Asserting that in the selection of police personnel, reference to the character, antecedents, criminal case, etc. of the candidate is of paramount significance, the Madras High Court recently warned that otherwise "there is every possibility of one more incident like that of Sathankulam, Tuticorin District", where an Inspector and his team were alleged to be a root cause for the custodial death of a father and son during the lockdown.
Justice S. Vaidyanathan was hearing a plea challenging the order of the concerned Superintendent of Police by which the candidature of the petitioner for the recruitment of Grade II Police Constable for the year 2019 was not considered for appointment. The Petitioner also sought for a direction to appoint him as Grade-II Police Constable and send him for training. The petitioner was falsely implicated in respect of a case for offences under Sections 294(b), 323, 324 and 506(ii) IPC, which had culminated in a chargesheet, ending eventually with the petitioner being acquitted on the benefit of doubt.
The Single Judge reflected that a close attentiveness of the background of the present case unravels that though the petitioner had divulged his association with a criminal case during the Police verification, at the time of submission of application, it was not brought to the attention of the Board. "It was strenuously argued that the complainant himself had filed an application before the Trial Court for compromise and it was the Trial Court, which had rejected the said application and allowed the criminal case to proceed further. This Court is not inclined to go into that aspect, as it was not known as to what basis there was an attempt for compromise between the parties", said the bench.
The bench observed that admittedly, the petitioner had been involved in a criminal case, which was booked under serious offences of IPC and therefore, he cannot casually ask for a suitable appointment in the Police Department, which is otherwise known as a Disciplined Force. "In recent times, the Police Department is already under severe criticism...", commented the bench.
The bench appreciated that even though the petitioner stated that he was acquitted honorably, a reading of the judgment of the concerned Judicial Magistrate No.1, made it very clear that he was released on the ground of benefit of doubt and therefore, Rule 14(2) in Sub-Rule (b)(iv) and Explanation (1) & (2) of the Special Rules for Tamil Nadu Special Police Subordinate Service Rules,1978, will come into operative against the petitioner, as rightly stated in the impugned order.
Justice Vaidyanathan appreciated that considering the scope of Rule 14(b) of the Rules, 1978 in the light of Explanation 1 to Clause (iv) of Rule 14(b), a full bench of the High Court has held that a person acquitted on benefit of doubt or discharged in a criminal case, can still be considered as disqualified for selection to the Police service and the failure of a person to disclose in the application form, either of his involvement in a criminal case or pendency of a criminal case against him would entitle the appointing authority to reject his application on the ground of concealment of material facts, irrespective of ultimate outcome of the criminal case.
"The Hon'ble Supreme Court has clearly held that despite disclosure of antecedents by a candidate, it is well within the ambit of the employer to consider the same as well as the suitability of the candidate. It was also made clear that the employer has every right to take into account the severity of charges, nature of acquittal, etc., to suit the job profile, for which the selection is undertaken", the bench further noted.
Accordingly, the Justice Vaidyanathan concluded that the petitioner cannot demand appointment in a disciplined force rightfully, and that it is for the authority concerned to decide whether the petitioner can fit into the post or not.
The bench was of the view that the impugned order does not warrant any interference of the court and dismissed the petition.
Click Here To Download Order