The Supreme Court observed that non-disclosure of criminal case that ended in acquittal is not always fatal for candidate's employment.

The Court allowed the appeal filed by a man (a candidate to post of Constable) whose selection was cancelled on the ground that he did not disclose the criminal case against him.

The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice K.V. Viswanathan observed, “The nature of the office, the timing and nature of the criminal case; the overall consideration of the judgement of acquittal; the nature of the query in the application/verification form; the contents of the character verification reports; the socio economic strata of the individual applying; the other antecedents of the candidate; the nature of consideration and the contents of the cancellation/termination order are some of the crucial aspects which should enter the judicial verdict in adjudging suitability and in determining the nature of relief to be ordered.”

Advocate Premashis Choudhary appeared on behalf of the appellant while Additional Advocate General Garima Prasad and Standing Counsel Ruchira Goel appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the appellant person had applied for the post of Constable and his record was unblemished. Five days after submitting the application, he was embroiled in a criminal case for the offences punishable under Sections 324, 352, and 504 of IPC which he claimed was a false case. He cleared the written exam and the interview and earlier he had cleared the physical efficiency test too. In the meantime, the criminal case took an interesting turn as he was acquitted. After being selected, he was required to submit an Affidavit disclosing criminal antecedents, if any.

The accused submitted the affidavit in which he stated that no criminal case, cognizable or non-cognizable has ever been registered against him. Thereafter, he was asked to report for training and when he reported, he was not sent for training on the ground that there was a character verification pending. Subsequently, he was given a letter cancelling his selection for the said post. The case of the Department was that, under Clause 9 of the recruitment notification, if any fact is concealed in the affidavit by the candidate, his candidature is liable for cancellation. Being aggrieved, he approached the High Court which dismissed his appeal and hence he moved to the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case said, “As would be clear from Avtar Singh (Supra), it has been clearly laid down that though a person who has suppressed the material information cannot claim unfettered right for appointment, he or she has a right not to be dealt with arbitrarily. The exercise of power has to be in a reasonable manner with objectivity and having due regard to the facts. In short, the ultimate action should be based upon objective criteria after due consideration of all relevant aspects.”

The Court took note of the fact that due to multiple columns in the verification affidavit, questions were asked from the appellant in different permutations and combinations and he must have been in a deep dilemma as there was an imminent prospect of losing his employment.

“Most importantly, we find from the verification documents fairly and candidly made available by the learned Additional Advocate General, that the verification report after noticing the criminal case and the subsequent acquittal stated that his character was good, that no complaints were found against him and that his general reputation was good”, it added.

The Court further observed that broad-brushing every non-disclosure as a disqualification, will be unjust and the same will tantamount to being completely oblivious to the ground realities obtaining in this great, vast and diverse country.

“Each case will depend on the facts and circumstances that prevail thereon, and the court will have to take a holistic view, based on objective criteria, with the available precedents serving as a guide. It can never be a one size fits all scenario”, it also noted.

Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the appeal, set aside the impugned orders, and directed the respondents to appoint the appellant in service on the post of Constable.

Cause Title- Ravindra Kumar v. State of U.P. & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 131)


Appellant: AOR Saurabh Ajay Gupta, Advocates Nishant Bishnoi, Srishti Prabhakar, Utsav Singhal, R.K. Singh, Nivedita Singh, Premasis Choudhury, and Ankit Choudhury.

Respondents: Additional Advocate General Garima Prasad and AOR Ruchira Goel.

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