This article is written by – Himanshu Shukla, Student (IP University, Delhi)
The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the Delhi High Court’s decision directing the Delhi Police to consider certain candidates for police constable selection irrespective of criminal cases.
A bench of Justices KM Joseph and Justice S Ravindra Bhat criticized the approach of the High Court in adopting a mild approach towards criminal behaviour of candidates on the basis of their young age and rural environment.
The judgment written by Justice Bhat said, “The view of the Court is clear from the observations regarding high youth and age of candidates, indicating general acceptability of the behaviour, which includes petty offences or misdemeanours. The impugned order is a comprehensive Point to the view that this type of misconduct should not be taken seriously considering the age of the youth and the rural environment should not enter and should be avoided.”
“Certain types of crimes, such as molesting women, or trespassing and causing beating, assault, injury or grievous hurt to a victim, (with or without the use of weapons) may also indicate caste or hierarchical behaviour in a rural setting. “
The Court stressed that since the selection was for a police force, which was tasked with maintaining law and order and dealing with lawlessness, there should be maximum scrutiny by the selection officers to inspire public confidence.
The courts conducting judicial review cannot second-guess the suitability of a candidate for any public office or post and that the state employer may have an element of relaxation or choice as to who should enter his service.
The selection authority had rejected the appointment of some candidates on the ground that they faced criminal proceedings and charges were also framed in most of them after which the cases against them ended in a settlement. He approached the Central Administrative Tribunal challenging these orders rejecting his candidature. CAT allowed their applications and these orders were challenged by the Police Department before the High Court. Dismissing the writ petitions, the High Court took note of the youth and age of the candidates and said that their misbehaviour should not be taken seriously.
Disagreeing with the High Court’s opinion, the Supreme Court held that due importance should be given to the autonomy or choice of a public employer, so long as the decision-making process is neither illegal, unreasonable, or materially lacking.
The Court also considered the issue as to whether that is a deciding factor in considering the suitability of an applicant/candidate in the event of acquittal or acquittal as an accused of various offences.