Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court

Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: On the issue of whether wait list candidates can be considered for filling up vacancies caused due to resignation of appointed candidates, the Division Bench of Pankaj Mithal, CJ., and Moksha Khajuria Kazmi, J., observed that “a select/waiting list prepared may remain operative and valid for a period of one year, but that would only be for a limited purpose of appointing the selected/wait list candidates on the vacancies which remains unfilled due to non-joining of the selected candidate for one reason or the other.”

Facts and legal trajectory of the case: The Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board had issued an Advertisement notification on 30-12-2014, inviting applications for the position of Junior Engineers (Civil), in which the respondents had applied. As per the selection list notified on 29-04-2016, the respondents were placed in the waiting list. The selected candidates were appointed on 25-05-2016, but when two selected candidates failed to join, two other waitlist candidates were appointed as replacements.

Subsequently, when other selected candidates resigned to pursue their selection as Assistant Engineers in terms of the same advertisement; the respondents claimed appointment for these vacancies, since they were on the waitlist.

Furthermore, they filed a writ petition, seeking relief to keep the select list operational for one year, so that they can join as Junior Engineers when any other selected candidates resign. This writ petition was allowed by the learned Single Judge of the High Court. The Selection Board challenged this decision before the Division Bench of the High Court.

Issues: The main issue before the Court was whether on the resignation of appointed candidates, the vacancy that arises would be a fresh vacancy or would be the same vacancy as advertised which can be filled up from the select panel or the wait list?

Analysis and findings:

The Court perused the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Decentralization and Recruitment Rules, 2010, R. 14(7), to answer the primary question. It was noted that the provision is divided into two parts wherein “the first part provides for preparation of a select/wait list which will remain operative for a year for consideration of the names of wait list candidates against drop out vacancies; and the second part lays down that the selection committee shall not recommend any wait list candidate for any future vacancy or any vacancy caused due to resignation of any selected candidate after he was appointed”.

It was observed that R. 14(7) clearly states in a mandatory form that the selection committee shall not maintain or recommend any select or waiting list candidate for any future vacancy or any vacancy caused on account of resignation by any selected candidate who gets appointed. “The language of the provision is clear enough to establish that no candidate from the select list or waiting list shall be appointed on any vacancy which is caused due to resignation of a selected candidate joining the post”. In support of this view the Court discussed several cases, namely, Shankarsan Dash v. Union of India, (1991) 3 SCC 47; Manoj Manu v. Union of India, (2013) 12 SCC 171.

Conclusively, the Division Bench held that the Single Judge had erred in law in allowing the writ petition and directing the respondents to operate the waiting list even against the vacant posts caused by resignation of the candidates. The previous order was set aside and the petition was dismissed.

[State of JK v. Danish Zia Bhat, 2022 SCC OnLine J&K 513, decided on: 27-06-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

D.C. Raina, AG with M. A. Chashoo, AAG and Sajad Ashraf, GA, Advocate, for the Appellants;

Z.A. Shah, Sr. Adv. with A. Hanan, Advocate, for the Respondents.

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