HM Journal

Employer’s right to terminate an employee for non-disclosure of material facts

Court: Supreme Court of India

Judgement Name: Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited v. Anil Kanwariya

Judgement Date: 17.09.2021

Bench: MR Shah and AS Bopanna

Brief Facts of the case:

  1.  The respondent was employed as a technical helper based on the character certification report issued by the Superintendent of the police of the district he belonged to.
  2. On 5.08.2013, he was convicted by the trial court under sections 341 and 323 of the IPC; however, he was given the benefit under The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 and released on probation for good conduct.
  3. This information was kept from the employer, and none of the material facts related to the conviction was provided to the employer. Respondents also submitted false declarations at the time of verification (14.04.2015).
  4.  In a judgement dated 09.09.2015, the sessions court provided the respondent with the right to not be disqualified on grounds attached to conviction, under Section 12 of the 1958 act.
  5. The respondent was fired from his job on 06.05.2016 on the grounds of non-disclosure of material facts.
  6. Aggrieved by the termination, the respondent moved to the High Court, where the termination was set aside, and the respondent was asked to be reinstated by a single judge bench. The unhappy employers moved to a division bench of the HC; the division bench confirmed the same and the employer prefers the current appeal.

Issues in the Case:

  1. Whether the termination of employment was valid
  2. Should the respondent be reinstated?

Appellant’s submissions:

The appellant’s counsel has urged that the previous courts have solely relied on the Avtar Singh v. Union of India, reported in (2016) 8 SCC 471 case, which 

is not applicable to the current case, and contrary, it supports the appellant’s case. It was submitted that at the time of document verification, the respondent was convicted, and he filed a false declaration. The trial court did not provide benefit in 2013 m it was only given under the 2015 judgement dates 9.9.2015. He suppressed material facts in 2013 when he submitted an application for employment and on 14.04.2015 at the time of verification. The respondent was given the opportunity of being heard before the termination. It was also submitted that this might be a case of trustworthiness, credibility and reliability of the employee. And if the facts were disclosed, the employer would not have hired the employee in the first place. The employer is justified in discontinuing such employment on the grounds that such a person cannot be trusted.

Respondent’s submissions:

The counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent submitted that the single judge and the division judge bench pass the order in absolute consonants with the Avatar Singh case. Further urged that the appellants herein did not consider the extenuating circumstances of the respondent’s case and the benefits given to him under section 3 and section 12 of the 1958 act by the learned trial court. , please emphasise the case Vasudev Nair v. director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre 1988 and the Avatar Singh case and prayed for the dismissal of the current appeal.

Analysis by the Court:

Some of the important judgements relating to employer’s right to terminate an employee for non-disclosure of material facts was analysed by the state in Court in secretary department of home secretary AP v B Chinnamma Naidu it was held that the candidate could not claim the continuance of service if he has suppressed material information or provided false information. Devendra Kumar vs State of Uttaranchal 2013 Europe the case did not question the morality of the personal duty of the candidate to provide all information sought by the employer suppression of material information the services can be terminated. Avtar Singh versus Union of India, it was observed that even in cases with truthful disclosures about concluded cases, the employer would still have the right to consider the past activities of the candidate and cannot be forced to appoint a candidate he does not prefer. 

Verdict:

The Court took note that the important facts related to the conviction were not furnished while submitting the application nor on the day of verification filed on 14.04. 2015, at the time, there was an existing order of conviction against him, and the benefits under section 12 had not been granted to the respondent. The Court observed that even on getting benefits under section 12 of the act, it does not justify the allegations of suppression of material facts and filing the false declaration. The Court observed that if the correct facts were presented to the employer, he might not have appointed the respondent. It is a matter of trust; the employer feels that the employee made false statements and suppressed facts at the very beginning of the employment and cannot be relied upon even in the future. Hence the employee cannot be forced to employ the respondent. The Court observed that both the division bench and the single judge bench had made a mistake in setting aside the order of termination of service; it thought that the order of reinstatement would be unjustifiable in the current circumstances.

Opinion:

The court in its judgement protected the employer’s right to information and upheld the importance of trust in a employment relationship. This case can be seen as an insight into the rights of an employer in to the criminal history of the employee and his obligation to employ the same person.

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/ll-2021-sc-466-rajasthan-rajya-vidyut-prasaran-nigam-limited-vs-anil-kanwariya-400754.pdf
  2. Secretary, Department of Home Secretary, A.P. v. B. Chinnam Naidu, (2005) 2 SCC 746
  3. Devendra Kumar v. State of Uttaranchal, (2013) 9 SCC 363
  4. Avtar Singh v. Union of India, (2016) 8 SCC 471 

Written by: Shreya Shetty GR, Christ University, Bangalore

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