A brush with the law should not disqualify a recruit of the police or civil services unless the accusation relates to a higher degree of crime, the Delhi high court has ruled.
The court also noted that it was high time the government came up with a clear policy on the nature of offences that should disqualify a candidate from government service.
“Now, a man can be booked for speeding and may be convicted for parking his motor vehicle in a non-parking area. Would this man be of a character, compelling in public interest and for public good, not to induct him in public service? The answer would be in the negative,” a bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Pratibha Rani said.
The court also set aside a government decision to disqualify a central industrial security force recruit, Manoj, on the grounds that he had been charged with — but later acquitted — of beating up a villager.
The court further said there are no guidelines for deciding in such cases if people should be deprived of employment.
It suggested that where the acquittal is not an honourable one (when the prosecution does not produce its material witnesses resulting in an acquittal) the screening committee could appraise a candidate with reference to his involvement in the crime and may look into materials gathered by the police during investigation.
But where the acquittal is after the prosecution has examined all its witnesses it would be case of an honourable acquittal, the bench added.
The court noted Manoj was just 18 when he, along with other community members, allegedly beat up a person in his village. It appeared to be a case where the petitioner was under patriarchal pressure, the court observed.
In Manoj’s case, the court said, “The prosecution examined all its witnesses. All evidence was led. The acquittal is thus honourable”. It directed the government to induct him into service with all benefits of seniority.
The bench said it may be a serious violation of a citizen’s constitutional rights if s/he are denied employment for trivial offences committed by them.
The high court further went on to advise the government to devise a selection procedure which could screen out candidates with emotional instability, poor judgment or lack of dependability.