Read Order: Girraj v. State of Haryana and others

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 07,2022:  While dealing with a service law matter wherein a candidate selected for the post of BC-A category in Haryana Police was not given an appointment on account of non-disclosure of the fact of pendency of an FIR against him, in his ‘attestation form’, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the petitioner made a “palpably false” assertion in his attestation form when he checked ‘NO’ against the question asking whether there was any case pending against him in a court of law at the time of filling in of this attestation form. 

While relying on the Supreme Court in Avtar Singh v. Union of India (2016) 8 SCC 471, the Bench of Justice Jaishree Thakur held,”Even though the petitioner stands acquitted by the trial court in offences under section 498-A/ 406 IPC, which do not pertain to offence of moral turpitude, it cannot be lost sight of that the petitioner did not disclose the true and correct facts regarding the pendency of criminal proceedings pending against him in the attestation form. There is deliberate suppression of material fact in attestation form.” 

By an advertisement, the State of Haryana advertised 5456 posts of Constable for recruitment in the Haryana police and the petitioner was selected for the post of BC-A category. The petitioner had an FIR registered against him which was pending. 

Eventually, the petitioner’s selection was cancelled on account of the pendency of the FIR registered against him. The petitioner submitted that the FIR was a result of a matrimonial dispute and thus it did not reflect on moral turpitude. 

The petition further made a request for allotment of a belt number to him and since his request was not exceeded to, he filed a writ petition wherein the respondent authorities were directed to look into the representations made by the petitioner. His claim was rejected on the ground that all those candidates against whom cases of moral turpitude were lodged would not be given an appointment. 

Aggrieved against the order rejecting the representation, the instant petition was filed.  

The Counsel for the petitioner argued that the petitioner had the necessary merit to be appointed as a constable, but was denied the same on the ground that he concealed in the attestation form about the pendency of the criminal case. It was argued that this fact was mentioned in the application form and in any case, an offence under Section 498A/ 406 IPC would not constitute an offence involving moral turpitude. 

Further, by placing reliance on a letter by the state government and listing all the offences of the Indian Penal Code which constitute moral turpitude, the counsel argued that offences under Sections 498-A/406 IPC are not the offences involving moral turpitude and hence cannot be denied the appointment. Also, it was submitted that the petitioner was exonerated of all charges against him by the trial court and this fact was not taken into consideration while passing the impugned order.

Per contra, counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents contended that there was non-disclosure of the pendency of criminal proceedings in the ‘attestation form’ and that the advertisement contained an exclusionary clause which clearly specified that a candidate against whom a criminal case stands registered and is under investigation or pending trial or has been convicted by a court of law need not apply. 

The Court observed at the very outset that to the credit of the petitioner, he did disclose the factum of pendency of an FIR registered against him in his application form. 

Thus, the question which arose for the Court’s consideration was whether the petitioner can be denied appointment on account of non-disclosure of his antecedents in the attestation form?

On the issue of suppression of criminal antecedents while applying for a government job, the Counsel, the Court made reference to the Top Court in  Avtar Singh (Supra), wherein it was held that the information which is given to the employer by a candidate as to conviction, acquittal or arrest, or pendency of a criminal case, whether before or after entering into service must be true and there should be no suppression or false mention of the required information.

In light of the above, the Court was of the opinion that even though the petitioner was acquitted by the trial court in offences under section 498-A/ 406 IPC, which did not pertain to offence of moral turpitude, it could not be lost sight of that the petitioner did not disclose the true and correct facts regarding the pendency of criminal proceedings pending against him in the attestation form and that there was a deliberate suppression of material fact in attestation form. 

Further, it was noted by the High Court that the petitioner made a “palpably false” assertion in his attestation form when he checked ‘NO’ against the question of whether there was any case pending against him in a court of law at the time of filling in of this attestation form. 

Another reason as was spelt out by the Court to not allow the Writ Petition was that the clause contained in the advertisement asking candidates arrayed as accused in criminal cases not to apply, itself was binding and sufficient alone to disentitle the petitioner to seek relief who was facing trial in an FIR under Sections 498A/406 IPC at the time he applied. 

 Consequently, the writ petition was dismissed for want of merit.

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