Judicial Dictionary

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.”

Section 294 IPC still remains out of the list. Thus the conviction of the appellant under Section 294 IPC on its own would not involve moral turpitude depriving him of the opportunity to serve the State unless the facts and circumstances, which led to the conviction, met the requirements of the policy decision above-quoted.”

9. The aforesaid decision shows that Section 294 IPC was not part of the list of offences appended to the instructions dated 26.03.1975 and as such it was held by this Court that the conviction of the appellant therein under Section 294 IPC would not involve moral turpitude depriving him of the opportunity to serve the State unless the facts and circumstances which led to his conviction, met the requirement of the policy decision.

10. In the aforesaid context, decision of the Division Bench of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in State of Haryana and another v. Ram Chander, LPA No.95 of 2013 (O&M) decided on 18.02.2013 on which reliance was placed by the respondent, is also significant wherein same instructions dated 26.03.1975 were considered by the Division Bench and paragraphs 11 and 12 of the said decision were as under:

“11. Following principles can be culled out, as contained in the aforesaid instructions:-

(a) Those who are involved in moral turpitude should not be taken in government service.

(b) Those who are convicted of offences, which do not involve moral turpitude or those who are released under the Probation of Offenders Act, should not suffer any disability in respect of obtaining government service.

(c) With regard to those convicted of offence not involving moral turpitude, laying down uniform policy, is not possible and it is left to the appointing authority in each case to make detailed inquiry and satisfy himself fully that ex-convict has reformed himself after release from jail and nothing adverse about his conduct has come to notice after his conviction. Such an inquiry is to be made invariably through Police Department.

(d) What amounts to moral turpitude is also stated in para (iii) of the instructions.

(e) Discretion is given to the competent authority while taking decision in accordance with principle mentioned in these instructions.


STATE OF HARYANA  Vs. VED KAUR [SC]

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