SATISH CHANDRA YADAV VERSUS UNION OF INDIA & ORS

SATISH CHANDRA YADAV VERSUS UNION OF INDIA & ORS

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. OF 2022
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 20860 of 2019)
SATISH CHANDRA YADAV ….APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
UNION OF INDIA & ORS. ….RESPONDENT(S)
With
CIVIL APPEAL NO. OF 2022
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 5170 of 2021)
J U D G M E N T
J.B. Pardiwala, J. :
1. Leave granted.
2. Since the issues raised in both the captioned matters are
almost the same and the principles of law applicable are also
common, those were taken up for hearing analogously and are
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being disposed of by this common judgment and order.
3. We first take up the Appeal arising out of the Special Leave
Petition (Civil) No. 20860 of 2019.
Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 20860 of 2019
4. This appeal is at the instance of an unsuccessful writ
applicant of a writ application being the Writ Petition (C) No. 1167
of 2018 filed in the High Court of Delhi and is directed against the
judgment and order dated 15.04.2019 by which a Division Bench
of the High Court rejected the writ application filed by the writ
applicant (appellant herein) thereby affirming the dismissal of the
appellant herein from service as a Constable (General Duty) with
the CRPF.
5. The facts giving rise to this appeal may be summarised as
under:
5.1 The appellant herein was serving as a Constable (General
Duty) with the CRPF. He was recruited as a temporary employee of
the post of Constable (GD) in the CRPF on 28.07.2014. After
undergoing the basic training, he reported at the 179th Battalion
on 17.12.2015.
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5.2 While filling up the requisite verification Form–25 at the time
of his recruitment in the CRPF in Column 12 in response to the
question whether any case was pending against him, the appellant
answered in the negative.
5.3 Thereafter, under Rule 14 of the CRPF Rules, the Character
and Antecedents verification Form of the appellant was sent to the
Collector, District Sant Kabir Nagar, Uttar Pradesh. The Collector,
vide his letter dated 25.02.2015, informed the Deputy Inspector
General of Police (DIGP), Group Centre, CRPF Rampur that the
Criminal Case No. 1015 of 2008 had been registered against the
appellant herein at the P.S. Khalilabad Sant Kabir Nagar, Police
Station for the offences punishable under Sections 147, 323, 324,
504 and 506 resply of the Indian Penal Code (for short, “IPC”).
Upon receipt of the information as aforesaid, the services of the
appellant herein came to be terminated in exercise of the powers
conferred under Rule 5(1) of the Central Civil Services (Temporary
Service) Rules, 1965 vide the order dated 11.03.2016 on the
ground that he had concealed the information as aforesaid while
filling up the Form–25.
5.4 The further appeal addressed by the appellant herein to the
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Inspector General (IG) was also dismissed.
5.5 The appellant herein challenged his dismissal from service by
filing the Writ Petition (C) No. 10558 of 2016 in the High Court of
Delhi. The said Writ Petition was disposed of by a Division Bench
of the High Court on 25.09.2017 remitting the matter to the
Revisionary Authority for fresh consideration within a period of six
weeks from the date the appellant herein would make a
representation.
5.6 The representation filed by the appellant herein ultimately
came to be rejected and a fresh order dated 05.01.2018 reiterating
the termination of the appellant’s services was passed.
5.7 The appellant herein once again preferred a fresh Writ
Petition (C) No. 1167 of 2018 challenging the impugned order dated
05.01.2018 terminating his services.
5.8 The High Court rejected the writ petition vide order dated
15.04.2019 holding as under:
“9. The fact remains that FIR No. 1015/2008 was
registered at P.S. Khalilabad against the Petitioner and
placed under Sections 147/323/324/504/506 IPC.
Admittedly, the Petitioner got bail in the above Criminal
case which was for cognizable offences. It is not
therefore the case where the time of filing up of the
verification form-25 the Petitioner was not aware of the
pendency of the Criminal case against him.
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x x x
11. In the present case, on the date of filling up of
the verification form the criminal case against the
Petitioner was very much pending. The fact that the
charge sheet had been filed after the filling up the form
will not make any difference to the fact that the
Petitioner deliberately gave a wrong answer to the
question whether any case was pending against the
Petitioner. This could not be termed as innocent. The
Petitioner is applying for the post of Constable in a para
military organization and is expected to be truthful in
all responses to the columns in the verification form. At
the time of filling up of that form the Petitioner was very
much aware of the pendency of the criminal case.
Therefore, there could be no excuse for not filling up the
correct answer in response to the question under
Column 12.
12. For the aforementioned reasons, the Court finds
no reason to interfere with the impugned order of the
DA which was confirmed by the AA.”
6. In such circumstances referred to above, the appellant is here
before this Court with the present appeal.
Submissions on behalf of the Appellant
7. Ms. Jyoti Dutt Sharma, the learned counsel appearing for the
appellant vehemently submitted that the High Court committed a
serious error in passing the impugned order. She would submit
that the prosecution against the appellant was of a very trivial
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nature. It did not involve any moral turpitude. The suppression, if
at all believed, by itself, cannot be a ground to deny public
employment. It was argued that the appellant had no knowledge of
the pendency of the criminal case on the date when the verification
Form was filled up. She submitted that for the purpose of
determining whether the suppression was with a guilty mind, the
attestation/verification Form should be very specific and not vague
so as to confuse the person filling up such Forms. It was further
argued that at the relevant point of time, the appellant was 19
years of age. The criminal prosecution against him along with the
others was on account of a family dispute. The appellant had been
falsely arrayed as an accused in the said case. There was a
settlement between the parties before the local village panchayat.
Ultimately, the appellant herein along with the other co-accused
came to be acquitted by the trial court.
8. The learned counsel placed strong reliance on the decision of
this Court in the case of Avatar Singh v. Union of India, (2016)
8 SCC 471 to fortify her submission that while passing the order
of termination of services for giving false information, the employer
must take notice of the special circumstances of the case, if any.
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The High Court, in the first round of litigation, had taken notice of
such non-application of mind and thought fit to remit the case for
fresh consideration. It was argued that even upon fresh
consideration, the Authority committed the very same mistake
while reiterating the termination.
9. In the last, the learned counsel submitted that the High Court
failed to consider an important question of fact that the Form CRP–
25 was quite vague and not specific about the information in regard
to the criminal antecedents. It is on account of such vagueness
that the appellant was not able to understand the question in a
proper manner and answered the same accordingly which is now
being treated as false information.
10. In such circumstances referred to above, the learned counsel
prays that there being merit in her appeal, the same may be
allowed and the impugned order passed by the High Court may be
set aside and the appellant may be ordered to be reinstated in
service with full back wages.
Submissions on behalf of the Respondent
11. On the other hand, this appeal has been vehemently opposed
by Ms. Madhavi Divan, the Additional Solicitor General (ASG)
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submitting that no error, not to speak of any error of law, could be
said to have been committed by the High Court in passing the
impugned order. She would submit that the appellant is guilty of
“suppression” of material facts which, by itself, was sufficient to
terminate his services. It was argued that the services of the
appellant herein were terminated because he was found guilty of
submitting false information or to put in other words, guilty of
suppression of material facts. The learned ASG vehemently
submitted that the appellant herein not only suppressed
information about his arrest but also suppressed the information
about the criminal case which was pending against him at the time
he filled up the verification Form.
12. The learned ASG further submitted that the appellant herein
and the other co-accused were not honourably acquitted. They all
came to be acquitted as the prosecution witnesses turned hostile.
The learned ASG, while relying on the decision of this Court in the
case of Avtar Singh (supra), more particularly, the para 38.4
therein submitted that the Authority concerned is duty bound to
take into account the gravity of the offence in a situation where
acquittal is not recorded at the time of filling up of the verification
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Form.
13. It was argued that in a disciplined force which seeks to
maintain high standards of integrity the suppression of material
facts cannot be countenanced.
14. In the last, the learned ASG submitted that the judicial review
under Article 136 of the Constitution in matters pertaining to the
suitability of a candidate is limited to the extent of determining if
the Authority concerned had acted with malice, mindlessness or
gross illegality. She placed strong reliance on the decision of this
Court in the case of Commissioner of Police v. Raj Kumar, (2021)
8 SCC 347 to fortify her submission that the scope of judicial
review in the matters of the present type is very limited. She placed
reliance on the following observations made by this Court:
“28. Courts exercising judicial review cannot second
guess the suitability of a candidate for any public office
or post. Absent evidence of malice or mindlessness (to
the materials), or illegality by the public employer, an
intense scrutiny on why a candidate is excluded as
unsuitable renders the courts' decision suspect to the
charge of trespass into executive power of determining
suitability of an individual for appointment. This was
emphasised by this Court in M.V.
Thimmaiah v. UPSC [M.V. Thimmaiah v. UPSC, (2008)
2 SCC 119 : (2008) 1 SCC (L&S) 409] which held as
follows : (SCC pp. 131, 135-36, paras 21 & 30)
“21. Now, comes the question with regard to the
selection of the candidates. Normally, the
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recommendations of the Selection Committee
cannot be challenged except on the ground of mala
fides or serious violation of the statutory rules. The
courts cannot sit as an appellate authority to
examine the recommendations of the Selection
Committee like the court of appeal. This discretion
has been given to the Selection Committee only and
courts rarely sit as a court of appeal to examine the
selection of the candidates nor is the business of
the court to examine each candidate and record its
opinion. …
x x x x
31. Public service — like any other, presupposes that
the State employer has an element of latitude or choice
on who should enter its service. Norms, based on
principles, govern essential aspects such as
qualification, experience, age, number of attempts
permitted to a candidate, etc. These, broadly constitute
eligibility conditions required of each candidate or
applicant aspiring to enter public service. Judicial
review, under the Constitution, is permissible to ensure
that those norms are fair and reasonable, and applied
fairly, in a non-discriminatory manner. However,
suitability is entirely different; the autonomy or choice
of the public employer, is greatest, as long as the
process of decision-making is neither illegal, unfair, or
lacking in bona fides.”
15. The learned ASG also placed strong reliance on the decision of
this Court in the case of Union of India and Others v. Methu
Meda, (2022) 1 SCC 1, more particularly, in the following
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observations as under:
“17. In view of the above, in the facts of the present
case, as per paras 38.3, 38.4.3 and 38.5 of Avtar Singh
case [Avtar Singh v. Union of India, (2016) 8 SCC 471 :
(2016) 2 SCC (L&S) 425] , it is clear that the employer
is having right to consider the suitability of the
candidate as per government orders/instructions/rules
at the time of taking the decision for induction of the
candidate in employment. Acquittal on technical ground
in respect of the offences of heinous/serious nature,
which is not a clean acquittal, the employer may have
a right to consider all relevant facts available as to the
antecedents, and may take appropriate decision as to
the continuance of the employee. Even in case, truthful
declaration regarding concluded trial has been made by
the employee, still the employer has the right to
consider antecedents and cannot be compelled to
appoint the candidate.”
16. In such circumstances referred to above, the learned ASG
prayed that there being no merit in this appeal, the same may be
dismissed.
Analysis
17. Having heard the learned counsel appearing for the parties and
having gone through the materials on record, the only question
that falls for our consideration is whether the High Court
committed any error in passing the impugned order?
18. The following facts are not in dispute:
a) The verification Form was filled up by the appellant on
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02.09.2014.
b) A First Information Report was registered against the appellant
herein and others on 26.05.2008 for the offences punishable
under Sections 147, 148, 323, 324, 504 and 506 resply of the
IPC.
c) Upon registration of the FIR on 26.05.2008, the appellant
herein filed two applications in the Court of the Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Sant Kabir Nagar, one application seeking to
surrender himself before the Court in connection with the FIR
referred to above and the second application seeking for regular
bail.
d) It appears that the appellant upon surrendering before the
Chief Judicial Magistrate was taken in deemed judicial custody
with effect from 06.06.2008 and was ordered to be released on
bail on 10.06.2008. It appears that the appellant was not
actually put behind bars as asserted by the appellant.
e) At the end of the investigation, the Investigating Officer filed
chargesheet in the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate which
culminated in the Criminal Case No. 1015 of 2008. The
appellant herein and the other co-accused were put to trial and
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vide the judgment and order dated 13.01.2016 passed by the
Chief Judicial Magistrate District Sant Kabir Nagar came to be
acquitted.
f) At the time when the services of the appellant came to be
terminated, he was a probationer.
g) In the verification Form, more particularly in clause 12, the
following questions are to be found:
“(a) Have you ever been arrested? Yes/No✔
(b) Have you ever been prosecuted? Yes/No✔
(c) Have you ever been kept under detention Yes/No✔
 x x x x
(i) Is any case pending against you in any Court Yes/No✔
 of Law at the time of filling up this Verification
 Roll?”
19. Against all the aforesaid questions, the appellant put a tick
on “NO”, as above.
20. The Authority concerned reached to the conclusion that the
appellant had not only suppressed the fact that an FIR was
registered against him but also suppressed the fact that he had
surrendered before the Chief Judicial Magistrate who, in turn, had
released him on regular bail. He also suppressed the fact that there
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was a Criminal Case No. 1015 of 2008 registered against him and
pending in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate for the offences
enumerated above.
21. In such circumstances, a notice was issued to the appellant
herein to show cause as to why his services should not be
terminated. Upon conclusion of the enquiry the appellant
ultimately came to be dismissed from service.
22. We now look into the connected Appeal arising out of the
Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 5170 of 2021.
Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 5170 of 2021.
23. This appeal is at the instance of an unsuccessful writ applicant
of a writ application being the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 9456 of 2018
filed in the High Court of Delhi and is directed against the judgment
and order dated 04.02.2020 by which a Division Bench of the High
Court rejected the writ application filed by the writ applicant
(appellant herein) thereby affirming the dismissal of the appellant
herein from service as a Sub-Inspector/GD, 45th Battalion, CRPF.
24. The facts giving rise to this appeal may be summarised as
under:
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24.1 The appellant herein was serving on the post of SI/GD with
the CRPF.
24.2 In August, 2011, the appellant had applied for the post of SI
in the CRPF pursuant to a call for applications by the Union Public
Service Commission.
24.3 As part of the said application, the appellant was required to
fill the CRP-25 verification Form. While filling up the form in
August, 2011, in response to the question of whether any criminal
proceeding is pending against him in any court of law, he answered
in the negative.
24.4 The appellant came to be inducted in the CRPF as an SI.
24.5 The appellant received an order dated 19.11.2015 from the
office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP), Rampur, UP
whereby he was informed that an inquiry would commence on the
Article of Charge (AOC) under Section 11 of the CRPF Act r/w Rule
27 of the CRPF Rules, 1955 that had been framed against him. The
translated version of the statement of the AOC reads as under:
“That No. 115213628 SI/GD Pushpendra Kumar
Yadav, C/45 Battalion, CRPF, while working on the
post of Sub Inspector / GD, being the member of force,
has committed the misconduct and misbehaviour, in
which at the time of recruitment, personnel gave false
information in the Past Antecedents Verification Form
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(CRP Form – 25) at column No. 12 (a and b) that no case
is pending against the personnel in any court, however
before the recruitment of personnel, a case Crime No.
261/2002 under Section 147, 149, 323, 325, 504, 506,
307 IPC was registered against him at Police Station
Khajni, District Gorakhpur (UP. Personnel, during his
recruitment, has concealed the information regarding
criminal case pending against him and misguided the
department by giving wrong information, which is an
offence punishable under Section 11 (1) of CRPF Act,
1949 and Rule 27 of the Central Reserve Police Force
Rules, 1955.”
24.6 By an order dated 23.09.2016, the office of the DIGP imposed
a penalty of removal from service on the applicant.
24.7 Departmental inquiry came to be conducted in which the
appellant submitted his defence statement. The Inquiry Officer
submitted his report to the Commandant, 45th Battalion, who in
turn submitted it to the DIG.
24.8 The appellant offered inter alia the following reasons in his
defence:
(i) He was entirely unaware about the pendency of a case against
him in Rampur as he “was studying outside the village.”
(ii) When he met some of the co-accused, they “assured” him that
a compromise had been reached in the criminal case.
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(iii) He never received any summons nor appeared before any
Court.
(iv) He could not understand the meaning of the contents of the
12(a) and (b) of the verification Form.
24.9 Upon considering the aforesaid reasons put forth by the
appellant and his response to the questions in column 12 (a) and
(b) of the verification Form, the DIGP, Rampur vide order dated
23.09.2016 imposed the penalty of removal of service on the
appellant.
24.10 The appeal filed by the appellant in the office of the Inspector
General of Police (IGP), Lucknow also came to be dismissed.
24.11 The revision petition filed by the appellant in the office of
SDG also came to be rejected.
24.12 The appellant thereafter preferred the writ petition being the
Writ Petition No. 9456 of 2018 in the High Court questioning the
legality and validity of the action of removal from service.
24.13 The High Court adjudicated the Writ Petition and vide the
impugned judgment and order dated 04.02.2020 rejected the same.
The High Court while rejecting the writ application held as under:
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“26. The Court has perused all the impugned orders,
which have taken note of the facts surrounding the
Petitioner’s case, as noted in the foregoing paragraphs,
and arrived at the decision to remove the Petitioner from
service. The Petitioner’s contention that the
Respondents in accordance with the decision in Avtar
Singh (supra) were required to factor in the relevant
facts as to his antecedents, is untenable. In order for
the Petitioner to demand that the Respondents consider
his antecedents before passing an order of termination
from service, as per paragraph 34 (4) (c) of Avtar Singh
(supra), the Petitioner’s acquittal should have been
before his appointment. Admittedly, the Petitioner’s
case is not one of acquittal before his appointment.
27. In any event, the order of the DA has set out detailed
reasons for rejecting every contention raised by the
Petitioner in his representation against the findings in
the inquiry report. The orders of the AA, RA as well as
the DG, CRPF also do not merely reiterate the findings
of each lower authority, but offer their reasons for
affirming the penalty of removal of service, while
having regard to the CRPF Act and Rules. The Court,
therefore, is not convinced by the Petitioner’s argument
alleging "non-application of mind" on the part of the
Respondents.
28. As regards the Petitioner’s submission that the
Respondents had not complied with the DoPT’s
instructions on the handling of
anonymous/pseudonymous complaints as put forth in
several OMs issued in this regard, it bears mentioning,
firstly, that the OM dated 11th October, 2002 upon
which the Petitioner relied, which stipulated that prior
concurrence of the CVC was required to taken to look
into the verifiable facts contained in such
anonymous/pseudonymous complaints, has since been
withdrawn by an OM dated 26th November, 2014.
29. Turning to OM dated 18th October 2013, paragraph
3 (iii) thereof reads as under:
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"(iii) If a complaint contains verifiable allegations,
the administrative Ministry/Department may take
cognizance of such complaint with the approval of
the competent authority to be designated by the
Ministry/Department as per their distribution of
work. In such cases, the complaint will be first sent
to the complainant for owning/disowning, as the
case may be. If no response is received from the
complainant within 15 days of sending the
complaint, a reminder will be sent. After waiting for
15 days after sending the reminder, if still nothing
is heard, the said complaint may be filed as
pseudonymous by the Ministry/Department."
30. It must be noticed, at this juncture, that it is not the
Petitioner’s case that the paragraph reproduced
hereinabove was not complied with by the
Respondents. In any event, the aforesaid paragraph 3
(iii) makes provision for the method of ascertaining the
identity of the complainant before such a complaint may
be filed as "pseudonymous." A bare perusal of the
record of the case evinces that such an attempt was
made by the Respondents by engaging in
correspondence with the SP, Gorakhpur, through which
the Petitioner’s involvement in criminal proceedings
was incontrovertibly established. Indeed, nowhere has
the Petitioner denied his involvement in the case
thereafter. Hence, the Respondents cannot be faulted
for relying solely on an unsubstantiated pseudonymous
complaint in proceeding against the Petitioner.
31. Learned counsel for the Petitioner then referred to a
letter dated 1st February 2012 issued by the Ministry
of Home Affairs announcing ‘Policy Guidelines for
considering cases of candidates for appointment in the
CAPFs - pendency of criminal cases against candidates
- the effect of:.’ He referred in particular to para 2 (iii) of
the said document which lists out instances where the
candidate ‘will not be considered for recruitment’ and
to the first proviso thereto which states "Provided
further that the candidate shall not be debarred in the
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above cases, if only an FIR has been registered/the
case is under investigation and no charges have been
framed either or FIR or on the complaint in any court of
law." Learned counsel for the Petitioner submitted that
in the instant case since at the time of his filling up the
form in August 2011, only an FIR registered against him
and charges were not yet framed, the above proviso
would apply.
32. This Court is unable to accept the above submission.
The said policy guidelines do not excuse the candidate
from giving correct answers to the questions posed in
the application/attestation form. In fact, it presupposes
that the candidate has been truthful about the pending
FIR. However, in the present case, it is not in dispute
that the Petitioner did not give the correct answers to
the critical questions about pendency of the criminal
case against him. The proviso to para 2 (iii) above,
therefore, does not help the Petitioner.
33. For all the aforementioned reasons, the Court finds
no merit in the petition and dismisses it, as such.”
25. In such circumstances referred to above, the appellant is here
before this Court with the present appeal.
Submissions on behalf of the appellant:
26. Mr. M. M. Singh, learned counsel appearing for the writ
applicant vehemently submitted that the High Court committed a
serious error in passing the impugned order. He would submit that
the criminal prosecution did not involve any moral turpitude. He
laid much stress on the fact that in the year 2002 when the
criminal prosecution was instituted the appellant was just 19 years
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of age and was not even residing in the village as he was pursuing
his studies at some other place. He pointed out that as it was a
family dispute, the same came to be resolved. The settlement was
arrived at between the parties.
27. In the aforesaid context, the learned counsel invited the
attention of this Court to page 163 of the paper book. The document
at page 163 of the paper book is in the form of a settlement recorded
before the local village panchayat in writing duly signed by the
parties concerned. The same reads thus:
“SETTLEMENT BY THE PANCHAYAT
We, Ram Prit Yadav S/o Ishwari Yadav resident of
village – Nakdah, police station-Khajani, DistrictGorakhpur
 ….First party
And
We, Paramhansh Yadav S/o late Ram Bali Yadav R/o
village- Nakdah, police station-Khajani, DistrictGorakhpur
 …..Second party
We both parties are resident of same village and are
Pattidar with each other. On the issue of land of
khalihan near our house and on ‘paimaish’ a quarrel
had occurred between us on 28.6.2002 and due to
confusion and misunderstanding, me first party has
submitted written complaint at police station. But now
we both sides after sitting together is settling our
dispute through panchayat on 7.7.2002. Now onwards
all disputes have been mutually settled/over between
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us. I Ram Prit Yadav first party do station Khajani,
regarding this Panchayati settlement tomorrow and will
make written request that no further action is required
to be taken regarding the incident occurred on
28.6.2002 because now we both sides do not want any
further action in the matter in court. We both sides have
settled the issue mutually.
Second party First party
Sd/-Paramhansh Sd/-Ram Prit
Paramhash Yadav Ram Prit Yadav
Witnesses:
1. Ramawati
2. Subhash Chandra Gupta
3. Anil Kumar Gupta
4. Chandra Bhan
5. Shyam Sunder
6. Ram Sagar
Date: 07.07.2002”
28. The learned counsel further submitted that the form was filled
up by the appellant almost after a period of nine years from the
date of the registration of the FIR in the year 2002. As it was a
family dispute which ultimately came to be compromised, the
appellant all throughout remained under the impression that
nothing further was required to be done in regard to the criminal
case. He further pointed out that the charge was framed by the trial
court in 2011 i.e. almost after nine years from the date of
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registration of the FIR. The trial ultimately resulted in acquittal in
view of the settlement arrived at between the parties.
29. The learned counsel would submit that the appellant bona fide
believed that in view of the settlement arrived at between the
parties, there was no criminal case thereafter pending against him
and the others.
30. The learned counsel submitted that even filling up of the
verification Form, the previous record of the appellant was got
verified through the District Magistrate who in turn sent a report
to the DIG, CRPF through the letter dated 28.11.2011 wherein it
was stated that nothing adverse was found in the police records.
He submitted that on 27.02.2015, one unknown person named
Brijesh Yadav (who was later found to be not traceable) made a
complaint with the respondent/department against the appellant
regarding the pendency of the case. That the complaint was
received by the Department, and a report was called for by the office
of the DIG, CRPF from the office of the SSP, Gorakhpur. In
pursuance of this, the SSP Gorakhpur got an investigation carried
out by the Circle Officer, Khajani, Gorakhpur and the Circle Officer
submitted his report to the SSP. In the report, it was mentioned
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that no such person by name Brijesh Yadav was found and the
Crime Case No. 261/2002 was at the stage of settlement but since
charge sheet was filed, it was pending in the Court. The report was
sent by the SSP Gorakhpur to the DIG CRPF. He further pointed
out that on 28.07.2015, the appellant was acquitted from all the
charges by the Ld. Additional Sessions Judge, Gorakhpur in the
Crime Case No. 261/2002 on merits vide the judgment and order
dated 28.07.2015.
31. The learned counsel further submitted that the appellant
served for about 5 years in the CRPF with utmost sincerity and
loyalty. Most of the time during his (appellant herein) service, i.e.
about 4 years, he served in the region of Kashmir. His service
record has been commendable and time and again he was rewarded
for his service. He further pointed out that the appellant was also
selected in the CISF as an ASI in 2010-11, but as he was already
in service with the CRPF he could not join the CISF. He made a
fervent appeal that one chance may be given to the appellant as the
termination from service will come in his way in all future
employments public or private.
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32. In such circumstances, referred to above, the learned counsel
prayed that there being merit in his appeal, the same may be
allowed and the appellant may be ordered to be reinstated in
service by set asiding the impugned order passed by the High Court
as well as by the Department.
Submissions on behalf of the Respondent:
33. On the other hand, this appeal has been vehemently opposed
by Ms. Madhavi Divan, the learned ASG appearing for the
respondent. She submitted that no error, not to speak of any error
of law, could be said to have been committed by the High Court in
passing the impugned order. She reiterated the very same
submissions as canvassed by her while opposing the connected
appeal.
34. Ms. Divan, the learned ASG submitted that there being no merit
in the present appeal, the same may be dismissed.
35. The following facts are not in dispute:
a) The FIR was registered against the appellant herein and others
dated 28.06.2002 at the Khajani Police Station bearing Crime Case
26
No. 261/2002 for the offences punishable under Sections 147, 148,
323, 325, 307, 504 & 506 resply of the IPC;
b) The accused persons including the appellant herein were
arrested & later ordered to be released on bail by the Sessions
Court, Gorakhpur;
c) At the end of the investigation, chargesheet was filed in the court
of the Judicial Magistrate, Gorakhpur. Upon filing of the
chargesheet, the Criminal Case No. 3266 of 2009 came to be
registered on the file of the court of the Judicial Magistrate,
Gorakhpur;
d) The Judicial Magistrate Court No. 24, Gorakhpur vide order
dated 02.08.2011 committed the case to the Court of Sessions in
exercise of his powers under Section 207 of the CrPC;
e) The Sessions Court at Gorakhpur framed charge vide order dated
23.12.2011 for the offences punishable under Sections 147, 323,
325, 307, 504 and 506 resply r/w 149 of the IPC;
f) The trial court ultimately acquitted all the accused persons as
the prosecution witnesses turned hostile;
g) The material on record would indicate that at the time of filling
of verification Form on 20.08.2011, the appellant was on bail. On
27
09.07.2002 chargesheet was filed and on 02.08.2011, a copy of the
chargesheet was also furnished to the appellant;
h) In the verification Form, more particularly in clause 12, the
following questions are to be found:
“(a) Have you ever been arrested? Yes/No✔
(b) Have you ever been prosecuted? Yes/No✔
(c) Have you ever been kept under detention Yes/No✔

x x x x
(i) Is any case pending against you in any Court Yes/No✔
 of Law at the time of filling up this Verification
 Roll?”
36. Against all the aforesaid questions, the appellant put a tick
on “NO”, as above.
Position of Law
37. In Union of India and Others v. M. Bhaskaran, AIR (1996)
SC 686, this Court held that when an appointment is procured by
a workman on the basis of a bogus and forged casual labourer
service card, it would amount to misrepresentation and fraud on
the employer. Therefore, it would create no equity in favour of the
workman or any estoppel against the employer and for such
misconduct, termination would be justified without any domestic
28
inquiry. This Court held:
“6. ... Consequently, it has to be held that the
respondents were guilty of misrepresentation and
fraud perpetrated on the appellant-employer while
getting employed in railway service and had snatched
such employment which would not have been made
available to them if they were not armed with such
bogus and forged labourer service cards. ...
… It was clearly a case of fraud on the appellantemployer. If once such fraud is detected, the
appointment orders themselves which were found to be
tainted and vitiated by fraudand acts of cheating on the
part of employees, were liable to be recalled and were
at least voidable at the option of the employer
concerned. …
… The aggrieved are all those who had similar or even
better qualifications than the appointee or appointees
but who had not applied for the post because they did
not possess the qualifications mentioned in the
advertisement. It amounts to a fraud on public to
appoint persons with inferior qualifications in such
circumstances unless it is clearly stated that the
qualifications are relaxable. No court should be a party
to the perpetuation of the fraudulent practice. It is of
course true as noted by the Tribunal that the facts of the
case in the aforesaid decision were different from the
facts of the presentcase. And it is also true that in that
case pending the service which was continued
pursuant to the order of the Tribunal the candidate
concerned acquired the requisite qualification and
hence his appointment was not disturbed by this Court.
But that is neither here nor there. As laid down in the
aforesaid decision, if by committing fraud any
employment is obtained, such a fraudulent practice
cannot be permitted to be countenanced by a court of
law. …”
29
38. M. Bhaskaran (supra) was a case of fraud as forgery was
committed.
39. In Delhi Administration, v. Sushil Kumar, (1996) 11 SCC
605, this Court laid stress on the fact that the verification of
character and antecedents is one of the important criteria to test
whether the selected candidate is suitable to a post under the
State.
40. In Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and Others v. Ram
Ratan Yadav, (2003) 3 SCC 437, this Court held that:
“12. … In the present case the respondent was to serve
as a Physical Education Teacher in Kendriya
Vidyalaya. The character, conduct and antecedents of
a teacher will have some impact on the minds of the
students of impressionable age. The appellants having
considered all the aspects passed the order of
dismissal of the respondent from service. The Tribunal
after due consideration rightly recorded a finding of fact
in upholding the order of dismissal passed by the
appellants. …”
41. In the aforesaid case, this Court held that the purpose of
requiring an employee to furnish information regarding
prosecution/conviction, etc. in the verification Form was to assess
his character and antecedents for the purpose of employment and
continuation in service; that suppression of material information
30
and making a false statement in reply to queries relating to
prosecution and conviction had a clear bearing on the character,
conduct and antecedents of the employee; and that where it is
found that the employee had suppressed or given false information
in regard to matters which had a bearing on his fitness or
suitability to the post, he could be terminated from service during
the period of probation without holding any inquiry. This Court
also made it clear that neither the gravity of the criminal offence
nor the ultimate acquittal therein was relevant when considering
whether a probationer who suppresses a material fact (of his being
involved in a criminal case, in the personal information furnished
to the employer), is fit to be continued as a probationer.
42. In Kamal Nayan Mishra v. State of Madhya Pradesh and
Others, (2010) 2 SCC 169, the ratio decidendi in Ram Ratan
Yadav (supra) was discussed and clarified as follows:
“14. Therefore, the ratio decidendi of Ram Ratan
Yadav (2003) 3 SCC 437 is, where an employee
(probationer) is required to give his personal data in an
attestation form in connection with his appointment
(either at the time of or thereafter), if it is found that the
employeehad suppressed or given false information in
regard to matters which had a bearing onhis fitness or
suitability to the post, he could be terminated from
service during the period of probation without holding
31
any inquiry. The decision dealt with a probationerand
not a holder of a civil post, and nowhere laid down a
proposition that a confirmed employee holding a civil
post under the State, could be terminated from service
for furnishing false information in an attestation form,
without giving an opportunity to meet the charges
against him.” [Emphasis supplied]
43. Thus, this Court in Kamal Nayan Mishra (supra) held that
an employee who is found to have suppressed material facts at the
time of appointment, must be given an opportunity to defend the
charges against him and cannot be terminated without due notice.
44. In R. Radhakrishnan v. Director General of Police and
Others, (2008) 1 SCC 660, this Court considered the case of a
candidate for appointment as a Fireman who had furnished wrong
information about his involvement in a criminal case, though he
was acquitted. This Court held that the standards expected of a
person intended to serve in such a service are different from the
one of the persons who intended to serve inother services. It was
also concluded that the candidate knew and understood the
implications of the omission in his statement to disclose vital
information. The candidate by not disclosinghis involvement in a
criminal case, prevented the Authority from verifying his character
as a suitable appointment. This Court, therefore, declined to
32
exercise its equitable jurisdiction in favour of such a candidate who
had suppressed such material facts.
45. Similarly, in the Union of India and Others v. Bipad
Bhanjan Gayen, (2008) 11 SCC 314, this Court dealt with the
validity of the termination of the candidate, who had been selected
for training as a constable in the Railway Protection Force. This
Court recognised that different standards are to apply to the
different services while determining the question of validity of the
termination when material facts are suppressed. It was held as
under:
“10. It bears repetition that what has led to the
termination of service of the respondent is not his
involvement in the two cases which were then pending,
and in which he had been discharged subsequently,
but the fact that he had withheld relevant information
while filling in the attestation form. We are further of the
opinion that an employment as a police officer presupposes a higher level of integrity as such a person is
expected to uphold the law, and on the contrary, such
a service born in deceit and subterfuge cannot be
tolerated.” [Emphasis supplied]

46. In State of Haryana and Others v. Dinesh Kumar (2008) (3)
SCC 222, this Court considered the case of an employee (constable
driver for State Police) who had answered "No" to a query as to
whether he was arrested. The employee had argued that as a
33
layman, his understanding of arrest did not match with the legal
definition of arrest. The candidate said he had voluntarilyappeared
before the Magistrate, without being taken into formal custody,
was granted bail andwas ultimately acquitted. This Court held as
under:
“12. One of the common questions which, therefore,
need to be answered in both theseappeals is whether
the manner in which they had appeared before the
Magistrate and had been released without being taken
into formal custody, could amount to “arrest” for the
purpose of the query in Column 13(A). …
x x x x
31. In our view, the reasoning given in Dinesh Kumar's
case in that context is a possibleview and does not call
for interference under Article 136 of the Constitution.
Conversely, the decision rendered in the writ petitions
filed by Lalit Kumar and Bhupinder has to be reversed
to be in line with the decision in Dinesh Kumar's case.
When the question as to what constitutes “arrest” has
for long engaged the attention of different High Courts
as also this Court, it may not be altogether
unreasonable to expect a layman to construe that he
had never been arrested on his appearing before the
court and being granted bail immediately. The position
would have been different, had the person concerned
not been released on bail. We would, in the facts of
these cases, give the benefit of a mistaken impression,
rather than that of deliberate and wilful
misrepresentation and concealment of facts, to the
appellants in the second of the two appeals as well,
while affirming the view taken by the High Court in
Dinesh Kumar's case.” [Emphasis supplied]
34
47. Thus, it was held that even if what transpired may technically
amount to arrest, the benefit of a mistaken impression rather than
the consequences of a deliberate andwillful misrepresentation and
concealment of facts, should be extended to the employee.
48. This Court in the case of Daya Shankar Yadav v. Union of
India and Others, (2010) 14 SCC 103 was faced with a similar
issue wherein a CRPF officer upon suppression of material facts
was terminated from the service. This Court while referring to its
previous decisions, summarised the position as follows:
“14. … The purpose of seeking the said information is
to ascertain the character and antecedents of the
candidate so as to assess his suitability for the post.
Therefore, the candidate will have to answer the
questions in these columns truthfully and fully and any
misrepresentation or suppression or false statement
therein, by itself would demonstrate a conduct or
character unbefitting for a uniformed security service.”
15. When an employee or a prospective employee
declares in a verification form, answers to the queries
relating to character and antecedents, the verification
thereof can therefore lead to any of the following
consequences:
(a) If the declarant has answered the questions in
the affirmative and furnished the details of any
criminal case (wherein he was convicted or
acquitted by giving benefit of doubt for want of
evidence), the employer may refuse to offer him
employment (or if already employed on probation,
35
discharge him from service), if he is found to be unfit
having regard to the nature and gravity of the
offence/crime in which he was involved.
(b) On the other hand, if the employer finds that the
criminal case disclosed bythe declarant related to
offences which were technical, or of a nature that
would not affect the declarant's fitness for
employment, or where the declarant had been
honourably acquitted and exonerated, the employer
may ignore the fact that the declarant had been
prosecuted in a criminal case and proceed to
appoint him or continue him in employment.
(c) Where the declarant has answered the
questions in the negative and on verification it is
found that the answers were false, the employer
may refuse to employ the declarant (or discharge
him, if already employed), even if the declarant had
been cleared of the charges or is acquitted. This is
because when there is suppression or nondisclosure of material information bearing on his
character, that itself becomes a reason for not
employing the declarant.
(d) Where the attestation form or verification form does
not contain proper or adequate queries requiring the
declarant to disclose his involvement in any criminal
proceedings, or where the candidate was unaware of
initiation of criminal proceedings when he gave the
declarations in the verification roll/attestation form,
then the candidate cannot be found fault with, for not
furnishing the relevant information. But if the employer
by other means (say police verification or complaints
etc.) learns about the involvement of the declarant, the
employer can have recourse to courses (a) or (b) above.
16. Thus an employee on probation can be discharged
from service or a prospectiveemployee may be refused
employment:
36
(i) on the ground of unsatisfactory antecedents and
character, disclosed from his conviction in a
criminal case, or his involvement in a criminal
offence (even if he was acquitted on technical
grounds or by giving benefit of doubt) or other
conduct (like copying in examination) or rustication
or suspension or debarment from college etc.; and
(ii) on the ground of suppression of material
information or making false statement in reply to
queries relating to prosecution or conviction for a
criminal offence (even if he was ultimately
acquitted in the criminal case).
This ground is distinct from the ground of previous
antecedents and character, as it shows a current
dubious conduct and absence of character at the time
of making the declaration, thereby making him
unsuitable for the post.”
49. This Court in the aforesaid case while deliberating on the very
same questions as were asked in the verification Form from the
appellant in the present case, held that:
“24. We are satisfied that the appellant had knowingly
made a false statement that he was not prosecuted in
any criminal case. Therefore, the employer (CRPF) was
justified in dispensing with his services for not being
truthful in giving material information regarding his
antecedents which were relevant for employment in a
uniformed service,and that itself justified his discharge
from service. Consequently, we dismiss this appeal as
having no merit.”
50. In the case of Commissioner of Police and Others. v.
37
Sandeep Kumar (2011) 4 SCC 644, the candidate after clearing
the test, disclosed his involvement in a criminal case which was
compromised and later on such compromise was acquitted. A
Show-Cause notice was issued to him asking him to show cause
as to why his candidature for the post should not be cancelled as
he had concealed the fact of his involvement in the criminal case
and had made a wrong statement in his application form. The
authorities were not satisfied with the explanation offered and went
on to terminate his employment. A challenge was made by him
before the Administrative Tribunal which declined to interfere.
However, the High Court granted the relief by setting aside the
proposal for cancellation of his candidature. This Court upheld the
order of the High Court by granting the relief and held as under:
“12. It is true that in the application form the respondent
did not mention that he was involved in a criminal case
under Sections 325/34 IPC. Probably he did not
mention this out of fear that if he did so he would
automatically be disqualified. At any event, it was not
such a serious offence like murder, dacoity or rape, and
hence a more lenient view should be taken in the
matter.”
51. The Court in the aforesaid took into consideration the fact
that the incident had happened when the respondentwas 20 years
of age. The Court held that young people are not expected to behave
38
in as mature a manner as the older people. The Court highlighted
that the approach should be to condone minor indiscretions made
by young people rather than to brand them as criminals for the
rest of their lives.
52. In the case of Jainendra Singh v. State of U.P. Tr. Prinl.
Sec. Home and Others, (2012) 8 SCC 748, this Court, while
referring to its previous precedents set on the issue of suppression
of material facts being a ground for termination laid down certain
principles to be considered. This Court also called for the
constitution of a larger Bench to settle the issue.The yardsticks laid
down by this Court are as below:
“29. As noted by us, all the above decisions were
rendered by a Division Bench of thisCourt consisting of
two-Judges and having bestowed our serious
consideration to the issue, we consider that while
dealing with such an issue, the Court will have to bear
inmind the various cardinal principles before granting
any relief to the aggrieved party,namely:
29.1 Fraudulently obtained orders of appointment
could be legitimately treated as voidable at the option
of the employer or could be recalled by the employer
and in such cases merely because the respondent
employee has continued in service for a number of
years, on the basis of such fraudulently obtained
employment, cannot get any equity in his favour or any
estoppel against the employer.
29.2 Verification of the character and antecedents is
39
one of the important criteriato test whether the selected
candidate is suitable to the post under the State andon
account of his antecedents the appointing authority if
find it not desirable to appoint a person to a disciplined
force can it be said to be unwarranted.
29.3 When appointment was procured by a person on
the basis of forged documents, it would amount to
misrepresentation and fraud on the employer and,
therefore, it would create no equity in his favour or any
estoppel against the employer while resorting to
termination without holding any inquiry.
29.4 A candidate having suppressed material
information and/or giving false information cannot
claim right to continue in service and the employer,
havingregard to the nature of employment as well as
other aspects, has the discretion to terminate his
services.
29.5 The purpose of calling for information regarding
involvement in any criminal case or detention or
conviction is for the purpose of verification of the
character/antecedents at the time of recruitment and
suppression of such material information will have
clear bearing on the character and antecedents of the
candidate in relation to his continuity in service.
29.6 The person who suppressed the material
information and/or gives false information cannot claim
any right for appointment or continuity in service.
29.7 The standard expected of a person intended to
serve in uniformed service is quite distinct from other
services and, therefore, any deliberate statement or
omission regarding a vital information can be seriously
viewed and the ultimate decision of the appointing
authority cannot be faulted.
29.8 An employee on probation can be discharged
40
from service or may be refused employment on the
ground of suppression of material information or
making false statement relating to his involvement in
the criminal case, conviction or detention, even if
ultimately he was acquitted of the said case, inasmuch
as such a situation would make a person undesirable
or unsuitable for the post.
29.9 An employee in the uniformed service
presupposes a higher level of integrity as such a person
is expected to uphold the law and on the contrary such
a service born in deceit and subterfuge cannot be
tolerated.
29.10 The authorities entrusted with the responsibility
of appointing constables, are under duty to verify the
antecedents of a candidate to find out whether he is
suitable for the post of a constable and so long as the
candidate has not been acquitted in the criminal case,
he cannot be held to be suitable for appointmentto the
post of constable.”
53. The Court while referring the issues to larger Bench observed
in paras 30 and 31 resply as under:
“30. When we consider the above principles laid down
in the majority of the decisions, the question that looms
large before us is when considering such claim by the
candidates who deliberately suppressed information at
the time of recruitment, can there be different
yardsticks applied in the matter of grant of relief.
31. Though there are very many decisions in support of
the various points culled out in the above paragraphs,
inasmuch as we have noted certain other decisions
taking different view of coordinate Benches, we feel it
appropriate to refer the abovementioned issues to a
larger Bench of this Court for an authoritative
41
pronouncement so that there will be no conflict of views
and which will enable the courts to apply the law
uniformly while dealing with such issues.”
54. This Court before settling the issues in the case of Avtar
Singh v. Union of India and Others, (2016) 8 SCC 471, discussed
the said principles extensively in the matter of Commissioner of
Police, New Delhi and Another v. Mehar Singh, (2013) 7 SCC
685. In this case, a candidate for the post of constable in the Delhi
Police had disclosed his involvement in a criminal case, wherein he
was acquitted on technical grounds. The candidate had his
candidature for the post rejected by the Standing Committee. The
candidate argued that as he had been acquitted, the Standing
Committee by rejecting his candidature had overreached the
decision of the competent Authority. This Court, whiledeciding on
the issue and whether the respondent was honourably acquitted,
held as under:
“25. The expression "honourable acquittal" was
considered by this Court in S. Samuthiram 2013 (1)
SCC 598. In that case this Court was concerned with a
situationwhere disciplinary proceedings were initiated
against a police officer. Criminal case was pending
against him under Section 509 IPC and under Section 4
of the Eve-Teasing Act. He was acquitted in that case
because of the non-examination of key witnesses.
42
There was a serious flaw in the conduct of the criminal
case. Two material witnesses turned hostile. Referring
to the judgment of this Court in RBI v. Bhopal Singh
Panchal (1994) 1 SCC 541 where in somewhat similar
fact situation, this Court upheld a bank's action of
refusing to reinstate an employee in service on the
ground that in the criminal case he was acquitted by
giving him benefit of doubt and, therefore, it was not an
honourable acquittal, this Court held that the High
Court wasnot justified in setting aside the punishment
imposed in the departmental proceedings. This Court
observed that the expressions "honourable acquittal",
"acquitted of blame" and "fully exonerated" are
unknown to the Criminal Procedure Code or the Penal
Code. They are coined by judicial pronouncements. It is
difficult to define what is meant by the expression
"honourably acquitted". This Court expressed that when
the accusedis acquitted after full consideration of the
prosecution case and the prosecutionmiserably fails to
prove the charges levelled against the accused, it can
possibly be said that the accused was honourably
acquitted.
26. In light of the above, we are of the opinion that since
the purpose of the departmental proceedings is to keep
persons, who are guilty of serious misconduct or
dereliction of duty or who are guilty of grave cases of
moral turpitude, out of the department, if found
necessary, because they pollute the department, surely
the above principles will apply with more vigour at the
point of entry of a person in the police department i.e. at
the time of recruitment. If it is found by the Screening
Committee thatthe person against whom a serious case
involving moral turpitude is registered is discharged on
technical grounds or is acquitted of the same charge but
the acquittal isnot honourable, the Screening Committee
would be entitled to cancel his candidature. Stricter
norms need to be applied while appointing persons in a
disciplinary force because public interest is involved in
it.
43
x x x x
34. The respondents are trying to draw mileage
from the fact that in their applicationand/or attestation
form they have disclosed their involvement in a criminal
case. We donot see how this fact improves their case.
Disclosure of these facts in the application/attestation
form is an essential requirement. An aspirant is
expected to state these facts honestly. Honesty and
integrity are inbuilt requirements of the police force.The
respondents should not, therefore, expect to score any
brownie points because of this disclosure. Besides, this
has no relevance to the point in issue. It bears repetition
to state that while deciding whether a person against
whom a criminal case was registered and who was
later on acquitted or discharged should be appointed to
a post inthe police force, what is relevant is the nature
of the offence, the extent of hisinvolvement, whether the
acquittal was a clean acquittal or an acquittal by giving
benefit of doubt because the witnesses turned hostile or
because of some serious flaw in the prosecution, and
the propensity of such person to indulge in similar
activities infuture. This decision, in our opinion, can
only be taken by the Screening Committee created
for that purpose by the Delhi Police. If the Screening
Committee's decision is not mala fide or actuated by
extraneous considerations, then, it cannot be
questioned.
35. The police force is a disciplined force. It shoulders
the great responsibility of maintaining law and order
and public order in the society. People repose great faith
and confidence in it. It must be worthy of that
confidence. A candidate wishing to join the police force
must be a person of utmost rectitude. He must have
impeccable character and integrity. A person having
criminal antecedents will not fit in this category. Even if
he is acquitted or discharged in the criminal case, that
acquittal or discharge order will have to be examined to
44
see whether he has been completely exonerated in the
case because even a possibility of his taking to the life
of crimes posesa threat to the discipline of the police
force. The Standing Order, therefore, has entrusted the
task of taking decisions in these matters to the
Screening Committee. The decision of the Screening
Committee must be taken as final unless it is mala fide.
In recent times, the image of the police force is
tarnished. Instances of police personnel behaving in a
wayward manner by misusing power are in public
domain and are a matter of concern. The reputation of
the police force has taken a beating. In such a situation,
we would not like to dilute the importance and efficacy
of a mechanism like the Screening Committee created
by the Delhi Police to ensure that persons who are likely
to erode its credibility do not enter the police force. At
the same time, the Screening Committee must be alive
to the importance of trust reposed in it and must treat
all candidates with even hand.”
 [Emphasis supplied]
Precedent of Avtar Singh
55. In the case of Avtar Singh (supra), a three-Judge Bench of
this Court looked into the conflict of opinion in the various
decisions highlighted in Jainendra Singh (supra). The larger
Bench considered plethora of decisions on the question of
suppression of information or submitting false information in the
verification Form, also as to the question of havingbeen criminally
prosecuted, arrested or as to the pendency of a criminal case. After
45
analysing all the previous decisions of this Court on the subject,
the larger Bench held as follows:
“30. The employer is given 'discretion' to terminate or
otherwise to condone the omission. Even otherwise,
once employer has the power to take a decision when
at the time of filling verification form declarant has
already been convicted/acquitted, in such a case, it
becomes obvious that all the facts and attending
circumstances, including impact of suppression or false
information are taken into consideration while
adjudging suitability of an incumbent for services in
question. In case the employer comes to the conclusion
that suppression is immaterial and even if facts would
have been disclosed it would not have adversely
affected fitness of an incumbent, for reasons to be
recorded, it has power to condone the lapse. However,
while doing so employer has to act prudently on due
consideration of nature of post and duties to be
rendered. For higher officials/higher posts, standard
has to be very high and even slightest false information
or suppression may by itself render a person unsuitable
for the post. However, same standard cannot be applied
to each and every post. In concluded criminal cases, it
has to be seen what has been suppressed is material
fact and would have rendered an incumbent unfit for
appointment. An employer would be justified in not
appointing or if appointed, to terminate services of such
incumbent on due consideration of various aspects.
Even if disclosure has been made truthfully, the
employer has the right to consider fitness and while
doing so effect of conviction and background facts of
case, nature of offence, etc. have to be considered. Even
if acquittal has been made, employer may consider
nature of offence, whether acquittal is honourable or
giving benefit of doubt on technical reasons and decline
to appoint a person who is unfit or of dubious character.
In case employer comes to conclusion that conviction or
46
ground of acquittal in criminal case would not affect the
fitness for employment incumbent may be appointed or
continued in service.”
56. The larger Bench stated that an objective criterion must be
applied while terminating an employee who had suppressed
material facts. The Court held that mere suppression cannot be the
sole reason for termination and due consideration must be paid to
the facts of the case. The Court, while discussing the objective
yardsticks that are to be applied held as under:
“34. No doubt about it that verification of character and
antecedents is one of the important criteria to assess
suitability and it is open to employer to adjudge
antecedents of the incumbent, but ultimate action
should be based upon objective criteria on due
consideration of all relevant aspects.
35. Suppression of “material” information presupposes
that what is suppressed that “matters” not every
technical or trivial matter. The employer has to act on
due consideration of rules/instructions if any in
exercise of powers in order to cancel candidature or for
terminating the services of employee. Though a person
who has suppressed the material information cannot
claim unfettered right for appointment or continuity in
service but he has a right not to be dealt with arbitrarily
and exercise of power has to be in reasonable manner
with objectivity having due regard to facts of cases.
36. What yardstick is to be applied has to depend upon
the nature of post, higher post would involve more
rigorous criteria for all services, not only to uniformed
service. For lower posts which are not sensitive, nature
47
of duties, impact of suppression on suitability has to be
considered by authorities concerned considering
post/nature of duties/services and power has to be
exercised on due consideration of various aspects.”
57. The Court proceeded to hold further that a chance of
reformation should be afforded to the young offenders in suitable
cases while exercising the power for cancelling candidature. The
Court thereafter summarised the discussion on the issue by way
of laying down certain guidelines as stated below:
“38. We have noticed various decisions and tried to
explain and reconcile them as faras possible. In view of
aforesaid discussion, we summarize our conclusion
thus:
38.1. Information given to the employer by a candidate
as to conviction, acquittal or arrest, or pendency of a
criminal case, whether before or after entering into
service must be true and there should be no
suppression or false mention of required information.
38.2. While passing order of termination of services or
cancellation of candidature for giving false information,
the employer may take notice of special circumstances
of the case, if any, while giving such information.
38.3. The employer shall take into consideration the
Government orders/instructions/rules, applicable to
the employee, at the time of taking the decision.
38.4. In case there is suppression or false information of
involvement in a criminal case where conviction or
acquittal had already been recorded before filling of the
application/verification form and such fact later comes
to knowledge of employer, any of the following recourse
48
appropriate to the case may be adopted: -
38.4.1. In a case trivial in nature in which conviction
had been recorded, such as shouting slogans at young
age or for a petty offence which if disclosed would not
have rendered an incumbent unfit for post inquestion,
the employer may, in its discretion, ignore such
suppression of fact or false information by condoning
the lapse.
38.4.2.Where conviction has been recorded in case
which is not trivial in nature, employer may cancel
candidature or terminate services of the employee.
38.4.3.If acquittal had already been recorded in a case
involving moral turpitude or offence of heinous/serious
nature, on technical ground andit is not a case of clean
acquittal, or benefit of reasonable doubt has been given,
the employer may consider all relevant facts available
as to antecedents, and may take appropriate decision
as to the continuance ofthe employee.
38.5. In a case where the employee has made
declaration truthfully of a concludedcriminal case, the
employer still has the right to consider antecedents, and
cannot be compelled to appoint the candidate.
38.6. In case when fact has been truthfully declared in
character verification form regarding pendency of a
criminal case of trivial nature, employer, in facts and
circumstances of the case, in its discretion may appoint
the candidate subject todecision of such case.
38.7. In a case of deliberate suppression of fact with
respect to multiple pendingcases such false information
by itself will assume significance and an employer may
pass appropriate order cancelling candidature or
terminating services as appointment of a person
against whom multiple criminal cases were pending
may not be proper.
38.8. If criminal case was pending but not known to the
49
candidate at the time of filling the form, still it may have
adverse impact and the appointing authority would
take decision after considering the seriousness of the
crime.
38.9. In case the employee is confirmed in service,
holding Departmental enquiry would be necessary
before passing order of termination/removal or
dismissal on the ground of suppression or submitting
false information in verification form.
38.10. For determining suppression or false information
attestation/verification form has to be specific, not
vague. Only such information which was required to be
specifically mentioned has to be disclosed. If
information not asked for but is relevant comes to
knowledge of the employer the same can be considered
in an objective manner while addressing the question
of fitness. However, in such cases action cannot be
taken on basis of suppression or submitting false
information as to a fact which was not even asked for.
38.11. Before a person is held guilty of suppressio
veri or suggestio falsi,knowledge of the fact must be
attributable to him.”
Position of law post Avtar Singh
58. In Union Territory, Chandigarh Administration and
Others v. Pradeep Kumar and Another, (2018) 1 SCC 797 the
issue of the respondent therein being honourably acquitted and
entitled to being reinstated was raised. This Court, while relying
upon Mehar Singh (supra) and holding that the nature of the
offences must be looked into, held as follows:
50
“13. It is thus well settled that acquittal in a criminal
case does not automatically entitlehim for appointment
to the post. Still it is open to the employer to consider
the antecedents and examine whether he is suitable for
appointment to the post. From the observations of this
Court in Mehar Singh (2013) 7 SCC 685 and Parvez
Khan (2015) 2 SCC 591 cases, it is clear that a
candidate to be recruited to the police service must be
of 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 honourably acquitted/completely
exonerated. The decision of the Screening Committee
must be taken as final unless it is shown to be mala
fide. The Screening Committee also must bealive to the
importance of the trust reposed in it and must examine
the candidate with utmost character.
x x x x
15. From the above details, we find that the Screening
Committee examined each and every case of the
respondents and reasonings for their acquittal and
taken the decision. While deciding whether a person
involved in a criminal case has been acquitted or
discharged should be appointed to a post in a police
force, nature of offence in which he is involved, whether
it was an honourable acquittal or only an extension of
benefit of doubt because of witnesses turned hostile
and flaws in the prosecution are all the aspects to be
considered by the Screening Committee for taking the
decision whether the candidate is suitable for the post.”
[Emphasis supplied]
51
59. In the case of State of Madhya Pradesh and Others v.
Bunty, (2020) 17 SCC 654, the candidate had not disclosed the
fact that he had criminal proceedings pending against him at
the time of verification. The criminal proceedings were based on
the candidate impersonating a police officer and this Court treated
it to be a case which involved moral turpitude.The candidate was
granted benefit of doubt. The candidate had been acquitted on the
technical ground of a witness being held hostile. This Court held
that the perception formed by the Screening Committee, that he
was unfit to be inducted in the disciplined police force, was
appropriate. Further it was held that, the decision of the Scrutiny
Committee could not be said to be such which warranted judicial
interference unless there is a mala fide intent involved.
60. In the case of State of Rajasthan and Others v. Love Kush
Meena, (2021) 8 SCC 774, the respondent was charged under
Sections 302, 323, 341/34 resply of the IPC and was acquitted as
the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The witnesses had turned hostile. The candidate had disclosed the
said fact at the time of applying; however, his appointment was
cancelled relying on Avtar Singh (supra). This Court held as
52
under:
“24. Examining the controversy in the present case in
the conspectus of the aforesaid legal position, what is
important to note is the fact that the view of this Court
has depended on the nature of offence charged and the
result of the same. The mere fact ofan acquittal would
not suffice but rather it would depend on whether it is
a clean acquittal based on total absence of evidence or
in the criminal jurisprudence requiring the case to be
proved beyond reasonable doubt, that parameter
having not been met, benefit of doubt has been granted
to the accused. …
x x x x
26. The judgment in Avtar Singh's case (2016) 8 SCC
471 on the relevant parameter extracted aforesaid
clearly stipulates that where in respect of a heinous or
serious nature of crime the acquittal is based on a
benefit of reasonable doubt, that cannot make the
candidateeligible.” [Emphasis supplied]
61. In the case of Union of India and Others v. Methu Meda,
(2022) 1 SCC1, the respondent had applied for the post of constable
in the CISF and was selected. The respondent had disclosed about
the case in which he was acquitted. However, his selection was
subsequently cancelled. The respondent challenged the same vide
a writ petition, which the High Court allowed. This Court, however,
set aside the High Court’s order and discussed the consequence of
53
an acquittal on technical grounds. It was also reiterated that a
person joining the police force must be of impeccable character and
must not have any criminal antecedents. This Court held as under:
“17. In view of the above, in the facts of the present case,
as per paras 38.3, 38.4.3 and38.5 of Avtar Singh case
(supra) (2016) 8 SCC 471, it is clear that the employer is
having right to consider the suitability of the candidate
as per government orders/instructions/rules at the time
of taking the decisionfor induction of the candidate in
employment. Acquittal on technical ground in respectof
the offences of heinous/serious nature, which is not a
clean acquittal, the employer may have a right to
consider all relevant facts available as to the
antecedents, and may take appropriate decision as to
the continuance of the employee. Even in case, truthful
declaration regarding concluded trial has been made by
the employee, still the employer has the right to consider
antecedents and cannot be compelled to appoint the
candidate.
x x x x
20. In view of the aforesaid, it is clear the respondent
who wishes to join the police force must be a person of
utmost rectitude and have impeccable character and
integrity.A person having a criminal antecedents would
not be fit in this category. The employer is having right
to consider the nature of acquittal or decide until he
is completely exonerated because even a possibility of
his taking to the life of crimes poses a threat to the
discipline of the police force. The Standing Order,
therefore, has entrusted the task of taking decisions
in these matters to the Screening Committee and the
54
decision of the Committee would be final unless mala
fide. …
21. As discussed hereinabove, the law is well-settled. If a
person is acquitted giving himthe benefit of doubt, from the
charge of an offence involving moral turpitude or because
the witnesses turned hostile, it would not automatically
entitle him for the employment,that too in disciplined force.
The employer is having a right to consider his candidature
in terms of the circulars issued by the Screening Committee.
The mere disclosure of theoffences alleged and the result
of the trial is not sufficient. In the said situation, the
employer cannot be compelled to give appointment to the
candidate. ….”
 [Emphasis supplied]
62. In the Union of India (UOI) v. Dilip Kumar Mallick, (2022) 6
Scale 108, a CRPF officer had suppressed the fact that the
proceedings under the IPC were pending against him. The Court,
while referring to Avtar Singh (supra), held that the suppression
can be a ground for anemployer to cancel the candidature or to
terminate the services. The respondent served in the organization
since 2003 and continued to remain as an under trial accused
without theknowledge of the organisation. The respondent received
an honourable acquittal from the trial court. This Court held as
under:
55
“13. Thus, it remains beyond the pale of doubt that the
cases of non-disclosure of material information and of
submitting false information have been treated as being
of equal gravity by this Court and it is laid down in no
uncertain terms that non-disclosureby itself may be a
ground for an employer to cancel the candidature or to
terminate services. Even in the summation abovequoted, this Court has emphasized that information
given to the employer by a candidate as to criminal case
including the factors of arrest or pendency of the case,
whether before or after entering into service, must be
true and there should be no suppression or false
mention of the required information.
14. In case of suppression, when the facts later come to
the knowledge of employer, different courses of action
may be adopted by the employer depending on the
nature offault as also the nature of default; and this
Court has indicated that if the case is of trivial nature,
like that of shouting slogans at a young age etc., the
employer may ignoresuch suppression of fact or false
information depending on the factors as to whether the
information, if disclosed, would have rendered
incumbent unfit for the post in question.
14.1. However, the aforesaid observations do not lead
to the corollary that in a case of the present nature
where a criminal case was indeed pending against the
respondent and the facts were altogether omitted from
being mentioned, the employer would be obliged to
ignore such defaults and shortcomings. …
x x x x
16. In the given set of facts and circumstances, where
56
suppression of relevant information is not a matter of
dispute, there cannot be any legal basis for the Court to
interfere in the manner that the employer be directed to
impose 'any lesser punishment', as directed by the
Division Bench of the High Court. The submissions
seeking to evoke sympathy and calling for leniency
cannot lead to any relief in favour of the respondent.”
 [Emphasis supplied]
63. In the case of Pawan Kumar v. Union of India, (2022) SCC
OnLine SC 532, a case was registered against the appellant for the
offences punishable under Sections 148, 149, 323, 356 and 506
resply of the IPC. The appellant was honourably acquitted.
However, the fact of the said criminal prosecution was not
disclosed in the attestation form filled by the petitioner. On such
ground, the appellant was discharged from service. The High Court
upheld the discharge. While allowing the appeal, this Court held as
follows:
“13. What emerges from the exposition as laid down by
this Court is that by mere suppression of material/false
information regardless of the fact whether there is a
conviction or acquittal has been recorded, the
employee/recruit is not to be discharged/terminated
axiomatically from service just by a stroke of pen. At the
same time, the effect of suppression of material/false
information involving in a criminal case, if any, is left for
the employer to consider all the relevant facts and
circumstancesavailable as to antecedents and keeping
in view the objective criteria and the relevant service
57
rules into consideration, while taking appropriate
decision regarding continuance/suitability of the
employee into service. What being noticed by this Court
is that mere suppression of material/false information
in a given case does not mean that the employer can
arbitrarily discharge/terminate the employee from
service.
x x x x
18. The criminal case indeed was of trivial nature and
the nature of post and nature ofduties to be discharged
by the recruit has never been looked into by the
competent authority while examining the overall
suitability of the incumbent keeping in view Rule52 of
the Rules 1987 to become a member of the force. Taking
into consideration the exposition expressed by this
Court in Avtar Singh (supra), in our considered view the
order of discharge passed by the competent authority
dated 24th April, 2015 is not sustainable and in sequel
thereto the judgment passed by the Division Bench of
High Court of Delhi does not hold good and deserves to
be set aside.” [Emphasis supplied]
64. In the case of Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam
Limited and another v. Anil Kanwariya, (2021) 10 SCC 136,
this Court gave altogether a different dimension to the issue in
question. In the said case, the respondent had applied for the post
of Technical Helper on the establishment of the appellant Nigam.
The respondent was appointed as a Technical Helper on probation
58
for a period of two years w.e.f. 06.05.2015. The appointment of the
respondent was subjected to the production of a character
certificate/verification report to be issued by the Superintendent of
Police of the native district of the respondent. The Superintendent,
Sawai Madhopur vide his report dated 05.06.2015 informed the
appellant that a criminal case bearing No. 13 of 2011 for the
offences punishable under Sections 143, 341 and 323 resply of the
IPC was registered against the respondent and the respondent
came to be convicted vide the judgment and order dated
05.08.2013 passed by the trial court. The report of Superintendent
of Police further stated that the respondent was given the benefit
under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. In other words,
although the respondent stood convicted for the alleged offence yet
the trial court thought fit to release him on probation. This fact was
supressed by the respondent at the time of his appointment. In
such circumstances, action was taken and ultimately the
respondent’s services came to be terminated. The respondent
challenged the order of termination in the High Court. The learned
Single Judge of the High Court set aside the order of termination
and directed the appellant to reinstate the respondent. The
59
appellant Nigam preferred an intra-court appeal before the Division
Bench. The appeal came to be dismissed. The appellant Nigam
ultimately came to this Court and challenged the orders passed by
the High Court. This Court while allowing the appeal filed by the
Nigam held in Para 14 as under:
“14. The issue/question may be considered from
another angle, from the employer’s point of view. The
question is not about whether an employee was
involved in a dispute of trivial nature and whether he
has been subsequently acquitted or not. The question is
about the credibility and/or trustworthiness of such an
employee who at the initial stage of the employment,
i.e., while submitting the declaration/verification
and/or applying for a post made false declaration
and/or not disclosing and/or suppressing material fact
of having involved in a criminal case. If the correct facts
would have been disclosed, the employer might not
have appointed him. Then the question is of TRUST.
Therefore, in such a situation, where the employer feels
that an employee who at the initial stage itself has
made a false statement and/or not disclosed the
material facts and/or suppressed the material facts
and therefore he cannot be continued in service because
such an employee cannot be relied upon even in future,
the employer cannot be forced to continue such an
employee. The choice/option whether to continue or not
to continue such an employee always must be given to
the employer. At the cost of repetition, it is observed and
as observed hereinabove in catena of decision such an
employee cannot claim the appointment and/or
60
continue to be in service as a matter of right.”
 [Emphasis Supplied]
65. Thus, this Court took the view that irrespective of the fact
whether the dispute is of a trivial nature or not, it is the credibility/
trustworthiness of a particular employee which matters the most
when it comes to public employment. This Court took the view that
if a particular employee supresses something important or makes
any false declaration with a view to secure public employment then
such employee could be said to have exhibited a tendency which is
likely to shake the confidence of the employer. In such
circumstances, it would be within the discretion of the employer
whether to continue or not to continue such an employee who has
exhibited a tendency which reflects on his overall character or
credibility.
66. We now proceed to look into the decision of this Court in the
case of Mohammed Imran v. State of Maharashtra and Others
(2019) 17 SCC 696, upon which strong reliance has been placed on
behalf of the appellant herein. In the said case, the appellant
Mohammed Imran was denied appointment in judicial service on
the ground of moral turpitude as he had to face criminal
61
prosecution for the offences punishable under Sections 363 and
366 resply r/w 34 of the IPC. The appellant had been acquitted of
the charge under Sections 363 and 366 r/w 34 of the IPC much
before he cleared the examination for appointment in the judicial
service in the year 2009. Thus, it was a case wherein the criminal
prosecution came in the way of the appellant. Although he stood
acquitted by the trial court yet he was denied appointment on the
ground of “Moral Turpitude”. The appellant lost before the High
Court of Bombay. This Court while allowing his appeal observed as
under:
“5. Employment opportunities are a scarce commodity
in our country. Every advertisement invites a large
number of aspirants for limited number of vacancies.
But that may not suffice to invoke sympathy for grant
of relief where the credentials of the candidate may
raise serious questions regarding suitability,
irrespective of eligibility. Undoubtedly, judicial service
is very different from other services and the yardstick
of suitability that may apply to other services, may not
be the same for a judicial service. But there cannot be
any mechanical or rhetorical incantation of moral
turpitude, to deny appointment in judicial service
simplicitor. Much will depend on the facts of a case.
Every individual deserves an opportunity to improve,
learn from the past and move ahead in life by selfimprovement. 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.
62
6. That the expression “moral turpitude” is not capable
of precise definition was considered in Pawan
Kumar v. State of Haryana, [(1996) 4 SCC 17 : 1996
SCC (Cri) 583] , opining : (SCC p. 21, para 12)
“12. “Moral turpitude” is an expression which is
used in legal as also societal parlance to describe
conduct which is inherently base, vile, depraved
or having any connection showing depravity.”
7. The appellant by dint of hard academic labour was
successful at the competitive examination held on 16-
8-2009 and after viva voce was selected and
recommended for appointment by the Maharashtra
Public Service Commission on 14-10-2009. In his
attestation form, he had duly disclosed his
prosecution and acquittal. Mere disclosure in an
appropriate case may not be sufficient to hold for
suitability in employment. Nonetheless the nature of
allegations and the conduct in the facts of a case
would certainly be a relevant factor. While others so
recommended came to be appointed, the selection of
the appellant was annulled on 4-6-2010 in view of the
character verification report of the police.
8. It is an undisputed fact that one Shri Sudhir Gulabrao
Barde, who had been acquitted on 24-11-2009 in Case
No. 3022 of 2007 under Sections 294, 504 and 34 IPC,
has been appointed. We are not convinced, that in the
facts and circumstances of the present case, the
appellant could 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. The distinction sought to be drawn
by the respondents, that the former was not involved in
a case of moral turpitude does not leave us convinced.
In Joginder Singh [Joginder Singh v. State (UT of
Chandigarh), (2015) 2 SCC 377: (2015) 1 SCC (L&S)
63
490], it was observed as follows: (SCC pp. 383-84, para
25)
“25. Further, apart from a small dent in the
name of this criminal case in which he has been
honourably acquitted, there is no other material
on record to indicate that the antecedents or the
conduct of the appellant was not up to the mark
to appoint him to the post.”
9. In the present proceedings, on 23-3-2018 [Mohd.
Imran v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 17 SCC 700],
this Court had called for a confidential report of the
character verification as also the antecedents of the
appellant as on this date. 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. The law is well
settled in this regard in Avtar Singh v. Union of
India [(2016) 8 SCC 471 : (2016) 2 SCC (L&S) 425] .
If empanelment creates no right to appointment,
equally there can be no arbitrary denial of
appointment after empanelment.
10. In the entirety of the facts and circumstances of
the case, we are of the considered opinion that 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
64
as moral turpitude, reflecting inadequate
appreciation and application of facts also, as justice
may demand.
11. We, therefore, consider the present a fit case to
set aside the order dated 4-6-2010 and the
impugned order [Mohd. Imran v. State of
Maharashtra, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 9939]
dismissing the writ petition, and direct the
respondents to reconsider the candidature of the
appellant. Let such fresh consideration be done and
an appropriate decision be taken in the light of the
present discussion, preferably within a maximum
period of eight weeks from the date of receipt and
production of the copy of the present order. In order
to avoid any future litigation on seniority or
otherwise, we make it clear that in the event of
appointment, the appellant shall not be entitled to
any other reliefs.”
67. Thus, this Court took the view that although employment
opportunity is a scarce commodity in the present times being
circumscribed within a limited vacancies yet by itself may not
suffice to invoke sympathy for grant of relief where the credentials
of a candidate may raise any question regarding his suitability,
irrespective of eligibility. However, at the same time, this Court
observed that there should not be any mechanical or rhetorical
incantation of moral turpitude to deny appointment in a
government service simplicitor which would depend on the facts of
each case. The judicial philosophy flowing through the mind of the
65
judges is that every individual deserves an opportunity to improve,
learn from the past and move ahead in life for self-improvement.
To make past conduct, irrespective of all considerations, may not
always constitute justice. It would all depend on the fact situation
of the given case.
68. The only reason to refer to and look into the various decisions
rendered by this Court as above over a period of time is that the
principles of law laid therein governing the subject are bit
inconsistent. Even after, the larger Bench decision in the case of
Avtar Singh (supra) different courts have enunciated different
principles.
69. In such circumstances, we undertook some exercise to
shortlist the broad principles of law which should be made
applicable to the litigations of the present nature. The principles
are as follows:
a) Each case should be scrutinised thoroughly by the public
employer concerned, through its designated officials–more so, in
the case of recruitment for the police force, who are under a duty
to maintain order, and tackle lawlessness, since their ability to
66
inspire public confidence is a bulwark to society’s security. [See
Raj Kumar (supra)]
b) Even in a case where the employee has made declaration
truthfully and correctly of a concluded criminal case, the
employer still has the right to consider the antecedents, and
cannot be compelled to appoint the candidate. The acquittal in a
criminal case would not automatically entitle a candidate for
appointment to the post. It would be still open to the employer to
consider the antecedents and examine whether the candidate
concerned is suitable and fit for appointment to the post.
c) The suppression of material information and making a false
statement in the verification Form relating to arrest, prosecution,
conviction etc., has a clear bearing on the character, conduct and
antecedents of the employee. If it is found that the employee had
suppressed or given false information in regard to the matters
having a bearing on his fitness or suitability to the post, he can
be terminated from service.
d) The generalisations about the youth, career prospects and
age of the candidates leading to condonation of the offenders’
67
conduct, should not enter the judicial verdict and should be
avoided.
e) The Court should inquire whether the Authority concerned
whose action is being challenged acted mala fide.
f) Is there any element of bias in the decision of the Authority?
g) Whether the procedure of inquiry adopted by the Authority
concerned was fair and reasonable?
Scope of Appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution
70. Article 136 of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court
to grant special leave in its discretion against any judgment,
decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter
passed or made by any court or tribunal except by any court or
tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the armed
forces. It reads as under:
“136. Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court.—
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the
Supreme Court may, in its discretion, grant special
leave to appeal from any judgment, decree,
determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter
passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory
of India.
(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to any judgment,
determination, sentence or order passed or made by
any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law
relating to the Armed Forces.”
68
71. The jurisdiction conferred by Article 136 is divisible into two
stages: the first stage is upto the disposal of prayer for the special
leave to file an appeal and the second stage commences, if and
when, the leave to appeal is granted and the special leave petition
is converted into an appeal. The legal position as summarised by
this Court in Kunhayammed v. State of Kerala, (2000) 6 SCC
359; affirmed in Khoday Distilleries Ltd. v. Mahadeshwara
Sahakara Sakkare Karkhane Ltd., (2019) 4 SCC 376, regarding
the scope of two stages reads as under:
“(1) While hearing the petition for special leave to
appeal, the Court is called upon to see whether the
petitioner should be granted such leave or not. While
hearing such petition, the Court is not exercising its
appellate jurisdiction; it is merely exercising its
discretionary jurisdiction to grant or not to grant leave
to appeal. The petitioner is still outside the gate of entry
though aspiring to enter the appellate arena of the
Supreme Court. Whether he enters or not would depend
on the fate of his petition for special leave;
(2) If the petition seeking grant of leave to appeal is
dismissed, it is an expression of opinion by the Court
that a case for invoking appellate jurisdiction of the
Court was not made out.
(3) If leave to appeal is granted, the appellate
jurisdiction of the Court stands invoked; the gate for
entry in the appellate arena is opened. The petitioner is
in and the respondent may also be called upon to face
him, though in an appropriate case, in spite of having
granted leave to appeal, the Court may dismiss the
69
appeal without noticing the respondent.
(4) In spite of a petition for special leave to appeal
having been filed, the judgment, decree or order against
which leave to appeal has been sought for, continues to
be final, effective and binding as between the parties.
Once leave to appeal has been granted, the finality of
the judgment, decree or order appealed against is put
in jeopardy though it continues to be binding and
effective between the parties unless it is a nullity or
unless the Court may pass a specific order staying or
suspending the operation or execution of the judgment,
decree or order under challenge.”
72. In Pritam Singh v. State, AIR 1950 SC 169, the Constitution
Bench of this Court has explained the scope and powers of this
Court under Article 136 of the Constitution in detail:
“9. On a careful examination of Article 136 along
with the preceding article, it seems clear that the
wide discretionary power with which this Court is
invested under it is to be exercised sparingly and
in exceptional cases only, and as far as possible a
more or less uniform standard should be adopted
in granting special leave in the wide range of
matters which can come up before it under this
article. By virtue of this article, we can grant
special leave in civil cases, in criminal cases, in
income tax cases, in cases which come up before
different kinds of tribunals and in a variety of other
cases. The only uniform standard which in our
opinion can be laid down in the circumstances is
that Court should grant special leave to appeal only
in those cases where special circumstances are
shown to exist. The Privy Council have tried to lay
down from time to time certain principles for
granting special leave in criminal cases, which
were reviewed by the Federal Court
in Kapildeo v. King. It is sufficient for our purpose
70
to say that though we are not bound to follow them
too rigidly since the reasons, constitutional and
administrative, which sometimes weighed with the
Privy Council, need not weigh with us, yet some of
those principles are useful as furnishing in many
cases a sound basis for invoking the discretion of
this Court in granting special leave. Generally
speaking, this Court will not grant special leave,
unless it is shown that exceptional and special
circumstances exist, that substantial and grave
injustice has been done and that the case in
question presents features of sufficient gravity to
warrant a review of the decision appealed against.
Since the present case does not in our opinion fulfil
any of these conditions, we cannot interfere with
the decision of the High Court, and the appeal must
be dismissed.” [Emphasis supplied]
73. A three-Judge Bench of this Court in the case of Hem Raj,
Son of Devilal Mahajan of Bijainagar, Condemned Prisoner,
at Present Confined in the Central Jail, Ajmer v. State of
Ajmer, AIR 1954 SC 462, held as under:
“2. Unless it is shown that exceptional and special
circumstances exist that substantial and grave injustice
has been done and the case in question presents
features of sufficient gravity to warrant a review of the
decision appealed against, this Court does not exercise
its overriding powers under Article 136(1) of the
Constitution and the circumstance that because the
appeal has been admitted by special leave does not
entitle the appellant to open out the whole case and
contest all the findings of fact and raise every point
which could be raised in the High Court. Even at the
final hearing only those points can be urged which are
fit to be urged at the preliminary stage when the leave
to appeal is asked for. The question for consideration is
71
whether this test is satisfied in either of these two
appeals. After hearing the learned counsel in both the
appeals we are satisfied that none of them raise any
questions which fall within the rule enunciated above.”
 [Emphasis supplied]
74. The Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of P.S.R.
Sadhanantham v. Arunachalam and Another, (1980) 3 SCC
141, has explained the Article 136 of the Constitution as under:
“7. …..In express terms, Article 136 does not
confer a right of appeal on a party as such but it
confers a wide discretionary power on the Supreme
Court to interfere in suitable cases. The
discretionary dimension is considerable but that
relates to the power of the court. The question is
whether it spells by implication, fair a procedure as
contemplated by Article 21. In our view, it does.
Article 136 is a special jurisdiction. It is residuary
power; it is extraordinary in its amplitude, its limit,
when it chases injustice, is the sky itself. This
Court functionally fulfils itself by reaching out to
injustice wherever it is and this power is largely
derived in the common run of cases from Article
136. Is it merely a power in the court to be
exercised in any manner it fancies? Is there no
procedural limitation in the manner of exercise and
the occasion for exercise? Is there no duty to act
fairly while hearing a case under Article 136, either
in the matter of grant of leave or, after such grant,
in the final disposal of the appeal? We have hardly
any doubt that here is a procedure necessarily
implicit in the power vested in the summit court. It
must be remembered that Article 136 confers
jurisdiction on the highest court. The founding
fathers unarguably intended in the very terms of
Article 136 that it shall be exercised by the highest
judges of the land with scrupulous adherence to
72
judicial principles well established by precedents
in our jurisprudence. Judicial discretion is
canalised authority, not arbitrary eccentricity.
Cardozo, with elegant accuracy, has observed:
[Benjamin Cardozo : The Nature Of The Judicial
Process, Yale University Press (1921)]
“The Judge, even when he is free, is still not
wholly free. He is not to innovate at pleasure. He
is not a knight-errant roaming at will in pursuit
of his own ideal of beauty or of goodness. He is
to draw his inspiration from consecrated
principles. It is not to yield to spasmodic
sentiment, to vague and unregulated
benevolence. He is to exercise a discretion
informed by tradition, methodized by analogy,
disciplined by system, and subordinated to ‘the
primordial necessity of order in the social life’.
Wide enough in all conscience is the field of
discretion that remains.”
8. It is manifest that Article 136 is of composite
structure, is power-cum-procedure — power in that
it vests jurisdiction in the Supreme Court, and
procedure in that it spells a mode of hearing. It
obligates the exercise of judicial discretion and the
mode of hearing so characteristic of the court
process. In short, there is an in-built prescription of
power and procedure in terms of Article 136 which
meets the demand of Article 21.
9. We may eye the issue slightly differently. If
Article 21 is telescoped into Article 136, the
conclusion follows that fair procedure is imprinted
on the special leave that the court may grant or
refuse. When a motion is made for leave to appeal
against an acquittal, this Court appreciates the
gravity of the peril to personal liberty involved in
that proceeding. It is fair to assume that while
considering the petition under Article 136 the court
73
will pay attention to the question of liberty, the
person who seeks such leave from the court, his
motive and his locus standi and the weighty factors
which persuade the court to grant special leave.
When this conspectus of processual circumstances
and criteria play upon the jurisdiction of the court
under Article 136, it is reasonable to conclude that
the desideratum of fair procedure implied in Article
21 is adequately answered.
xxx xxx xxx
11. The wider the discretionary power the more
sparing its exercise. Times out of number this Court
has stressed that though parties promiscuously
“provoke” this jurisdiction, the court
parsimoniously invokes the power. Moreover, the
court may not, save in special situations, grant
leave to one who is not eo nomine a party on the
record. Thus, procedural limitations exist and are
governed by well worn rules of guidance.”
 [Emphasis supplied]
75. Thus, the principles of law discernible from the aforesaid are
that unless, it is shown that exceptional and special circumstances
exist; that substantial and grave injustice have been done and the
case and question present features of sufficient gravity to warrant
a review of the decision appealed against, this Court would not
exercise its overriding powers under Article 136(1) of the
Constitution. The wide discretionary power with which this Court
is invested under Article 136 is to be exercised sparingly and in
exceptional cases only.
74
76. In so far as the Appeal arising out of the Special Leave Petition
(C) No. 20860 of 2019 filed by Satish Chandra Yadav is concerned,
the same should fail. We are not at all convinced with the case put
forward by Satish Chandra Yadav for informing the respondent
herein that there was no criminal case pending against him on the
date he filled up the verification form. The explanation offered by
Satish Chandra Yadav is nothing but his own understanding of
what is prosecution and pendency of a criminal case. If he knows
that trial is deemed to have commenced with the framing of charge,
then we are sure he knows and understands what is criminal
prosecution.
77. Indisputably, Satish Chandra Yadav was still under probation
at the time, his services had been terminated. It is also apparent
from the record that Satish Chandra Yadav had been given
appointment on probation subject to the verification of facts given
in the verification Form. To our mind, therefore, if an enquiry
revealed that the facts given were wrong, the respondent herein
was at liberty to dispense with the services of the appellant Satish
Chandra Yadav as the question of any stigma and penal
consequences at this stage would not arise. It bears repetition that
75
what has led to the termination of the services of the appellant
Satish Chandra Yadav is not his involvement in the criminal case
which was then pending, and in which he had been acquitted
subsequently but the fact that he had withheld relevant
information while filling in the verification Form. He could be said
to have exhibited or displayed such a tendency which shook the
confidence of the respondent.
78. Administrative law has traditionally approached the review of
decisions classified as discretionary separately from those seen as
involving the interpretation of rules of law. The rule has been that
the decisions classified as discretionary may only be reviewed on
limited grounds such as the bad faith of decision-makers, the
exercise of discretion for an improper purpose, and the use of
irrelevant considerations. A general doctrine of
“unreasonableness” has also sometimes been applied to the
discretionary decisions. In our opinion, these
doctrines incorporate two central ideas — those discretionary
decisions, like all other administrative decisions, must be made
within the bounds of the jurisdiction conferred by the statutory
rules, but that considerable deference will be given to the decision-
76
makers by the courts in reviewing the exercise of that discretion
and determining the scope of the decision-makers’
jurisdiction. These doctrines recognise that it is the intention of a
legislature, when using statutory language that confers broad
choices on the administrative agencies, that courts should not
lightly interfere with such decisions, and should give considerable
respect to the decision-makers when reviewing the manner in
which discretion was exercised. However, discretion must still be
exercised in a manner that is within a reasonable interpretation of
the margin of manoeuvre contemplated by the legislature, in
accordance with the principles of the rule of law.
79. Ms. Madhavi Divan, the learned ASG has rightly relied on
Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (supra) in which this Court held
that the purpose of requiring an employee to furnish information
regarding prosecution/conviction, etc. in the verification Form was
to assess his character and antecedents for the purpose of
employment and continuation in service; that suppression of
material information and making a false statement in reply to the
queries relating to prosecution and conviction had a clear bearing
on the character, conduct and antecedents of the employee; and
77
that where it is found that the employee had suppressed or given
false information in regard to the matters which had a bearing on
his fitness or suitability to the post, he could be terminated from
service during the period of probation without holding any inquiry.
This Court also made it clear that neither the gravity of the criminal
offence nor the ultimate acquittal therein was relevant when
considering whether a probationer who suppresses a material fact
(of his being involved in a criminal case, in the personal information
furnished to the employer), is fit to be continued as a probationer.
80. We find that the observations in the aforesaid case are fully
applicable to the appeal filed by Satish Chandra Yadav. We are of
the opinion that it was a deliberate attempt on the part of the
appellant Satish Chandra Yadav to withhold the relevant
information and it is this omission which has led to the termination
of his service during the probation period.
81. In view of the aforesaid, the Appeal arising out of the Special
Leave Petition (C) No. 20860 of 2019 filed by Satish Chandra Yadav
fails and is hereby dismissed.
82. So far as the connected Appeal arising out of the Special Leave
Petition (C) No. 5170 of 2021 filed by Pushpendra Kumar Yadav is
78
concerned, the same also fails on the very same line of reasoning
adopted by us. The only difference in the case of the appellant
Pushpendra Kumar Yadav is that he had put in about four years
of service before he came to be terminated.
83. In the result, both the appeals fail and are hereby dismissed
with no order as to costs.
84. Pending application, if any, stands disposed of.
………………………………………..J.
 (SURYA KANT)
………………………………………..J.
 (J.B. PARDIWALA)
NEW DELHI;
SEPTEMBER 26, 2022.

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