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Neeraj Kumar vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh on 7 July, 2021

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1
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
W.P. No. 6734 of 2017
Neeraj Kumar Vs. State of M.P. Ors

Gwalior, dated 07-07-2021

Shri Vivek Jain, Counsel for the Petitioner

Shri Deepak Khot, Counsel for the State

Heard finally.

1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India has

been filed against the order dated 24-5-2017 passed by

Superintendent of Police, Morena by which the candidature of the

petitioner for the post of Constable has been rejected on the ground

that one criminal case was registered against him and the said fact has

been suppressed by the petitioner in his character verification form.

2. The necessary facts for disposal of present petition in short are

that an advertisement was issued in the year 2013 for recruitment to

the post of Constable (General Duty). The petitioner appeared in the

said recruitment process and was declare successful in the written

examination. The petitioner also cleared physical test and medical

examination. It is submitted that the petitioner was tried for an

offence under Section 323,325, 506 of I.P.C. in the year 2011 and

was acquitted by judgment dated 18-2-2013 passed in Criminal Case

No. 63/2012. The acquittal of the petitioner was prior to the

advertisement of posts. It is submitted that since, the petitioner was

under an impression that since, he has been acquitted therefore, it is

not necessary for him to disclose the said fact in his character

verification form and accordingly, did not disclose the fact of
2
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
W.P. No. 6734 of 2017
Neeraj Kumar Vs. State of M.P. Ors

registration and acquittal in a criminal case. Thereafter, the

information provided by the petitioner was sent to S.P., Agra, for

verification and it was found that one criminal case was registered

against him and he has been acquitted. Acting on the said

information, the appointment of the petitioner was kept on hold. The

petitioner made several representations and ultimately he filed W.P.

No. 656/2016 which was decided by this Court on 6-1-2017 and after

relying on the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the case of

Avtar Singh Vs. Union of India reported in (2016) 8 SCC 471,

directed the respondents to consider the case of the petitioner for his

appointment.

3. It is submitted that by the impugned order, the candidature of

the petitioner has been rejected.

4. The respondents have filed their return. It is submitted that the

Regulation 53 of M.P. Police Regulations mandates that the candidate

for appointment as Constable must be of good moral character. The

police regulations are mandatory and have force of law. The

petitioner had suppressed the fact that he was earlier tried for a

criminal offence and he was acquitted. It is submitted that

suppression of material information itself amounts to moral turpitude

and is separate and distinct from involvement in a criminal case.

5. The petitioner has filed his rejoinder and submitted that the

Police Department by circular dated 24-7-2018 has held that offence
3
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
W.P. No. 6734 of 2017
Neeraj Kumar Vs. State of M.P. Ors

under Section 325 of I.P.C. doesnot involve moral turpitude and non-

disclosure of such information would not come within the purview of

suppression.

6. Heard the learned Counsel for the parties.

7. So far as the circular dated 24-7-2018 is concerned, it has no

application to the facts of the present case. The recruitment process

in the present case had begun in the year 2013 and the candidature of

the petitioner was already rejected in the year 2017. The said circular

has no retrospective operation.

8. The Supreme Court in the case of State of Madhya Pradesh

and Others vs. Abhijit Singh Pawar, passed in Civil Appeal No.

11356 of 2018 (Arising out of SLP (c) No.17404 of 2016) by

judgment dtd. 26th November, 2018 has observed as under:-

”14. In Avtar Singh (supra), though this Court was
principally concerned with the question as to non-
disclosure or wrong disclosure of information, it was
observed in paragraph 38.5 that even in cases where a
truthful disclosure about a concluded case was made, the
employer would still have a right to consider antecedents of
the candidate and could not be compelled to appoint such
candidate.

15. In the present case, as on the date when the respondent
had applied, a criminal case was pending against him.
Compromise was entered into only after an affidavit
disclosing such pendency was filed. On the issue of
compounding of offences and the effect of acquittal under
Section 320(8) of Cr.P.C., the law declared by this Court in
Mehar Singh (supra), specially in paragraphs 34 and 35
completely concludes the issue. Even after the disclosure is
made by a candidate, the employer would be well within his
rights to consider the antecedents and the suitability of the
candidate. While so considering, the employer can certainly
4
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
W.P. No. 6734 of 2017
Neeraj Kumar Vs. State of M.P. Ors

take into account the job profile for which the selection is
undertaken, the severity of the charges levelled against the
candidate and whether the acquittal in question was an
honourable acquittal or was merely on the ground of benefit
of doubt or as a result of composition.

16. The reliance placed by Mr. Dave, learned Amicus
Curiae on the decision of this Court in Mohammed Imran
(supra) is not quite correct and said decision cannot be of
any assistance to the respondent. In para 5 of said decision,
this Court had found that the only allegation against the
appellant therein was that he was travelling in an auto-
rickshaw which was following the auto-rickshaw in which
the prime accused, who was charged under
Section 376
IPC, was travelling with the prosecutrix in question and that
all the accused were acquitted as the prosecutrix did not
support the allegation. The decision in Mohammed Imran
(supra) thus turned on individual facts and cannot in any
way be said to have departed from the line of decisions
rendered by this Court in Mehar Singh (supra), Parvez
Khan (supra) and Pradeep Kumar (supra).

17. We must observe at this stage that there is nothing on
record to suggest that the decision taken by the concerned
authorities in rejecting the candidature of the respondent
was in any way actuated by mala fides or suffered on any
other count. The decision on the question of suitability of
the respondent, in our considered view, was absolutely
correct and did not call for any interference. We, therefore,
allow this appeal, set aside the decisions rendered by the
Single Judge as well as by the Division Bench and dismiss
Writ Petition No.9412 of 2013 preferred by the respondent.

No costs.”

The Supreme Court in the case of Mohammed Imran Vs.

State of Maharashtra and others passed in C.A. No. 10571 of

2018, by order dated 12-10-2018 has held as under :-

”6.Employment opportunities is a scarce commodity in our
country. Every advertisement invites a large number of
aspirants for limited number of vacancies. But that may not
suffice to invoke sympathy for grant of relief where the
credentials of the candidate may raise serious questions
regarding suitability, irrespective of eligibility.

5

HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
W.P. No. 6734 of 2017
Neeraj Kumar Vs. State of M.P. Ors

Undoubtedly, judicial service is very different from other
services and the yardstick of suitability that my apply to
other services, may not be the same for a judicial service.
But there cannot be any mechanical or rhetorical
incantation of moral turpitude, to deny appointment in
judicial service simplicitor. Much will depend on the facts
of a case. Every individual deserves an opportunity to
improve, learn from the past and move ahead in life by self-
improvement. To make past conduct, irrespective of all
considerations, albatross around the neck of the candidate,
may not always constitute justice. Much will, however,
depend on the fact situation of a case.”

The Supreme Court in the case of Union of Territory,

Chandigarh Administration and Ors. vs. Pradeep Kumar and

Another, reported in (2018) 1 SCC 797 has held as under:-

”11. Entering into the police service required a candidate to
be of good character, integrity and clean antecedents.
In
Commissioner of Police, New Delhi and Another v. Mehar
Singh (2013) 7 SCC 685, the respondent was acquitted
based on the compromise. This Court held that even though
acquittal was based on compromise, it is still open to the
Screening Committee to examine the suitability of the
candidate and take a decision…….

12. While considering the question of suppression of
relevant information or false information in regard to
criminal prosecution, arrest or pendency of criminal case(s)
against the candidate, in
Avtar Singh v. Union of India and
Others(2016) 8 SCC 471, three-Judges Bench of this Court
summarized the conclusion in para (38). As per the said
decision in para (38.5), (SCC p. 508)
”38.5. In a case where the employee has made
declaration truthfully of a concluded criminal case, the
employer still has the right to consider antecedents, and
cannot be compelled to appoint the candidate.”

13. It is thus well settled that acquittal in a criminal case
does not automatically entitle him for appointment to the
post. Still it is open to the employer to consider the
antecedents and examine whether he is suitable for
appointment to the post. From the observations of this
Court in Mehar Singh and Parvez Khan cases, it is clear that
6
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
W.P. No. 6734 of 2017
Neeraj Kumar Vs. State of M.P. Ors

a candidate to be recruited to the police service must be of
impeccable character and integrity. A person having
criminal antecedents will not fit in this category. Even if he
is acquitted or discharged, it cannot be presumed that he
was honourably acquitted/completely exonerated. The
decision of the Screening Committee must be taken as final
unless it is shown to be mala fide. The Screening
Committee also must be alive to the importance of the trust
repose in it and must examine the candidate with utmost
character.

* * *

17. In a catena of judgments, the importance of integrity
and high standard of conduct in police force has been
emphasized. As held in Mehar Singh case, the decision of
the Screening Committee must be taken as final unless it is
mala fide. In the case in hand, there is nothing to suggest
that the decision of the Screening Committee is mala fide.
The decision of the Screening Committee that the
respondents are not suitable for being appointed to the post
of Constable does not call for interference. The Tribunal
and the High Court, in our view, erred in setting aside the
decision of the Screening Committee and the impugned
judgment is liable to be set aside.

The Supreme Court in the case of The State of M.P. and

others Vs. Bunty by order dated 14/3/2019 passed in Civil Appeal

No. 3046/2019 has held as under:-

“13. The law laid down in the aforesaid decisions makes it
clear that in case of acquittal in a criminal case is based on
the benefit of the doubt or any other technical reason. The
employer can take into consideration all relevant facts to
take an appropriate decision as to the fitness of an
incumbent for appointment/continuance in service. The
decision taken by the Screening Committee in the instant
case could not have been faulted by the Division Bench.”

The Full Bench of this Court in the case of Ashutosh Pawar

vs. State of M.P. reported in 2018 (2) MPJR 178 has held as under:-

” Decision of Criminal Court on the basis of compromise or
an acquittal cannot be treated that the candidate possesses
7
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
W.P. No. 6734 of 2017
Neeraj Kumar Vs. State of M.P. Ors

good character, which may make him eligible, as the
criminal proceedings are with the view to find culpability of
commission of offence whereas the appointment to the civil
post is in view of his suitability to the post. The test for
each of them is based upon different parameters and
therefore, acquittal in a criminal case is not a certificate of
good conduct to a candidate. The competent Authority has
to take a decision in respect of the suitability of candidate
to discharge the functions of a civil post and that mere
acquittal in a criminal case would not be sufficient to infer
that the candidate possesses good character. Division Bench
judgment of this Court in W.P. No.5887/2016 (
Arvind
Gurjar vs. State of M.P.) is overruled. Another Division
Bench judgment in W.A. No.367/2015 (
Sandeep Pandey vs.
State of M.P. and others) is also overruled. Jurisdiction of
the High Court in a writ petition under
Art. 226 of the
Constitution of India is to examine the decision-making
process than to act as Court of appeal to substitute its own
decision. In appropriate case, if the Court finds decision-
making process is arbitrary or illegal, the Court will direct
the Authority for reconsideration rather than to substitute
the decision of the competent Authority with that of its
own.

The expectations from a Judicial Officer are of much
higher standard. There cannot be any compromise in respect
of rectitude, honesty and integrity of a candidate who seeks
appointment as Civil Judge. The personal conduct of a
candidate to be appointed as Judicial Officer has to be free
from any taint. The standard of conduct in the case of
Judicial Officer is higher than that expected of an ordinary
citizen and also higher than that expected of a professional
in law as well. The same must be in tune with the highest
standard of propriety and probity.”

The Division Bench of this Court in the case of Rajesh Balmik

Vs. State of M.P. by order dated 24-3-2021 passed in W.A. No.

296/2021 has held as under :

” In view of above, it is explicit that present is a clear case
of suppression of material information of registration of
offence which adversely reflects upon the character of
appellant thereby rendering the appellant a person of
dubious and unreliable character. Moreover, the verification
8
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
W.P. No. 6734 of 2017
Neeraj Kumar Vs. State of M.P. Ors

form at the end contrains declaration which has been duly
signed by appellant that if any requisite information is
suppressed or is found to be incorrect then
candidature/appointment shall be liable to be cancelled
without giving any opportunity of hearing.

In view of above, no fault can be found with the view
taken by the learned single judge in dismissing the petition.”

Thus, if the facts of this case are considered in the light of the

judgments passed in the above mentioned cases, it is clear that the

petitioner was prosecuted and he was acquitted because of the fact

that all the witnesses had turned hostile. Although the complainant

had stated in favor of the prosecution in the examination in chief, but

he resiled from his statement in his cross examination. Further, the

petitioner had suppressed the material information in his character

verification form.

Under these circumstances, this Court is of the considered

opinion, that no illegality has been committed by the respondents in

rejecting the candidature of the petitioner for the post of Constable

(General Duty).

The petition fails and is hereby Dismissed.

(G.S. Ahluwalia)
Judge

ABHISHEK
CHATURVEDI
2021.07.10
10:19:41 +05’30’

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