Facts of the Case
The High Court of Sikkim released an advertisement inviting applications from qualified and interested candidates to fill three vacant positions of Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate (First Class) in the Sikkim Judicial Service Cadre, as per Annexure P-9. The Petitioner filled out the application form and took the written exam. According to the notification released, the Petitioner was selected from the list of eligible candidates and invited for an interview. Petitioner ranked second. The Petitioner and others were appointed for the post. After the appointment, it was found that the Petitioner was involved in a Police case. The Petitioner was acquitted in the police case. The full Court in a meeting decided to not assign the post in the department of justice to the Petitioner. Another appearing candidate was appointed in place of the Petitioner.
The counsel representing the Petitioner mentioned the fact that the Petitioner was acquitted from the following criminal charge. They further argued that in the attestation form details of the criminal case and its result was disclosed. The Petitioner said that the state government hired him rightfully. Also, Petitioner argued that he was ‘honourably acquitted’ in the proceedings of his case. That is beyond any means of doubt.
Respondent no.3 argued that a Full Bench of the Court rescinded the previous recommendation because Petitioner’s conduct was not considered free of an element of doubt, as revealed by the Petitioner’s disclosure of the fact of FIR registration and acquittal. The fact of FIR registration and acquittal was not disclosed in the application form. Learned Senior Counsel for Respondent no. 4 has argued, among other things, that this is a situation in which the Petitioner was not acquitted honourably but acquitted with the benefit of the doubt.
Court’s Observation and Decision
The following issues, in the Court’s view, occur for consideration in the current case:
- Whether an acquittal judgement in a criminal case can lead to the conclusion that the Petitioner is entitled to continue in the position of Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate?
- If the Full Court resolution of the High Court of Sikkim withdrawing the previous recommendations of appointment of the petitioner to the post of Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate is justified or can it be interfered with in the facts of the case in exercise of power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is justified or can it be interfered with in the facts of the case in exercise of power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India?
In the present case, according to the Court, since the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the Petitioner was acquitted with the benefit of the doubt. The Full Court unanimously agreed that the Petitioner’s conduct had an element of doubt and that he should not be granted the assignment of administration of justice to proceed in his role as a Judicial Officer. Looking to the level of propriety and probity for the role, the Petitioner’s conduct was not found to be of impeccable character. It was not the Petitioner’s argument that the Full Court’s decision was made in bad faith, based on ad hoc considerations, or based on irrationality. Therefore, the Court decided his acquittal was not honourable but other than honourable.
The High Court of Sikkim, therefore, analysing the aforementioned conditions disposed of the Writ Petitions.
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