Criminal Case Registered Was For Petty Offences: SC Directs Appointment Of Constable In West Bengal Police Force Citing Acquittal
The Supreme Court has directed the DGP and the State to consider the case of the respondent and issue an order of appointment to the post of constable in the West Bengal Police Force. The case involved a dispute over the appointment of a constable based on the alleged suppression of information about a pending criminal case.
The two-judge Bench of Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice K.V. Viswanathan observed that “As the respondent was not involved in heinous/serious offence or any offence involving moral turpitude, and the fact that in the said criminal case he has been honourably acquitted, therefore, modifying the order of the High Court, we direct the appellant to consider the case of the respondent and issue order of appointment to the post of constable in West Bengal Police Force within a period of four weeks from the date of passing of this order.”
The case involved an appeal against a judgment by the Calcutta High Court concerning the appointment of Mitul Kumar Jana as a constable in the West Bengal police force. Despite being placed on the merit list, concerns arose due to his alleged non-disclosure of an ongoing criminal case on the police verification form. The appointing authority sought an opinion from the Intelligence Branch, which confirmed non-disclosure. Consequently, the appointment was denied. The respondent approached the West Bengal Administrative Tribunal, which stated that the non-disclosure wasn't a suppression of material information and suggested considering the appointment upon acquittal. Displeased, the respondent appealed to the Calcutta High Court. The High Court determined that the form asked for details about arrest, detention, and conviction, not pending cases, and ordered the appointment letter issuance, citing the respondent's presumed innocence. The State of West Bengal appealed against the High Court's decision.
Senior Advocate Soumya Chakraborty appeared for the Appellants and Advocate Rameshwar Prasad Goyal (AOR) appeared for the Respondent.
The appellant argued that the High Court's decision could negatively impact the police force's morale and public trust. On the other hand, the respondent's counsel asserted that the information sought in column 12 was vague and that the High Court's decision was appropriate.
The central issue was whether the respondent's non-disclosure of the pending case on the verification form constituted suppression of material information and whether the High Court's direction to issue the appointment letter was justified.
Upon examination, the Court found that the respondent had been acquitted of charges in a related case. The Court noted that the allegations weren't of serious nature and wouldn't affect his public employment.
“The Tribunal and the High Court have rightly recorded the finding that it is not a case of suppression of material information and we affirm such finding. Simultaneously, the criminal case registered against the respondent were for petty offences. The allegations in the said case were neither of heinous/serious offences, nor related to an offence involving moral turpitude. In the said case, the respondent was honourably acquitted because the prosecution had miserably failed to prove the charges.”
The Court discussed the language of the verification form and cited a previous case B. Chinnam Naidu to assert that the respondent's response aligned with the form's requirements. The Court then referred to the case of Avtar Singh v. Union of India and Others, (2016) 8 SCC 471, summarizing principles related to the suppression of information.
Consequently, the Court confirmed that the respondent hadn't suppressed material information and modified the High Court's order. It directed the appellant to issue an appointment letter to the respondent, considering his acquittal.
The Court emphasized the discretion of the employer in assessing suitability and antecedents and specified that the respondent would receive notional benefits upon appointment but not salary or back wages until the appointment date. The appeal was disposed of accordingly by the Court.
Cause Title: State of West Bengal & Ors. v. Mitul Kumar Jana