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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

service matter - selections to police constable = whether the candidature of the respondents who had made a clean breast of their involvement in a criminal case by mentioning this fact in their application/attestation form while applying for a post of constable in Delhi Police; who were provisionally selected subject to verification of their antecedents and who were subsequently acquitted/discharged in the criminal case, could be cancelled by the Screening Committee of the Delhi Police on the ground that they are not found suitable for appointment to the post of constable. = The Screening Committee did not find his reply to be convincing. In his order dated 22/3/2011, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Recruitment), New Delhi stated that the Screening Committee has, inter alia, observed that the actions of respondent - Mehar Singh depicted his violent nature and that he had no respect for the law of the land and on considering the totality of the circumstances, the Screening Committee held that he was not suitable for appointment to the post of constable.= whether a person against whom a criminal case was registered and who was later acquitted or discharged should be appointed to a post in the police force, what is relevant is the nature of the offence, the extent of his involvement, whether the acquittal was a clean acquittal or an acquittal by giving benefit of doubt because the witnesses turned hostile or because of some serious flaw in the prosecution, and the propensity of such person to indulge in similar activities in future. This decision, in our opinion, can only be taken by the Screening Committee created for that purpose by the Delhi Police. If the Screening Committee’s decision is not mala fide or actuated by extraneous considerations, then, it cannot be questioned. A person having criminal antecedents will not fit in this category. Even if he is acquitted or discharged in the criminal case, that acquittal or discharge order will have to be examined to see whether he has been completely exonerated in the case because even a possibility of his taking to the life of crimes poses a threat to the discipline of the police force. = In the ultimate analysis, we are of the view that the opinion formed by the Screening Committee in both these cases which is endorsed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Recruitment), Delhi, that both the respondents are not suitable for being appointed in the Delhi Police Force does not merit any interference. It is legally sustainable. The Tribunal and the High Court, in our view, erred in setting aside the order of cancellation of the respondents’ candidature. In the circumstances, the appeals are allowed. The orders of the Delhi High Court impugned in both the appeals are set aside. The cancellation of candidature of the respondents - Mehar Singh and Shani Kumar is upheld.

published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=40496
Page 1
1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4842 OF 2013
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.38886 of
2012)
COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, NEW DELHI & ANR. …Appellants
Versus
MEHAR SINGH …Respondent
WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4965 OF 2013
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.4057 of
2013)
COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, NEW DELHI & ANR. …Appellants
Versus
SHANI KUMAR …Respondent
J U D G M E N T
(SMT.) RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, J.
1. Leave granted in both the petitions.Page 2
2. In both the appeals the judgments of the Delhi High
Court are under challenge. Appeal arising out of SLP (Civil)
No. 38886 of 2012 is against Judgment dated 09/07/2012
passed in Writ Petition (Civil) No.3918 of 2012. Appeal
arising out of SLP (Civil) No.4057 of 2013 is against
Judgment dated 21/05/2012 passed in Writ Petition (Civil)
No.3015 of 2012. Since both these appeals raise the same
question of law, they can be disposed of by a common
judgment. It may be stated here that while issuing notice,
this Court has stayed the orders impugned in both the
appeals.
3. The facts relating to the appeal against respondent -
Mehar Singh could be shortly stated.
4. FIR No.126/04 was registered against respondent -
Mehar Singh and others under Sections 143, 341, 323 and
427 of the Indian Penal Code (“the IPC”) upon a complaint
received from Ramji Lal s/o. Mamraj Saini r/o. Khetri - the
owner of Bus No.RJ-18P 0493. The substance of the
complaint was that when the bus reached the bus stand of
2Page 3
village Raipur on 15/5/2004 at about 3.15 p.m, respondent -
Mehar Singh along with others armed with iron chain, lathi,
belts, danda, stones etc. stopped the bus on the road and
rebuked the conductor of the bus as to how he dared to take
the fare from one of his associates. Sanjay Singh, Basant,
Udai Bhan, Rajesh, Sandeep, Jagmal, Suresh and Karan
Singh intervened and tried to save the conductor of the bus.
During intervention, Sanjay and Basant suffered injuries on
their back, eyes and ears.
All the accused broke the side
window panes of the bus by throwing stones and by giving
blows with lathis/dandas. When the other passengers
intervened, the accused fled the spot. The complainant
along with the injured reached the police station and lodged
the aforementioned complaint. 
5. In the year 2009, the appellants issued an
advertisement for filling-up the post of constables (Exe.)
(male). It appears that in the criminal case registered
against respondent - Mehar Singh, he arrived at a
compromise with the complainant. In terms of the
3Page 4
compromise, he and other accused were acquitted of the
offences under Sections 323, 341 and 427 of the IPC on
30/1/2009. As regards the offence under Section 147 of the
IPC, the trial court acquitted him and other co-accused for
want of evidence. It is pertinent to note that the witnesses
turned hostile. Respondent - Mehar Singh applied for the
post of constable pursuant to the advertisement issued by
the appellants. In relevant papers, he disclosed his
involvement in criminal case and his acquittal as both
parties had entered into a compromise. He was assigned
Roll No.422165 and put through the physical endurance and
measurement test and written test. After interview, he was
declared provisionally selected, subject to verification of
character and antecedents. During character and
antecedent verification, his involvement in the criminal case
and his subsequent acquittal due to compromise between
the parties was taken into account. 
6. The case of respondent - Mehar Singh was examined by
the Screening Committee constituted by respondent 1 i.e.
4Page 5
the Commissioner of Police, Delhi. The Screening Committee
observed that respondent - Mehar Singh and others had
assaulted the bus conductor with iron chain, belt and stones
in a preplanned manner and caused injuries to him, which
showed respondent - Mehar Singh’s violent nature and scant
respect for the law of the land. The Screening Committee in
the circumstances did not recommend his case for
appointment to the post of constable.
7. On 3/3/2011, appellant 2 - the Deputy Commissioner of
Police (Recruitment), New Delhi issued a notice to
respondent - Mehar Singh calling upon him to show cause as
to why his candidature should not be cancelled. He replied
to the show cause notice. He submitted that he was falsely
implicated in the criminal case and acquitted in the year
2009 after a full fledged trial. He submitted that a mere
registration of an FIR would not show any criminal
propensity. According to him the offence was falsely
reported by the complainant due to local issues and to avoid
prolonged proceedings, the issue was settled between him
5Page 6
and the complainant and the trial court had acquitted him.
The Screening Committee did not find his reply to be
convincing. In his order dated 22/3/2011, the Deputy
Commissioner of Police (Recruitment), New Delhi stated that
the Screening Committee has, inter alia, observed that the
actions of respondent - Mehar Singh depicted his violent
nature and that he had no respect for the law of the land and
on considering the totality of the circumstances, the
Screening Committee held that he was not suitable for
appointment to the post of constable.
By the said letter,
candidature of respondent - Mehar Singh was cancelled.
8. On 22/4/2011, respondent - Mehar Singh filed O.A.
No.1819 of 2011 before the Central Administrative Tribunal
(for short “the Tribunal”), Principal Bench, New Delhi
challenging the order of the Screening Committee. The
Tribunal by its order dated 7/3/2012 allowed his application.
The Tribunal set aside order dated 22/03/2011 cancelling the
candidature of Mehar Singh. The Tribunal referred to a
couple of cases in which persons charged under Section 307
6Page 7
of the IPC were appointed by the appellants and held that
there was total non-application of mind on the part of the
appellants. A direction was given to consider the case of
respondent - Mehar Singh if he was otherwise found to be fit,
within six months.
9. Aggrieved by the order dated 7/3/2012 passed by the
Tribunal, the appellants filed a writ petition before the Delhi
High Court. The Delhi High Court dismissed the writ petition
holding that since respondent - Mehar Singh had been
acquitted of the offences for which he had faced trial, the
same cannot be held against him. Being aggrieved by the
said judgment and order, the appellants have preferred this
appeal by special leave.
10. The facts relating to the appeal against respondent -
Shani Kumar could be shortly stated. In 2007, FIR
No.114/2007 was registered against respondent Shani -
Kumar under Sections 307, 504 and 506 of the IPC at Police
Station Babri, District Muzuffar Nagar, (U.P.). Admittedly,
pursuant to an advertisement issued in the year 2009 for the
7Page 8
post of Constable (Exe.) (male) in Delhi Police for Phase II
respondent - Shani Kumar applied for it. He mentioned in
his application as well as attestation form that a criminal
case was registered against him. On 23/4/2010, he was
provisionally selected to the said post subject to verification
of antecedents. On 14/5/2010, he was acquitted in the said
case by giving him benefit of doubt. On 3/3/2011, the
appellants issued a show cause notice to respondent - Shani
Kumar calling upon him to show cause as to why his
candidature to the post of Constable (Exe) (male) in Delhi
Police should not be cancelled as he along with other co accused was found involved in the offence of attempt to
commit murder with deadly weapons and causing bullet
injuries to the complainant’s brother. Respondent - Shani
Kumar sent a reply to the show cause notice on 14/3/2011,
which did not find favour with the appellants. By order dated
22/3/2011, the Deputy Commissioner of Police,
(Recruitment), NPL, Delhi cancelled respondent - Shani
Kumar’s candidature to the post of Constable (Exe.) (male).
8
11. Being aggrieved by this cancellation, respondent -
Shani Kumar filed O.A. No.1821 of 2011 before the Tribunal.
By order dated 24/1/2012, the Tribunal allowed the
application and set aside order dated 22/3/2011 cancelling
his candidature. A direction was issued that respondent -
Shani Kumar be offered appointment to the said post as
expeditiously as possible. Being aggrieved by the Tribunal’s
order, the appellants filed writ petition before the Delhi High
Court. The High Court dismissed the appellants’ writ
petition. Hence, this appeal by special leave. 
12. We have heard Mr. Rakesh Kumar Khanna, learned
Additional Solicitor General appearing on behalf of the
appellants and Mr. Ajesh Luthra, learned counsel appearing
on behalf of the respondents. We have perused the written
submissions filed by the appellants as well as by the
respondents in both the appeals.
13. Mr. Rakesh Kumar Khanna, learned Additional Solicitor
General, submitted that the employment in Delhi Police is of
a very sensitive nature. Therefore, the character, integrity
9Page 10
and antecedents of a candidate aspiring to join it, assume
importance. Keeping this in mind, the Commissioner of
Police issued a Standing Order No.398/2010 dated
23/11/2010 laying down a uniform policy for deciding cases
of candidates provisionally selected in Delhi Police involved
in criminal cases (facing trial or acquitted). A Screening
Committee has been constituted for that purpose. Taking an
overall view of the matter, in the interest of Delhi Police,
which is a disciplined force, the Screening Committee has
taken a decision to cancel the candidature of both the
respondents. The respondents have not challenged the
Standing Order. The decision taken by the Screening
Committee, in the circumstances, ought not to be interfered
with. Counsel submitted that it is the settled law that
acquittal of a person in a criminal case does not entitle him
to reinstatement as a matter of right. The appointing
authority may still find such a person unfit to be appointed to
the post. Counsel submitted that even in cases of acquittal,
departmental proceedings may follow when the acquittal is
otherwise than honourable. If the acquittal in a criminal
10Page 11
case is on account of flawed prosecution, it would not have
any impact on the finding of misconduct recorded in a
departmental enquiry on the basis of adequate evidence. It
is only if a person is honourably acquitted, that he can
possibly argue that he should be appointed to any post.
Counsel submitted that assuming the appellants have
appointed some persons with criminal antecedents in the
past; the doctrine of equality is not attracted to such cases.
He submitted that if some candidates have been granted
some benefits inadvertently, such order does not confer any
right on the respondents to get the same relief. Counsel
submitted that the impugned order does not take note of the
above vital aspects and, therefore, must be set aside. In
support of his submissions, counsel relied on the judgments
of this Court in Delhi Administration through its Chief
Secretary & Ors. v. Sushil Kumar1
; Suresh Pathrella
v. Oriental Bank of Commerce2
; Fuljit Kaur etc. v.
State of Punjab etc3
; K. Venkateshwarlu v. State of
1
 (1996) 11 SCC 605
2
 (2006) 10 SCC 572
3
 (2010) 11 SCC 455
Andhra Pradesh4
; Deputy Inspector General of Police
& Anr. v. S. Samuthiram5
; Chandigarh Administration
& Anr. v. Jagjit Singh & Anr.6
 and Maharaj Krishan
Bhatt & Anr. v. State of Jammu & Kashmir & Ors.7
.
14. Mr. Ajesh Luthra, learned counsel for the respondents
submitted that the appellants’ reliance on Sushil Kumar is
misplaced because Sushil Kumar has been distinguished in
Commissioner of Police v. Dhaval Singh8
. Sushil
Kumar was a case of concealment of facts whereas in this
case, there is no concealment. Counsel submitted that,
many a time, due to personal enmity and political reasons,
people are falsely implicated in criminal cases. Very often,
criminal cases end in acquittal or are compounded.
Compounding or acquittal of a criminal case should,
therefore, not act as an obstacle to a person being appointed
to any post. Counsel submitted that an order of acquittal is
always honourable. An acquittal is an acquittal for all
4
 (2012) 8 SCC 73
5
 (2013) 1 SCC 598
6
 AIR 1995 SC 705
7
 (2008) 9 SCC 24
8
 (1999) 1 SCC 246
12Page 13
purposes. Relying on Ghurey Lal v. State of U.P.9
,
counsel submitted that a person is innocent unless proved
otherwise. Administrative authorities cannot adjudicate the
suitability of a selected candidate in this manner. Quasi
judicial authorities cannot overreach the judgments
delivered by a competent court of law. Counsel submitted
that Lok Adalats have been created under the provisions of
the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to encourage
compromises. If a selectee is to be denied appointment by
adjudging him unsuitable because the criminal case against
him has ended into acquittal only because of compromise,
then, it will defeat the object of the said Act. Counsel
submitted that the present case is different from cases
involving departmental proceedings. In the matter of
appointments, principles relating to pendency of criminal
case and initiation of departmental proceedings will not be
applicable. Counsel attacked the proceedings of the
Screening Committee as being arbitrary, unguided and
unfettered. He cited cases where, according to him, the
9
 JT 2008(10) SC324
13Page 14
Screening Committee has recommended candidates against
whom FIRs have been registered for serious offences, for
appointment. Counsel further pointed out that involvement
in a criminal case is not a disqualification or a stipulation
towards ineligibility in Delhi Police (Appointment and
Recruitment) Rules, 1980 (“the Delhi Police Rules”).
Counsel submitted that for verification of antecedents, the
appellants must not rely upon the criminal case where
acquittal has been the final outcome. It is open for the
appellants to conduct an independent enquiry about the
character and antecedents of a candidate concerned.
Counsel submitted that inasmuch as the respondents have
honestly disclosed that criminal cases were registered
against them and they ended either in acquittal or acquittal
on account of compromise, they cannot be denied
appointment in Delhi Police once having been selected for
the same. He submitted that the appeals, therefore, be
dismissed.
15. Before we deal with the rival submissions, it is
necessary to refer to the judgment of this Court in
Jainendra Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh10
. In that
case the appellant had applied for the post of constable and
was selected for the same. He had suppressed the fact that
a criminal case was registered against him. Subsequently
the said fact came to light and his appointment was
terminated. Thereafter, he was acquitted in the criminal
case. The question which fell for consideration of this Court
was whether, after a person is appointed to a post in a
disciplined force, it comes to light that he had suppressed
the fact that he was involved in a criminal case his
appointment can be terminated on the ground of
suppression of material facts. Noticing conflicting decisions
of this Court on this point and also the fact that different
yardsticks are being applied in the matter of grant of relief,
this Court formulated issues and referred them to a larger
bench. Since all the formulated issues are premised on
suppression of facts and since in this case there is no
10 (2012) 8 SCC 748
15Page 16
suppression of facts it is not necessary for us to defer the
judgment of this case till the reference is answered by a
larger Bench. 
16. The question before this Court is
whether the
candidature of the respondents who had made a clean
breast of their involvement in a criminal case by mentioning
this fact in their application/attestation form while applying
for a post of constable in Delhi Police; who were provisionally
selected subject to verification of their antecedents and who
were subsequently acquitted/discharged in the criminal
case, could be cancelled by the Screening Committee of the
Delhi Police on the ground that they are not found suitable
for appointment to the post of constable. 
17. We must first deal with the submission that under the
Delhi Police Rules, past involvement of a person in a criminal
case is not a disqualification for appointment. It is true that
Rule 6 thereof which provides for grounds for ineligibility,
criminal antecedents of a person is not mentioned as a
ground for ineligibility. But, to conclude from this that
16Page 17
instances of moral turpitude, however grave, could be
overlooked because they do not find mention in Rule 6,
would be absurd. In any case, Standing Order No. 398/2010
issued by the Delhi Police to which our attention is drawn
empowers the police to take appropriate decision in such
cases. Pertinently the respondents have not challenged the
Standing Order. This Standing Order incorporates policy for
deciding cases of candidates provisionally selected in Delhi
Police involved in criminal cases (facing trial or acquitted). It
would be appropriate to re-produce the relevant portions of
the said Standing Order:
“STANDING ORDER NO. 398/2010
POLICY FOR DECIDING CASES OF CANDIDATES
PROVISIONALLY SELECTED IN DELHI POLICE
INVOLVED IN CRIMINAL CASES (FACING TRIAL OR
ACQUITTED).
During the recruitments made in Delhi Police,
several cases come to light where candidates
conceal the fact of their involvement in criminal
cases in the application Form/Attestation Form in
the hope that it may not come to light and
disclosure by them at the beginning of the
recruitment process itself may debar them from
participating in the various recruitment tests. Also
17Page 18
the appointment if he/she has been acquitted but
not honourably.
In order to formulate a comprehensive policy,
the following rules shall be applicable for all the
recruitments conducted by Delhi Police:-
1). xxx xxx xxx
2). xxx xxx xxx
3). If a candidate had disclosed his/her
involvement and/or arrest in criminal cases,
complaint case, preventive proceedings etc. and
the case is pending investigation or pending trial,
the candidature will be kept in abeyance till the
final decision of the case. After the court’
judgment, if the candidate is acquitted or
discharged, the case will be referred to the
Screening Committee of the PHQ comprising of
Special Commissioner of Police/Administration,
Joint Commissioner of Police/Headquarters and
Joint Commissioner of Police/Vigilance to assess
his/her suitability for appointment in Delhi Police.
4) If a candidate had disclosed his/her
involvement in criminal case, complaint case,
preventive proceedings etc. both in the application
form as well as in the attestation form but was
acquitted or discharged by the court, his/her case
will be referred to the Screening Committee of
PHQ to assess his/her suitability for appointment in
Delhi Police.
5). xxx xxx xxx
6). Such candidates against whom charge-sheet
in any criminal case has been filed in the court and
the charges fall in the category of serious offences
benefit of doubt or the witnesses have turned
hostile due to fear of reprisal by the accused
person, he/she will generally not be considered
suitable for government service. However, all
such cases will be judged by the Screening
Committee of PHQ to assess their suitability for
the government job. The details of criminal cases
which involve moral turpitude may kindly be
perused at Annexure ‘A’.
7) Such cases in which a candidate had faced
trial in any criminal case which does not fall in the
category of moral turpitude and is subsequently
acquitted by the court and he/she discloses about
the same in both application form as well as
attestation form will be judged by the Screening
Committee to decide about his/her suitability for
the government job.
8) xxx xxx xxx
9). If any candidate is discharged by extending
the benefit of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 this
will also not be viewed adversely by the
department for his/her suitability for government
service.
10). If a candidate was involved in a criminal case
which was withdrawn by the State Government,
he/she will generally be considered fit for
government service, unless there are other
extenuating circumstances.”
Annexure ‘A’ as mentioned in Clause 6 above lays down
the following offences involving moral turpitude:
1. Criminal Conspiracy (Section 120-B, IPC)
19Page 20
2. Offences against the State (Sections 121 –
130, IPC)
3. Offences relating to Army, Navy and Air Force
(Sections 131-134, IPC)
4. Offence against Public Tranquility (Section
153–A & B, IPC).
5. False evidence and offences against Public
Justice (Sections 193-216A, IPC)
6. Offences relating to coin and government
stamps (Section 231-263A, IPC).
7. Offences relating to Religion (Section 295-
297, IPC)
8. Offences affecting Human Body (Sections
302-304, 304B, 305-308, 311-317, 325-333,
335, 347, 348, 354, 363-373, 376-376-A, 376-
B, 376-C, 376-D, 377, IPC)
9. Offences against Property (Section 379-462,
IPC)
10. Offences relating to Documents and Property
Marks (Section 465-489, IPC)
11. Offences relating to Marriage and Dowry
Prohibition Act (Section 498-A, IPC)
18. Clause 3 of the Comprehensive Policy delineated in the
Standing Order is material for the present case. It refers to
the Screening Committee comprising high police officers.
20Page 21
After a candidate, who has disclosed his involvement, is
acquitted or discharged, the Committee has to assess
his/her suitability for appointment. Clause 6 states that those
against whom serious offences or offences involving moral
turpitude are registered and who are later on acquitted by
extending benefit of doubt or because the witnesses have
turned hostile due to fear of reprisal by the accused person
shall not generally be considered suitable for government
service. However, all such cases will be considered by the
Screening Committee manned by senior officers. In our
opinion, the word ‘generally’ indicates the nature of
discretion. As a matter of rule, such candidates have to be
avoided. Exceptions will be few and far between and
obviously must be substantiated with acceptable reasons.
19. A careful perusal of the policy leads us to conclude that
the Screening Committee would be entitled to keep persons
involved in grave cases of moral turpitude out of the police
force even if they are acquitted or discharged if it feels that
the acquittal or discharge is on technical grounds or not
honourable. The Screening Committee will be within its
rights to cancel the candidature of a candidate if it finds that
the acquittal is based on some serious flaw in the conduct of
the prosecution case or is the result of material witnesses
turning hostile. It is only experienced officers of the
Screening Committee who will be able to judge whether the
acquitted or discharged candidate is likely to revert to
similar activities in future with more strength and vigour, if
appointed, to the post in a police force. The Screening
Committee will have to consider the nature and extent of
such person’s involvement in the crime and his propensity of
becoming a cause for worsening the law and order situation
rather than maintaining it. In our opinion, this policy framed
by the Delhi Police does not merit any interference from this
Court as its object appears to be to ensure that only persons
with impeccable character enter the police force.
20. We find no substance in the contention that by
cancelling the respondents’ candidature, the Screening
Committee has overreached the judgments of the criminal
22Page 23
court. We are aware that the question of co-relation
between a criminal case and a departmental inquiry does
not directly arise here, but, support can be drawn from the
principles laid down by this Court in connection with it
because the issue involved is somewhat identical namely
whether to allow a person with doubtful integrity to work in
the department. While the standard of proof in a criminal
case is the proof beyond all reasonable doubt, the proof in a
departmental proceeding is preponderance of probabilities.
Quite often criminal cases end in acquittal because
witnesses turn hostile. Such acquittals are not acquittals on
merit. An acquittal based on benefit of doubt would not
stand on par with a clean acquittal on merit after a full
fledged trial, where there is no indication of the witnesses
being won over. In R.P. Kapur v. Union of India11 this
Court has taken a view that departmental proceedings can
proceed even though a person is acquitted when the
acquittal is other than honourable.
11 AIR 1964 SC 787
23Page 24
21. The expression ‘honourable acquittal’ was considered
by this Court in S. Samuthiram. In that case this Court was
concerned with a situation where disciplinary proceedings
were initiated against a police officer. Criminal case was
pending against him under Section 509 of the IPC and under
Section 4 of the Eve-teasing Act. He was acquitted in that
case because of the non-examination of key witnesses.
There was a serious flaw in the conduct of the criminal case.
Two material witnesses turned hostile. Referring to the
judgment of this Court in Management of Reserve Bank
of India, New Delhi v. Bhopal Singh Panchal12, where in
somewhat similar fact situation, this Court upheld a bank’s
action of refusing to reinstate an employee in service on the
ground that in the criminal case he was acquitted by giving
him benefit of doubt and, therefore, it was not an honourable
acquittal, this Court held that the High Court was not
justified in setting aside the punishment imposed in
departmental proceedings. This Court observed that the
expressions ‘honourable acquittal’, ‘acquitted of blame’ and
12 (1994) 1 SCC 541
24Page 25
‘fully exonerated’ are unknown to the Criminal Procedure
Code or the Penal Code. They are coined by judicial
pronouncements. It is difficult to define what is meant by
the expression ‘honourably acquitted’. This Court expressed
that when the accused is acquitted after full consideration of
prosecution case and the prosecution miserably fails to
prove the charges leveled against the accused, it can
possibly be said that the accused was honourably acquitted.
In light of above, we are of the opinion that since the
purpose of departmental proceedings is to keep persons,
who are guilty of serious misconduct or dereliction of duty or
who are guilty of grave cases of moral turpitude, out of the
department, if found necessary, because they pollute the
department, surely the above principles will apply with more
vigour at the point of entry of a person in the police
department i.e. at the time of recruitment. If it is found by
the Screening Committee that the person against whom a
serious case involving moral turpitude is registered is
discharged on technical grounds or is acquitted of the same
charge but the acquittal is not honourable, the Screening
25Page 26
Committee would be entitled to cancel his candidature.
Stricter norms need to be applied while appointing persons
in a disciplinary force because public interest is involved in
it.
22. Against the above background, we shall now examine
what is the nature of acquittal of the respondents. As per
the complaint lodged by Ramji Lal, respondent Mehar Singh
and others armed with iron chains, lathis, danda, stones etc.
stopped a bus, rebuked the conductor of the bus as to how
he dared to take the fare from one of their associates.
Those who intervened were beaten-up. They received
injuries. The miscreants broke the side window panes of the
bus by throwing stones. The complainant was also injured.
This incident is undoubtedly an incident affecting public
order. The assault on the conductor was pre-planned and
pre-meditated. The FIR was registered under Sections 143,
341, 323 and 427 of the IPC. The order dated 30/01/2009
passed by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Khetri
shows that so far as offences under Sections 323, 341 and
427 of the IPC are concerned, the accused entered into a
compromise with the complainant. Hence, learned
Magistrate acquitted respondent - Mehar Singh and others of
the said offences. The order further indicates that so far as
offence of rioting i.e. offence under Section 147 of the IPC is
concerned, three main witnesses turned hostile. Learned
Magistrate, therefore, acquitted all the accused of the said
offence. This acquittal can never be described as an
acquittal on merits after a full fledged trial. Respondent -
Mehar Singh cannot secure entry in the police force by
portraying this acquittal as an honourable acquittal.
Pertinently, there is no discussion on merits of the case in
this order. Respondent - Mehar Singh has not been
exonerated after evaluation of the evidence.
23. So far as respondent - Shani Kumar is concerned, the
FIR lodged against him stated that he along with other
accused abused and threatened the complainant’s brother.
They opened fire at him due to which he sustained bullet
injuries. Offences under Sections 307, 504 and 506 of the
IPC were registered against respondent - Shani Kumar and
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others. Order dated 14/5/2010 passed by the Sessions
Judge, Muzaffarnagar shows that the complainant and the
injured person did not support the prosecution case. They
were declared hostile. Hence, learned Sessions Judge gave
the accused the benefit of doubt and acquitted them. This
again is not a clean acquittal. Use of firearms in this manner
is a serious matter. For entry in the police force, acquittal
order based on benefit of doubt in a serious case of this
nature is bound to act as an impediment.
24. In this connection, we may usefully refer to Sushil
Kumar. In that case, the respondent therein had appeared
for recruitment as a constable in Delhi Police Services. He
was selected provisionally, but, his selection was subject to
verification of character and antecedents by the local police.
On verification, it was found that his antecedents were such
that his appointment to the post of constable was not found
desirable. Accordingly, his name was rejected. He
approached the Tribunal. The Tribunal allowed the
application on the ground that since the respondent had
28Page 29
been discharged and/or acquitted of the offence punishable
under Section 304, Section 324 read with Section 34 and
Section 324 of the IPC, he cannot be denied the right of
appointment to the post under the State. This Court
disapproved of the Tribunal’s view. It was observed that
verification of the character and antecedents is one of the
important criteria to test whether the selected candidate is
suitable to the post under the State. This Court observed
that though the candidate was provisionally selected, the
appointing authority found it not desirable to appoint him on
account of his antecedent record and this view taken by the
appointing authority in the background of the case cannot be
said to be unwarranted. Whether the respondent was
discharged or acquitted of the criminal offences, the same
has nothing to do with the question as to whether he should
be appointed to the post. What would be relevant is the
conduct or character of the candidate to be appointed to a
service and not the actual result thereof. It was argued that
Sushil Kumar must be distinguished from the facts of the
instant case because the respondent therein had concealed
29Page 30
the fact that a criminal case was registered against him,
whereas, in the instant case there is no concealment. It is
not possible for us to accept this submission. The aspect of
concealment was not considered in Sushil Kumar at all.
This Court only concentrated on the desirability to appoint a
person, against whom a criminal case is pending, to a
disciplined force. Sushil Kumar cannot be restricted to
cases where there is concealment of the fact by a candidate
that a criminal case was registered against him. When the
point of concealment or otherwise and its effect was not
argued before this Court, it cannot be said that in Sushil
Kumar this Court wanted to restrict its observations to the
cases where there is concealment of facts.
25. Reliance placed by the respondents on Dhaval Singh
is misplaced. In Dhaval Singh, the respondent had not
mentioned the fact that a criminal case was pending against
him in the application form submitted by him on 21-
27/8/1995 seeking post of a constable. He was provisionally
selected and was interviewed pending verification of his
character. Before any order of appointment could be issued
in his favour, he, realizing the mistake, wrote a letter to the
Deputy Commissioner of Police on 15/11/1995 that a
criminal case was pending against him and he had
inadvertently not mentioned this fact in the application form.
On the ground that the respondent had concealed a material
fact, his candidature was cancelled on 20/11/1995. He was
acquitted in the criminal case on 8/12/1995. On being so
acquitted, he filed a representation before the Commissioner
of Police which was turned down. He approached the
Tribunal. The Tribunal set aside the cancellation of
candidature of the respondent and the rejection of his
representation. Aggrieved by this, the Commissioner of
Police approached this Court. This Court confirmed the
Tribunal’s order basically on the ground that the order of
cancellation dated 20/11/1995 did not show that the
information furnished by the respondent vide his letter dated
15/11/1995 was communicated to the Commissioner of
Police. There was no indication in the record that the
competent authority had a look at the letter. Therefore, the
31Page 32
cancellation of candidature was without any proper
application of mind and without taking into consideration all
relevant materials. The Tribunal’s order was upheld on the
ground of non-application of mind by the Commissioner of
Police to a vital fact. Besides, this Court also noted that
pursuant to the Tribunal’s order the respondent therein was
already reinstated. This decision will have no application to
the present case. Reliance on Ghurey Lal is also
misplaced. There can be no debate over the observation
made by this Court in that case that an accused is presumed
to be innocent till proved guilty. These observations were
made while dealing with a reversal of acquittal by the High
Court. They are not relevant to the present case.
26. So far as respondent - Mehar Singh is concerned, his
case appears to have been compromised. It was urged that
acquittal recorded pursuant to a compromise should not be
treated as a disqualification because that will frustrate the
purpose of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. We see no
32Page 33
merit in this submission. Compromises or settlements have
to be encouraged to bring about peaceful and amiable
atmosphere in the society by according a quietus to
disputes. They have to be encouraged also to reduce
arrears of cases and save the litigants from the agony of
pending litigation. But these considerations cannot be
brought in here. In order to maintain integrity and high
standard of police force, the Screening Committee may
decline to take cognizance of a compromise, if it appears to
it to be dubious. The Screening Committee cannot be faulted
for that.
27. The respondents are trying to draw mileage from the
fact that in their application and/or attestation form they
have disclosed their involvement in a criminal case. We do
not see how this fact improves their case. Disclosure of
these facts in the application/attestation form is an essential
requirement. An aspirant is expected to state these facts
honestly. Honesty and integrity are inbuilt requirements of
the police force. The respondents should not, therefore,
expect to score any brownie points because of this
33Page 34
disclosure. Besides, this has no relevance to the point in
issue. It bears repetition to state that while deciding
whether a person against whom a criminal case was
registered and who was later acquitted or discharged should
be appointed to a post in the police force, what is relevant
is the nature of the offence, the extent of his involvement,
whether the acquittal was a clean acquittal or an acquittal by
giving benefit of doubt because the witnesses turned hostile
or because of some serious flaw in the prosecution, and the
propensity of such person to indulge in similar activities in
future. 
This decision, in our opinion, can only be taken by
the Screening Committee created for that purpose by the
Delhi Police. If the Screening Committee’s decision is not
mala fide or actuated by extraneous considerations, then, it
cannot be questioned.
28. The police force is a disciplined force. It shoulders the
great responsibility of maintaining law and order and public
order in the society. People repose great faith and
34Page 35
confidence in it. It must be worthy of that confidence. A
candidate wishing to join the police force must be a person
of utmost rectitude. He must have impeccable character
and integrity. 
A person having criminal antecedents will not
fit in this category. Even if he is acquitted or discharged in
the criminal case, that acquittal or discharge order will have
to be examined to see whether he has been completely
exonerated in the case because even a possibility of his
taking to the life of crimes poses a threat to the discipline of
the police force. 
The Standing Order, therefore, has
entrusted the task of taking decisions in these matters to the
Screening Committee. The decision of the Screening
Committee must be taken as final unless it is mala fide.
 In
recent times, the image of the police force is tarnished.
Instances of police personnel behaving in a wayward manner
by misusing power are in public domain and are a matter of
concern.
The reputation of the police force has taken a
beating. In such a situation, we would not like to dilute the
importance and efficacy of a mechanism like the Screening
Committee created by the Delhi Police to ensure that
persons who are likely to erode its credibility do not enter
the police force. At the same time, the Screening
Committee must be alive to the importance of trust reposed
in it and must treat all candidates with even hand.
29. The Screening Committee’s proceedings have been
assailed as being arbitrary, unguided and unfettered. But, in
the present cases, we see no evidence of this. However,
certain instances have been pointed out where allegedly
persons involved in serious offences have been
recommended for appointment by the Screening Committee.
It is well settled that to such cases the doctrine of equality
enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution of India is not
attracted. This doctrine does not envisage negative equality
(Fuljit Kaur).
 It is not meant to perpetuate illegality or
fraud because it embodies a positive concept. If the
Screening Committee which is constituted to carry out the
object of the comprehensive policy to ensure that people
with doubtful background do not enter the police force,
deviates from the policy, makes exception and allows entry
36Page 37
of undesirable persons, it is undoubtedly guilty of
committing an act of grave disservice to the police force but
we cannot allow that illegality to be perpetuated by allowing
the respondents to rely on such cases.
 It is for the
Commissioner of Police, Delhi to examine whether the
Screening Committee has compromised the interest of the
police force in any case and to take remedial action if he
finds that it has done so. Public interest demands an indepth examination of this allegation at the highest level.
Perhaps, such deviations from the policy are responsible for
the spurt in police excesses. We expect the Commissioner
of Police, Delhi to look into the matter and if there is
substance in the allegations to take necessary steps
forthwith so that policy incorporated in the Standing Order is
strictly implemented.
30. Our attention is drawn to certain orders of this Court
where, according to the respondents, special leave petitions
filed by the State, arising out of similar fact situations, have
been dismissed. It is not necessary for us to state that in
37
limine dismissal of special leave petition does not mean that
this Court has affirmed the judgment or the action impugned
therein. The order rejecting the special leave petition at the
threshold without detailed reasons does not constitute any
declaration of law or a binding precedent. This submission
is, therefore, rejected. 
31. In the ultimate analysis, 
we are of the view that the
opinion formed by the Screening Committee in both these
cases which is endorsed by the Deputy Commissioner of
Police (Recruitment), Delhi, that 
both the respondents are
not suitable for being appointed in the Delhi Police Force
does not merit any interference. 
It is legally sustainable. 
The
Tribunal and the High Court, in our view, erred in setting
aside the order of cancellation of the respondents’
candidature. 
In the circumstances, the appeals are allowed.
The orders of the Delhi High Court impugned in both the
appeals are set aside. 
The cancellation of candidature of the
respondents - Mehar Singh and Shani Kumar is upheld. 
38Page 39
………………………….J.
(G.S. Singhvi]
………………………….J.
(Ranjana Prakash Desai)
New Delhi
July 02, 2013

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