SC: Persons who are likely to erode the credibility of the police ought not to enter the police force.


Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
The bench comprising of Justices T.S. Thakur and Adarsh Kumar Goel held that a candidate to be recruited to the police service must be worthy of confidence, a person of utmost rectitude, must have impeccable character and integrity. A person having criminal antecedents will not fit in this category even if he is acquitted or discharged, it cannot be presumed that he was completely exonerated. Persons who are likely to erode the credibility of the police ought not to enter the police force.

Citation :
State of M.P. & Ors. vs. Parvez Khan

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL  APPEAL NO. 10613  OF 2014

(ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.36237 of 2012)

REPORTABLE

STATE OF M.P. & ORS.        …APPELLANTS

VERSUS

PARVEZ KHAN                  …RESPONDENT

ADARSH KUMAR GOEL, J.

1. Leave granted.

J U D G M E N T

2. This appeal has been preferred against the Judgment 

and Order dated 20

th

 March, 2012 of the High Court of Madhya 

Pradesh at Jabalpur in Writ Appeal No.262 of 2010.

3. The question raised for  our  consideration is  whether  the 

refusal  by  the  competent  authority  to  give  compassionate 

appointment  in  police  service  on  the  ground  of  criminal 

Page 1

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

antecedents of a candidate who is acquitted for want of evidence 

or  who  is  discharged  from the  criminal  case  on  account  of 

compounding can be justified.

4. Sultan Khan was serving with the Madhya Pradesh Police. 

He died in harness on 21

st

 June, 2005.  His son, the respondent 

Parvez  Khan,  applied  for  compassionate  appointment.   The 

competent authority sent his record for police verification.  It was 

found that he was involved in two criminal cases.  In one case, 

he was prosecuted for offences under Sections 323,  324,  325, 

294 and 506-B/34 of  the Indian Penal  Code and in  the other 

under Sections 452, 394 and 395 of the Indian Penal Code.  The 

Superintendent  of  Police  held  that  he  was  not  eligible  for 

appointment in Government service and closed his case.  

5. The respondent  challenged the said order by way of  Writ 

Petition No.15052 of 2008 on the ground that in the first case he 

was acquitted on 31

st

 January, 2007 and in the second he was 

discharged on account of compounding of offence.   

6. Learned  Single  Judge  did  not  find  any  merit  in  his 

contention in the writ  petition and dismissed the petition.    On 

appeal, the Division Bench took a different view.  It was held that 

the object of verification was to verify suitability of a candidate 

Page 2

2

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

for employment.  Since the respondent was acquitted in both the 

criminal  cases  he  could  not  be  considered  unsuitable.    No 

reason had been given as to why after acquittal in the criminal 

case,  the  respondent  was  considered  to  be  unsuitable. 

Accordingly, the Division Bench directed consideration of case of 

the respondent  afresh in the light  of observations in the order 

within three months.  Aggrieved thereby, the appellant-State has 

preferred this appeal.

7. We have heard learned counsel for the parties.

8. Learned  counsel  for  the  State  submitted  that  since  on 

police verification, it was found that the respondent was involved 

in criminal cases involving moral turpitude, he could not be given 

appointment.  Mere acquittal for want of evidence or discharge 

on account of compromise could not be taken to be conclusive 

for suitability of a candidate. The result of criminal proceedings 

was not conclusive of suitability of a candidate for recruitment to 

police service.

9. It is submitted that in a criminal case, a person cannot be 

punished in absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt but the 

standard  of  proof  required  for  consideration  of  suitability  or 

otherwise  of  a  candidate  was  not  the  same.   Discharge  on 

Page 3

3

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

account of compounding of the offence by the victim depended 

upon the attitude of the parties.  The victim may be prepared to 

settle the matter for any consideration other than innocence of 

the accused, but it did not wash off the criminal antecedents of 

an accused.  Entering into police service required a candidate to 

be of character, integrity and clean antecedents.  If a person is 

acquitted or discharged, it cannot always be inferred that he was 

falsely involved and he had no criminal  antecedents.    All that 

may be inferred is that  he has not  been proved to be guilty. 

Reliance  has  been  placed  on  the  decision  of  this  Court  in 

Commissioner of Police vs. Mehar Singh

1

.

10. Learned  counsel  for  the  respondent  supported  the 

impugned order and submitted that some other similarly placed 

candidates had been given compassionate appointment.    Two 

such instances have been pointed out by the respondent in the 

counter  affidavit.    He  has  also  submitted  that  the  State  of 

Madhya Pradesh has issued Guidelines dated 5

th

 June, 2003 for 

character  verification  of  candidates  for  recruitment  to 

Government service and such guidelines do no justify rejection 

of candidature of the respondent.  One of the instances given is 

of  Dilip  Kumar  Samadhiya  son  of  Shri  Jagdish  Prasad 

1

 2013 (7) SCC 685

Page 4

4

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

Samadhiya against whom three criminal cases were registered 

prior  to  the  recruitment  in  Government  service  but  he  was 

acquitted  either  on account  of  compromise or  on account  of 

benefit  of  doubt.  Still,  he was given appointment.    Similarly, 

Jitender Sharma was recruited to Police service though he was 

tried  for  a  criminal  case,  but  acquitted  on  account  of 

compounding  or  on  the  basis  of  benefit  of  doubt.   As  per 

Guidelines dated 5

th

 June,  2003,  an independent  view can be 

taken only where candidate has concealed the information about 

pendency of trial  and not where there is no such concealment, 

as in the present case.

11. After  due  consideration,  we  are  of  the  view  that  the 

impugned order cannot be sustained.  Refusal by the competent 

authority  to  recruit  the respondent  on the ground of  criminal 

antecedents is not liable to be interfered with.   The applicable 

Guidelines dated 5

th

 June, 2003 inter alia provide :

“On the basis of  merits  and demerits  by the Hon’ble

Court  the acquitted candidate  will  be eligible for  the

Government Service.”

The above guidelines show that acquittal is not conclusive. 

Even after acquittal, basis of order of the Court has to be gone 

into by the competent  authority.    Even after order based on 

Page 5

5

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

compromise  or  lack  of  evidence  may  render  a  candidate 

ineligible.   In the present case, the relevant part of the order of 

the Superintendent of Police is as follows:

“Action was taken in regard to the proceedings of 

compassionate appointment, character verification

was  got  done,  wherein  vide  Letter 

No.V.S./21/VHR/2007/17(F)283/07 dated 17.9.2007

of  the Police Headquarters it  was informed that a

case under Section 294,  323,  506,  324,  34 of  IPC

had been registered against the applicant in Police

Station  Kotwali  as  Crime  No.185/06  and  the

applicant  was  acquitted  on  the  basis  of  a

compromise  by  the  Court  on  23.2.2007.   In  the

same manner  in  Crime No.494/06  under  Section

394, 364, 451 of IPC a case was registered and vide 

judgment  dated  31.1.2007  of  the  Court  he  was

acquitted.

Two separate crimes had been registered against 

the  applicant,  wherein  in  one  case  Section  394, 

451,  365 of  IPC are there and which come in the 

category of moral turpitude.  In the judgment of the

Court benefit of doubt has been given, therefore, as 

per  the  new  guidelines  of  2003  issued  by  the 

Government  of  Madhya  Pradesh  in  respect  of 

character  verification  the  applicant  Parvez  Khan

alias Sonu alias Raja has been found to be ineligible

for Government service.”

12. In Mehar Singh (supra), the question considered by this Court 

was as follows :

“18. The question before this Court is whether the 

candidature of  the respondents who had made a

clean breast of their involvement in a criminal case

by  mentioning  this  fact  in  their 

application/attestation  form while  applying  for  a

post  of  Constable  in  Delhi  Police,  who  were 

Page 6

6

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

provisionally  selected  subject  to  verification  of 

their  antecedents  and  who  were  subsequently

acquitted/discharged in the criminal case, could be

cancelled by the Screening Committee of the Delhi 

Police  on  the  ground  that  they  are  not  found

suitable for appointment to the post of Constable.”

After considering the rival contentions, the Court held :

“23. A  careful  perusal  of  the  policy  leads  us  to 

conclude  that  the  Screening  Committee  would  be

entitled  to  keep  persons  involved  in  grave  cases  of 

moral turpitude out of the police force even if they are

acquitted or  discharged if it feels that the acquittal or 

discharge is on technical  grounds  or  not  honourable. 

The Screening Committee will  be within its  rights  to 

cancel the candidature of a candidate if it finds that the 

acquittal is based on some serious flaw in the conduct 

of  the  prosecution  case  or  is  the  result  of  material 

witnesses turning hostile. It is only experienced officers 

of the Screening Committee who will  be able to judge

whether the acquitted or discharged candidate is likely

to  revert  to  similar  activities  in  future  with  more

strength and vigour, if appointed, to the post in a police 

force.  The Screening Committee will  have to consider 

the nature and extent of such person’s involvement in

the crime and his propensity of becoming a cause for 

worsening  the  law  and  order  situation  rather  than

maintaining it. In our opinion, this policy framed by the

Delhi Police does not merit any interference from this 

Court  as its object appears to be to ensure that  only 

persons  with  impeccable  character  enter  the  police

force.

24. We find no substance in the  contention that  by

cancelling the respondents’ candidature, the Screening

Committee  has  overreached  the  judgments  of  the

criminal  court.  We are aware that the question of corelation

 

between a criminal  case and a departmental 

enquiry does not directly arise here,  but, support can

be drawn from the principles laid down by this Court in

connection  with  it  because  the  issue  involved  is 

somewhat identical, namely, whether to allow a person

with doubtful integrity to work in the department. While 

Page 7

7

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

the standard of  proof  in a criminal  case is the proof 

beyond  all  reasonable  doubt,  the  proof  in  a

departmental  proceeding  is  preponderance  of 

probabilities. Quite often criminal cases end in acquittal 

because witnesses turn hostile. Such acquittals are not 

acquittals on merit.  An acquittal  based on benefit  of 

doubt would not stand on a par with a clean acquittal 

on merit  after  a full-fledged trial,  where there is  no

indication  of  the  witnesses  being  won  over.  In  R.P.  

Kapur v.  Union of  India

 [

AIR 1964 SC 787]  this Court 

has taken a view that  departmental  proceedings can

proceed even though a person is acquitted when the

acquittal is other than honourable.

25. The  expression  “honourable  acquittal”  was

considered by this Court  in  S.  Samuthiram [2013 (1) 

SCC 598].  In that case this Court was concerned with a

situation where disciplinary proceedings were initiated

against  a  police  officer.  Criminal  case  was  pending

against him under Section 509 IPC and under Section 4

of the Eve-Teasing Act. He was acquitted in that case

because  of  the  non-examination  of  key  witnesses. 

There was a serious flaw in the conduct of the criminal 

case. Two material  witnesses turned hostile.  Referring

to the judgment of  this Court  in  RBI v.  Bhopal  Singh

Panchal  [1994 (1) SCC 541] where in somewhat similar 

fact  situation,  this  Court  upheld  a  bank’s  action  of 

refusing to  reinstate  an employee  in service  on the 

ground that in the criminal  case he was acquitted by

giving him benefit of  doubt and,  therefore,  it was not 

an honourable acquittal,  this Court held that the High

Court was not justified in setting aside the punishment 

imposed in the departmental  proceedings.  This Court 

observed that the expressions “honourable acquittal”, 

“acquitted  of  blame”  and  “fully  exonerated”  are

unknown to the Criminal  Procedure Code or the Penal 

Code. They are coined by judicial pronouncements. It is 

difficult  to  define  what  is  meant  by  the  expression

“honourably  acquitted”.  This  Court  expressed  that 

when the accused is acquitted after full  consideration

of the prosecution case and the prosecution miserably

fails to prove the charges levelled against the accused, 

it can possibly be said that the accused was honourably

acquitted.

Page 8

8

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

26. In light of  the above,  we are of  the opinion that 

since the purpose of the departmental proceedings is to

keep persons, who are guilty of serious misconduct or 

dereliction of duty or who are guilty of grave cases of 

moral  turpitude,  out  of  the  department,  if  found

necessary, because they pollute the department, surely

the above principles will apply with more vigour at the 

point of entry of a person in the police department i.e. 

at  the  time  of  recruitment.  If  it  is  found  by  the 

Screening Committee that the person against whom a

serious case involving moral  turpitude is registered is 

discharged on technical grounds or is acquitted of the 

same charge but the acquittal  is not  honourable,  the 

Screening Committee would be entitled to cancel  his 

candidature.  Stricter  norms need to be applied while

appointing  persons  in  a  disciplinary  force  because

public interest is involved in it.

27. Against  the  above  background,  we  shall  now

examine  what  is  the  nature  of  acquittal  of  the

respondents. As per the complaint lodged by Ramji Lal, 

respondent  Mehar  Singh and others  armed with  iron

chains,  lathis,  danda,  stones,  etc.  stopped  a  bus, 

rebuked the conductor of the bus as to how he dared to 

take the fare from one of their associates. Those who

intervened were beaten up. They received injuries. The

miscreants broke the side windowpanes of the bus by

throwing  stones.  The  complainant  was  also  injured. 

This incident is undoubtedly an incident affecting public 

order.  The assault  on the conductor  was  preplanned

and  premeditated.  The  FIR  was  registered  under 

Sections 143,  341,  323 and 427 IPC.  The order dated

30-1-2009  passed  by  the  Additional  Chief  Judicial 

Magistrate, Khetri shows that so far as offences under 

Sections  323,  341  and  427  IPC  are  concerned,  the

accused  entered  into  a  compromise  with  the

complainant. Hence,  the learned Magistrate acquitted

respondent  Mehar  Singh  and  others  of  the  said

offences.  The  order  further  indicates  that  so  far  as

offence of rioting i.e. offence under Section 147 IPC is

concerned,  three main witnesses  turned hostile.  The

learned Magistrate, therefore, acquitted all the accused

of  the  said  offence.  This  acquittal  can  never  be

described as an acquittal on merits after a full-fledged 

trial.  Respondent Mehar Singh cannot  secure entry in 

Page 9

9

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

the  police  force  by  portraying  this  acquittal  as  an

honourable acquittal. Pertinently, there is no discussion

on merits of the case in this order. Respondent Mehar 

Singh has not been exonerated after evaluation of the 

evidence.

28. So far  as respondent Shani  Kumar  is concerned, 

the FIR lodged against him stated that he along with 

other  accused  abused  and  threatened  the

complainant’s brother. They opened fire at him due to 

which he sustained bullet injuries. The offences under 

Sections 307, 504 and 506 IPC were registered against 

respondent Shani Kumar and others.  The order dated

14-5-2010  passed  by  the  Sessions  Judge, 

Muzaffarnagar  shows  that  the  complainant  and  the

injured person did not  support  the prosecution case. 

They  were  declared  hostile.  Hence,  the  learned

Sessions Judge gave the accused the benefit of doubt 

and acquitted them. This again is not a clean acquittal. 

The use of firearms in this manner is a serious matter. 

For entry in the police force, acquittal order based on 

benefit  of  doubt  in  a  serious  case  of  this  nature  is 

bound to act as an impediment.

29. In this connection, we may usefully refer to Sushil 

Kumar  [1996(11)  CC  605].   In  that  case,  the

respondent therein had appeared for recruitment as a

Constable in Delhi  Police  Services.  He was  selected

provisionally,  but,  his  selection  was  subject  to 

verification of character and antecedents by the local 

police.  On  verification,  it  was  found  that  his

antecedents  were such that  his  appointment  to  the

post  of  Constable  was  not  found  desirable. 

Accordingly,  his  name was  rejected.  He approached

the Tribunal.  The Tribunal  allowed the application on

the  ground  that  since  the  respondent  had  been

discharged and/or acquitted of the offence punishable

under Section 304,  Section 324 read with Section 34

and Section 324 IPC, he cannot be denied the right of 

appointment to the post  under  the State.  This Court 

disapproved of  the Tribunal’s  view. It  was  observed

that  verification of  the character  and antecedents is 

one  of  the  important  criteria  to  test  whether  the

selected candidate is suitable for the post under the

State. This Court observed that though the candidate  

Page 10

10

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

was  provisionally  selected,  the  appointing  authority 

found it not desirable to appoint him on account of his 

antecedent  record  and  this  view  taken  by  the

appointing  authority  in the  background  of  the  case

cannot  be  said  to  be  unwarranted.  Whether  the

respondent  was  discharged  or  acquitted  of  the

criminal offences, the same has nothing to do with the 

question as to whether he should be appointed to the

post.  What  would  be  relevant  is  the  conduct  or 

character  of  the  candidate  to  be  appointed  to  a

service and not the actual result thereof.

30. It  was  argued  that  Sushil  Kumar must  be

distinguished  from  the  facts  of  the  instant  case

because  the  respondent  therein  had  concealed  the 

fact that a criminal  case was registered against him,

whereas, in the instant case there is no concealment. 

It is not possible for us to accept this submission. The

aspect of  concealment was not  considered in  Sushil 

Kumar   at  all.  This  Court  only  concentrated on the 

desirability  to  appoint  a  person,  against  whom  a

criminal case is pending, to a disciplined force.  Sushil 

Kumar cannot  be restricted to cases where there is 

concealment of the fact by a candidate that a criminal 

case was registered against  him. When the point of 

concealment  or  otherwise  and  its  effect  was  not 

argued before  this  Court,  it  cannot  be  said that  in

Sushil  Kumar this  Court  wanted  to  restrict  its 

observations to the cases where there is concealment 

of facts.

xxxxxxxxx

33. So far as respondent Mehar Singh is concerned, 

his case appears to have been compromised.  It was

urged  that  acquittal  recorded  pursuant  to  a

compromise  should  not  be  treated  as  a

disqualification because that will frustrate the purpose

of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. We see no

merit in this submission. Compromises or settlements

have to be encouraged to bring about peaceful and

amiable atmosphere in the society  by according a 

quietus to disputes. They have to be encouraged also

to reduce arrears of cases and save the litigants from

the  agony  of  pending  litigation.  But  these 

Page 11

11

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

considerations cannot be brought in here. In order to 

maintain integrity and high standard of  police force, 

the  Screening  Committee  may  decline  to  take

cognizance of a compromise, if it appears to it to be

dubious. The Screening Committee cannot be faulted

for that.

xxxxxxxxxx

35. The police force is a disciplined force. It shoulders 

the great responsibility of maintaining law and order 

and public order in the society. People repose great 

faith and confidence in it.  It must be worthy of  that 

confidence.  A  candidate  wishing  to  join  the  police

force must be a person of utmost rectitude. He must 

have  impeccable  character  and integrity.  A person

having  criminal  antecedents  will  not  fit  in  this 

category. Even if he is acquitted or discharged in the 

criminal  case,  that  acquittal  or  discharge order  will 

have to  be examined to  see whether  he has  been

completely exonerated in the case because even a

possibility of his taking to the life of crimes poses a

threat  to  the  discipline  of  the  police  force.  The

Standing Order,  therefore,  has entrusted the task of 

taking decisions  in these matters  to  the  Screening

Committee. The decision of the Screening Committee

must be taken as final unless it is mala fide. In recent 

times,  the  image  of  the  police  force  is  tarnished. 

Instances of police personnel behaving in a wayward

manner by misusing power are in public domain and

are a matter of concern. The reputation of the police 

force  has  taken a beating.  In such a situation,  we

would not like to dilute the importance and efficacy of 

a mechanism like the Screening Committee created

by the Delhi  Police to ensure that  persons who are

likely to erode its credibility do not enter the police

force.  At  the  same time,  the  Screening Committee

must be alive to the importance of the trust reposed

in  it  and  must  treat  all  candidates  with  an  even

hand.”

13. From the above observations of this Court, it is clear that a 

candidate to be recruited to the police service must be worthy of 

Page 12

12

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

confidence and must be a person of utmost rectitude and must 

have  impeccable  character  and  integrity.  A  person  having 

criminal  antecedents will  not fit  in this category.  Even if  he is 

acquitted  or  discharged,  it  cannot  be  presumed  that  he  was 

completely  exonerated.   Persons  who  are  likely  to  erode  the 

credibility of the police ought not to enter the police force.  No 

doubt the Screening Committee has not been constituted in the 

case considered by this Court, as rightly pointed out by learned 

counsel  for  the  Respondent,  in  the  present  case,  the 

Superintendent  of  Police  has  gone  into  the  matter.   The 

Superintendent of Police is the appointing authority.  There is no 

allegation  of  mala  fides against  the  person  taking  the  said 

decision nor the decision is shown to be perverse or irrational. 

There  is  no  material  to  show that  the  appellant  was  falsely 

implicated.    Basis of impugned judgment is acquittal for want of 

evidence or discharge based on compounding.

14. The plea of parity with two other persons who were recruited 

can also not help the respondent.  This aspect of the matter was 

also gone into by this Court in Mehar Singh (supra) and it was 

held :

Page 13

13

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

“36. The  Screening  Committee’s  proceedings  have

been  assailed  as  being  arbitrary,  unguided  and

unfettered.  But,  in  the  present  cases,  we  see  no

evidence of this. However, certain instances have been

pointed out where allegedly persons involved in serious

offences have been recommended for appointment by

the Screening Committee. It is well settled that to such

cases the doctrine of equality enshrined in Article 14 of 

the Constitution of India is not attracted. This doctrine

does not envisage negative equality (Fuljit Kaur (2010

(11) SCC 455). It is not meant to perpetuate illegality or 

fraud because it  embodies  a positive concept.  If  the

Screening Committee which is constituted to carry out

the object of the comprehensive policy to ensure that 

people  with  doubtful  background  do  not  enter  the

police force, deviates from the policy, makes exception

and  allows  entry  of  undesirable  persons,  it  is 

undoubtedly  guilty  of  committing  an  act  of  grave

disservice to the police force but we cannot allow that 

illegality to be perpetuated by allowing the respondents 

to  rely on such cases.  It  is  for  the Commissioner  of 

Police,  Delhi  to  examine  whether  the  Screening

Committee has compromised the interest of the police 

force in any case and to take remedial action if he finds 

that it has done so. Public interest demands an in-depth 

examination  of  this  allegation  at  the  highest  level. 

Perhaps,  such  deviations  from  the  policy  are

responsible for the spurt in police excesses. We expect 

the  Commissioner  of  Police,  Delhi  to  look  into  the

matter and if  there is substance in the allegations to 

take  necessary  steps  forthwith  so  that  policy 

incorporated  in  the  Standing  Order  is  strictly

implemented.”

15. Having given our  thoughtful  consideration,  we are of  the 

view that the Division Bench of the High Court was not justified 

in interfering with the order rejecting the claim of the respondent 

Page 14

14

Civil Appeal No.       of 2014 @ SLP (C) No.36237 of 2012

for  recruitment  to  the  police  service  by  way  of  giving  him 

compassionate appointment.

16. Accordingly,  we  allow  this  appeal  and  set  aside  the 

impugned order.  There will be no order as to costs.

NEW DELHI

DECEMBER 1, 2014.

…………………………………………J.

(T.S. THAKUR)

.…………………………………………J.

(ADARSH KUMAR GOEL)

Page 15

15

 

Guest
on 08 December 2014
Published in Labour & Service Law
Views : 4074


 Recent Comments

Total: 3







×

  LAWyersclubindia Menu

web analytics