SC: Police force needs rectitude, acquittal won’t entitle automatic employment

The Supreme Court said on Wednesday that securing an acquittal from an offence involving moral turpitude or because the witnesses turned hostile wouldn’t become basis for automatic employment in police force, which demands a person of utmost rectitude having impeccable character and integrity.

A bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and J.K. Maheshwari said a person who wishes to join the police force must be a person of utmost rectitude and have impeccable character and integrity, and persons having criminal antecedents would not be fit in this category.

The bench said: “If a person is acquitted giving him the benefit of doubt from the charge of an offence involving moral turpitude or because the witnesses turned hostile, it would not automatically entitle him for the employment, that too in a disciplined force.”

The bench clarified that the employer has the right to consider the nature of acquittal or decide until he is completely exonerated because even a possibility of his taking to the life of crime poses a threat to the discipline of the police force.

It further added that mere disclosure by the candidate regarding the offences alleged and result of the trial is not sufficient. “The employer cannot be compelled to give appointment to the candidate,” the bench noted.

The bench added, “Even in case truthful declaration regarding concluded trial has been made by the employee, the employer still has the right to consider the antecedents and cannot be compelled to appoint the candidate.”

The bench observed that if acquittal is not honourable, the candidates are not suitable for government service and are to be avoided.

The apex court allowed the Centre’s appeal and set aside the 2013 Madhya Pradesh High Court orders for giving an opportunity of training and all consequential benefits to Methu Meda as a constable in the Central Industrial Security Force.

Post his selection, Meda was not found eligible for appointment by the standing screening committee, as he was acquitted in a 2009 criminal case related to kidnapping for ransom.

The top court noted that he was acquitted as the main witness had turned hostile.