Employer entitled to consider antecedents and suitability of candidate for appointment even after disclosure made by candidate: SC

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of Uday U. Lalit and Dr D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court whereby the State was directed to appoint the respondent on the post concerned in case his name found a place in the merit list.

In 2012, the Professional Examination Board, Madhya Pradesh invited applications for filling posts of subedars, platoon commanders and inspectors of police. The respondent participated in the selection process and tendered an affidavit as per the requirements wherein he disclosed that a case under Sections 323, 325, 506 and 34 IPC was registered against him which was pending on the date of such disclosure but he was never arrested. However, within 4 days thereafter, a compromise was entered into between the parties. Still, further, the respondent was taken into judicial custody on forfeiture of bond for non-compliance. The respondent was selected in the written examination; however, after considering his character verification report, his candidature was rejected. The respondent filed a writ petition there against which was allowed by a Single Judge and further affirmed by the Division Bench of the High Court. Aggrieved thereby, the State preferred the instant appeal.

While deciding the matter, the Court referred to, inter alia, Avtar Singh v. Union of India, (2016) 8 SCC 471. In the present case, it was held that even after the disclosure is made by a candidate, the employer would be well within his rights to consider the antecedents and the suitability of the candidate. While so considering, the employer can certainly take into account the job profile for which the selection is undertaken, the severity of the charges levelled against the candidate and whether the acquittal in question was an honourable acquittal or was merely on the ground of benefit of doubt. Following the Avtar Singh case, the Court held that the employer, in instant circumstances, could not be compelled to appoint the respondent. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the judgment impugned was set aside. [State of M.P. v. Abhijit Singh Pawar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2555, decided on 26-11-2018]

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