Criminal

Moral turpitude

 Supreme Court in Pawan Kumar v. State of Haryana and another, (1996) 4 SCC 17 and paragraph 12 of the decision is relevant for present purposes. The said paragraph was as under:

“12. Moral turpitude” is an expression which is used in legal as also societal parlance to describe conduct which is inherently base, vile, depraved or having any connection showing depravity. The Government of Haryana while considering the question of rehabilitation of ex-convicts took a policy decision on 2-2-1973 (Annexure E in the Paper-book), accepting the recommendations of the Government of India, that ex-convicts who were convicted for offences involving moral turpitude should not however be taken in government service. A list of offences which were considered involving moral turpitude was prepared for information and guidance in that connection. Significantly Section 294 IPC is not found enlisted in the list of offences constituting moral turpitude. Later, on further consideration, the Government of Haryana on 17/26-3-1975 explained the policy decision of 2-2-1973 and decided to modify the earlier decision by streamlining determination of moral turpitude as follows:

“… The following terms should ordinarily be applied in judging whether a certain offence involves moral turpitude or not;

(1) whether the act leading to a conviction was such as could shock the moral conscience of society in general.

(2) whether the motive which led to the act was a base one.

(3) whether on account of the act having been committed the perpetrator could be considered to be of a depraved character or a person who was to be looked down upon by the society.

Decision in each case will, however, depend on the circumstances of the case and the competent authority has to exercise its discretion while taking a decision in accordance with the above-mentioned principles. A list of offences which involve moral turpitude is enclosed for your information and guidance. This list, however, cannot be said to be exhaustive and there might be offences which are not included in it but which in certain situations and circumstances may involve moral turpitude.”

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