New Delhi: Stating that every person should get an opportunity to improve, the Supreme Court has asked the Maharashtra government to consider re-appointing a judge who was sacked because he had once faced charges of kidnapping a girl.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph held that since the man was only 21 when he was prosecuted and was later acquitted, the order to sack him warranted a fresh consideration.
It also noticed that the man was acquitted in 2004 while he cleared appointments in 2009, and that he had disclosed about his prosecution and acquittal by a sessions court in Sangli.
The judicial officer was sacked in 2010 after a character verification report brought to light his prosecution in the past.
The judgment, authored by Justice Navin Sinha, said: “Every individual deserves an opportunity to improve, learn from the past and move ahead in life by self-improvement. To make past conduct, irrespective of all considerations, an albatross around the neck of the candidate, may not always constitute justice.”
The bench took note that the petitioner was dismissed from his post as a judicial officer on the ground of moral turpitude, and maintained that judicial services indeed require a different set of yardstick.
“But there cannot be any mechanical or rhetorical incantation of moral turpitude to deny appointment in judicial service simplicitor. Much will depend on the facts of a case,” it emphasised.
It then cited the confidential report of the character verification as also the antecedents of the petitioner to hold that except for the criminal case in which he has been acquitted, the petitioner has a clean record.
It said that there is no other adverse material against him to deny him the fruits of his academic labour in a competitive selection for the post of a judicial officer.
“In our opinion, no reasonable person on the basis of the materials placed before us can come to the conclusion that the antecedents and character of the appellant are such that he is unfit to be appointed as a judicial officer,” said the Court.
It further said that an alleged single misadventure or misdemeanour of the present nature, cannot be sufficient to deny appointment to the appellant when he has on all other aspects and parameters been found to be fit for appointment.
The bench has now asked the Maharashtra government to reconsider his case and take a decision afresh within eight weeks in the light of its observations.