Monday, February 19, 2024

Supreme Court of India directs reinstatement of recruits dismissed for submission of false certificates

The Supreme Court of India has directed the reinstatement of recruits who were dismissed from service on account of “fake relationship certificates” allegedly submitted by them, with all consequential benefits, in a case titled Ex-Recruit Babanna Machched vs Union of India and others, decided on 09.02.2024.

To fill up a large number of vacancies of enrolled personnel (enlisted ranks), priority was provided to certain categories of personnel which included sons and grandsons of servicemen and ex-servicemen; brothers and other near relatives of those killed in battle or who died in service; wards who were fully dependent upon servicemen or ex-servicemen; sportsmen of merit. It was said that priority should be open to the above categories and in case of more vacancies, personnel from open category based on merit may be taken.

With regard to the above news, the Appellants had applied and was subsequently selected and enrolled in the Army by the Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre. After 3 years of service, the Appellants were terminated from the Army along with others after a show cause notice was issued to several soldiers alleging that they had obtained enrolment in the Army either on the basis of the fake sportsperson certificates or false relationship certificates. The issue arose if the Appellants had submitted any relationship certificate during the time of enrolment in the Army. The Armed Forces Tribunal affirmed the discharge/dismissal order simply holding that the relationship certificates produced by the Appellants have been found to be fake upon verification. A direct appeal was then filed in Supreme Court wherein the Appellants produced the applications submitted for the purpose of enrolment/recruitment in which it was clearly stated that they had not claimed any special status and had stated themselves to be of general category. It was shown that no relationship certificate was ever produced and there was no mention of the same in the application form.

It has now been held by the Supreme Court that the Appellants were enrolled in the Army under open category and not under any special category and no relationship certificate was never produced or mentioned in the applications. It was ordered that the Appellants be reinstated in the Army with all consequential benefits. It was also observed by relying upon precedents that the government cannot change or shift its stand on the basis of which the Appellants were initially dismissed from service. The judgment of the Armed Forces Tribunal has been overturned by the Supreme Court of India. 

A detailed report on the case is available on SCC Online.

(With inputs from Ms Manini Kaur, office of Navdeep Singh, Advocate, Punjab & Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, India)

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