Section 498-A IPC is a heavily biased law in favour of wives, where a woman can unilaterally allege cruelty by husband and his every single member of the family, irrespective of gender and age.
As per a Supreme Court judgement dated October 2020, an advocate husband’s selection as a district judge was rejected due to the pendency of 498-A case filed by his wife. The Supreme Court then said that the Madhya Pradesh high court committed no mistake in rescinding his selection on the ground of pendency of the criminal case.
The FIR against the appellant was lodged by his wife under Section 498A and 406 IPC in the year 2014 on the basis of which a charge-sheet was submitted in the Court on 15.07.2017 under Section 498A and 406 IPC.
The High Court of Madhya Pradesh issued an advertisement dated 09.03.2017 inviting applications for recruitment in the post of District Judge (Entry Level) in the cadre of Higher Judicial Service by Direct Recruitment from amongst the eligible Advocates.
In pursuance to the advertisement, the appellant submitted online application form. The appellant had disclosed lodging of the FIR against him in his online application form.
The appellant after being declared successful in the Main Examination was called for interview. The appellant received a communication on 06.04.2018 from the Law and Legislative Department informing that he has been selected for the post of District Judge (Entry Level). He was asked to appear before the Medical Board for the health tests. However, on 02.07.2018 the appellant was informed that in his attestation form an FIR under Section 498/406/34 IPC was shown and the copy of the same was asked for.
On 14.09.2018 order was issued by the Principal Secretary, Madhya Pradesh, Law and Legislative Department declaring the appellant ineligible and directing for deletion the name of the appellant from the select list. The Government also issued a Gazette notification deleting the name of the appellant from the Merit No.13 of the main select list.
Limiting the applicability of the exalted judicial principle “innocent till proven guilty” to selection of judicial officers, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah said,
The decision of the examination-cum-selection and appointment committee for holding the appellant unsuitable was based on the relevant consideration, that is, a criminal case against the appellant under Section 498A/406/34 IPC was pending consideration which was registered on a complaint filed by the wife of the appellant.
Subsequent acquittal of the advocate ordered by the trial court in the case also did not come to his rescue, as the SC bench said at the relevant time of selection and prior to appointment, the case was pending against the selected candidate. The clock can’t be turned back, the court then said.
While pronouncing the judgement, Justice Bhushan said,
Such a decision of the committee was well within the jurisdiction and power of the committee and cannot be said to be unsustainable. The mere fact that subsequently, after more than a year, when the person whose candidature has been cancelled has been acquitted cannot be a ground to turn the clock backward.
The fact that subsequently, the advocate was acquitted in the criminal case did not furnish sufficient ground for reconsidering the appellant for appointment on the post.
Senior advocate R Venkataramani, appearing for the advocate, argued that due to deletion of the appellant’s name from the selection list, a stigma was attached to him, and the SC must entertain his appeal against the HC order for removal of the stigma. He also said the advocate should not lose the opportunity to become a district judge as he had disclosed to the appointment committee about the pendency of FIR lodged by his wife against him, in which he was subsequently acquitted.
To this, the bench said,
The appellant having already been acquitted by the judgment dated September 18, 2019, the stigma of criminal case has already washed out and the criminal case having resulted in acquittal, no stigma is attached to the appellant’s name on the above ground.
The apprehension of the counsel for the appellant that a stigma shall continue with the name of the appellant is misconceived, as stigma, if any, is already over by acquittal.
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