All cases of assault or simple hurt cannot be categorized as crimes involving moral turpitude, the Supreme Court has observed while granting relief to a SBI Employee who was discharged from service for being convicted under Section 324 IPC.
P. Soupramaniane, was working as a messenger in SBI, while he was convicted by the trial court under Section 324 IPC and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for three months. The Appellate court, though affirmed the conviction, released him on probation on the ground that he was employed as a Messenger in a Bank and any sentence of imprisonment would affect his career.
But to his dismay, the bank discharged him from service on the ground that he was convicted for an offence involving moral turpitude. He challenged this action on the part of SBI before the High Court, and the division bench of Madras High Court set aside the order of discharge and directed the bank to reinstate him
The issue considered by the Apex Court bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah in the appeal filed by the bank was whether the conviction of the employee under Section 324 IPC can be said to be for an offence involving moral turpitude. Section 10 (1)(b)(i) of Banking Regulation Act provides that conviction for an offence involving moral turpitude disqualifies a person from continuing in service in a bank.
The court said that following tests that can be applied for judging an offence involving moral turpitude:
Whether the act leading to a conviction was such as could shock the moral conscience or society in generalWhether the motive which led to the act was a base oneWhether on account of the act having been committed the perpetrators could be considered toy. be of a depraved character or a person whowas to be looked down upon by the society
was to be looked down upon by the society
Examining the facts in the case, the bench observed that the crime for which the employee is convicted in the instant case does not involve moral turpitude. It said:
"The question that arises for our consideration in this case is whether an offence involving bodily injury can be categorized as a crime involving moral turpitude. In this case, we are concerned with an assault. It is very difficult to state that every assault is not an offence involving moral turpitude. A simple assault is different from an aggravated assault. All cases of assault or simple hurt cannot be categorized as crimes involving moral turpitude. On the other hand, the use of a dangerous weapon which can cause the death of the victim may result in an offence involving moral turpitude. In the instant case, there was no motive for the Respondent to cause the death of the victims. The criminal courts below found that the injuries caused to the victims were simple in nature. On an overall consideration of the facts of this case, we are of the opinion that the crime committed by the Respondent does not involve moral turpitude."
Release under probation does not entitle an employee to claim a right to continue in service
Though it affirmed the judgment of the division bench of the High Court, it disagreed with the reasons given by it. One of the reasons given by the High Court was that the criminal court released the employee on probation only to permit him to continue in service. In this regard, the bench said:
"The release under probation does not entitle an employee to claim a right to continue in service. In fact the employer is under an obligation to discontinue the services of an employee convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude. The observations made by a criminal court are not binding on the employer who has the liberty of dealing with his employees suitably."