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Chiranjivi Pradhan vs Union Of India And Ors on 23 February, 2024

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Delhi High Court

Chiranjivi Pradhan vs Union Of India And Ors on 23 February, 2024

Author: Sanjeev Sachdeva

Bench: Sanjeev Sachdeva

* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
% Judgment reserved on: 19.12.2023
Judgment delivered on: 23.02.2024
+ W.P.(C) 9733/2023

CHIRANJIVI PRADHAN ….. Petitioner

versus

UNION OF INDIA AND ORS. ….. Respondents

Advocates who appeared in this case:
For the petitioner: Mr. K.K. Sharma, Mr. Harshit Aggarwal,
Mr. Mohit Sharma, Mr. M. Sudir and Ms.
Sanya, Advocates

For the Respondent: Mr. Tanveer Ahmed Ansari, SPC with Mr.
Hilal Haider, GP
CORAM:-

HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SANJEEV SACHDEVA
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE MANOJ JAIN
JUDGMENT

MANOJ JAIN, J

1. Petitioner, who has been dismissed from his service, seeks his
reinstatement with all consequential benefits.

2. Petitioner joined Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on
07.11.2014. After his enlistment in CRPF, he was required to fill up
Verification Form revealing about his criminal antecedents, if any.

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 1 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26

3. Petitioner was, admittedly, involved in one criminal case i.e.
FIR No.99/2007 registered at P.S. Jashpur, Chhattisgarh for
commission of offence under
Section 376 IPC.

4. One of the columns in Verification Roll Form required any such
person to give information about his involvement in any criminal case.
While responding to such question, petitioner held back information
about his aforesaid involvement and left the relevant column blank
and unfilled. Eventually when the verification was received from the
concerned Police Station, the factum about his aforesaid involvement
stood revealed.

5. Based on the aforesaid revelation, inquiry was initiated against
him. The charge regarding suppression of the aforesaid material fact
was held proved, which eventually resulted in his dismissal from
service on 20.10.2022. He filed an appeal before the competent
authority but the order of dismissal was upheld.

6. This is how the petitioner is before us.

7. Petitioner has challenged the aforesaid dismissal, inter alia, on
following grounds:-

(i) When the form was filled up by him in the year 2014, the relevant
column was left blank as he was not aware about any action taken by
the police after the registration of the aforesaid FIR;

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 2 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26

(ii) He was juvenile at the relevant point of time and, therefore, it was
not obligatory for him to have revealed the aforesaid information in
light of the objective and scheme of
Juvenile Justice (Care And
Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the
JJ
Act 2000′) and various judicial pronouncements;

(iii) Such criminal case was a false case in which he was ultimately
acquitted;

(iv) He had no knowledge about the filing of any chargesheet as,
admittedly, though the FIR was registered in the year 2007, the
chargesheet was filed before the concerned Juvenile Justice Board
after a gap of 15 years.

8. Petitioner has, in particular, relied upon Union of India Ors.
vs. Ramesh Bishnoi: (2019) 19 SCC 710.

9. Respondents have claimed that utmost truthfulness was required
from any person joining a disciplined Force and suppression of
aforesaid material fact was not only deliberate but also actuated with
apparent malafide intention and, therefore, the petitioner was
rightfully dismissed from service.

10. There is no dispute about the fact that the petitioner was named
as an accused in the aforesaid FIR which was registered in the year
2007. There is also no dispute that the petitioner was juvenile at the
time of the commission of alleged offence. The incident of the alleged
rape took place on 15.05.2007 and admittedly, the date of birth of the

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 3 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26
petitioner is 14.02.1992, which means that at the time of commission
of offence his age was 15 years 3 months 1 day.

11. Undoubtedly, the relevant form had been filled up by the
petitioner. It is also admitted position that the form contained warning
that if any false answer was given to said question then any such
person would be liable to be punished as per
CRPF Act, 1949. It was
also mentioned that any suppression of factual information, which
may come to the notice at any time during the service of the person,
his services would be liable to be terminated.

12. There is no denying the fact that the petitioner did not answer
the relevant question asking about his criminal antecedents.

13. However, if we see the scheme and objective of JJ Act 2000,
then it becomes abundantly clear that such act of suppression cannot
be held against him. We may emphasize here that at the relevant time
i.e. at the time of commission of alleged offence, it was Act of 2000
which was in vogue which defined “juvenile in conflict with law” as
the one who was alleged to have committed an offence and had not
completed eighteenth year of age as on the date of commission of such
offence.
Section 19(1) JJ Act 2000 specifically stipulates that juvenile
shall not suffer any disqualification attached to the conviction of an
offence under such law. Further
Section 19(2) contemplates that the
Juvenile Justice Board must pass an order directing all the relevant
records of such conviction to be removed after expiry of the period of
appeal or a reasonable period as prescribed under the rules as the case

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 4 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26
may be.
Section 21 of JJ Act 2000 prohibits publication of the name of
the “juvenile in conflict with law” with the object to protect a juvenile
from adverse consequences on account of his conviction for an
offence committed as a juvenile.
JJ Act 2000, being a beneficial
legislation, its principles are to be applied only for the advancement of
its objective. As per the requirement of law, even a conviction in an
offence will not be treated as a disqualification for a juvenile. The
records of the case pertaining to his criminal involvement are to be
obliterated after the specified period. Thus, so far as juveniles are
concerned their criminal records cannot stand in their way as the
precise aim is to reintegrate such juvenile back in the society as a
normal person, without any stigma.

14. We may, in this regard, also refer to Union of India Ors. vs.
Ramesh (supra). In that case, the petitioner was appointed to the post
of sub-Inspector in Central Industrial Security Force and his
appointment was canceled on the ground that he was involved in a
criminal case. Undoubtedly, in the aforesaid case, the petitioner had
mentioned about the fact that an FIR has been registered against him
and he also mentioned that in such case, he had already been
acquitted. However, the respondents therein found him unsuitable for
the reason that a criminal case was alleged against him in the past and,
therefore, his appointment was cancelled. The Supreme Court noted
that at the time of the alleged commission of offence, the petitioner
therein was minor. It also noted that even if the allegations were
found to be true, the petitioner could not have been deprived of getting

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 5 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26
a job as the offence had been committed by him when he was juvenile.
It was observed that thrust of the legislation, i.e., the
J.J. Act was to
see that even if a juvenile is convicted, the same should be obliterated
so that there is no stigma with regard to any crime committed by any
such person as juvenile. The relevant para 8 and 9 of
Union of India
Ors. vs. Ramesh (supra) reads as under:-

“8. From the facts, it is clear that at the time when
the charges were framed the respondent, on 30-6-
2009, the respondent was well under the age of 18
years as his date of birth is 5-9-1991. Firstly, it was
not disputed that the charges were never proved
against the respondent as the girl and her parents did
not depose against the respondent, resulting in his
acquittal on 24-11-2011. Even if the allegations were
found to be true, then too, the respondent could not
have been deprived of getting a job on the basis of
such charges as the same had been committed while
the respondent was juvenile. The thrust of the
legislation i.e. the
Juvenile Justice (Care and
Protection of Children) Act, 2000 as well as the
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)
Act, 2015 is that even if a juvenile is convicted, the
same should be obliterated, so that there is no stigma
with regard to any crime committed by such person as
a juvenile. This is with the Clear object to reintegrate
such juvenile back in the society as a normal person,
without any stigma.
Section 3 of the Juvenile Justice
(Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 lays
down guidelines for the Central Government, State
Governments, the Board and other agencies while
implementing the provisions of the said Act. In clause

(xiv) of Section 3, it is clearly provided as follows:

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 6 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26

“3. (xiv) Principle of fresh start: All past
records of any child under the juvenile justice
system should be erased except in special
circumstances.” · .

9. In the present case, it is an admitted fact that the
respondent was a minor when the charges had been
framed against him of the offences under
Sections
354,
447 and 509 IPC. It is also not disputed that he
was acquitted of the charges. However, even if he had
been convicted, the same could not have been held
against him for getting a job, as admittedly, he was a
minor when the alleged offences were committed and
the charges had been framed against him.
Section
3(xiv) provides for the same and the exception of
special circumstances does not apply to the facts of
the present case.”

15. Undoubtedly, in the present case there is non-revealing of the
factum of a pending criminal case that but the legal position seems
quite clear and settled. A juvenile is not required to divulge about his
previous antecedents. We may also, right here, make reference to
Akhilesh Kumar vs. Union of India Ors.: 2018 SCC online Del
7341. In said case, petitioner had applied for the post of Constable in
the Railway Protection Force. As per the selection process, he filled
up the requisite form mentioning therein that no criminal case was
registered against him. However, when the above form was sent for
police verification, it was found that he was involved in a criminal
case. It was in the aforesaid background that his appointment was
cancelled and he was discharged. Such order was challenged by him
and a Coordinate Bench of this Court noted that the petitioner therein
was juvenile at the time of the commission of offence and, therefore,

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 7 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26
he could not be made to suffer any disqualification in view of the
provisions of the
J.J. Act. The relevant para of the judgment reads as
under:-

“14. The object of Section 19 of the J.J. Act is to give an
opportunity to the juvenile to lead a life with no stigma
and to wipe out the circumstances of his inglorious past. It
is for this reason that
Section 19 provides that a juvenile
shall not suffer any disqualification.

15. The issue involved in this petition is no longer res
integra in view of a recent decision of this Court in Writ
Petition (C) No.6062/2017 titled as
Mukesh Yadav vs.
Union of India dated 14.12.2017 (authored by one of us,
Hima Kohli, J.). In the said writ petition, a criminal case
No.65/2000 under
Sections
147/
148/149/323/324/504/307 IPC was registered in
District Gopal Ganj, Bihar against the petitioner and ten
other accused persons. He was also selected to the post of
a Constable in the RPSF. While submitting the attestation
form, the petitioner did not mention about the pendency of
the criminal case which came to the notice of the
respondent only when the attestation form was sent for
verification. The petitioner, who was undergoing training
by then, was issued a discharge order dated 29.07.2015
stating that since he had suppressed the fact of the
pendency of the criminal case against him while filling the
attestation form, he was being discharged as per the
conditions mentioned in para 3 of the attestation form.

16. In the above noted writ petition also, the contention
raised on behalf of the respondents was that it was the
duty of the petitioner to have furnished the relevant details
of the criminal case pending against him at the time of
filling up the verification form. But he failed to do so and
the pendency of the said case came to the notice of the
respondents only upon undertaking necessary police

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 8 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26
verification regarding his antecedents. The above writ
petition was allowed for the following reasons:-

“7. We have heard learned counsel for the parties
and examined the documents on the record. The
facts of the case are undisputed inasmuch as there
is no quarrel with regard to the plea of the learned
counsel for the petitioner that on the date of the
alleged offence i.e. on 9th October, 2000, the
petitioner was twelve years five months old. It is
also not disputed that on the date the petitioner had
applied for appointment to the post of a Constable
in the year 2011, a case was pending against him
before the Juvenile Justice Board and same was the
position on 25th May, 2014, when the petitioner
was called upon by the respondents to submit an
attestation form. The said criminal case attained
finality by virtue of the judgment dated 3rd August,
2015, passed by the Juvenile Justice Board, District
Gopalganj. However, less than a week prior
thereto, the respondents passed the order of
discharge against the petitioner, on the ground of
withholding material information.

8. Having regard to the legal position, which shows
that the petitioner was undoubtedly, a juvenile on
the date when the alleged offence had been
committed and, therefore, he was required to be
dealt with under the
Juvenile Justice (Care
Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (hereinafter
referred to as the “Act”) which declares that all
criminal charges against individuals, who are
described as “juvenile in conflict with law” must be
initiated and decided by the authorities constituted
under the Act by the Juvenile Justice Board. Even if
a conviction is recorded by the Juvenile Justice
Board,
Section 19(1) of the Act, stipulates that the
juvenile shall not suffer any disqualification
attached to the conviction of an offence under such

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 9 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26
law. Further, as noted hereinabove,
Section
19(2) of the Act contemplates that the Board must
pass an order directing that all the relevant records
relating to such a conviction, be removed after the
expiry of the period of appeal or within a
reasonable period as prescribed under the rules, as
the case may be.

9. In the present case, the record reveals that the
Juvenile Justice Board had acquitted the petitioner
for the offence in question and, therefore, this was
even otherwise, not a case of conviction for any
offence. It is also noteworthy that
Section 21 of the
Act prohibits publication of the name of the
“juvenile in conflict with law”, the underlying
object of the said provision being to protect a
juvenile from any adverse consequences on account
of the conviction for an offence, committed as a
juvenile.

10. Given the aforesaid position, the contention of
the respondents is that petitioner was under an
obligation to have disclosed the information
relating to the pendency of the criminal case
against him in respect of an incident that had taken
place when he was all of twelve years, would run
contrary to the very spirit of the Act. Keeping in
mind the fact that the object of the Act is to ensure
that no stigma is attached to a juvenile in conflict
with law, in our view, once the juvenile has been
extended a protective umbrella under the said
enactment, there was no good reason for the
respondents to have insisted that the petitioner
ought to have disclosed the information relating to
the allegations against him pertaining to an offence
that was committed during his childhood where he
was tried by the Juvenile Justice Board, and
subsequently acquitted. We may add here that even
when police verification in respect of the petitioner

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 10 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26
was being conducted on the directions of the
respondents, the concerned police officials ought to
have refrained from revealing the information
pertaining to the petitioner in the case in question,
since he was a juvenile at that point in time. This
was in fact a gross breach of confidentiality
contemplated under the Act.

11. For the aforesaid reasons, the impugned order
dated 11th May, 2017, is unsustainable and is
quashed and set aside. The respondents are
directed to reinstate the petitioner within a period
of twelve weeks from today along with all the
consequential benefits, excluding back wages.”

(Emphasis added)

17. Thus, in view of the above facts and the legal position,
the factum of prosecution of the petitioner in case FIR
No.752/2010 under
Sections 323/325/506/504 IPC could
not have been taken into consideration by
the respondent/RPSF on his omission to mention the same
in the attestation form on account of his status as a
juvenile in conflict with law on the date of commission of
the alleged offence. We cannot ignore or overlook the
beneficial provisions and the socially progressive statute
of the
Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.”

16. Thus, applying the aforesaid legal position and keeping in mind
the provisions of the
J.J. Act, it becomes quite obvious that the
petitioner was under no legal obligation to have revealed the fact
about his previous involvement in a criminal case, for an offence
which he allegedly committed when he was a minor.

17. There is also one surprising aspect. Petitioner joined CRPF in
the year 2014 and it is not elucidated by the respondent as to why the
verification was got done after a huge delay of around 8 years.

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 11 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26

Needless to say, in such cases, any employer should get the
verification about past antecedents, if any as expeditiously as possible.

18. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the petitioner has been
dismissed solely on the ground that he suppressed the material fact
about his involvement in a criminal case. However, since the
petitioner was under no obligation to reveal about his such previous
involvement, being minor at the relevant time, there was no reason or
occasion for the respondents to have dismissed him from service.

19. Thus, we have no hesitation in allowing the present writ
petition. Respondents are accordingly directed to forthwith reinstate
the petitioner with all consequential benefits.

20. Ordered accordingly.

MANOJ JAIN, J

SANJEEV SACHDEVA, J

FEBRUARY 23, 2024/st

WP (C) No. 9733/2023 Page 12 of 12

Signature Not Verified
Digitally Signed
By:SONIA THAPLIYAL
Signing Date:26.02.2024
11:32:26

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