Madras HC pulls up TNUSRB, CCB for ‘abuse’ of process of law, awards Rs 10 lakh compensation to victim

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The Madras High Court on Friday pulled up the Tamil Nadu State Uniformed Services Recruitment Board (TNUSRB) and the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the city police for fabricating documents, abusing the process of law and thereby fixing two innocent individuals, who have all along been helping the Board in conducting the exams for selection of candidates, for allegedly cheating the board.

It also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on the Board and directed the State government to pay the same to the victim G Vijayakumar, who had all along been helping the Board in setting the question papers for its exams. The amount should be paid within three months, the judges said.

“Thus, the registration of the FIR in the CCB crime in 2019 and the charge sheet predicated on such an FIR, reinforcing the lies that have been contrived to sustain the charge sheet, are clearly an abuse of process of law amounting to a malicious prosecution which deserves to be quashed lock, stock and barrel,” a Division Bench of Justices P N Prakash and R Hemalatha said.

Giving the benefit of doubt and finding that his subordinates alone were engaged in the matter, the Bench exonerated the then Member-Secretary of the Board N K Senthamarai Kannan, IPS.

The matter relates to holding an exam in 2018 for selection of sub-inspectors in the Finger Print division. Vijayakumar, a scholar, assisted the Board in preparing the question papers for which he was paid Rs 750. One of the candidates, who failed in the exam moved the High Court and thereby began the legal battle.

It came to light later that the answer given in the objective type question was wrong. Even the question was wrong as none of the answers given in the key answer sheet matched with the question. In this connection, the services of Vijayakumar and another person D Murthi were again sought for by the Board.

The judges said Vijayakumar deserves to be monetarily compensated for the humiliation and suffering undergone by him at the hands of the Board and the CCB police. He was arrested on false charges and imprisoned for about 22 days. He was reduced to a pawn in the larger plot by the Board to deceive a single judge, who initially conducted the case and initiated contempt proceedings against it.

The machinery of the police was then set upon to terrorise and silence him. Vijayakumar is a senior citizen and had undergone the humiliation. Constitutional courts cannot turn a Nelson’s eye to a brazenly orchestrated violation of the dignity and self-respect of the individual by the Board and the police, the Bench said.

“We are of the considered view that Vijayakumar deserves to be compensated in public law for his sufferings,” the judges added and awarded the compensation of Rs 10 lakh.

The signatures obtained by the police in blank papers, when Vijayakumar was in prison, were fabricated and used against him and Murthi who were charged with cheating the Board.

Having examined the materials on record, the court said it was of the considered view that the continuation of criminal proceedings against Vijayakumar and Murthi was clearly “an abuse of process of law.”

“Accordingly, in exercise of our powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and Section 482 Cr.PC, we quash the final report in CCB Cr.No.117 of 2019, pending on the file of the Metropolitan Magistrate, Chennai, dealing with CCB and CB-CID cases,” the judges said.

“In our considered opinion, the aforesaid acts of the Board undoubtedly constitute criminal contempt under Section 2(c)(ii) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, as it amounts to a calculated and deliberate interference in the administration of justice by the High Court,” the Bench said and imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on it, to be remitted with the High Court Registry within four weeks.

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