‘To make past conduct, irrespective of all considerations, an albatross around the neck of the candidate, may not always constitute justice.’
The Supreme Court has directed the state authorities to reconsider the candidature of a successful aspirant for judicial service, whose selection for appointment was cancelled on the ground of ‘moral turpitude’.
A three-judge bench comprising Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Navin Sinha observed that there cannot be any mechanical or rhetorical incantation of moral turpitude, to deny appointment in judicial service simplicitor and there can be no arbitrary denial of appointment after empanelment.
Mohammed Imran was selected and recommended for appointment by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission on 14.10.2009. In his attestation form, he disclosed that he was prosecuted for offences under Sections 363, 366, 34, IPC and was acquitted in the case much before he cleared the examination for appointment in the year 2009. However, his selection for appointment was cancelled due to the character verification report of the police. He approached the apex court as the high court turned down his plea against cancellation.
It was contended on behalf of the state authorities that he was involved in an act of moral turpitude in kidnapping of the girl in question and the acquittal, because the prosecutrix turned hostile, cannot come to his aid.
The bench said there cannot be any mechanical or rhetorical incantation of moral turpitude, to deny appointment in judicial service simplicitor. “Every individual deserves an opportunity to improve, learn from the past and move ahead in life by self-improvement. To make past conduct, irrespective of all considerations, an albatross around the neck of the candidate, may not always constitute justice. Much will, however depend on the fact situation of a case,” the bench said.
The court also took note that another such candidate who was acquitted in a criminal case was appointed. The bench said that Imran could not be discriminated and denied appointment arbitrarily when both the appointments were in judicial service, by the same selection procedure, of persons who faced criminal prosecutions and were acquitted.
After perusing the confidential report of the character verification, the bench said: “The report received reveals that except for the criminal case under reference in which he has been acquitted, the appellant has a clean record and there is no adverse material against him to deny him the fruits of his academic labour in a competitive selection for the post of a judicial officer. In our opinion, no reasonable person on the basis of the materials placed before us can come to the conclusion that the antecedents and character of the appellant are such that he is unfit to be appointed as a judicial officer. An alleged single misadventure or misdemeanour of the present nature, if it can be considered to be so, cannot be sufficient to deny appointment to the appellant when he has on all other aspects and parameters been found to be fit for appointment.”
Directing the authorities to reconsider his candidature, the bench said: “The consideration of the candidature of the appellant and its rejection are afflicted by a myopic vision, blurred by the spectacle of what has been described as moral turpitude, reflecting inadequate appreciation and application of facts also, as justice may demand.”
Read the Judgment Here