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Key Takeaways

  • The Supreme Court while deciding the case of Union of India & Others V. Methu Meda
  • said that an employer cannot be compelled to assign a candidate just because he spoke the truth regarding a criminal case.
  • The Judgement was passed by a Bench of Judges comprising of Justice JK Maheshwari and Justice Indra Banerjee who set aside the judgement of the High Court which ordered that the applicant should be appointed in the post of a constable in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
  • The Court further held that if a person is speaking the truth regarding an offence that involves moral turpitude or because the witness was hostile, it does not mean that he can be automatically be employed in the disciplined forces.

Background

  • In this case, the respondent was found to be involved in kidnapping for ransom. An FIR was lodged against him under Section 347/ 327/ 323/ 506 and 364A of IPC. The Sessions Court acquitted him for the above charges as the prosecution witness had turned hostile on him.
  • Then, the respondent has applied for the post of a constable in the CISF and got selected through the Staff Selection Committee. However, while submitting the attestation form, the criminal case and the acquittal from the charges were specified.
  • The appointment was conditional and certain rules and terms had to be followed by the committee while the appointment, the respondent got rejected and was not allowed to join the training.
  • The Standing Screen Committee passed an order that he is not eligible for the appointment under the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for consideration of candidates who had committed criminal offences.
  • The respondent approached the High Court and an order was passed by the Court allowing him to attend the training and at the same time was also entitled to all the consequential benefits except back wages was denied.
  • The appellant challenged this order on grounds that merely on disclosure of criminal offence committed by the respondent, he would not be entitled toan appointment until honourably acquitted.

Courts Observation

  • The Apex Court observed that the pronouncements ‘honourable acquitted’ ‘acquitted of blame’ “fully acquitted’ was not known to the Code of Criminal Procedure or the Indian Penal Code. They were developed by judicial pronouncements.
  • The Court added that if the acquittal is directed by the court as the guilt had not been proved by taking into account the facts and the material evidence of the court it can be considered as an honourable acquittal.
  • The Court also quoted the judgement given in the case of Avtar Singh V. Union of India & Others, stating that the employer has the right to consider the sustainability of a candidate as per the rules of the Government. If the acquittal is not clean then the candidate can be rejected.
  • The Court also stated that a person joining the police force should be someone having utmost virtue and a distinguished character.
  • The court also made it clear that just because the respondent disclosed his involvement in a criminal offence does not mean he has earned or scored credibility because of such discloser.

Courts Order

  • The Supreme Court set aside the orders passed by the High Court and the appeal was taken in the favour of the Standing Committee.
  • The Court ordered that the Standing Committee shall give its decision only after receiving instructions from the headquarters as they had rejected the candidate and considered ineligible for the appointment of CISF as the acquittal had given a benefit of doubt.

Questions

Does the Screening Committee have the jurisdiction to decide the eligibility of a candidate applying for CISF?
Do you think it was fair for the candidate to be rejected because he disclosed his involvement in a criminal offence?
Let us know your views on the issue in the comment section below!

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