Supreme Court: State of Uttar Pradesh (‘the State’) assailed the order of the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court which stated that the literal interpretation of Rule 15 of the Uttar Pradesh Gram Panchayat Adhikari Service Rules, 1978 (‘1978 Rules’) would facilitate consideration of those candidates who were not part of the list which was forwarded by the Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Services Selection Commission (‘the Commission’), to be considered for vacancies for the post of Gram Panchayat Adhikari, Single Cadre, Group (C), pursuant to the selected candidates which were approved by the appointing authority not taking up on the offer.
The State further assailed an application for review which was dismissed by the Division Bench without noting the contention of the appellant that Uttar Pradesh Direct Recruitment to Group ‘C’ Posts (Mode and Procedure) Rules, 2015 (‘2015 Rules’) were the relevant rules to be applied.
The division bench of M.R. Shah and M.M. Sundresh, JJ., held that the Allahabad High Court did not take note of the grounds raised in the review petition, thus, set aside both the aforesaid orders and restored the order passed by the Single Judge
Single Judge of Allahabad High Court had dismissed the Writ Petition filed by the private respondents which was overturned by the Division Bench. The State sough to assail both the aforesaid orders of the Division Bench.
Factual Matrix of the case
In 2015, the selection process for the post of Group ‘C’ of Gram Panchayat Adhikari was completed in accordance with the 2015 Rules. Though not necessitated, the 1978 Rules were also amended in 2016. Accordingly, after the announcement of the result, the appointment letters were issued in 2017.
The respondents did not find their place in the list sent by the Commission to the appointing authority. Despite having the entire process in tune with the 2015 Rules and in exercise of the power conferred under the Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Services Selection Commission Act, 2014 (‘2014 Act’), Division Bench in its decision relied upon the 1978 Rules.
Court Analysis and Findings
The Court was of the view that the 2014 Act shall override all the prevailing rules in conflict. The entire process of recruitment to the Group ‘C’ post was entrusted to the Commission according to the provision set under Section 15 of the 2014 Act.
The Court further went on to peruse Rule 8(2) of 2015 Rules which clarified that all Group ‘C’ posts came under its purview which did not provide for the concept of ‘waiting list’. The only list which was required to be sent was based upon merit, subject to the rule of reservation.
Upon perusing the 1978 Rules, it was noticed that no written examination was contemplated as against an interview, however, under the 2015 Rules and in tune of the 2014 Act, the selection process consisted of written examination, and thereafter, the interview.
The Court referred to Anupal Singh v State of UP (2020) 2 SCC 173 which held that a person having consciously participated in the interview cannot turn around and challenge the selection process.
The Court further went on to peruse the case of Union of India v N. Murugesan (2022) 2 SCC 25 which held that the party cannot be allowed to approbate or reprobate. The unselected candidates cannot press into service, a part of the 1978 Rules while accepting the 2015 Rules by taking part in the selection process, thus one cannot blow hot and cold. Such a selective adoption is not permissible under law. There is a wide range of difference in the mode of selection as well as in the constitution of recruiting authority between both sets of Rules, despite exercising power which was conferred to them under Article 309 of the Constitution of India.
The Court noted that there was no procedure for preparing a waiting-list under the 2015 Rules as contended by the respondents. The Commission was required to send the merit list alone to the appointing authority in case of non-joining, the vacancies were to be carried forward to the next process of selection
There was no existence of any waiting-list under the 1978 Rules either that may consider filling up of vacancies when a certain candidate refuses to join. The only list which was available under Rule 15 (4) of the 1978 Rules was facilitating the appointment authority to fill up the vacancies. Thus, after the vacancies were filled up, the door for the other candidates got closed.
“The approach of the High Court is like a visually impaired person looking for a black cat in a dark room when the cat itself is not there.”
Repugnancy between the two Rules
The Court stated that the 1978 Rules, being a ‘special Rule’, does not exist in the statute once the 2015 Rules introduced as the ‘general Rule’ came into being. The legislature, by way of introduction of the 2014 Act, assigned the role of filling up the Class ‘C’ posts to the Commission.
“The decisions rendered do not have any application, considering the inconsistency between the two sets of rules.”
The Court referred to the case of Ajoy Kumar Banerjee v Union of India (1984) 3SCC 127 to state that the later Rules, even though general in nature, will govern in the field if the two are inconsistent with each other and there is some express reference in the later to the earlier enactment.
The Court stated that even though the 1978 Rules was subsequently amended in 2016, it cannot be presumed that the said Rule continues to exist in the statute book, since 2016 was only clarificatory in nature.
In reference to the decision in Vallampati Sathish Babu v State of Andhra Pradesh (2022) SCC OnLine SC 470, the Court stated that “It is settled law that there is no vested right of the unsuccessful candidate to insist upon their consideration, in the absence of any such rule requiring for the preparation of a waiting-list.”
The Court concluded that the decision of the Division Bench was made without considering the appropriate provision despite making an endeavour on behalf of the appellant to draw its attention to the same. Accordingly, the two orders assailed by the State were overturned and the order passed by the Single Judge was restored.
[State of Uttar Pradesh v Karunesh Kumar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1706, decided on 12-12-022]
*Judgment by: Justice M.M. Sundresh
Advocate appearing in this case:
For the Petitioner- Adv Ruchira Goel