Selection of candidate does not clothe with him the right to public employment

Delhi High Court: While disposing of an appeal relating to faults in the recruitment process the Court held that, the selection of candidate does not clothe with him the right to public employment. The matter involved calling of candidates for recruitment through two tier process i.e. written test and personal interview. The respondent Airport Authority of India conducted the exam by hiring a third party. It is not in dispute that the appellants did participate in the written test. In the results declared in the month of January, 2013, the Authority indicated that all appellants were successful in the written test. Some appellants were also interviewed for the posts. When they were awaiting further intimation regarding completion of the selection process and issuance of appointment letters, the AAI, issued a notice stating that for administrative reasons, the recruitment process had been kept on hold/withheld till further orders. It was found by the respondent that there were discrepancies in the written exam and it issued a notification which stated that a second or reexamination for the vacancies that were advertised in 2012 would be held. This made the appellant file a legal action against the respondent. Taking into consideration all these facts and the circumstances, and the elaborate nature of analysis the learned Single Judge concluded that the decision of the AAI was not arbitrary.

The division bench comprising of S. Ravindra Bhat and Deepa Sharma, JJ. observed that, “the obligation to separate genuine candidates and ensure that they do not suffer on account of irregularity practiced by others or the taint attached to a part of the selection process is undoubtedly on account of Article 14. Yet, if in a given case, the authority or the recruiting authority or State agency has material which points to the fact that separating grain from chaff is an impossible task in an ultimate analysis, its decision not to proceed with the recruitment cannot be faulted. The larger goal of ensuring equality of access to all in matters of public employment by Article 16 is to be subserved by State and every agency under it. If in the course of its investigation, keeping in mind the limited nature of resources available with it, it is unable to separate genuine candidates from those who actually practiced use of unfair means to get selected, the Court cannot insist that there had to be greater or more searching scrutiny. In other words, in judicial review, the sufficiency of materials to back a decision of the executive Government is always to be kept in mind having regard to the nature of the decision and the subject matter involved. Here, a large number of candidates appeared for 558 vacancies. A balance of competing interests – one of fairness in the selection process, and the other of fairness to notify candidates must always be struck. In this case, the balance was struck in favour of former – to an extent, at the expense of the latter. At the same time, AAI made sure that those eligible in the first instance and who had competed in the earlier recruitment initiated in 2012 were not excluded on account of its decision. It is well-known that the selection of candidate does not clothe with him the right to public employment.” Hence the Court found no merits in appeal and dismissed it. [Mohit Panwar v. Airports Authority of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 2003, Decided on 31-03-2016]

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