At the same time, the High Court also made it clear that the respondents even after the acquittal of the petitioner in the criminal case would be well within their jurisdiction to discharge him from service if they find that the acquittal of the petitioner is on technical grounds or that he has been given benefit of doubt or the same is not a clear and honorable acquittal.
A Single Judge Bench of observed that “non-disclosure of material information or submission of false information by a person who has been employed in Government service, particularly in a belt force, is good enough reason for discontinuing his services without holding an enquiry if he is a probationer. Even if the employer comes to know about the adverse antecedents of an employee during the probation period, it shall be open to the employer to exercise his powers under sub-rule (1) of Rule 5 of the Rules of 1965 and discharge the probationer without assigning any reason". Justice Sanjay Dhar
However, before doing so, the Bench cautioned that the appointing authority must consider the nature of information that has been withheld by the employee and the nature of false information that has been furnished by him.
The Bench also cautioned that the appointing authority must consider the fact as to whether the exoneration of the employee from the criminal case that was pending against him, either before his appointment or during his service, is on account of technical grounds or is an honorable acquittal/discharge.
Advocate Ashok K. Pandey appeared for the Petitioner, whereas Advocate Vikar-ul-Haq, appeared for the Respondent.
The brief facts of the case were that the Petitioner, who was appointed as a Constable in the Central Reserve Police Force, found himself embroiled in a criminal case during his earned leave period. Accused of multiple offences under section 147, 148,149, 341, 342, 323, 452, 307, 504, 302/34 of IPC registered with Police Station, Karra. Vide order dated April 26, 2013, the Indian Penal Code, he was subsequently suspended and later received a termination notice, effective one month from the date of service. The Petitioner claims that he did not know about the pending criminal case against him until he visited his native village after two years of service. He did attempt to challenge the termination order in the High Court of Jharkhand, but the petition was later withdrawn, leaving him in a state of uncertainty. During the period between the withdrawal of the petition and the present, the Petitioner managed to secure an acquittal from the charges against him, as per the Judgment dated July 29, 2015, by the Sessions Judge, Khutni. He now contends that the termination order violates the principles of natural justice since no prior inquiry was conducted before the decision was taken. Moreover, he argues that the punishment of termination is disproportionate considering he was unaware of the criminal case's existence. In sum, the petitioner seeks redressal, asserting that he was unjustly terminated without due process, despite his acquittal and lack of awareness of the criminal case during his service.
After considering the submission and perusing the record produced by the respondents, the Bench found that the petitioner, at the time of his appointment, has filled up the form prescribed under Rule 12 of the CRPF Rules.
However, the Bench noted that there is no column in the said form which obliges a candidate to state anything about his antecedents regarding his involvement in any criminal case.
“The verification form No.25, which is prescribed under Rule 14 of the CRPF Rules, could not be traced from the record produced by the respondents. It is this form which obliges a candidate to make a declaration regarding his antecedents regarding his involvement in a criminal case”, added the Bench.
So, the Bench clarified that the question of whether the petitioner had given a false declaration about his non-involvement in a criminal case can be ascertained only from form 25 which he may have filled up at the time of his appointment and if that is not available with the respondents, then it can’t be a case of non-declaration of information.
Therefore, the High Court concluded that the Petitioner should have the chance to represent his case including facts about non-disclosure and subsequent acquittal, to the fourth respondent, who is directed to make an appropriate decision within one month of receiving the Petitioner's representation.
Cause Title: Bijay Oraon v. Union of India and Ors.