The Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has quashed and set aside a notification issued by the state government dated July 6, 2016, appointing one Sunil Popatlal Jain as district government pleader and public prosecutor for district Dhule.
The said order was passed after a bench of Justice RM Borde and Justice KL Waldane heard a writ petition filed by one Dilip Gangaram Patil.
Patil contended that he was one of the applicants for the same post and in spite of being recommended by the interview committee, he was not appointed.
He also contended that Jain tried to conceal the fact that he had certain criminal cases against him.
The said committee was constituted for conducting interviews in accordance with amended rule 13(2)(a) of the Maharashtra Law Officers (Appointment, Conditions of Service And Remuneration) Rules, 1984.
The said committee consisted of a nominee of the Advocate General and District Magistrate.
They recommended the names of the petitioner and one Adhar Santu Wagh, however, there was no specific recommendation of final appointee Sunil Jain.
According to the rules, the district magistrate shall give consideration to the opinion of the principal district and sessions judge while considering the appointment of a candidate.
In this case, the principal district and sessions judge concerned had expressed his opinion about Sunil Jain as follows:
“Not recommended. Gets annoyed very often and of complaining nature. Aggressive advocate. Average performance. Not sufficient knowledge of civil law and not sufficient experience of civil matters.”
Cases against the government appointee
As far as the criminal cases against the appointee are concerned, the court noted that a criminal case was registered against Jain under Sections 448 (punishment for house trespass), 504 (insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).
Although, Jain was acquitted in the said case, a criminal revision application was filed against the acquittal, which is pending before the high court.
In another criminal case, Jain is involved with 60 other people, but the proceedings in this case have been stayed in view of Section 258 of the CrPC.
Jain was also an active party worker for the Shiv Sena till 2010, and the interview committee’s recommendation of him stated:
“Recommended on the basis of his performance during the interview. However, it will not be appropriate to appoint him as District Government Pleader, because he has a lineage towards a particular political party. Some police cases were registered against him but he has vehemently avoided furnishing the details. This proves that he tried to conceal the facts and vital information about the police cases registered against him. Therefore, his integrity cannot be certified.”
Lastly, post Sunil Jain’s appointment, in a complaint filed before the Additional Secretary, Law and Judiciary Department, it is alleged by the Superintendent of Police, district Dhule, that Jain interfered in the ongoing investigation in relation to one crime and raised objection against the investigating officer for not proceeding against persons belonging to Muslim community. It is alleged in the complaint that Jain has communal bias against the minority community.
Court’s Observations and Final order
After perusal of all the material available on record, and referring to the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of State of Uttar Pradesh & another vs. Johri Mal, the court observed: “It does appear that the State Government shifts the stand in each matter to suit its convenience. In the instant matter, there is neither positive recommendation in favour of (Sunil Jain) by the Principal District & Sessions Judge as well as opinion expressed by the Interview Committee also cannot be considered as a recommendation for making appointment of (Sunil Jain) as District Government Pleader. In any case, appointment of (Sunil Jain) is in breach of the policy adopted by the State Government as well as rule 13(4) of the Rules of 1984.
Though (Sunil Jain), who was accused in the said case, came to be acquitted, it must be taken note of that Criminal Revision Application is filed challenging his acquittal and same has been admitted and pending for final disposal.
The District Government Pleader is expected to be a guardian and protector of civil rights of the citizens and is expected to safeguard rights of general public as against criminals and anti-social elements. It is a matter of concern as to how the State Government thought it fit to appoint such a person whose integrity is doubted, who was, at some point of time, involved in the crime involving moral turpitude. It is also a matter of grave concern as to why bypassing favourable recommendations in favour of other candidates, the State Government has appointed a candidate who was neither recommended by the Principal District & Sessions Judge nor even by the Interview Committee.”
Thus, the notification for Jain’s appointment was quashed and set aside.
Read the Judgment here.