Jha HC | Jharkhand Public Service Commission is a constitutional body, but its actions and decisions are not immune from judicial review

Jharkhand High Court: Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, J., allowed the writ petitions and held the merit list prepared by the JPSC as illegal, appointments made without following the procedure as nullity and directed to prepare a fresh merit list with reference to marks in written test and interview without adding the marks of Paper-I in the merit list considering minimum qualifying marks in each paper and thereafter finalize the selection in accordance with law.

The prayer made in these writ petitions is for quashing the result of the 6th Combined Civil Services Examination, 2016 and declaring that the action of the respondent-JPSC in adding the total marks obtained by the candidates and not the minimum qualifying marks in each paper and the marks of Paper-I while preparing the merit list is illegal.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that JPSC has published the result arbitrarily and against the provision of Clause-13 of the advertisement. He further submitted that the respondents were very much supposed to complete the recruitment process strictly as per the rules and the conditions stipulated in the advertisement. It was also submitted that Clause-13 commonly applies upon both the examinations i.e. Preliminary and Mains, thus different interpretation cannot be allowed for the purposes of the Mains examination. Such action of the respondents is hit by the principle of res judicata. It was also added that the mode of selection as appearing from the advertisement is that Paper-I of Mains examination will be a qualifying paper, meaning thereby, its marks cannot be added to the score of the candidate while calculating the total score for drawing the merit list. He also submitted that counting marks of qualifying paper will amount to non-adherence to the selection process stipulated in the advertisement and changing the rules of game after game has begun.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the contentions of the petitioners are fit to be rejected and there is no merit in these petitions and the same are liable to be dismissed. He further argued that there is no illegality in preparing the merit list on the basis of minimum qualifying marks taken together in all the papers in the written examination and not in each paper.  It was further submitted that the petitioners were well aware about the terms and conditions of the advertisement and thereafter they have participated in the selection process and when they have not been declared successful, they are questioning the criteria that marks of qualifying paper cannot be added while preparing the result of the Mains examination, which is misconceived and not maintainable, in view of the fact that after appearing in the examination, the terms and conditions of the addition of the marks of qualifying marks cannot be challenged by the unsuccessful candidates.

The Court after perusing recommendation by various expert committees formed in this regard and Clause 12(B)  of the advertisement observed that, it transpires that the said Paper-I was only for the purpose of assessing the working knowledge of the candidates and marks obtained therein cannot be counted in determining the merit of the candidates. It was clearly stipulated in the advertisement as well as in the recommendation of the V.S. Dubey Committee report that    Paper-I will be only a qualifying paper in which out of 100 marks every student will have to secure only 30 marks. Thus the inclusion of 50 marks General English component will not adversely impact the chances of the students from Hindi/Regional Language background. It is a well-settled position that the principle of reading down, however, will not be available where the plain and literal meaning from a bare reading of any impugned provisions clearly shows that it confers arbitrary, unanalysed or unbridled power.

It was observed that the minimum qualifying marks under Clause-13 of the advertisement has already been adjudicated by this Court in the case of Joy Guria  v. State of Jharkhand [Civil Appeal No. 9217 of 2018] in relation to the same examination and the respondents cannot be allowed to take contrary view. Hence, the respondent-JPSC has published the result without following the criteria of minimum qualifying marks in each paper. The Court further relied on judgment Jitendra Kumar v. State of Haryana, (2008) 2 SCC 161, and observed that the Commission holds a constitutional duty to see that the entire selection process is carried out strictly in accordance with law fairly, impartially and independently. The selectors appointed by the Commission or its Chairman and members are forbidden to take recourse to favouritism. Showing any favour to any candidate as an irrelevant or extraneous consideration would be contrary to the constitutional norms of equality envisaged under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. Fear or favour on the part of the Commission cannot be condoned.

The Court relied on judgment Ram Kumar Kashyap v. Union of India (2009) 9 SCC 378 observed that that the State Public Service Commission, although is a constitutional body, but that does not mean that if any illegality has been committed, which is apparent from the reasoning and finding recorded by the Court and appropriate direction is required to be passed by the Court to deal with the Commission, otherwise very sanctity of the Commission and the confidence of the people on the Commission will be shattered.

The Court thus held competent authority of the State of Jharkhand is directed to take appropriate action upon the Commission by fixing accountability and by taking appropriate legal action so that such illegality may not occur and sanctity of Commission and confidence of people upon the Commission may prevail.”[Rahul Kumar v. The State of Jharkhand, W.P. (S) No. 494 of 2020, decided on 11-02-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearances

For the Petitioners:  Mr. Ajit Kumar (In WPS-1501, 1533, 1583 & 1827 of 2020)

Mr. Vikash Kumar

Mr. R.S. Mazumdar (In WPS-1613/2020)

Mr. Manoj Tandon (In WPS-1408/2020)

Mr. Shubhashis Rasik Soren (In WPS-494/20 & 1468/20)

Mr. Vinit Boris Ekka

Mr. Rahul Kumar (In WPS-1449/20 & 1451/20)

Ms. Apoorva Singh

Mr. Amritansh Vats (In WPS-1486, 1487, 1718 & 1984 of 2020)

Mr. Sanjay Kumar Tiwari (In WPS-1428/2020)

For the State:   Mr. Rajiv Ranjan, Mr. Mukesh Kumar Sinha and Mr. Mohan Kumar Dubey,

For the JPSC:   Mr. Sanjay Piprawall

For  Pvt.  Resp.  :   Mr. Sumeet Gadodia (In WPS-494, 1449, 1451, 1487, 1533, 1583, & 1827 of 2020)

Mrs. Shilpi Shandil

Mr. Ritesh Kumar GuptaMr. Indrajit Sinha (In WPS-1533/20 & 1718/20)

Mr. Bibhash Sinha

Mr. Hemant Kr. Shikarwar (In WPS-1449/20 & 1827/20)

Mr. Vijay Kumar Roy (In WPS-1533/2020)

Mr. Sushil Kumar Sharma (In WPS-1449/20 & 1984/20)

Mr. Anil Kumar Sinha (In WPS-1827/20)

Mr. Mukesh Kumar Mehta (In WPS-1533/2020)

Mr. Anuj Kumar Trivedi

Mr. Jorong Jedan Sanga(In WPS-1533/2020)

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