The Supreme Court of India recently held that an employee was wrongfully terminated for failure to disclose his involvement in an old criminal case at the time of his hiring and should be reinstated, reversing an earlier decision made by the Delhi High Court in favor of the employer. Therefore, employers should consider all the relevant facts and circumstances when discovering an employee’s previous criminal record, before a termination decision.
On an appeal made to the Supreme Court, the court observed that mere suppression of material or giving false information regarding a criminal case cannot be grounds for termination and should instead depend on the nature and seriousness of the charge, and whether it resulted in conviction/acquittal. In this case, the employee was wrongly implicated in the case and acquitted in the very first hearing of the trial proceedings, the employer nevertheless held that his failure to disclose the criminal case information was grounds for termination. The Court added that a degree of flexibility and discretion rests with employers, who should exercise their decision with care and caution taking all facts and circumstances into consideration.
Employers should exercise sufficient care and discretion when faced with similar situations as this case and make informed decisions on whether to terminate an employee who has failed to disclose involvement in a prior criminal proceeding.