Expressing surprise that suspended police official S.S. Rathi, one of the convicted policemen in the 1997 Connaught Place shootout case, is still on the rolls, the Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the union home ministry to verify his employment status and whether the service rules on dismissal pending appeal need to be reviewed.
Justice S. Murlidhar said that Assistant Commissioner of Police Rathi was reverted from the post of ACP to the post of inspector. This was however stayed by the Central Administration Tribunal (CAT).
“This court express its concern that a police officer who held the post of ACP at the time of the incident, despite his conviction by this court on Sep 18, 2009, continues to remain in service,” said the court. Meanwhile the other nine officials were dismissed after their conviction.
“This court is informed that the rules governing the terms and conditions of service of the personnel of Delhi Police permit dismissal of service only after the appeal filed by the convicted police official is disposed of and not earlier,” said the court.
The court expressed its surprise that there were rules that permitted officials convicted of murder to remain in service.
“The secretary MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) will examine this position and inform this court whether it is unique to Delhi or prevails elsewhere in the country,” said Justice S. Murlidhar.
Justice Murlidhar was hearing the petition filed by the wives of the two Haryana-based businessmen Pradeep Goyal and Jagjit Singh who were gunned down at Connaught Place March 31, 1997.
The court has asked MHA to file report within four weeks from Thursday, through a senior officer not lower than the rank of Director.
In 2007, a Delhi district court awarded life term to suspended ACP Rathi and nine other policemen. In 2009, the Delhi High Court upheld the conviction and life sentence of the ten policemen.
However, the court asked the petitioner to place on record the details concerning the loss in income pursuant to the death of their husbands.
Besides Rathi, those sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life included inspector Anil Kumar, SI Ashok Rana, head constables Shiv Kumar, Tejpal Singh, Mahavir Singh, and constables Sumer Singh, Subhash Chand, Sunil Kumar and Kothari Ram.
All the convicted persons were members of a police force and were supposed to be custodians of law and the fact that 34 rounds were fired at the helpless occupants of the car, showed the extreme depravity of their crime, the court said then.