Suppressing And Making False Statement In Employment Verification Form Can Lead To Termination From Service- SC
The Supreme Court in a service matter has observed that 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.
A Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J.B. Pardiwala further also observed that if it is found that the employee had suppressed or given false information in regards to the matter having a bearing on his fitness or suitability to the post, he can be terminated from service.
The Court disposed of two appeals by a common judgment and order since the issue that arose in both the cases were the same and the principles of law applicable were also common.
1) SLP (Civil) 20860 of 2019
An appeal was preferred by the Appellant assailing the judgment of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court which had rejected the Writ Application of the Appellant in the case and affirmed the dismissal of the Appellant from service as Constable (General Duty) with CRPF.
The Appellant had while filing up his verification form at the time of recruitment in CRPF in response to the question of whether any case was pending against him, had answered in the negative.
Later, it was found that a case was registered against the Appellant under Sections s 147, 323, 324, 504, and 506 IPC. Upon receipt of the information as aforesaid, the services of the Appellant came to be terminated in the exercise of the powers conferred under Rule 5(1) of the Central Civil Services (Temporary Service) Rules, 1965 on the ground that he had concealed the information as aforesaid while filing up his verification form.
Aggrieved with the judgment of the High Court, the Appellant approached the Supreme Court.
In this case, Counsel Jyoti Dutt Sharma appeared for the Appellant while ASG Madhavi Divan appeared for the Respondent before the Apex Court.
2) SLP (Civil) No. 5170 of 2021
In this case, the Appellant assailed the order of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court which had rejected the Writ Application of the Appellant and affirmed his dismissal from service as a Sub-Inspector/GD, 45th Battalion, CRPF.
The Appellant was serving on the post of SI/GD with the CRPF. In August 2011, the Appellant applied for the post of SI in the CRPF pursuant to a call for applications by the Union Public Service Commission.
As part of the said application, the Appellant was required to fill out 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.
The Appellant came to be inducted into the CRPF as an SI.
Thereafter, an inquiry commenced against the Appellant, and was removed from service.
Aggrieved with the High Court's order, the Appellant approached the Apex Court.
Counsel MM Singh appeared for the Appellant while ASG Madhavi Divan appeared for the Respondent before the Court.
The Court placed reliance on a catena of judgments to deliberate upon the position of law including Union of India and Others v. M. Bhaskaran, AIR (1996) SC 686, where the Court had observed 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.
Further, reliance was also placed on Delhi Administration, v. Sushil Kumar, (1996) 11 SCC 605, where it was held 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.
The Court also relied upon Daya Shankar Yadav v. Union of India and Others, (2010) 14 SCC 103, where the Court was faced with a similar issue wherein a CRPF officer upon suppression of material facts was terminated from the service.
The Court further elucidated broad principles of law which should be made applicable to the litigations of the present nature, the principles are –
"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 inspire public confidence is a bulwark to society's security.
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' 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?"
In light of these observations, the Court dismissed the appeals.
Cause Title - Satish Chandra Yadav & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.