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Case Analysis of Satish Chandra Yadav v. Union of India, 2022

Facts Of The Case
The appellant in this case was serving as a Constable with the CRPF. He was recruited as a temporary employee of the post of Constable (GD) in the CRPF on 28.07.2014. After undergoing the basic training, he reported at the 179th Battalion on 17.12.2015.

While filling up the requisite verification Form�25 at the time of his recruitment in the CRPF in Column 12 in response to the question whether any case was pending against him, the appellant answered in the negative.

Thereafter, under Rule 14 of the CRPF Rules, the Character and Antecedents verification Form of the appellant was sent to the Collector, District Sant Kabir Nagar, Uttar Pradesh. The Collector, vide his letter dated 25.02.2015, informed the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Group Centre, CRPF Rampur that the Criminal Case had been registered against the appellant herein at the P.S. Khalilabad Sant Kabir Nagar, Police Station for the offences punishable under Sections 147, 323, 324, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

Upon receipt of the information as aforesaid, the services of the appellant herein came to be terminated in exercise of the powers conferred under Rule 5(1) of the Central Civil Services (Temporary Service) Rules, 1965 vide the order dated 11.03.2016 on the ground that he had concealed the information as aforesaid while filling up the Form�25.

The further appeal addressed by the appellant herein to the Inspector General was also dismissed. The appellant herein challenged his dismissal from service by filing the Writ Petition in the High Court of Delhi. The said Writ Petition was disposed of by a Division Bench of the High Court on 25.09.2017 remitting the matter to the Revisionary Authority for fresh consideration within a period of six weeks from the date the appellant herein would make a representation.

The representation filed by the appellant herein ultimately came to be rejected and a fresh order dated 05.01.2018 reiterating the termination of the appellant's services was passed.

The appellant herein once again preferred a fresh Writ Petition challenging the impugned order dated 05.01.2018 terminating his services.

Issues Raised:
  1. Whether the High Court committed any error in passing the impugned order?

Submissions On Behalf Of The Appellant
Ms. Jyoti Dutt Sharma, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant vehemently submitted that the High Court committed a serious error in passing the impugned order. She would submit that the prosecution against the appellant was of a very trivial in nature. It did not involve any moral turpitude. The suppression, if at all believed, by itself, cannot be a ground to deny public employment.

It was argued that the appellant had no knowledge of the pendency of the criminal case on the date when the verification Form was filled up. She submitted that for the purpose of determining whether the suppression was with a guilty mind, the attestation/verification Form should be very specific and not vague so as to confuse the person filling up such Forms. It was further argued that at the relevant point of time, the appellant was 19 years of age.

The criminal prosecution against him along with the others was on account of a family dispute. The appellant had been falsely arrayed as an accused in the said case. There was a settlement between the parties before the local village panchayat. Ultimately, the appellant herein along with the other co-accused came to be acquitted by the trial court.

The learned counsel placed strong reliance on the decision of this Court in the case of Avatar Singh v. Union of India, (2016) 8 SCC 471 to fortify her submission that while passing the order of termination of services for giving false information, the employer must take notice of the special circumstances of the case, if any. It was argued that even upon fresh consideration, the Authority committed the very same mistake while reiterating the termination.

In the last, the learned counsel submitted that the High Court failed to consider an important question of fact that the Form CRP� 25 was quite vague and not specific about the information in regard to the criminal antecedents. It is on account of such vagueness that the appellant was not able to understand the question in a proper manner and answered the same accordingly which is now being treated as false information. The learned counsel prays and the appellant may be ordered to be reinstated in service with full back wages.

Submissions On Behalf Of The Appellant
Ms. Madhavi Divan, the Additional Solicitor General submitting that no error, not to speak of any error of law, could be said to have been committed by the High Court in passing the impugned order. She would submit that the appellant is guilty of "suppression" of material facts which, by itself, was sufficient to terminate his services. It was argued that the services of the appellant herein were terminated because he was found guilty of submitting false information or to put in other words, guilty of suppression of material facts. The learned ASG vehemently submitted that the appellant herein not only suppressed information about his arrest but also suppressed the information about the criminal case which was pending against him at the time he filled up the verification Form.

The learned ASG further submitted that the appellant herein and the other co-accused were not honourably acquitted. They all came to be acquitted as the prosecution witnesses turned hostile. The learned ASG, while relying on the decision of this Court in the case of Avtar Singh v. Union of India (2016) 8 SCC 471, submitted that the Authority concerned is duty bound to take into account the gravity of the offence in a situation where acquittal is not recorded at the time of filling up of the verification Form.

In the last, the learned ASG submitted that the judicial review under Article 136 of the Constitution in matters pertaining to the suitability of a candidate is limited to the extent of determining if the Authority concerned had acted with malice, mindlessness or gross illegality. She placed strong reliance on the decision of this Court in the case of Commissioner of Police v. Raj Kumar, (2021) 8 SCC 347 to fortify her submission that the scope of judicial review in the matters of the present type is very limited. The learned ASG also placed strong reliance on the decision of this Court in the case of Union of India and Others v. Methu Meda, (2022) 1 SCC 1.

In such circumstances referred to above, the learned ASG prayed that there being no merit in this appeal, the same may be dismissed.

Cases Referred:
  1. Avatar Singh v. Union of India, (2016) 8 SCC 471
  2. Commissioner of Police v. Raj Kumar, (2021) 8 SCC 347
  3. Union of India and Others v. Methu Meda, (2022) 1 SCC 1
Hon'ble Supreme Court of India has held that an employee must provide truthful information about his previous criminal antecedents including prosecution and conviction for accessing his character for the purpose of employment.

It is held that neither the gravity of the criminal offence nor the ultimate acquittal is relevant if a person suppresses a material fact of his being involved in a criminal case, in the personal information furnished to the employer. The only relevance is suppression of the material information about the previous criminal antecedents which reveals the character of the person.
In the aforesaid case, this Court held that the purpose of requiring an employee to furnish information regarding prosecution/conviction, etc.

In the verification form was to assess his character and antecedents for the purpose of employment and continuation in service; that suppression of material information and making a false statement in reply to queries relating to prosecution and conviction had a clear bearing on the character, conduct and antecedents of the employee; and that where it is found that the employee had suppressed or given false information in regard to matters which had a bearing on his fitness or suitability to the post, he could be terminated from service during the period of probation without holding any inquiry.

The Court also made it clear that neither the gravity of the criminal offence nor the ultimate acquittal therein was relevant when considering whether a probationer who suppresses a material fact (of his being involved in a criminal case, in the personal information furnished to the employer), is fit to be continued as a probationer.

In the case of Satish Chandra Yadav v. Union of India, 2022, the Supreme Court held that an employees must be honest when answering questions regarding their criminal histories, including any charges and convictions, in order for employers to assess their character.

It is decided that if a person omits a material truth about his involvement in a criminal case from the personal information provided to the employer, neither the seriousness of the criminal offence nor the final verdict matter. The only relevant information is the material information that conceals the person's character by hiding past criminal activity.

The following judgment delivered by the Hon'ble Justice, S. Ravindra Bhat and J.B. Pardiwala in my opinion was very insightful and necessary for preventing people with criminal background from entering into public services as it might cause harm to the public and reputation to the office of the public servant.

It's aforesaid that the ultimate motto behind a comprehensive criminal record check is providing the government administration with a safe workplace. In other words, whosoever is appointed at any position in the government sector, he/she should possess a clean history. The employer (government agency) runs a background check to make it sure. The agency filters through relevant databases, including civil litigation database, regulatory compliance database and criminal database involving the candidate's name. Besides background data check in India, the global database should also be searched out to determine if there is any association of the candidate with the offence or the crime.

The background check should go on pre-recruitment. A single discrepancy can disturb the govt. recruitment. The candidate can lose his/her reputation. Also, his/her motivation could be drastically impacted. Therefore, the candidate should provide with the authentic documents that are requisite for a specific profile.

Checking the criminal history of all the persons applying for public as well as private service is therefore essential even though the Indian government does not have a law solely dedicated to criminal records or BGV checks. But for conducting criminal records checks, the Indian Contract Act, Indian Penal Code, and Information Technology Acts of 2000 and 2005 are frequently used as benchmarks.

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