New Delhi: Voicing concern over policemen "misusing" their power, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said this must be stopped and a step in this direction will be to bar people having criminal antecedents from joining the police force whose reputation has taken a beating.
"The police force is a disciplined force. It shoulders the great responsibility of maintaining law and order and public order in the society. People repose great faith and confidence in it. It must be worthy of that confidence. A candidate wishing to join the police force must be a person of utmost rectitude," a bench of justices GS Singhvi and Ranjana Prakash Desai said.
The bench said the police department must examine the credentials of a person even if he has been acquitted or discharged in a criminal case before allowing him to join the force.
"He must have impeccable character and integrity. A person having criminal antecedents will not fit in this category. Even if he is acquitted or discharged in the criminal case, that acquittal or discharge order will have to be examined to see whether he has been completely exonerated in the case because even a possibility of his taking to the life of crimes poses a threat to the discipline of the police force," the bench said.
The apex court passed the order while upholding Delhi Police decision not to allow a person, who faced a criminal case in the past but was later discharged, to join the force despite clearing exams.
"In recent times, the image of the police force is tarnished. Instances of police personnel behaving in a wayward manner by misusing power are in public domain and are a matter of concern. The reputation of the police force has taken a beating.
"In such a situation, we would not like to dilute the importance and efficacy of a mechanism like the Screening Committee created by the Delhi Police to ensure that persons who are likely to erode its credibility do not enter the police force," the bench said.