplinary Authority did not consider the effect of the divorce having ultimately been granted between the respondent No. 1 and his wife and which divorce was by way of a settlement; it is thus not as if the first wife of the respondent No 1 was left with any grievance whatsoever.” ILNS/GM-KR/SJB/SNG/RJ