Employer not compelled to employ candidates with criminal background, even if acquitted

Even if candidates have been honest about their criminal backgrounds, the Supreme Court says that employers are under no compulsion to employ them, even if they have been technically acquitted

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The Supreme Court has observed that even if candidates have been honest about their criminal background and have truthfully declared their involvement in criminal cases, the employers are under no compulsion to employ them. The Court observed that all employers have the right to take into account the criminal backgrounds of candidates.

Caniddates who have been acquitted or been given the benefit of doubt or have been relieved of charges because of witnesses turning hostile, do not automatically become entitled to a job, especially in a job where discipline is the mainstay.

The bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari set aside the High Court judgment directing that a candidate be appointed to the post of constable in the Central Industrial Security Force.

His candidature was rejected because he had been found to be have been involved in a case of kidnapping for ransom. The candidate was acquitted when the kindapped person, that is, the complainant himself, turned hostile. However, he was rejected for the job because he had not been honourably acquitted from the kidnapping charge involving immorality.

If the said candidate had been acquitted by the court based on evidence proving that he had been falsely implicated or where there was proof of him being truly not guilty, then it would be honourable acquittal. If he just got lucky because of lack of proof or because of witnesses turning hostile, his acquittal would not be considered honourable.

The Court said that the employer holds the right to consider and decide whether a candidate is suitable for employment. In the absence of a clean acquittal, those with criminal backgrounds may be rejected by the employer, even if their trial has been concluded.

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