Acquittal not enough,consider background of criminal case when recruiting for govt services: HC

The Delhi High Court on Monday pulled up the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and set guidelines to be considered while inducting persons,who have faced criminal trials,into government services.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Published: April 30, 2013 2:33:23 am

The Delhi High Court on Monday pulled up the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and set guidelines to be considered while inducting persons,who have faced criminal trials,into government services.

Noting that the question of whether the pendency of a criminal proceeding,a conviction or a criminal proceeding,which has already been terminated either in conviction or an acquittal be a justified ground to deny entry into government service had been tried by the CAT and the courts numerous times,the High Court bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and V Kameswar Rao pulled up the CAT for its decision in a case,where four persons appointed as probationary constables of the Delhi Police were issued showcause notices and fired for failing to disclose involvement in criminal cases in their application forms. The CAT had,however,directed Delhi Police to reinstate the four men,all of whom had been acquitted of criminal charges by courts.

“We find that various benches of the CAT have not understood the correct position in law,nor have they understood how law has to be applied to the facts of each case,” the High Court observed.

Police had approached High Court regarding the applications filed by Hari Pal Arya,Bhawani Singh,Mukesh Kumar and Mandeep,who had been chargesheeted before their recruitment.

“To not induct persons with a criminal background into public service is based on the premise that considerations of public policy,concern for public interest,regard for public good would justify a prohibition,” the High Court said.

Noting that acquittals by trial courts were not always due to innocence but the fact that the prosecution was unable to prove guilt,the High Court cautioned that “the fact of mere acquittal by itself may not be relevant and the background under which an acquittal took place may also become relevant”.

Setting down guidelines to consider while employing for government services,the court held that “where an acquittal is on the finding that a false complaint was lodged ….. whatsoever may be the offence alleged,it has to be held that the innocent accused cannot be made to suffer for the second time by denying him public employment merely because in the past a false complaint,proved to be false,was registered against him. But where the acquittal is on account of the high standard of proof required at a criminal trial or is based upon some critical facts not being proved or is the result of witnesses turning hostile,one has to be careful. Further facts have to be considered”.

The court also said the judgement of the criminal court must be taken into account with all the facts and reasons for the acquittal.

The High Court set aside the CAT’s order on the constables’ case and upheld the Police Commissioner’s order. The court also directed the CAT to hear the plea of the other appointees again as it had failed to take the details of the FIR and statements of the injured witness into account while deciding the petition.

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