Concealment of Criminal History In Application Forms by Applicant Unacceptable Regardless of Severity of Crime - Supreme Court
A Supreme Court Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna quashed a judgment passed by the Rajasthan High Court which directed the State to consider the appointment of a constable who had concealed his criminal history in his application forms.
Quashing the judgment, the Supreme Court noted that "An employee in the uniformed service presupposes a higher level of integrity as such a person is expected to uphold the law and on the contrary any act in deceit and subterfuge cannot be tolerated. In the present case the original writ petitioner has not confirmed to the above expectations/ requirements. He suppressed the material facts of his criminal antecedents. He did not disclose in the application form that against him a criminal case/FIR is pending. On the contrary, in the application form, he made a false statement that he is not facing any criminal case."
AAG and Senior Advocate Dr. Manish Singhvi appeared on behalf of the State. Mr. RK Shukla appeared on behalf of the Respondent.
In this case, applications were invited by the Director General of Police for recruitment to 4684 vacant posts. As per the 2008 Recruitment Notification, all interested candidates were required to qualify for a series of tests and clear an interview, for securing an appointment. Further, 9(e) of the notification specifies that the candidates are required to fill in the correct information in the application forms and if the information is wrong or incomplete, the form is liable to be rejected at any stage.
The Respondent applied for the post of Constable and in the application form categorically stated that there were no criminal antecedents of pending FIRs or criminal cases against him. He also signed the declaration that the form was correct and no criminal record was concealed.
However, the Respondent was facing criminal proceedings, and since this was not disclosed by him, his candidature was rejected.
The Single Judge and Division Bench of the High Court directed the State to consider the candidature of the Respondent on the grounds that the offences were trivial in nature and the suppression of such grounds should have been ignored. Aggrieved, the State approached the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court opined that the authorities were justified in rejecting the candidature of the Respondent since an employee in the uniformed service must be honest and trustworthy, but the Respondent had suppressed and concealed facts right from the outset.
To that end, the Court said "The question is not whether the offences were trivial in nature or not. The question is one of suppression of material fact by the original writ petitioner in respect of his criminal antecedents and making a false statement in the application form. If in the beginning itself, he has suppressed the material fact in respect to his criminal antecedents and in fact made an incorrect statement, how can he be appointed as a constable. How can he be trusted thereafter in future? How it is expected that thereafter he will perform his duty honestly and with integrity?"
The Court also referred to a catena of judgments including Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited v. Anil Kanwariya, to hold that the authority did not commit any error in rejecting the candidature of the Respondent.
Therefore, the Supreme Court held that the order passed by the High Court was unsustainable, and must be quashed and set aside.