Indira Gandhi International Airport. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Dec 29 : The Centre has compulsorily retired a Customs Superintendent, Devender Kumar Hooda over alleged molestation of an Uzbek national at the IGI Airport, sources said.

Hooda was charged with allegations of sexual harassment and molestation of an Uzbek woman passenger, during the intervening night of May 2-3, 2019 and, later let go with two bags of contraband (cigarettes) that she was carrying.

Sources in the Department of Revenue said the matter was under investigation since then post the 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 the official's compulsory retirement 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 that taking a holistic view of the record of the officer, 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 to the accused officer on December 21.

People in the know informed that notwithstanding the order of the compulsory retirement, the departmental inquiries and criminal proceedings, if any, against the accused will continue.

Further, 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.

DoR sources said that on the night of May 2-3 2019 two female Uzbekistani passengers arrived from Tashkent by flight HY 421. One of them was taken outside the CCTV coverage area after reaching the Green Channel and was detained for an hour. She was then allowed to leave and no seizure of any contraband was recorded.

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 the presence of any woman custom officer and both the passengers were allegedly subjected to sexual harassment and molestation.

Later, one of the woman passengers gave a testimony to the ICC and identified the official accusing him of "molesting", and indulging in obscene sexual acts in the preventive room.

Sources said that based on compliant by AIU sources and further inquiry, and post the analysis of video footage of Green Channel, among others, by the screening and review committees, Hooda was given compulsory retirement.

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