State Of Rajasthan v. Love Kush Meena - Eligibility In Public Employment For Those Persons Who Have Been Acquitted From The Charges Of Heinous Crimes On The Basis Of Benefit Of Doubt


Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
Acquittal Based On Benefit Of Doubt In Serious Crime Cannot Make Candidate Eligible For Public Employment

Citation :
LL 2021 SC 193


DATE: 24th March, 2021

JUDGES

  • Sanjay Kishan Kaul
  • R. Subhash Reddy

PARTIES

  • The State of Rajasthan & ors. (APPELLANT)
  • Love Kush Meena (RESPONDENT)

SUBJECT: In the following judgment, the Supreme Court of India is dealing with the issue of eligibility in public employment for those persons who have been acquitted from the charges of heinous crimes on the basis of benefit of doubt.

AN OVERVIEW

1. In the present case, the state of Rajasthan has filed an appeal before the Supreme Court of India against the order passed by the division bench which held that the respondent in the present is not disentitled for the appointment of post of constable as no cogent evidence was produced which connected him to the crime.

2. The respondent was charged with the commission of offence u/s 302, 323, 341 and 34. The matter has its genesis back in 2008 when the respondent along with three other people went for tilling a disputed field in a tractor and were stopped by Tofli who was the mausi of the complainant. The tractor was run over Tofli by the driver resulting in her death.

3. The complainant and three other people were beaten and stabbed with knife by the respondent and other three accused. A charge sheet was then filed before the court.

4. During the trial the respondents obtained permission for compromise for offence under section 323 and 341IPC. Compromise for offence u/section 302 and 34 could not be made. Due to the compromise the witnesses from the complainant side turned hostile and the court stating that the prosecution failed to prove the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt acquitted the respondents.

5. In the meanwhile, Love Kush cleared the recruitment exam for the post of constable. However he was found ineligible for the position on account of him being involved in violent activities and not being honourably acquitted by the court. The provision for eligibility was written in para (ix) of the notification for recruitment.

6. A petition against the order was filed before the high court through which the court asked the Superintendent of police to pass fresh order regarding the candidature of the respondent.

7. A fresh order was passed in accordance with the orders of the court which stated that the charges against the respondent were not trivial in nature but were serious offences. The candidate was not honourably acquitted by the court. Thus, he was not eligible.

8. In the second round of proceedings it was observed that the authorities did not apply its mind in accordance with orders of the court and held that benefit of doubt would not disqualify a candidate.

9. The state then filed an appeal before the division bench which also held that since no cogent evidence connecting the accused person to commission of offence was found, the respondent was not disentitled for appointment to the post of a constable.

Contentions:

10. The appellant in the present appeal has placed reliance on Avtar Singh v. Union of India & Ors and contended that acquittal in a criminal case was not conclusive for suitability of the candidate concerned and it could not always be inferred from an acquittal or discharge that the person was falsely involved or has no criminal antecedents. Thus, unless it is an honourable acquittal, the candidate cannot claim the benefit of the case.

11. On the other hand, the respondent contended that the meaning of the term “honourable acquittal” is difficult to define. The respondent placed reliance on Mohammed Imran v. State of Maharashtra & Ors in which it was held that since employment opportunity were a scarce commodity in our country, with large numbers of aspirants applying, there could not be any mechanical or rhetorical incantation of moral turpitude to deny appointment in judicial service simplicitor but much would depend on the facts of a case.

12. It was also contended by the respondent that during the time of the incident the respondent was only 19 years old and has now carried on with his life and has cleared a competitive exam.

ISSUES: The key issue before the court was whether a benefit of doubt resulting in acquittal of the respondent in a case charged under Sections 302,323,341/34 of the Indian Penal Code can create an opportunity for the respondent to join as a constable in the Rajasthan Police service?

ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGMENT

  • The court while hearing the matter observed that the case was dependent upon the nature of offence and what has to e taken into account is whether the acquittal was clean or just total absence of evidences.
  • The court noted that the trial court in its judgement has mentioned thatthe compoundable offences were first compounded during trial but due to the fact that the offence under Section 302/34 IPC could not be compounded, the Trial Court continued and qua those offences the witnesses turned hostile. Keeping this is mind, the Supreme Court stated that “this can hardly fall under the category of a clean acquittal and the Judge was thus right in using the terminology of benefit of doubt in respect of such acquittal”.
  • The court further mentioned that the case of Avtar Singh clearly lays down that where the acquittal is base on benefit of doubt when nature of the crime is heinous and serious, the candidate is not eligible.
  • On the contention of the respondent that the employer has to take into consideration the Government orders/instructions/rules applicable to the employee at the time of taking a decision, the court stated that “Court has repeatedly opined that giving benefit of doubt would not entitle candidate for appointment, despite the circular, the impugned decision of the competent authority dated 23.05.2017 cannot be said to suffer from infirmity as being in violation of the circular when it is in conformity with the law laid down by this Court”.
  • Therefore, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and set aside the judgement passed by the division bench.

CONCLUSION

  • During the criminal trial in the case of Suresh Pathrella v. Oriental Bank of Commerce (2006), the court in its decision stated that “the yardstick and standard of proof in a criminal case is different from the disciplinary proceeding. While the standard of proof in a criminal case is a proof beyond all reasonable doubt, the proof in a departmental proceeding is preponderance of probabilities.” This implies that the disciplinary proceedings are not same as criminal trial. A person cannot be convicted for a crime if could not be reasonably proved. However, the appointment of public servant by the state is entirely different.
  • Services like that of police services require the confidence of the state in the persons being appointed. it cannot be said in the case acquittal on the ground of benefit of the doubt that the person indeed is innocent giving ground to unfavourable probabilities. Therefore, when the acquittal is not honourable regarding heinous crimes, the candidate cannot be made eligible for public services, that too when it is police services which require faith of people and state in the persons being appointed.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 

"Loved reading this piece by Pallavi Singh?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"

Click here to join our Telegram group.

Pallavi Singh
on 08 April 2021
Published in Others
Views : 334


 Recent Comments

Total: 0







×

Menu

Post a Suggestion for LCI Team
Post a Legal Query
Forensics & Evidence     |    x