The Supreme Court bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah, dismissed the plea of a District Judge aspirant, whose selection for the post of District Judge (Entry Level) was cancelled due to he was accused in IPC Section 498 filed by his wife.
The appellant, Anil Bhardwaj was declared successful in the Main Examination for the post of District Judge (Entry Level) and after the interview, his name was published in the waiting list number 13 in the category of unreserved. Then in Apr 2018, he received a letter of selection for the post and he was asked to appear before Medical Board. He then received a letter in Jul 2018, asking to supply the copy of the FIR under section 498/406/34 of IPC, which the appellant has declared in his attestation form. In September 2018, his name was removed from the selection list on the order of Principal Secretary, Madhya Pradesh, Law and Legislative Department.
From an RTI application, the appellant received the extarcts of the Minutes of the Joint Meeting of Administrative Committee, which states that he was not considered for the post on the basis of the complaint by the wife of the appellant. The bench also noted that, the appellant was acquitted after a year.
“the appellant was not considered suitable for being appointed to the post of District Judge (Entry Level). On the basis of a complaint by the wife of the appellant,”
The appellant then filed a petition before the High Court challenging the order of his removal from the selection list, and argued for appointment. He also submitted that he declared the FIR in the application form and has not concealed any fact.
“He submits that appellant having disclosed the lodging of FIR against him has not concealed any fact before the High Court and he having been selected on merit was entitled to be appointed.”
“Shri Venkataramani submits that on the subsequent acquittal of the appellant on 18.09.2019 his case for appointment was to be reconsidered by the High Court and the High Court committed an error in not considering the appellant for appointment. The candidature of the appellant could not have been cancelled merely on the ground of pendency of criminal case. The appellant could not have been deprived of the employment after acquittal.” the learned senior counsel for the appellant submission.
The bench said that whether the letter issued in July 2018, to the appellant was an error.
“The main issue to be considered was as to whether resolution dated 18.07.2018 suffered from error which requires judicial review by the High Court in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226.”
The bench further said that, it is undisputed that there was a criminal case pending against the appellant. The bench also added that, it is not a indefeasible right of the candidate if name appear in the selection list.
“There is no dispute that on the date when the Committee declared the appellant unsuitable, criminal case against him under Section 498A and 406 IPC was pending which was registered on a complaint filed by the appellant’s wife, Smt. XXXXX. The mere inclusion in the select list does not give an indefeasible right to a candidate. The employer has right to refuse appointment to the candidate included in the select list on any valid ground.”
The bench referring the guidelines issued by Government of Madhya Pradesh regarding the character verification said that, the appellant at the time was not acquittal.
“Clause (viii) on which the reliance is placed contemplates that the candidate who has been acquitted on merit by the Court will be eligible for the Government service. The aforesaid contemplation relates to at the time of character verification. Thus, at the time of character verification, if a candidate is found to be acquitted on merits by the Court, the candidate shall be treated to be eligible for Government Service.”
The bench also said in the connection of stigma the appellant faced.
“As noted above, the appellant having already been acquitted by the judgment dated 18.09.2019 stigma of criminal case has already washed out and the criminal case having resulted in acquittal no stigma is attached to the appellant’s name on the above ground. The apprehension of the learned counsel for the appellant that a stigma shall continue with the name of the appellant is misconceived, stigma, if any, is already over by acquittal.”