Bombay High Court: In a case filed by Swapnil Prakash Parab (‘petitioner’) challenging rejection to the representation made before Bhabha Atomic Research Centre/BARC (‘Respondent 2’) on the orders of the Supreme Court. The case relates to non-disclosure of pendency of criminal case in the candidate declaration form, a Division Bench of R N Laddha and S V Gangapurwala, JJ., upheld the rejection by respondent 2 in view of the sensitive nature of work conducted in BARC, a candidate interested in joining such a sensitive institution is expected to have a flawless character and integrity without blemishes. An individual with criminal antecedents will not fit in this category and hiding the same, questions his honesty and integrity that are the inherent requirements in public employment.
Counsel for petitioner submitted that the Petitioner had no intention to suppress any information from the Respondent authority and non-disclosure of pendency of criminal case was the bonafide mistake of the Petitioner. Mere involvement in some petty cases would not render a person unsuitable for the job and the Petitioner was acquitted by Judgment dated 8th June 2016.
Counsel for State submitted that it was not in dispute that on the date when the Petitioner filled the application form, a criminal case was pending against him. His later acquittal on its own would not be sufficient to wash away the suppression of material facts. Verifying character and antecedents is also part of the recruitment process.
In Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited v. Anil Kanwariya, (2021) 10 SCC 136, the Court observed that,
The question is not about whether an employee was involved in a dispute of trivial nature and whether he has been subsequently acquitted or not. The question is about the credibility and / or trustworthiness of such an employee who at the initial stage of the employment i.e., while submitting the declaration / verification and /or applying for a post made false declaration and / or not disclosing and / or suppressing material fact of having involved in a criminal case. If the correct facts had been disclosed, the employer might not have appointed him. Then the question is of TRUST.
The Court observed that by perusing the facts of the case and material present before the Court, it is clear that there is nothing on record even to suggest that the decision taken by the concerned Authority in rejecting the candidature of the Respondent was in any way actuated by malafides or suffered on any other count.
The Court however remarked regarding the criminal case pending against the candidate in the words: “The order records that there was a counter criminal case, and the parties had settled the disputes and requested to compound the offences. Both cases involve offences which were not compoundable. Therefore, the parties were asked to lead the evidence. The witness had turned hostile. The Petitioner was thereupon acquitted.“
The Court further noted that BARC is the nation’s premier research center and is engaged in advanced research and development activities in nuclear science. He should be reliable and trustworthy. He was expected to state all the required information honestly as honesty and integrity are the inherent requirements in public employment.
The Court opined that the petitioner should have made a declaration and left it to the employer to determine the effect of the pendency of a criminal case on his upcoming job. His subsequent acquittal on its own would not be enough to erase the suppression of essential facts.
Thus, the Court held that looking at the sensitive nature of activities undertaken at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, we cannot say that the employer’s decision to reject the Petitioner’s representation was unreasonable or arbitrary.
[Swapnil Prakash Parab v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 2338, decided on 16-09-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
Mr. Amit Dubey a/w Ashok M. Saraogi for the Petitioner;
Mr. M.A. Sayed, AGP for the State;
Mr. Neel G. Helekar a/w Mr. P.J. Khosla for Respondent 2.
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.