SC orders reinstatement of constable sacked for short stature

 Nearly 15 years after he was sacked for not meeting the height criteria by a meagre one centimetre, the Supreme Court has directed reinstatement of a police constable after it was found that the termination was based on wrong assessment.

A bench of justices H L Dattu and A R Dave, however, ruled that Md Masaud Alam would not be entitled to any back wages from the date of his termination, though the period would be reckoned for the purpose of calculating his pensionary benefits.
The apex court passed the order while upholding an appeal by Alam challenging a judgement of the Patna High Court which quashed a single judge's order, directing his reinstatement.

Alam, along with several others, was sacked in March 1997 for failing to meet the minimum height requirement of 165 cms height under the Police Order No 202 of 1988 of Bihar government. He was appointed constable in October, 1992 and served till 1997.

During the pendency of the case in the high court, a DIG of police measured the height of the constable and gave a report that he was 164 cms tall.

However, Alam contended and asserted that his height was 165.5 cms and not 164 cms as recorded in the DIG's report, following which the single judge directed the civil surgeon-cum-chief medical officer, Patna to file a report on the dispute.
The CMO submitted a report that his height was 166 cms, following which the single judge directed his reinstatement and observed that the DIG had acted in a mala fide manner.

But on an appeal of the state government, a division bench of the high court set aside the single judge's order and upheld his termination, following which he appealed in the apex court. Upholding the appeal, the apex court said, "The height of the appellant has been found to be 166 cms by the chief medical officer, which was accepted by the learned single judge and this factual aspect should have been accepted by the division bench, in the Letters Patent Appeal filed before it."

The apex court said the division bench should not have set aside the finding of fact recorded by the single judge with regard to the height of appellant.
"Since the appellant has the requisite height and since he satisfies all the other conditions, in our opinion, the respondents were not justified in terminating the services of the appellant in the year 1997," the bench said directing his reinstatement.

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