[Case Brief] Union Territory of Chandigarh & Others v/s Pradeep Kumar and Another, 2018

Case NameUnion Territory of Chandigarh & Others v/s Pradeep Kumar & Another
Case NumberCivil Appeal Number 67 of 2018
CourtSupreme Court of India
BenchJustice R. Banumathi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit
Author of the judgmentJustice R. Banumathi
Decided OnJanuary 8, 2018
Author of the briefLavanya Gupta

Brief Facts and Procedural History

Pradeep Kumar, Narendra Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Paramjeet Singh and Ombir had applied for the temporary posts of Constables (Executive) in Chandigarh Police after the Police issued an advertisement for the same dated 14.03.2010. The recruitment of the candidates to the posts was to be done as per a given set of guidelines along with the standing order governing the recruitment of constables. The cases of the 5 candidates were referred to the Screening Committee as was prescribed in Guideline No. 2(A)(b). The candidates were denied employment on the ground that they had been involved in a criminal case for various offences under Indian Penal Code, 1860, even though they were acquitted in the case by giving them a benefit of doubt. The candidates filed an Original Application before Central Administrative Tribunal, which set aside the orders of Screening Committee. Following this, the State filed a writ petition before the High Court which was dismissed for the candidates, except Ombir. The candidates appealed in the Supreme Court. The candidates contended that the criminal case against them was a case of ‘no evidence’ and hence, an honourable acquittal. The State said the post required good character and track record and that the court cannot oust the jurisdiction of the Screening Committee.

Issues before the Court

1) Whether the cancellation of candidature of Pradeep Kumar, Narendra Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Paramjeet Singh and Ombir, by the Screening Committee, is valid?

2) Can the courts’ views override the decisions of the Screening Committee?

Ratio of the judge

Yes, the cancellation of candidature of Pradeep Kumar, Narendra Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Paramjeet Singh and Ombir, by the Screening Committee is valid. On a fair reading of the guidelines, based on which the recruitment was to be done, it is very clear from Guideline No. 2 (A)(b) that when a candidate discloses his involvement in some criminal case in the attestation form, then such case will be referred to the Screening Committee to assess the eligibility, irrespective of the stage at which the case is or what its outcome was. The aforementioned 5 candidates had been acquitted in the case they were involved in. The definition of “honourable acquittal” as well as the requirement of good character, integrity and clean antecedents of a person to enter into the police force makes the candidates ineligible for entering into the police. While deciding on the question that whether the courts’ views can displace the Screening Committee’s decisions, it is imperative to take into account the ingredient of malice. The Screening Committee gave reasons for the rejection of the candidates and there exists nothing to show mala fide performance of the Screening Committee. Thus, the Screening Committee’s views cannot be set aside by the courts’ views.

Decision Given

Keeping in mind, the Guidelines applicable, the track record of the candidates, requirements for the post and the process followed by the Screening Committee, the Supreme Court held that the cancellation of the candidature of the candidates is valid. It was also held that the Tribunal Court and High Court were in error to impose their decisions on the Screening Committee. Thus the previous orders were held to be erroneous and unsustainable.

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