Juvenile prosecution, not an excuse to refuse employment

Juvenile prosecution, not an excuse to refuse employment

The Hon’ble Allahabad HC has recently passed a landmark verdict concerning the employment terms in the case of public recruitment. The Hon’ble single bench has remarked that the prosecution or conviction of a person as a juvenile cannot be taken as a basis to not grant him employment in any public sector. 

The case dates back to 3rd September 2020, when a petition had been submitted to the Hon’ble court regarding the refusal of the Provincial Armed Constabulary commandment to grant the post of a constable because of his history of having been convicted in a trial court as a juvenile. He was 15 years, 8 months, and 12 days old when the prosecution had taken place. The contention held by the competent authority says that since the person, has tended to commit a crime at a young age, he cannot be entrusted with any responsibility in such a disciplined force.

The hon’ble bench has held that firstly, it is violative of Article 21, the right to life and liberty granted to the citizens under Indian Constitution subsequently the Hon’ble court also stated that to ask a citizen to reveal records related to his prosecution as a juvenile unless exceptional circumstances is violative of his right to life and liberty. 

Furthermore, the Hon’ble court also remarked that it is also violative of the right to privacy as can be seen concerning the case of Puttuswamy versus. union of India, wherein it was stated that Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act), if not a heinous crime has been committed by a person aging between 16 and 18 years of age is in question, the concerned authorities cannot force someone to produce the details of his prosecution as a juvenile. The right to protection of a person’s rights in front of the law under article 14 and the right to equal employment opportunities under article 16 fall within the arena of fundamental rights under part 3 of the constitution of India. Any term in the contract of employment cannot be violative of any of the rights guaranteed under these provisions.

Moreover, the petitioner had responded to an advertisement produced by the Uttar Pradesh Police Recruitment Authority. The candidate who had given the entrance examination had been selected for further procedure. The superintendent of police then inquired to see if the person had any criminal records. It was then discovered that in 2011, the petitioner had been convicted under sections 3/4 of the Uttar Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means Act, 1998). As can be seen, this was not a heinous crime.  

However, based on the same, the concerned authorities had declined the joining letter to the petitioner and had refused his employment. The same was attested to by the district magistrate of Etah. The Hon’ble court held that a writ petition issued by the petitioner would be successful as the magistrate had violated his fundamental rights in not granting him employment in a public sector based on an unfair justification. The facts of the case can be traced back to the case of Avtar Singh versus. the Union of India. In the said case, the principles related to appellant-employer agreements had been highlighted upon. The appellant had been charged with misrepresentation for having fraudulently procured employment by concealing his history of having a juvenile prosecution. The judgment had stated that such a condition cannot be a basis for fraudulence as the non-concealment of such information would be considered irrelevant, inappropriate, and violative of the privacy of the appellant by the court of law.

Nevertheless, the Hon’ble court distinguishes between the rights of privacy and reputation guaranteed to a child and the same in the case of an adult. The candidate might need to produce proof of him not having any criminal history if the prosecution has taken place after him attaining the age of 18 years. 

Speaking of the right to privacy, when it comes to adults, a well-known case has been talked about even in the recent Hon’ble Allahabad High Court judgment. The Puttuswamy versus. Union of India case explicitly speaks of the right to privacy and employment opportunities. This case had come up as a petition brought to the court by a 91 years old retired judge as an objection against the scheme of the government to submit a biometric identity card compulsory for the employment of a candidate in a public domain. This was also known as the Aadhar scheme. The court held that article 21, which protects the right to life of a citizen, also given him the right to live life with dignity, of which, privacy is an important part. Thus, the same needs to be protected under all circumstances.

Consequently, the judgment of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court is an extremely important landmark judgment that clearly defines the rights of a person when he comes seeking employment in front of a public authority. The prosecution of the person as a juvenile cannot be used against his dignity or his right to employment under general circumstances.

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