In a landmark ruling, a five-judge bench of the Madras High Court here by a majority ruling has held that persons acquitted from criminal cases or suppressing information about their past brush with law can be disqualified from joining the Police Department.
The verdict sets to rest past interpretations to the contrary by various single judges of the High Court. In essence, the larger bench by a 4:1 majority has upheld the February 2008 judgment (Manikandan Case) laid down by the three-judge Full Bench of the High Court disallowing those acquitted in criminal cases from being recruited as policemen as per Rule 14 (b) (iv) of the Tamil Nadu Special Police Subordinate Service Rules.
The larger bench comprising Justices R Sudhakar, S Tamilvanan, A Selvam, M Sathyanarayanan and B Rajendren, was constituted by then Chief Justice R K Agrawal on a reference by Justice S Nagamuthu last year.
Delivering a common verdict, the four members of the larger bench, except for Justice Tamilvanan, upheld the constitutionalist of Rule 14 (b) (iv) of the Police Service Rules.
The Rule says: (a) A person acquitted on benefit of doubt or discharged in a criminal case, can still be considered as disqualified for selection to the police service of the State and that the same cannot be termed as illegal or unjustified; and (b) That the failure of a person to disclose in the application form, either his involvement in a criminal case or the pendency of a criminal case against him, would entitle the appointing authority to reject his application on the ground of concealment of a material fact, irrespective of the ultimate outcome of the criminal case.