Explained| What happens when a candidate, in a competitive exam, uses different language in answer sheet than that filled in application form?

Supreme Court: In the case where a candidate appearing for examination for recruitment to the post of Constables in Railway Protection Force (RPF) had used a different language in the OMR answer book than that filled in the application form, the bench of Hemant Gupta* and Vikram Nath, JJ has held that his candidature was rightly rejected.

In the present case, more than 11,000 posts were advertised for filling up of the posts of Constables in the RPF. Though the number of candidates who appeared in response to such advertisement is not available, but generally, it is a matter of common experience that candidates much more than the posts advertised are the aspirants for such posts. It is important to note that,

  • The question papers are required to be set up in the languages other than Hindi and English as well.
  • The applications in different languages were to be sent to different Nodal Officers in Gorakhpur, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar and Chennai.
  • The OMR answer sheet is bilingual, in Hindi and English, but it would be in some other language if a candidate has chosen a language other than English or Hindi.

The reason for the condition that language in the application form shall be used for the purposes of OMR examination is that in case any dispute arises in respect of identity of the candidate, the same can be verified from the two handwritings.

The candidate in question has used a different language in the OMR answer book than that filled in the application form. The Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court was of the opinion that on account of lapse of time, the writ petitioner might have attempted the answer sheet in a different language.

The Supreme Court, however, disagreed and held that since the advertisement contemplated the manner of filling up of the application form and also the attempting of the answer sheets, it has to be done in the manner so prescribed. The use of different language itself disentitles the writ petitioner from any indulgence in exercise of the power of judicial review.

“Once the writ petitioner has filled the application form in English, having also signed in English, it cannot be said to be an inadvertent mistake when he has written the para in Hindi. Such writing in different language violates the instruction clearly mentioned in the advertisement.”

It was observed that the language chosen is relevant to ensure that the candidate who has filled up the application form alone appears in the written examination to maintain probity. The answer sheets have to be in the language chosen by the candidate in the application form. It is well settled that if a particular procedure in filling up the application form is prescribed, the application form should be filled up following that procedure alone.

[Union of India v. Mahendra Singh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 909, decided on 25.07.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Hemant Gupta


For UOI: ASG Madhavi Divan

For candidate: Advocate Prashant Bhushan

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.