The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that any person who has faced a criminal case cannot get a job in the police force, even if he or she is acquitted or reaches a settlement under the law.
“A candidate to be recruited to the police service must be worthy of 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,” said a bench of Justices T S Thakur and Adarsh Kumar Goel.
Hence, acquittal after a full-fledged trial or exoneration at the stage of framing of charges would not make any difference as far as suitability of a candidate is concerned, it said. “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,” the bench said.
An acquittal in a criminal case, the court said, was not conclusive evidence of innocence of an accused since it could be ordered on the basis of even a benefit of doubt or prosecution’s failure to establish someone’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. “Even after acquittal, basis of order of the court has to be gone into by the competent authority. Even an order based on compromise or lack of evidence may render a candidate ineligible,” noted the bench.
The screening committee or the competent authority in the police department is entitled to keep persons involved in grave cases of moral turpitude out of the police force if it feels that the acquittal or discharge is on technical grounds or not honourable, said the court.
The bench cited another judgement which clearly laid down that a candidate wishing to join the police force must be a person of “utmost rectitude” and must also have “impeccable character and integrity”.
The ruling came as the bench set aside an order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court to allow a man, who had faced two criminal cases, to be given compassionate appointment in the state police. Applicant Parvez Khan was acquitted in a case relating to assault and criminal intimidation while he was discharged in the second case related to robbery. The SC held that such a person was not fit for a job in the police.