Late acquittal will not affect selection process during pendency of case, says Supreme Court

New Delhi (ILNS): The Supreme Court has held that mere inclusion in the selection list does not give an indefeasible right to a candidate as the employer has a right to refuse appointment on any valid ground. This applies even if a case pending against the candidate during the selection process is dismissed and the candidate is acquitted later.

The division bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M. R. Shah made the observation while dismissing an appeal challenging the verdict of the Madhya Pradesh High Court which had rejected a plea filed by a man who had sought the quashing of orders by which he was held to be not suitable for being appointed to the post of District Judge due to pendency of a dowry harassment case filed by his wife.

The appellant, Anil Bhardwaj, was declared successful in the Main Examination held for the post of District Judge and was called for interview. He also received a communication in April 2018 from the Law and Legislative Department informing that he has been selected for the post of District Judge.

In July 2018, he was informed that in his attestation form a criminal case is shown to be lodged against him and around two months later, an order was issued by the law and legislative department declaring him to be ineligible and directing the deletion of his name from the select list.

The High Court dismissed the petition, prompting the appellant to approach the Supreme Court.

The FIR against the appellant was lodged by his wife under Section 498A and 406 IPC in the year 2014 on the basis of which a charge-sheet was submitted in the Court in July 2017. By a judgment passed in September 2019, the High Court acquitted the appellant of the charge framed against him.

Senior Advocate R Venkataramani, on behalf of the appellant, submitted that the decision declaring him unsuitable on the ground of pendency of a criminal case was contrary to the guidelines issued by the Government of Madhya Pradesh for character verification. 

The Apex Court noted that the fact that the appellant was subsequently acquitted in the criminal case did not furnish sufficient ground for reconsidering him for appointment to the post.

The mere fact that subsequently, after more than a year, when the person whose candidature has been cancelled has been acquitted, cannot be a ground to turn the clock backward, the bench said.

The bench held that the decision of Examination-cum-Section and Appointment Committee for holding the appellant unsuitable was based on a relevant consideration and that there was no mala-fides intention.

The Top Court further held that it was not disputed that the criminal case under Section 498A and 406 IPC was pending at the time when he applied for the recruitment and when he appeared for the interview and when the result was declared. 

“We, thus, are of the view that the High Court did not commit any error in dismissing the writ petition. The appellant was not entitled for any relief in the writ petition. In the result, while dismissing this appeal we observe that stigma, if any, of the criminal case lodged against appellant under Section 498A/406/34

IPC is washed out due to the acquittal of the appellant vide judgment dated 18.09.2019,” say the concluding lines of the judgment.

Read the judgment here;

17572_2020_37_1501_24355_Judgement_13-Oct-2020

-ILNS
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