Delhi High Court Upholds Principles of Natural Justice in Ordering Re-Enrollment of Home Guard After Unjust Discharge 

 Case Title: Hemant Kumar v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors 

Date of Decision: 11th August 2023 

Case Number: W.P.(C) 6827/2007 

Coram: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani 



The case revolves around a writ petition filed by Hemant Kumar under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India against the Government of NCT of Delhi and others. The petitioner challenges orders issued by Directorate General of Home Guard and Civil Defence (DG-Home Guards) discharging him from service as a Home Guard. The petitioner claimed that his discharge was arbitrary, and he sought the court’s intervention to address the injustice. 


Factual Background 
Hemant Kumar, the petitioner, was enrolled as a Home Guard in June 2003 for a period of three years and subsequently discharged from service based on his involvement in a criminal case. He had been accused of offenses under Sections 394 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, related to voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery. He was subsequently acquitted in the criminal trial. The petitioner submitted a representation for reinstatement after his acquittal, but it was rejected on the grounds that there was no provision for re-enrolment. The petitioner’s main contention was that his discharge and subsequent denial of re-enrolment were based on incorrect information regarding his conviction in the criminal case. 


Key Legal Issues 

  1. Whether the petitioner’s discharge and denial of re-enrolment were valid in light of his acquittal in the criminal case.
  2. Whether the discharge order was issued in accordance with the relevant legal provisions.
  3. Whether the principles of natural justice were violated during the process?


Petitioner’s Contentions 

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the acquittal of the petitioner in the criminal case, which was based on insufficient evidence, should not be equated with conviction. The petitioner’s representation for re-enrolment was rejected without considering the actual merits of his case. It was further asserted that the petitioner’s principles of natural justice were violated as he was not afforded a proper hearing before the discharge order was passed. 

Respondent’s Contentions 

The DG-Home Guards argued that the petitioner’s involvement in a criminal case compromised the discipline of the Home Guards, and thus, he could not seek re-enrolment. The DG-Home Guards contended that the petitioner’s acquittal on the basis of benefit of doubt indicated a lack of good conduct, which was undesirable for a disciplined force. They also argued that since the petitioner’s original enrollment had expired by the time he was acquitted, he could not be considered for re-enrolment. 


Court’s Analysis and Observation 

The court first addressed the principle that availability of an alternative remedy does not bar the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, especially when such remedy is ineffective, or time barred. It referred to precedent cases to establish this principle. The court cited the Supreme Court decision in Godrej Sara Lee Ltd. vs. Excise & Taxation Officer, which discussed the scope and exercise of writ powers under Article 226 of the Constitution. The court also cited exceptions where writ jurisdiction may be exercised despite the existence of an alternative remedy, such as violation of fundamental rights, violation of principles of natural justice, lack of jurisdiction, or challenge to the vires of an act. 


The court further referred to a decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in V. Sadasiva vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, where it was held that the removal/termination of a Home Guard based on an acquitted criminal case was illegal. Regarding the petitioner’s acquittal, the court noted that being acquitted on benefit of doubt did not equate to conviction, and the DG-Home Guards incorrectly treated it as such. The court further underscored that the petitioner’s involvement in the criminal case could not be a valid reason for discharge or denial of re-enrolment after his acquittal. 


The court also noted that the discharge order and subsequent denial of re-enrollment were solely based on the mistaken belief that the petitioner had been convicted, whereas he had been acquitted with benefit of doubt. The court found that the petitioner’s discharge was arbitrary and not in compliance with legal requirements. 


In light of these observations, the court directed the DG-Home Guards to consider the petitioner’s fresh application for enrolment on its merits, indicating that his discharge based on his involvement in the criminal case would not be considered an impediment to his application. 


Court’s Decision and Conclusion 

The court held that the discharge order of the petitioner lacked legal basis and justification, as it was not in accordance with the provisions of the applicable statutes and rules. The court ruled that the petitioner’s involvement in a criminal case and subsequent acquittal should not be grounds for discharge or denial of re-enrolment. The court directed the DG-Home Guards to consider the petitioner’s fresh application for enrolment on its merits. The court clarified that the petitioner’s discharge due to his past criminal case would not hinder the consideration of his application. The judgment emphasizes the importance of considering the true nature of an acquittal and upholding the principles of natural justice. 


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Written by – Ananya Chaudhary 

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