The State Of Rajasthan vs Chetan Jeff on 11 May, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

The State Of Rajasthan vs Chetan Jeff on 11 May, 2022

Author: M.R. Shah

Bench: M.R. Shah, B.V. Nagarathna

                                                                    REPORTABLE

                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                   CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                  CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3116 OF 2022


                    State of Rajasthan & Ors.                         ..Appellants


                                                Versus


                    Chetan Jeff                                      ..Respondent




                                          JUDGMENT

M. R. Shah, J.

1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

judgment and order dated 04.03.2020 passed by the High

Court of Judicature for Rajasthan at Jaipur Bench in D.B.

Special Appeal Writ No.1479 of 2018 by which the High Court

has dismissed the said appeal preferred by the State of

Rajasthan and has confirmed the judgment and order passed

by the learned Single Judge directing the State to consider the
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by R

case of the respondent herein ­ original writ petitioner for
Natarajan
Date: 2022.05.11
17:01:53 IST
Reason:

1
appointment to the post of Constable (General), the State has

preferred the present appeal.

2. The facts leading to the present case in a nutshell are as

under:

2.1 Applications were invited by the Director General of

Police Rajasthan, Jaipur vide Letter dated 07.04.2008, for

recruitment to 4684 vacant posts of Constable (General),

Constable (Operator), Constable (Driver) and Constable (Band)

in different Districts/Battalions/Units of Rajasthan Police. As

per 2008 Recruitment Notification, all interested candidates

were required to qualify the written test, physical efficiency

test, proficiency test, special qualification test and an

interview for securing appointment for different posts of

constable. As per paragraph 9(e) of the said notification, the

candidates were required to fill in the correct information in

their application forms. It provided that if the information

disclosed in the application form was found to be wrong and

incomplete, such an application form was liable to be rejected

at any stage of the selection process. The respondent applied

for the said post and submitted the application form. In

column 15 of the Job Application Form dated 26.04.2008 the

respondent herein ­ (hereinafter referred to as original writ

2
petitioner) had categorically stated that there were no criminal

antecedents against him. He also stated that there were no

pending FIRs or criminal cases against him. He also enclosed

the signed declaration with the application form stating that

the information disclosed in para 15 of the Job Application

Form dated 26.04.2008 was correct and there was no

concealment of any criminal record by him.
2.2 The original writ petitioner cleared the written test as

well as the physical test. At this stage it is required to be

noted that as such, the original writ petitioner was already

facing criminal proceedings in FIR bearing No.458/2007 dated

17.12.2007 registered against him at Police Station, Neem ka

Thana, Sikar for the offences punishable under Sections 143,

341 and 336 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to

as, ‘the IPC’). However, the same was not disclosed by him in

the Job Application Form. Thus, as such he suppressed the

material fact about pendency of the FIR/Criminal Case

against him.

2.3 The Superintendent of Police, District Sikar informed the

Superintendent of Police, Hanumangarh vide communication

dated 21.08.2008 about the said FIR No.458 of 2007. Based

upon the said information, the candidature of the original writ

3
petitioner was rejected on the ground that the original writ

petitioner suppressed the material fact about his criminal

antecedents in Column 15 and made an incorrect statement

in the job application form.

2.4 Feeling aggrieved by the rejection of his candidature, the

original writ petitioner preferred the writ petition before the

learned Single Judge of the High Court by way of Civil Writ

Petition No.10250 of 2008. It appears that one another FIR

bearing No.102/2012 dated 27.01.2012 was registered

against the original writ petitioner at Police Station Neem ka

Thana, Sikar for the offences punishable under Sections 147,

148, 149, 452, 380, 352, 427 of the IPC. By the judgment

and order dated 30.07.2015, the learned trial Court acquitted

him for the offences under Section 352 read with Section 149

IPC in view of the compromise arrived at between the parties.

For the offences under Sections 147, 148, 455, 440 read with

Section 149 of the IPC the original writ petitioner was

acquitted extending the benefit of doubt. However, the

learned ACJM – I, Neem ka Thana, Sikar vide judgment and

order dated 21.01.2016 convicted the original writ petitioner

for offences punishable under Sections 341 & 323 read with

4
Section 34 IPC. However, he was accorded benefit of the

Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.

2.5 By the Judgment and Order dated 12.03.2018, the

learned Single Judge allowed the aforesaid writ petition and

directed the State to consider the case of the original writ

petitioner for the post of Constable, inter alia, on the following

grounds:

“1. That the Parties failed to place any material on
record to show that the Respondent suppressed the
information with respect to the criminal antecedents
in the column 15 of the said Job Application Form
dated 26.04.2008.

2. That the Respondent in the instant case was
charged with the offences which were trivial in
nature and the suppression of such offences by the
Respondent should have been ignored by the
Petitioners herein. In order to substantiate the
aforesaid proposition, the Hon’ble High Court relied
upon the judgment in Avtar Singh versus Union of
India & Ors. (2016) 8 SCC 471.

3. That the judgment dated 01.03.2017 in the case
of Bhanja Ram versus State of Rajasthan & Ors.

S.B. Civil Writ Petition No.6884 of 2008, applied
squarely to the facts mentioned in the said Writ
Petition.”

2.6 The third FIR bearing No.348/2018 dated 05.09.2018

was registered against the original writ petitioner at Police

Station Neem ka Thana, Sikar for the offences punishable

under Sections 341 & 323 of the IPC.

5
2.7 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and

order passed by the learned Single Judge allowing the Civil

Writ Petition No.10250 of 2008 and directing the State to

consider the case of the original writ petitioner for the post of

Constable, the State preferred the Writ Appeal before the

Division Bench of the High Court.

2.8 During the pendency of the Writ Appeal, the learned

ACJM, Neem ka Thana, Sikar vide judgment and order dated

09.09.2019 acquitted the original writ petitioner for the

offences punishable under Sections 341 & 323 of the IPC in

view of the compromise arrived at between the parties in FIR

No.348/2018.

2.9 One another FIR bearing No.505/2018, dated

20.12.2018 was registered at Neem ka Thana, Sikar against

the original writ petitioner for the offences punishable under

Sections 341, 323, 382, 427 IPC.

2.10 Despite the above, by the impugned Judgment and

Order dated 04.03.2020, the Division Bench of the High Court

has dismissed the said appeal and has confirmed the

judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge, by

which the learned Single Judge directed the State to consider

the case of the original writ petitioner for the appointment as

6
Constable. That, in the meantime, the original writ petitioner

has been charge­sheeted for the offences punishable under

Sections 341, 323, 382, 427 of the IPC in relation to the FIR

No.505/2018 and the trial is pending.

2.11 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

judgment and order passed by the Division Bench of the High

Court dismissing the writ appeal and confirming the judgment

and order passed by the learned Single Judge directing the

appellant – State to consider the case of the original writ

petitioner for appointment as Constable, the State has

preferred the present appeal.

3. We have heard Dr. Manish Singhvi, learned Senior

Advocate and AAG appearing on behalf of the State of

Rajasthan and Mr. R.K. Shukla, learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the original writ petitioner.

4. Dr. Manish Singhvi, learned Senior Advocate, has

vehemently submitted that considering the criminal

antecedents which were suppressed by the original writ

petitioner, both the learned Single Judge as well as the

Division Bench have committed a grave error in directing the

appellant ­ State to consider the case of the original writ

petitioner for appointment as a constable.

7
4.1 It is contended by Dr. Manish Singhvi, learned Senior

Advocate appearing on behalf of the State of Rajasthan that

despite Column 15 of the Job Application Form of the original

writ petitioner by which he was required to state true and

correct facts of criminal antecedents and despite the fact that

he was facing criminal prosecution by way of FIR

No.458/2007, the original writ petitioner suppressed the same

and did not disclose the same. It is submitted that on the

contrary in the column of “whether any criminal case has been

registered against the applicant?” he said “No”.

4.2 It is submitted therefore, when the candidate at the

initial stage itself did not state the true and correct facts and

as such suppressed the material facts, he is not entitled to be

appointed on the post as Constable.

4.3 It is submitted that the post of Constable whose duty is

to maintain law and order, first of all should be honest. It is

submitted that a candidate who, at the initial stage and before

even getting the appointment as a constable has suppressed

the material facts of having criminal antecedents and he has

made a false statement in the application form. How can he

8
be trusted and be appointed as a Constable? It is submitted

that as such the State was justified in rejecting his

candidature as a constable. Reliance is placed upon the

decisions of this Court in the case of Avtar Singh v. Union of

India, (2016) 8 SCC 471 as well as Daya Shankar

Yadav v. Union of India, (2010) 14 SCC 103.

4.4 It is urged by Dr. Manish Singhvi, learned Senior

Advocate for the State that even otherwise and till the Division

Bench decided the writ appeal, the original writ petitioner

faced 3 to 4 more FIRs, out of which, in two cases he was

acquitted by entering into a compromise and in one case he

has been convicted, however has been given the benefit of the

Probation of Offenders Act. It is submitted that one criminal

case is still pending against him. That such a person cannot

be appointed as a constable. Therefore, it is requested that

this Court must consider the subsequent events also.

5. Present appeal is opposed by Mr. R.K. Shukla, learned

counsel appearing on behalf of the original writ petitioner.

5.1 It is vehemently submitted by Mr. R.K. Shukla, learned

counsel appearing on behalf of the original writ petitioner that

9
having found that the offences against the original writ

petitioner were trivial in nature and he was acquitted and in

one case he has been granted the benefit of Probation of

Offenders Act, both, the learned Single Judge as well as the

Division Bench of the High Court have rightly directed the

State to consider the case of the original writ petitioner for the

post of Constable.

5.2 It is submitted that when both, the learned Single Judge

as well as the Division Bench have concurred on directing the

State to consider the case of the original writ petitioner for the

post of Constable and by giving cogent reasons, the same may

not be interfered with by this Court in exercise of powers

under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.

6. We have heard learned counsel appearing for the

respective parties at length.

6.1 At the outset, it is required to be noted that the post on

which the writ petitioner is seeking the appointment is the

post of constable. It cannot be disputed that the duty of the

constable is to maintain law and order. Therefore, it is

expected that he should be honest, trustworthy and that his

10
integrity is above board and that he is reliable. 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. Therefore, due to the aforesaid

suppression, his candidature came to be rejected by the

appropriate authority. Despite the above, the learned Single

Judge allowed the writ petitioner and directed the State to

consider the case of the original writ petitioner for

appointment as a constable mainly on the ground that the

offences were trivial in nature and the suppression of such

offences should have been ignored. The same has been

confirmed by the Division Bench.

11
6.2 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?

6.3 Therefore, as such the authorities were justified in

rejecting the candidature of the respondent for the post of

constable.

6.4 At this stage the decision of this Court in the case of

Daya Shankar Yadav (supra) is required to be referred to. In

paras 14 and 16, it is observed and held as under:

“14. Rule 14 of the Central Reserve Police Force
Rules, 1955 relevant in this case relates to
verification. Clauses (a) and (b) of the said Rule are
extracted below:

“14. Verification.—(a) As soon as a man is
enrolled, his character, antecedents, connections

12
and age shall be verified in accordance with the
procedure prescribed by the Central Government
from time to time. The verification roll shall be sent
to the District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner of
the District of which the recruit is a resident.

(b) The verification roll shall be in CRP Form 25
and after verification shall be attached to the
character and service roll of the member of the force
concerned.”
The purpose of seeking the said information is to
ascertain the character and antecedents of the
candidate so as to assess his suitability for the post.
Therefore, the candidate will have to answer the
questions in these columns truthfully and fully and
any misrepresentation or suppression or false
statement therein, by itself would demonstrate a
conduct or character unbefitting for a uniformed
security service.

16. Thus an employee on probation can be
discharged from service or a prospective employee
may be refused employment : (i) on the ground of
unsatisfactory antecedents and character, disclosed
from his conviction in a criminal case, or his
involvement in a criminal offence (even if he was
acquitted on technical grounds or by giving benefit
of doubt) or other conduct (like copying in
examination) or rustication or suspension or
debarment from college, etc.; and (ii) on the ground
of suppression of material information or making
false statement in reply to queries relating to
prosecution or conviction for a criminal offence (even
if he was ultimately acquitted in the criminal case).
This ground is distinct from the ground of previous
antecedents and character, as it shows a current
dubious conduct and absence of character at the
time of making the declaration, thereby making him
unsuitable for the post.”

13
6.5 In State of A.P. v. B. Chinnam Naidu, (2005) 2 SCC

746, this Court has observed that the object of requiring

information in the attestation form and the declaration

thereafter by the candidate is to ascertain and verify the

character and antecedents to judge his suitability to enter into

or continue in service. It is further observed that when a

candidate suppresses material information and/or gives false

information, he cannot claim any right for appointment or

continuance in service.

6.6 In Devendra Kumar v. State of Uttaranchal, (2013) 9

SCC 363, while joining the training, the employee was asked

to submit an affidavit giving certain information, particularly,

whether he had ever been involved in any criminal case. The

employee submitted an affidavit stating that he had never

been involved in any criminal case. The employee completed

his training satisfactorily and it was at this time that the

employer in pursuance of the process of character verification

came to know that the employee was in fact involved in a

criminal case. It was found that the final report in that case

had been submitted by the prosecution and accepted by the

14
Judicial Magistrate concerned. On the basis of the same, the

employee was discharged abruptly on the ground that since

he was a temporary government servant, he could be removed

from service without holding an enquiry. The said order was

challenged by the employee by filing a writ petition before a

Single Judge of the High Court which was dismissed. The

Division Bench upheld that order, which was the subject­

matter of appeal before this Court. Dismissing the appeal, this

Court observed and held that the question is not whether the

employee is suitable for the post. The pendency of a criminal

case/proceeding is different from suppressing the information

of such pendency. The case pending against a person might

not involve moral turpitude but suppressing of this

information itself amounts to moral turpitude. It is further

observed that the information sought by the employer if not

disclosed as required, would definitely amount to suppression

of material information and in that eventuality, the service

becomes liable to be terminated, even if there had been no

further trial or the person concerned stood

acquitted/discharged.

15
6.7 In the case of Jainendra Singh v. State of U.P., (2012)

8 SCC 748, in para 29.4, this Court has observed and held

that “a candidate having suppressed material information

and/or giving false information cannot claim right to continue

in service and the employer, having regard to the nature of

employment as well as other aspects, has the discretion to

terminate his services. In para 29.6, it is further observed

that the person who suppressed the material information

and/or gives false information cannot claim any right for

appointment or continuity in service. In para 29.7, it is

observed and held that “the standard expected of a person

intended to serve in uniformed service is quite distinct from

other services and, therefore, any deliberate statement or

omission regarding a vital information can be seriously viewed

and the ultimate decision of the appointing authority cannot

be faulted.

6.8 In Daya Shankar Yadav v. Union of India, (2010) 14

SCC 103, this Court had an occasion to consider the purpose

of seeking the information with respect to antecedents. It is

observed and held that the purpose of seeking the information

16
with respect to antecedents is to ascertain the character and

antecedents of the candidate so as to assess his suitability for

the post. It is further observed that when an employee or a

prospective employee declares in a verification form, answers

to the queries relating to character and antecedents, the

verification thereof can lead to any of the following

consequences: (SCC pp. 110­11, para 15)

“15. … (a) If the declarant has answered the
questions in the affirmative and furnished the
details of any criminal case (wherein he was
convicted or acquitted by giving benefit of doubt for
want of evidence), the employer may refuse to offer
him employment (or if already employed on
probation, discharge him from service), if he is found
to be unfit having regard to the nature and gravity of
the offence/crime in which he was involved.

(b) On the other hand, if the employer finds that
the criminal case disclosed by the declarant related
to offences which were technical, or of a nature that
would not affect the declarant’s fitness for
employment, or where the declarant had been
honourably acquitted and exonerated, the employer
may ignore the fact that the declarant had been
prosecuted in a criminal case and proceed to
appoint him or continue him in employment.

(c) Where the declarant has answered the
questions in the negative and on verification it is
found that the answers were false, the employer may
refuse to employ the declarant (or discharge him, if
already employed), even if the declarant had been
cleared of the charges or is acquitted. This is
because when there is suppression or non­
disclosure of material information bearing on his
character, that itself becomes a reason for not
employing the declarant.

17

(d) Where the attestation form or verification form
does not contain proper or adequate queries
requiring the declarant to disclose his involvement
in any criminal proceedings, or where the candidate
was unaware of initiation of criminal proceedings
when he gave the declarations in the verification
roll/attestation form, then the candidate cannot be
found fault with, for not furnishing the relevant
information. But if the employer by other means (say
police verification or complaints, etc.) learns about
the involvement of the declarant, the employer can
have recourse to courses (a) or (b) above.”

Thereafter, it is observed and held that an employee
can be discharged from service or a prospective
employee may be refused employment on the ground
of suppression of material information or making
false statement in reply to queries relating to
prosecution or conviction for a criminal offence (even
if he was ultimately acquitted in the criminal case).

6.9 In State of M.P. v. Abhijit Singh Pawar, (2018) 18

SCC 733, when the employee participated in the selection

process, he tendered an affidavit disclosing the pending

criminal case against him. The affidavit was filed on 22­12­

2012. According to the disclosure, a case registered in the

year 2006 was pending on the date when the affidavit was

tendered. However, within four days of filing such an affidavit,

a compromise was entered into between the original

complainant and the employee and an application for

compounding the offence was filed under Section 320 CrPC.

18
The employee came to be discharged in view of the deed of

compromise. That thereafter the employee was selected in the

examination and was called for medical examination.

However, around the same time, his character verification was

also undertaken and after due consideration of the character

verification report, his candidature was rejected. The employee

filed a writ petition before the High Court challenging rejection

of his candidature. The learned Single Judge of the High

Court of Madhya Pradesh allowed the said writ petition. The

judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge

directing the State to appoint the employee came to be

confirmed by the Division Bench which led to appeal before

this Court. After considering a catena of decisions on the point

including the decision in Avtar Singh v. Union of India,

(2016) 8 SCC 471, this Court upheld the order of the State

rejecting the candidature of the employee by observing that as

held in Avtar Singh (supra), even in cases where a truthful

disclosure about a concluded case was made, the employer

would still have a right to consider antecedents of the

19
candidate and could not be compelled to appoint such

candidate.

6.10 After reproducing and/or reconsidering para 38.5 of the

decision in Avtar Singh (supra), in Abhijit Singh Pawar

(supra), in para 13, this Court observed and held as under:

“13. In Avtar Singh [Avtar Singh v. Union of India,
(2016) 8 SCC 471, though this Court was principally
concerned with the question as to non­disclosure or
wrong disclosure of information, it was observed in
para 38.5 that even in cases where a truthful
disclosure about a concluded case was made, the
employer would still have a right to consider
antecedents of the candidate and could not be
compelled to appoint such candidate.”

6.11 Recently, in the case of Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut

Prasaran Nigam Limited v. Anil Kanwariya, (2021) 10

SCC 136, this Court had an occasion to consider the

submission on behalf of an employee whose services were

terminated on the ground of filing a false declaration to the

effect that neither a criminal case is pending against him nor

has he been convicted by any Court of law, that subsequently

he has been granted the benefit of Section 12 of the Probation

of Offenders Act and therefore his services ought not to have

20
been terminated. This Court has observed in paras 13 & 14

as under:

“13. Even otherwise, subsequently getting the
benefit of Section 12 of the 1958 Act shall not be
helpful to the respondent inasmuch as the question
is about filing a false declaration on 14­4­2015 that
neither any criminal case is pending against him nor
has he been convicted by any court of law, which
was much prior to the order passed by the learned
Sessions Court granting the benefit of Section 12 of
the 1958 Act. As observed hereinabove, even in case
of subsequent acquittal, the employee once made a
false declaration and/or suppressed the material
fact of pending criminal case shall not be entitled to
an appointment as a matter of right.

14. The issue/question may be considered from
another angle, from the employer’s point of view. The
question is not about whether an employee was
involved in a dispute of trivial nature and whether
he has been subsequently acquitted or not. The
question is about the credibility and/or
trustworthiness of such an employee who at the
initial stage of the employment i.e. while submitting
the declaration/verification and/or applying for a
post made false declaration and/or not disclosing
and/or suppressing material fact of having involved
in a criminal case. If the correct facts would have
been disclosed, the employer might not have
appointed him. Then the question is of TRUST.

Therefore, in such a situation, where the employer
feels that an employee who at the initial stage itself
has made a false statement and/or not disclosed the
material facts and/or suppressed the material facts
and therefore he cannot be continued in service
because such an employee cannot be relied upon
even in future, the employer cannot be forced to
continue such an employee. The choice/option
whether to continue or not to continue such an
employee always must be given to the employer. At
the cost of repetition, it is observed and as observed
hereinabove in catena of decision such an employee

21
cannot claim the appointment and/or continue to be
in service as a matter of right.”

7. Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid

cases, it cannot be said that the authority committed any

error in rejecting the candidature of the original writ petitioner

for the post of constable in the instant case.

8. Even otherwise it is required to be noted that

subsequently and during the proceedings before the learned

Single Judge as well as the Division Bench, there are three to

four other FIRs filed against the original writ petitioner

culminating into criminal trials and in two cases he has been

acquitted on the ground of compromise and in one case

though convicted, he has been granted the benefit of

Probation of Offenders Act. One more criminal case is

pending against him. Therefore, the original writ petitioner

cannot be appointed to such a post of constable.

9. In view of the above discussion and for the reasons

stated above, both, the learned Single Judge as well as the

Division Bench have erred in directing the State to consider

the case of the respondent for appointment as a constable.

22
The judgment and order passed by the High Court is

unsustainable, both, on facts as well as on law. Under the

circumstances, the same deserves to be quashed and set aside

and is accordingly quashed and set aside. It is held that the

candidature of the respondent – original writ petitioner for the

post of constable had been rightly rejected by the appropriate

authority. Present appeal is accordingly allowed. In the facts

and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to

costs.

…………………………………J.

(M. R. SHAH)

…………………………………J.

(B.V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi,
May 11, 2022.

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