Hearing an appeal which arose due to a judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Supreme Court today answered the question “whether the refusal by the competent authority to give compassionate appointment in police service on the ground of criminal antecedents of a candidate who is acquitted for want of evidence or who is discharged from the criminal case on account of compounding can be justified?”.
The bench of Justices TS Thakur and AK Goel declared that, ‘a candidate to be recruited to the police service must be worthy of confidence and must be a person of utmost rectitude and must have 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 completely exonerated. Persons who are likely to erode the credibility of the police ought not to enter the police force.’
The case came to the court as a Policeman in MP Police died prior to retirement, and his son applied for a compassionate appointment. During his police verification, it was discovered that he was involved in two criminal cases and the Superintendent of Police held that he was not eligible to join the Police.
Thereafter, a writ petition was filed in the MP High Court, wherein on appeal, the Division Bench pronounced that since the person was acquitted in both the cases, he could not be considered unsuitable for employment.
Before the Supreme Court, the State argued that the person was involved in offences involving moral turpitude and ‘mere acquittal for want of evidence or discharge account of compromise could not be taken to be conclusive for suitability of a candidate. The result of criminal proceedings was not conclusive of suitability of a candidate for recruitment to police service.’
It was also argued that, ‘a person cannot be punished in absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt but the standard of proof required for consideration of suitability or otherwise of a candidate was not the same.’ In addition, ‘if a person is acquitted or discharged, it cannot always be inferred that he was falsely involved and he had no criminal antecedents. All that may be inferred is that he has not been proved to be guilty.’
However, the respondent argued that ‘some other similarly placed candidates had been given compassionate appointment.’ Respondent also relied on guidelines issued by MP Government and claimed that it has no such stipulation.
However, the Supreme Court, relying on the judgment delivered in the Mehar Singh case (2013 (7) SCC685 ), held that ‘Refusal by the competent authority to recruit the respondent on the ground of criminal antecedents is not liable to be interfered with.’
The Court also said, ‘The Superintendent of Police is the appointing authority. There is no allegation of malafides against the person taking the said decision nor the decision is shown to be perverse or irrational.There is no material to show that the appellant was falsely implicated. Basis of impugned judgment is acquittal for want of evidence or discharge based on compounding.’
The plea of parity with two other persons, who were recruited, was also declined by the Supreme Court, and it relied on the Mehar Singh judgment for the same.
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