12 April 2023 4:08 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has said that generalizations cannot be made to deny the offer of appointment merely on the basis of registration of FIR without considering the reasoning in the judgment and the relevant facts and circumstances.The division bench of Justice V. Kameswar Rao and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta made the observation while directing the authorities to consider the appointment of...
The Delhi High Court has said that generalizations cannot be made to deny the offer of appointment merely on the basis of registration of FIR without considering the reasoning in the judgment and the relevant facts and circumstances.
The division bench of Justice V. Kameswar Rao and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta made the observation while directing the authorities to consider the appointment of a person, whose appointment to the post of Sub Inspector (EXE) in Delhi Police was earlier cancelled due to his alleged involvement in a 2011 case of dowry death. The petitioner Mahesh Kumar was acquitted in the case in 2013.
The bench said there can be no second opinion that each case is to be scrutinized on its own facts through the designated officers and in case of the police force, the scrutiny needs to be more closer since the police officials are under a duty to tackle lawlessness.
However, the court added that apart from the registration of the aforesaid FIR, there is nothing on record to reflect that the antecedents or the conduct of the petitioner disqualified him in any manner for the appointment to the post of SI (EXE), Delhi Police.
"It may be difficult to presume that the petitioner would be a threat to the discipline of the police force merely on account of aforesaid FIR and also considering the fact that petitioner had already joined on selection as SI (EXE) in CISF in an exam conducted by SSC. It does not appear to be logical that the petitioner who was found fit for appointment to the post of SI in CISF may be held to be unsuitable for appointment in Delhi Police on the basis of exam conducted by the same recruiting agency i.e. SSC," said the court.
Kumar had challenged the cancellation of his appointment for the post of Sub Inspector (SI) (EXE) in Delhi Police Exams, 2017 by the Screening Committee, due to his alleged involvement in the FIR registered against him under Sections 498-A (cruelty by husband)/304-B (dowry death) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) had earlier upheld the decision cancelling his appointment.
The court said there is no dispute that Kumar had truthfully disclosed the fact about his previous involvement in the FIR at the time of filling of Attestation Form. It noted that he was acquitted by the trial court since allegations against him were not proved as the material prosecution witness did not support the case against him.
The bench further said it cannot be ignored that omnibus allegations had been made against Kumar's family members with reference to unfortunate death of deceased within seven years of marriage.
"However, in the witness box, none of the witnesses supported, who were the close family members of the deceased. The leveling of allegations at the instigation of others has been admitted by PW1 and it is not out of place that in the Indian context, out of love and affection for deceased and minor differences in matrimonial relations at times allegations are made against the entire family. It is definitely unfortunate that deceased died within seven years of marriage but an adverse inference cannot be drawn under all circumstances against the accused if the same have not been supported in any manner by the witnesses, who were the close family members of the deceased," it added.
The court said the operative portion whereby the accused had been acquitted, giving the ‘benefit of doubt’ is to be appreciated in the light of the evidence on record and the words ‘benefit of doubt’ cannot be mechanically read and applied.
"The present case is not wherein a ‘benefit of doubt’ was extended on account of discrepancies in the evidence but since the allegations in no manner were supported by the prosecution witnesses. There is no evidence to presume that the petitioner had any role in winning over the witnesses. The findings by the Screening Committee are merely based on involvement of the petitioner in aforesaid FIR and wrong presumption that petitioner had no respect for women without appreciating the judgment of acquittal in correct perspective."
Observing that the Screening Committee was not justified in concluding that Kumar was not suitable for appointment to the post in Delhi Police, the court said it failed to appreciate the entirety of facts and was merely swayed by invocation of Section 304-B IPC in FIR which was never supported on record by the material witnesses who were the close relations of the deceased.
“The court needs to be alive to the realities in such cases as an exaggeration of allegations in such unfortunate incidents, out of minor matrimonial differences cannot be ruled out. In the present case, the benefit of doubt has not been granted by the learned Sessions Judge merely for some discrepancies in evidence or technical reasons but since no cogent evidence was brought on record to support the allegations of demand of dowry soon before the death of deceased,” said the court.
Allowing Kumar's petition and setting aside the Tribunal’s order, the court directed the authorities to consider Kumar's appointment to the concerned post, subject to his satisfying all other conditions
Counsel for the Petitioner: Aman Mudgal, Advocate
Counsel for the Respondent: Mrs. Avnish Ahlawat, Standing Counsel with Ms. Tania Ahlawat, Mr. Nitesh Kumar Singh, Ms. Palak Rohmetra, Ms. Laavanya Kaushik and Ms. Aliza Alam, Advocates
Case Title: Mahesh Kumar vs Union of India and Ors
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 304
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment