Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: A petition was filed by a Constable/GD in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), served for nearly 17 years with an exemplary record seeking to set aside of memorandum dated 09-08-2023 whereby a departmental inquiry has been initiated against him. A division bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva and Manoj Jain, JJ., held that the petitioner’s failure to disclose the previous involvement in the criminal case was justified under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, thus, the Court set aside the impugned Memorandum dated 09-08-2023 that initiated the inquiry against the petitioner.

The petitioner, a Constable/GD in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), served for nearly 17 years with an exemplary record. However, a memorandum dated 09-08-2023 initiated a departmental inquiry against the petitioner for allegedly concealing a criminal case against him. The petitioner was allegedly implicated in FIR for offenses under Sections 147, 148, 149 and 307 IPC when he was a juvenile. This case was settled amicably, but the petitioner claimed that they were unaware of its status and thus did not disclose it when joining CRPF. The petitioner’s involvement in the case surfaced only in 2022 through a communication. Despite being a juvenile at the time of the alleged offense, the petitioner’s omission to disclose this information led to the inquiry.

The petitioner contended that their omission was not deliberate but a result of their juvenile status and lack of awareness. They argued that as per the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, juveniles are not obligated to disclose their criminal records, and such records are expunged to facilitate their reintegration into society. The respondents argued that the petitioner’s failure to disclose the case was deliberate and justified the initiation of the inquiry. They emphasized the importance of disclosing criminal antecedents when joining a disciplined force.

The court examined the petitioner’s contention considering the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, which aims to protect juveniles from the consequences of their actions and facilitate their rehabilitation. The Act prohibits the publication of a juvenile’s name and mandates the removal of records after a certain period. Legal precedents were cited to support the petitioner’s argument that they were not obligated to disclose their involvement in the criminal case as a juvenile. The Court noted that the petitioner’s omission was justified given their juvenile status at the time of the offense.

The Court noted that “Section 19(1) JJ Act 2000 specifically stipulates that juvenile shall not suffer any disqualification attached to the conviction of an offence under such law. Further Section 19(2) contemplates that the Juvenile Justice Board must pass an order directing all the relevant records of such conviction to be removed after expiry of the period of appeal or a reasonable period as prescribed under the rules. Section 21 of JJ Act 2000 prohibits publication of the name of the “juvenile in conflict with law” to protect a juvenile from adverse consequences due to his conviction for an offence committed as a juvenile. JJ Act 2000, being beneficial legislation, its principles are to be applied only for the advancement of its objective. As per the requirement of law, even a conviction in an offence will not be treated as a disqualification for a juvenile. The records of the case pertaining to his criminal involvement are to be obliterated after the specified period. Thus, so far as juveniles are concerned their criminal records cannot stand in their way as the precise aim is to reintegrate such juvenile back in the society as a normal person, without any stigma.”

The Court emphasized the importance of protecting juveniles from the stigma of past offenses and facilitating their rehabilitation into society. Thus, the court held that the petitioner’s omission to disclose the criminal case was justified under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. As such, the memorandum initiating the inquiry against the petitioner was set aside.

[MD Parvej Alam v. Union of India, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1250, decided on 23-02-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the petitioner: Mr. K.K. Sharma, Mr. Harshit Aggarwal, Mr. Mohit Sharma, Mr. M. Sudir and Ms. Sanya, Advocates

For the Respondent: Mr. Pradeep Kumar Jha, SPC with Ms. Prerna, Advocate with Mr. R.N. Parikh, Pairvi Officer, UOI

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