Read Judgment: Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited and Another vs. Anil Kanwariya

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, September 20,2021: The Supreme Court has held that 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 Division Bench of Justice M.R Shah and Justice A.S Bopanna observed that 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.

The observation came to be passed in respect of appeals preferred by the Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited (appellant/ employer), against the decision of the High Court in setting aside the order of termination terminating the services of the respondent (employee) on the ground of suppression of material facts of conviction and penalty at the time of applying for the post in 2013 and also submitting a false declaration at the time of documents verification.

The background of the case was that the appellants invited applications for the post of Technical Helper by issuing advertisement, pursuant to which the respondent applied for the same and passed the written test.

The respondent having qualified for the said post was appointed as a Technical Helper as probationer trainee for a period of two years, subject to production of a character certification/verification report issued by the Superintendent of Police.

Later, the police verification/antecedents report informed the appellants regarding a case against the respondent for the offences u/s 143, 341, 323 IPC in which a charge-sheet was filed and the respondent was convicted by the Trial Court.

However, the respondent was given the benefit under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 and was ordered to be released on probation for good conduct. Even subsequently such conviction of the respondent came to be confirmed, the Sessions Judge granted the benefit of Section 12 of the Act,1958, to the respondent which provides that a person shall not suffer disqualification attaching to the conviction.

Therefore, having found that the respondent-employee deliberately suppressed the fact of conviction and penalty, the appellants terminated the services of the respondent, which was however set aside by the High Court.

After considering the submissions, the Top Court found that that only with a view to get out of the disqualification of conviction, belatedly the employee preferred an appeal and obtained the order of granting the benefit of Section 12 of the Act 1958.

Even otherwise, it is required to be noted that on getting the benefit of Section 12 of the Act 1958 subsequently by that itself the respondent cannot get away of the allegations of suppression of material fact and filing a false declaration that neither any criminal case is pending against him nor he has been convicted by any court of law, added the Court.

The Division Bench said that subsequently getting the benefit of Section 12 of the Act 1958 shall not be helpful to the respondent inasmuch as the question is about filing a false declaration on April 14, 2015 that neither any criminal case is pending against him nor he has been convicted by any court of law, which was much prior to the order passed by the Sessions Court granting the benefit of Section 12 of the Act 1958.

Thus, 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, added the Bench.

Therefore, concluding that the order of reinstatement was wholly untenable, the Apex Court said that the High Court had erred in quashing and setting aside the order of termination.

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