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Non-disclosure Of Acqutted Criminal Case Not A Ground For Dismissal

Sanskriti Tiwari ,
  29 February 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
2024 INSC 131

CASE DATE:

22nd February, 2024

PARTIES:-

Appellant: Ravindra Kumar

Respondent: State of UP 

BENCH/JUDGE:

Justice KV Vishwanathan 

SUBJECT:-

The contentious issue resurfaces: is non-disclosure of an acquitted criminal case in the verification form an absolute and decisive rule leading to the candidate's employment termination? The court believes it shouldn't be. Judicial consensus aligns with this perspective. The court emphasizes that each case must be considered based on its unique facts and circumstances. Examining relevant precedents, the court has aligned with cases sharing striking similarities to the current situation.

OVERVIEW:-

Ravindra Kumar, the appellant, applied for the post of Constable in 2004, facing a criminal case soon after. He was acquitted, but the Department cancelled his selection, citing alleged suppression of information in the affidavit. Despite positive police and character verifications, the State upheld the cancellation, emphasizing the importance of truthfulness in affidavits. The appellant challenged this through a series of legal proceedings, arguing that his acquittal absolved any alleged concealment. However, both the Single Judge and Division Bench dismissed his appeals, emphasizing the significance of truthful affidavits in disciplined service, leading to the current appeal.

ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT:-

  1. Whether the State was justified in cancelling the selection of the appellant, vide its order of 12.04.2005?
  2. Whether the appellant is entitled to any relief?

CONTENTIONS RAISED BY THE APPELLANT:-

  • The learned counsel for the appellant, Mr. Premashis Choudhary argues that there was no intentional concealment on the part of the appellant.
  • The counsel contented that there was no pending criminal case during the initial application on 12.02.2004.
  •  The appellant asserted that there was no requirement for submitting an affidavit at the early stage of application.
  • He further argued that the appellant was acquitted on 13.09.2004, predating the submission of the affidavit on 30.10.2004.
  • The counsel highlighted the appellant's bona fide belief stating that no disclosure was necessary due to the absence of a pending criminal case during affidavit submission.
  • The appellants contended that there was no deliberate intent to deceive on the part of the appellant.

CONTENTIONS RAISED BY THE RESPONDENT:-

  • Ms. Garima Prashad, learned Additional Advocate General and Ms. Ruchira Goel, learned Standing Counsel for the State contented that the appellant allegedly made false representations in Clauses 4, 5, 6, and 7 of his Affidavit.
  • They further argued that two other individuals, found to have provided false statements, faced similar cancellation of selection.
  • The State relies on the precedent set by the judgment of this Court in the case of Avtar Singh Vs. Union of India and Others [(2016) 8 SCC 471], particularly referring to para 38.1, 38.2, 38.3, and 38.11 of the judgment.

ANALYSIS MADE BY THE COURT:-

The Court made the following observations while analysing the case:- 

  • On the date of the application, there was no criminal case pending against the appellant and there was no suppression in the application form.
  • The criminal case was registered when he was 21 years of age for the offences very similar to the one referred to in Sandeep Kumar case and even in the criminal case he was acquitted.
  • The multiple columns in the verification affidavit stated that questions were asked from him in different permutations and combinations. Thus, he must have been in a deep dilemma as there was an imminent prospect of losing his employment.
  • The verification report after noticing the criminal case and the subsequent acquittal stated that his character was good. Moreover, no complaints were found against him and his general reputation was also very good. 
  • The SHO, Gauri Bazar Police Station, who forwarded the report to the Superintendent of Police after reiterating the contents of the report observed that he was acquitted and no appeal was filed. Further, there was no other case pending and nor was any case registered against the candidate. 
  •  The SHO certified the character of the candidate as excellent and that he was eligible to do Government Service under the State Government. He annexed the report of the Police Station as well as the report of the Gram Pradhan and the Court documents. 
  • The Superintendent of Police, in his letter to the Commandant, endorsed the report and reiterated that the character of the candidate was excellent.
  • While examining whether the procedure adopted or enquiry by the authority was fair and reasonable, the court found that the order of cancellation of 12.04.2005 does not even follow the mandate prescribed in Clause 4 of the Form of verification of character set out in the earlier part of this judgment.

JUDGMENT:-

The court allowed the appeal, setting aside the orders of the Single Judge and the Division Bench. The cancellation order of 12.04.2005 by the third respondent was quashed, directing the respondents to appoint the appellant to the Constable position based on his selection following the Recruitment Notification dated 20.01.2004.

CONCLUSION:-

While the appellant is not entitled to arrears of salary for the period not served in the force, he is granted all notional benefits, including pay, seniority, and other consequential benefits. The court instructed the issuance of necessary orders within four weeks from the date of the judgment. No costs were imposed in this matter.

 
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