The Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of a 24-year-old man sacked from the post of a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) constable in 2007 for hiding his involvement in a criminal case when he was eight years old.
In 1994, eight-year-old Kumar got into a fight with a friend over a game of gilli danda in his village on Delhi’s outskirts. The friend’s parents falsely implicated Kumar in a criminal case for causing “grievous hurt”.
He was tried under the Juvenile Justice Act. But he was set free the same year due to lack of evidence.
Selected for the post of a CRPF constable after a rigorous test in 2006, Kumar was made to fill a form that came with the query, ‘Have you ever been prosecuted?’
Kumar wrote ‘No’. He was appointed.
A year later, posted in Kashmir, he was served a termination letter that said an antecedent verification had revealed a criminal case against him and that he had suppressed the information during his recruitment.
Kumar challenged the termination in the Delhi High Court that upheld his lawyer R K Saini’s contention that “Kumar could have forgotten everything after a gap of 12 years and it was natural”.
Justices Gita Mittal and Vipin Sanghi said: “It’s a normal human conduct. How can one remember what one did at the age of eight? Even if he was produced in a court, he could not have been able to comprehend the proceedings.”
Justice Sanghi told CRPF lawyer Preeti Dalal: “At least I don’t remember what I did when I was 8. Do you remember? In which class where you in when you were 8?”
The court questioned Kumar’s dismissal when the Juvenile Justice Act specifically states that anyone tried under it cannot suffer any disqualification in future even if it is a conviction or an acquittal.
Slamming the CRPF for sacking him despite knowing he had been set free by the court, the Bench said, “A mere prosecution is not enough. Acquittal is a culmination of a criminal trial. The person is absolved of all charges”.
Countering the CRPF’s argument about Kumar’s suppression of facts, the court noted that the recruitment form did not have a query for those who wished to say they have been acquitted in a criminal case and said it was a “serious error”.