Supreme Court order in UP officer’s case a ‘glowing precedent’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s order to the UP government to pay Rs 10 lakh to a retired Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer for being falsely implicated in a corruption case promises to boost the morale of officers across the country who display the courage to confront politicians pressurising them to get things done their way. Bureaucrats, serving and retired, feel the verdict would serve as a “glowing precedent” for similar cases.

Supreme Court

The IFS officer, Ram Lakhan Singh, a renowned wildlife expert, fought a legal battle for 10 years after a case was allegedly registered because he refused to comply with the instructions of the then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2003.

The bench headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi came down heavily against persecution of honest officers, and said it was necessary to protect an honest public servant not only in his interest but in the larger interest of the society. Ram Lakhan Singh, the court held, should be compensated for the harassment and mental agony he underwent during the protracted battle.

“Some upright officers resist corruption but they cannot alone change the system which victimises them through frequent punitive transfers, threat to their families and fabricating, foisting false cases,” the bench noted.

“In such a scenario, until and unless we maintain a fine balance between prosecuting a guilty officer and protecting an innocent officer from vexatious, frivolous and mala fide prosecution, it would be very difficult for the public servant to discharge his duties in free and fair manner,”read the order. The court added that there was a dire necessity to protect honest officers while making corrupt officers realize they are not above law.

However, this is not for the first time that the Samajwadi Party chief has had an unseemly confrontation with an upright officer. Junior IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal was suspended for cracking down on the sand mining mafia in west UP.

Similarly, IAS officers Himanshu Kumar, Vijay Shankar Pande and SP Singh, and more recently IPS officer Amitabh Thakur faced similar treatment. Thakur has filed an FIR stating Mulayam had threatened him on phone.

“When inefficient and myopic politicians gain power, this is what happens,” says IAS officer SP Singh who has remained suspended for several months now because of his face-off with the SP regime. “Unscrupulous politicians will always try to pressure the executive. But it’s up to the officers to stand up for the right thing,” he said.

A retired IAS officer was of the opinion that bureaucrats should jointly oppose such attempts to browbeat them. “Unless we fight this malaise together, the rare honest ones will continue to suffer,” he said.