Custom officer accused of molestation sacked
New Delhi, Dec 30 (PTI) The government has sacked from service a senior customs department official who was accused of sexually harassing and molesting a foreign lady passenger at Delhi airport, sources said.
Sources with direct knowledge of the development said Customs Superintendent Devender Kumar (Hooda), Group ‘B’ gazetted officer of General Commissionerate positioned at the IGI Airport, was retired from service under the Fundamental Rules 56 (j) in the public interest.
He was charged with allegations of sexual harassment and molestation of a foreign lady passenger, an Uzebek passport holder, during the intervening night of 02/03 May 2019 and later let her go with two bags of contraband (cigarettes) she was carrying.
Hooda could not be immediately reached for comments.
Revenue Department sources said that the matter was under investigation since then post suspension of Hooda.
The departmental Screening Committee, Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, and the Review Committee held detailed enquiries and finally recommended he be compulsory retired under FR 56(j) on the charges of “gross misconduct’, ‘sexual harassment of grave nature’ besides casting ‘acute adverse impact on the image of the Department and lowering the morals of the officers of the service’.
Sources said the Review Committee concluded that “his conduct is such that his continuance in service would be a menace to public service and injurious to public interest.”
The order of compulsory retirement was served on him last Monday (on December 21, 2020).
Sources said notwithstanding the order of the compulsory retirement, “The departmental inquiries and criminal proceedings, if any, against Devender Kumar Hooda, Superintendent will continue. Appropriate action may be taken by the disciplinary authority as and when the charges are proved” as compulsory retirement under 56(j) is not a punitive measure under Article 311 of the Constitution of India.
Sources said that on the night of 02/03 May 2019, two female Uzbekistani passengers, who arrived from Tashkant by flight HY 421, one of them was taken outside CCTV coverage upon reaching the Green Channel and was detained for an hour and then was allowed to leave without seizure of any contraband.
The second female uzbekistani passenger was similarly detained for over 30 minutes and then she, too, was released without any seizure of contraband.
Both the passengers were confined alone in a room with Hooda without presence of any lady Custom officer and both the passengers were allegedly subjected to sexual harassment and molestation.
Later, one of the lady passengers (name withheld) gave testimony to the ICC and identified the officer (Hooda) accusing him of molesting , and indulging in obscene sexual acts in the Preventive room.
Sources said inquiry and analysis of video footage of Green Channel by screening and review committees led to Hooda being given compulsory retirement.
Further, inquiries and criminal proceeding will continue.