Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Minor offences cannot bar anyone from govt service: HC

Minor offences cannot bar anyone from govt service: HC

15 Sep 2010

Should a man accused of a simple offence like speeding or wrong parking be barred forever from government service? Should the Raj-era recruitment processes give way to a policy where the purpose of governance is to serve and not to rule?

Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal will very soon be answering all these questions put to him by the Delhi High Court, which spelt relief for several people vying for government jobs when it recently ruled that a person convicted for minor offences should not be disqualified from government service, especially the police.

Holding that not every brush with crime had to mandatorily prohibit a person from a public sector job, the Division Bench of Justices Pradeep Nandarajog and M C Garg had asked the police to draft a policy keeping in mind that “life is too precious to be staked over petty incidents”.

The court had also noted that there were no rules to guide the Delhi Police on cases in which, despite acquittal, the person should be kept out of service or deprived of employment. “A man can be booked for the offence of speeding and perhaps be convicted for parking his motor vehicle in a non-parking area. But would this man be of a character compelling in public interest not to induct him in public service? The answer would be in the negative,” the Bench had observed.

The court was adjudicating an appeal by the Delhi government and the police against an order quashing their decision to keep a man out of the job of Sub-Inspector (Executive), as he had been charged with the offences of assault and criminal intimidation. Defending the decision, the department argued that a person who had a brush with criminal law was not suited to be appointed as a member of the police force.

The Bench, however, differed from the unqualified view and said: “It is high time the executive brings in a policy where summary or ordinary conviction should not be treated as a conviction for entry or retention in government service. It is unfortunate that in India we are not marching ahead in the comity of nations and prefer to be governed by the recruitment processes which are a legacy of the British era; ignoring that the purpose of governance then was to rule and the purpose of governance now is to serve.”

The primary consideration, according to the court, should be whether public interest and public good would be jeopardised if a person with a criminal background is inducted in public service, observed the court.

The court, while dealing with a similar petition last week, referred to earlier order and called upon Dadwal to intimate the Bench about what was being done at their end to comply.

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