New Delhi: The Supreme Court has made it clear that the yardstick followed in appointments in judiciary and civil services of not inducting persons with doubtful integrity should also be applied while appointing minsters.
The apex court raised questions on how people with criminal background against whom charges have been framed are made ministers at the Centre and States.
"Will any reasonably prudent master leave the keys of his chest with a servant whose integrity is doubted?" Justice Kurien Joseph asked.
"It may not be altogether irrelevant to note that a person even of doubtful integrity is not appointed in the important organ of the State which interprets law and administers justice, then why to speak of questioned integrity! What to say more, a candidate involved in any criminal case and facing trial, is not appointed in any civil service because of the alleged criminal antecedents, until acquitted," he said.
Justice Kurien was part of five-judge constitution bench which yesterday strongly advised Prime Minister and Chief Ministers not to induct in their ministry people against whom charges have been framed in criminal and corruption cases.
In its judgement, the apex court left it to the wisdom of the PM and CMs not to recommend such names to the President and Governor, observing that nation has reposed faith in them for "good governance".
Writing a separate but concurring judgement, Justice Kurien also said that it is the "prophetic duty" of this Court to remind the key duty holders about their role in the working of the Constitution.
"Hence, I am of the firm view, that the PM and CM of the State, who themselves have taken oath to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution and to discharge their duties faithfully and conscientiously, will be well advised to consider avoiding any person in the Council of Ministers, against whom charges have been framed by a criminal court in respect of offences involving moral turpitude and also offences specifically referred to in Chapter III of The Representation of the People Act, 1951," he said.
The provision deals with disqualification of membership to Parliament and state legislatures.