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Employer can reject candidate acquitted of serious crime

Topics Covered: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions.

Employer can reject candidate acquitted of serious crime: SC:


The Supreme Court has held that a public employer can reject a candidate as unsuitable if he had, in the past, been acquitted of a serious crime merely on the benefit of doubt.

What has the court said?

  • The mere fact of an acquittal would not suffice but rather it would depend on whether it is a clean acquittal based on total absence of evidence or in the criminal jurisprudence requiring the case to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, that parameter having not been met, benefit of doubt has been granted to the accused.
  • An acquittal on the benefit of doubt is quite different from an honourable acquittal. A person should be honourably acquitted of a heinous crime to be considered eligible for public employment.
  • Besides, acquittal in a criminal case does not automatically entitle a candidate for appointment to the post.

Honourably acquitted:

An accused who is acquitted after full consideration of the prosecution evidence and prosecution has miserably failed to prove the charges levelled against the accused, it can possibly be said that the accused was honourably acquitted.


The case concerned a man acquitted of murder after witnesses turned hostile in Rajasthan in 2009. He was part of a group of people who ran a tractor over a woman and later knifed people who tried to resist them.

Sources: the Hindu.