Supreme Court of India
The State Of Rajasthan vs Love Kush Meena on 24 March, 2021Author: Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Bench: [ S Reddy], [ K Kaul]







LOVE KUSH MEENA Respondent(s)



1. The moot point which arises for consideration is

whether a benefit of doubt resulting in acquittal of the

respondent in a case charged under Sections 302,323,341/34

of the Indian Penal Code [IPC] can create an opportunity

for the respondent to join as a constable in the Rajasthan

Police service.

2. The respondent and three others were charged with the

aforesaid provisions of the Indian Penal Code and tried

before the Additional Sessions Judge (Fast Track), Laxman

Garh, District Alwar, Rajasthan. The incident relates to
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
6.10.2008 at about 6 p.m. when, as per the complainant
Date: 2021.03.24
18:01:50 IST

Babulal, one Jagdish and Dayaram came in a tractor for

tilling a disputed field in jungle Patan. Tofli, mausi of

Babulal forbade them to till the land and apparently stayed

back in the field. At that time, the tractor driver

Jagdish drove the tractor and ran over Tofli. The

complainant Babulal along with one Raju, Om Prakash and

Dinesh rushed to her side but were beaten up and knife

injuries were inflicted upon them by Dayaram, Love Kush

(respondent), Bodan and Jagdish. Tofli was taken in a Buggi

to the hospital where the doctor declared her brought dead.

On the basis of the said report, PS Khedli registered Case

No.255 of 2008 under Sections 302,341,323,34 of the IPC and

commenced the investigation. Upon completion of the

investigation, the charge sheet against all the accused

persons vide No.1/2009 was filed in the Court of Judicial

Magistrate, Kathumar from where it was committed to the

Court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Laxman Garh. The

charges were framed and all the accused denied the charges.

3. It is relevant to note that during the trial injured

persons, Babulal, Om Prakash and Raju alias Rajesh obtained

permission of the Court and filed a compromise in favour of

accused persons under Sections 341,323 of IPC which was

approved but naturally, there could not have been any

compromise qua the offences under Section 302/34 IPC. In

those charges the trial continued and it is quite obvious

that in view of the compromise, all the prosecution

witnesses, including those injured, turned hostile. On the

basis of the case of the prosecution, the learned Judge

opined in terms of the judgment dated 01.05.2009 that “the

prosecution had failed to prove the case against the

accused persons beyond reasonable doubt”.

4. A notification for recruitment of constable was

issued on 14.07.2013 under the provisions contained in part

III of the Rajasthan Police Subordinate Service

Regulations, 1989 for 12178 posts of constables setting out

the procedure for making the application. Para (ix) of the

advertisement provided for disqualification for

appointment. The relevant clause (ix) reads as under-

“(ix) As per judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in

Civil Appeal No.782/2004 State Government and

others v. Mohd. Salim Dated 10.12.2009, Director

General Police, Rajasthan Circular No.1687

dt.29.4.1995 is held legal. In compliance with the

said judgment, only those candidates shall be

qualified to appear in recruitment for Rajasthan

police who- have not been convicted for offence of

moral turpitude, violent activities and not

honourably acquitted by Court.”

5. The aforesaid would show that the disqualification

would operate qua conviction and “not honourably acquitted

by Court” for offences of moral turpitude and violent

activities. The respondent herein participated in the same

and it appears was successful in the recruitment process.

However, a letter dated 04.08.2015 was issued to him on the

basis of character antecedent verifications carried out by

the Police Superintendent. District Alwar, Dy. Inspector

General Police, Security, Rajasthan, Jaipur, whereupon the

aspect of the aforesaid case was looked into (it is an

accepted position that the respondent had disclosed this

fact and there was no concealment). The respondent was

found not eligible in view of the aforesaid. The operative

portion reads as under:

“Due to serious criminal offence against you,

police headquarter in reference to circular

No.1687 dated 29.4.1995 and also in compliance

with the orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Civil

Appeal No.782/04, you are not being appointed as

not found eligible”.

6. The aforesaid order was assailed before the Rajasthan

High Court in S.B. Civil Writ Petition No.2391/2016 and the

Writ Petition was allowed in terms of the judgment dated

11.11.2016, remitting the matter back to the respondent-

Superintendent of Police, Udaipur for passing a fresh

appropriate order with regard to the candidature of the

respondent in accordance with law within a period of three

months from the date of receipt of the order and

consequences would follow.

7. Accordingly, fresh orders were passed by the District

Police Superintendent, Udaipur on 23.05.2017. It was opined

that the charges against the respondent were not of a

trivial nature but were serious offences and the candidate

was not acquitted by the Court honourably. In view of the

circular in question, once again the respondent was held


8. The second round began with assailing of the

aforesaid order dated 23.05.2017 in S.B. Civil Writ

Petition No.8323/2017. In terms of the order of the

learned Single Judge dated 14.05.2018, it was opined that

the Court was not convinced that the authority had applied

its mind in accordance with the directions given by the

Court vide order dated 11.11.2016. In this behalf,

reliance was placed on a circular dated 28.03.2017 and it

was found that the respondent is falling in the first


9. We may notice that the circular is undisputedly post

the recruitment process. Be that as it may, the relevant

portion of the circular reads as under:

“Subject: Regarding the candidates deprived of

appointment due to concealment of facts of criminal

cases/being involved in criminal cases.

xxx xxxxxxxxx

Only those candidates of the following category are

found to be eligible to be appointed, who have

mentioned the criminal case in the application form

or character verification form (both or one of


1. Found not guilty of criminal case after

investigation, Final/closure Report submitted for


2. Acquitted by the Court (including by giving

benefit of doubt or want of evidence).

3. Acquitted/discharged on the basis of compromise.

4. Given benefit of Section 12 of the Probation of

Offenders Act, on conviction in certain sections

(the conviction is not based on any impunity/no

adverse effect on state service/future life).

5. Convicted and given benefit of Section 15(1)(a)

of Juvenile Justice Act.”

10. It is the say of the learned counsel for the

respondent that the aforesaid circular is applicable and in

terms of the said circular even cases where the acquittal

is by giving benefit of doubt would not disqualify a


11. The appellant/State aggrieved by the aforesaid order

preferred an D.B.Special Appeal Writ No.373/2019 before the

Division Bench. The Division Bench opined that since no

cogent evidence connecting the accused person to commission

of offence was found, the respondent was not disentitled

for appointment to the post of a constable, notwithstanding

his involvement in a criminal case. It further opined that

since the benefit of doubt was given to the respondent and

that aspect was considered in the earlier judgment of the

learned single Judge dated 11.11.2016, the said aspect

cannot be looked into. With this, the appeal stood


12. In the present appeal post issuance of notice, leave

was granted on 27.11.2020 and the interim order passed on

03.02.2020 staying the operation of the impugned order was

made absolute. Learned counsel for the parties have taken

us through the aforesaid factual matrix as already penned

down by us. The question which arises is whether in the

aforesaid factual matrix and taking into consideration

various judicial pronouncements of this Court, would the

respondent be disentitled to appointment i.e. whether the

subsequent speaking order passed by the appellant authority

dated 23.05.2017 is liable to be interfered with or not.

13. Learned counsel for the appellant has referred to the

seminal judgment in Avtar Singh v. Union of India & Ors.1

where a three Judge Bench of this Court has in detail dealt

with the aspects arising from such cases and laid down

various parameters. Conclusions are summarized in para 38.

14. It would suffice to reproduce the relevant summarized

conclusion as under:

“ xxx xxx

38.3. The employer shall take into consideration the

government orders/instructions/rules, applicable to

the employee, at the time of taking the decision.

38.4.3. If acquittal had already been recorded in a

case involving moral turpitude or offence of

heinous/serious nature, on technical ground and it is

not a case of clean acquittal, or benefit of

reasonable doubt has been given, the employer may

consider all relevant facts available as to

antecedents, and may take appropriate decision as to

the continuance of the employee.”

1(2016) 8 SCC 471

15. It is pointed out that various nuances arising in

this judgment has been considering even in the subsequent

judgments. In Union Territory, Chandigarh Administration &

Ors. v. Pradeep Kumar & Anr.2 a two Judge Bench of this

Court dealt with the expression “honourable acquittal”. It

was opined that acquittal in a criminal case was not

conclusive for suitability of the candidate concerned and

it could not always be inferred from an acquittal or

discharge that the person was falsely involved or has no

criminal antecedents. Thus, unless it is an honourable

acquittal, the candidate cannot claim the benefit of the

case. No doubt, it was mentioned by relying on the earlier

judgment of this Court in Inspector General of Police v. S.

Samuthiram3 that while it was difficult to define precisely

what is meant by the expression “honourable acquittal”, an

accused who is acquitted after full consideration of the

prosecution evidence and prosecution has miserably failed

to prove the charges levelled against the accused, it can

possibly be said that the accused was honourably acquitted.

In this context, it has been specifically noticed by this

Court that entry into the police service required a

candidate to be of good character, integrity and clean

antecedents. Finally, it was opined that the acquittal in

a criminal case does not automatically entitle a candidate

2(2018) 1 SCC 797
3(2013) 1 SCC 598

for appointment to the post, as a person having criminal

antecedents will not fit in this category.

16. In a similar factual scenario to the extent of

recruitment to the posts of Subedars, Platoon Commandants

and Inspectors of Police in pursuance to an advertisement

and disqualification of one of the candidates being

assailed resulted in a judgment of this Court in State of

Madhya Pradesh &Ors. v. Abhijit Singh Pawar4 by a two Judge

Bench. Suffice to say, in the factual context, a case

registered in the year 2006 was pending on the date when

affidavit was tendered and within four days the compromise

was entered into between the original complainant and the

respondent. An application for compounding was filed. The

compounding was found to be permissible as it dealt with

offences under Sections 294,325/34,323,506 Part II of the

IPC and on discussion of the legal principle enunciated in

the earlier judgments, it was opined that the earlier

judgment in the case of Commissioner of Police v Mehar

Singh5 it was opined that there is no doubt about the

proposition that even after the disclosure is made by a

candidate, the employer would be well within his rights to

consider the antecedent and suitability of the candidate.

In this context, it was held, the employer is entitled to

4(2018) 18 SCC 733
5(2013) 7 SCC 685

take into account the job profile for which the selection

is undertaken, the severity of the charge levelled against

the candidate and whether acquittal in question was an

honourable acquittal or was merely on the ground of benefit

of doubt as a result of composition. We may also add that

one aspect which was noticed which is common with the

present case is the absence of any suggestion that the

decision was actuated by malafide or suffered on other

accounts except the issue raised of the subsequent circular


17. A reference was also made to Anil Bharadwaj v. High

Court of Madhya Pradesh & Ors.6 where once again a two Judge

Bench of this Court found that a criminal case against the

candidate under Sections 498A, 406, 34 of the IPC was

pending consideration on a complaint filed by the wife and

thus, the rejection of candidature could not be said to be

unsustainable. While saying so, the Court also opined that

the plea that the deletion of the name would result in

stigma against the candidate was not sustainable since the

candidate already stood acquitted.

18. On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondent

sought to distinguish some of the judgments on the factual

matrix while also referring to certain other

62020 SCC Online SC 832

pronouncements. In this behalf, she referred to the

judgment in Inspector General of Police v. S. Samuthiram

(supra) expounding as to what is meant by “honourable

acquittal” in para 24 to contend that it is difficult to

define precisely what is meant by the expression

“honourable acquittal”. Counsel also sought to make a

reference to a judgment in Joginder Singh v. State (UT of

Chandigarh & Ors.)7. The charges against the candidate in

this case were under Sections 148, 149, 323, 325 and 307 of

IPC where it was held by the Trial Court that the

prosecution had miserably failed to prove charges levelled

against him since the complainant as well as injured

eyewitnesses failed to identify the assailants. It was

opined to be a case of honourable acquittal and thus,

relief was granted to the candidate.

19. The respondent also referred to a judgment of this

Court in Mohammed Imran v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. 8

decided on 12.10.2018 where the candidate had been charged

under Sections 363, 366, 34, IPC much prior to the

clearance of examination. In that context, it was observed

that since employment opportunity were a scarce commodity

in our country, with large numbers of aspirants applying,

there could not be any mechanical or rhetorical incantation

7(2015) 2 SCC 377
8Civil Appeal No.10571/2018

of moral turpitude to deny appointment in judicial service

simplicitor but much would depend on the facts of a case.

20. In the instant case the aspect of there being a time

lapse between the alleged offence and the recruitment

process was emphasised to contend that the respondent

herein was about 19 years of age when the incident occurred

and had now carried his life further by being successful in

a competitive examination some years down the line.

21. A reference was also made in the counter affidavit to

certain judgments of the Rajasthan High Court granting

relief to the candidates based on acquittal obtained on

benefit of doubt.

22. Lastly, a reference was made of an order passed by

this Court in SLP[C]No.15351/2020 dated 21.01.2020 wherein

an SLP was dismissed against a direction for appointment of

a candidate where the order was giving benefit of doubt to

the candidates in a criminal case. We may, however, note

that firstly, that this is an order and not a judgment and

secondly, it has been clearly stated that the dismissal was

“in the given facts and circumstances of the case”.

23. Examining the controversy in the present case in the

conspectus of the aforesaid legal position, what is

important to note is the fact that the view of this Court

has depended on the nature of offence charged and the

result of the same. The mere fact of an acquittal would

not suffice but rather it would depend on whether it is a

clean acquittal based on total absence of evidence or in

the criminal jurisprudence requiring the case to be proved

beyond reasonable doubt, that parameter having not been

met, benefit of doubt has been granted to the accused. No

doubt, in that facts of the present case, the person who

ran the tractor over the deceased lady was one of the other

co-accused but the role assigned to the others including

the respondent herein was not of a mere bystander or being

present at site. The attack with knives was alleged against

all the other co-accused including the respondent.

24. We may also notice this is a clear case where the

endeavour was to settle the dispute, albeit not with the

job in mind. This is obvious from the recital in the

judgment of the Trial Court that the compoundable offences

were first compounded during trial but since the offence

under Section 302/34 IPC could not be compounded, the Trial

Court continued and qua those offences the witnesses turned

hostile. We are of the view that this can hardly fall

under the category of a clean acquittal and the Judge was

thus right in using the terminology of benefit of doubt in

respect of such acquittal.

25. The judgment in Avtar Singh’s case (supra) on the

relevant parameter extracted aforesaid clearly stipulates

that where in respect of a heinous or serious nature of

crime the acquittal is based on a benefit of reasonable

doubt, that cannot make the candidate eligible.

26. We may also note the submission of learned counsel

for the respondent that as per para 38.3 in Avtar Singh’s

case (supra), the employer has to take into consideration

the Government orders/instructions/rules applicable to the

employee at the time of taking a decision. It is her say

that the issue whether the circular dated 28.03.2017 would

apply or not was res integra in view of the earlier order

of the learned Judge dated 14.05.2018. She has further

contended that, in any case, the circular had come into

force and as per the judgment in Avtar Singh’s case (supra)

para 38.4, it is the date of decision which is material and

as on the date of decision dated 23.05.2017, the said

circular was applicable.

27. We may note here that the circular dated 28.03.2017

is undoubtedly very wide in its application. It seeks to

give the benefit to candidates including those acquitted by

the Court by giving benefit of doubt. However, such

circular has to be read in the context of the judicial

pronouncements and when this Court has repeatedly opined

that giving benefit of doubt would not entitle candidate

for appointment, despite the circular, the impugned

decision of the competent authority dated 23.05.2017 cannot

be said to suffer from infirmity as being in violation of

the circular when it is in conformity with the law laid

down by this Court.

28. We are, thus, of the view that the impugned orders

cannot be sustained and the appellants are well within

their rights to have issued the order dated 23.05.2017.

29. The consequence is that the appeal is allowed and the

impugned judgment of the Division Bench dated 16.07.2019

and learned Single Judge dated 14.05.2018 are set aside

leaving the parties to bear their own costs.



MARCH 24, 2021.


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