Meghalaya High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts


Meghalaya High Court : The Division Bench comprising of Sanjib Banerjee*, CJ and W. Diengdoh, J., while deciding an appeal by appellant regarding unfair rejection in the interview for the post of driver in the Directorate of Soil and Water Conservation expressed their concern over ‘Favouritism' and ‘Nepotism' affecting government’s recruitment drives.

The writ appeal was filed by the appellant challenging the selection process adopted by the Directorate of Soil and Water Conservation of the State for appointing two drivers. In the practical examination which tested the candidates’ driving skills, the appellant secured the highest mark i.e. 84. But other candidates who barely met the qualifying marks were called for the interview and obtained exceptionally high marks in the interview.

The Court observed that usually for any form of assessment certain parameters are involved but, in this case, it appears no such guidelines were followed. The Court stated that

Keeping in mind that this was an interview for the post of a driver, the parameters may have been awareness of traffic regulations, knowledge of roads and even an element of presentability. However, it does not appear that any guidelines were followed in assessing the candidates called for the interview.

The Court observed that the records of the interview reeks of a completely unfair procedure being adopted, and a vile charade being enacted in the guise of an interview and all vestiges of objectivity were thrown to the wind and the marking procedure was completely arbitrary.

Referring to Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India, the Court opined that during the selection process for employment or appointment merits of a candidate should be assessed not irrelevant considerations and stated that:

“But just as religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence are to be kept out of the consideration, favouritism and nepotism would also have no role to play in the process of selection. At the end of the day it has to be a fair process and a reasonable procedure adopted for the selection; or it would fall foul of the constitutional ethos.”

Despite observing the arbitrarily manner in which the selection process was conducted, the Court refrained from annulling the appointments on the ground of period of limitation and opined that the State Government should consider the appellant favourably in any future selection process for appointment in any category of post for which the appellant he is eligible to apply, and he would be entitled to have a five-year latitude in respect of the age bar to apply for government positions or in the State public sector undertakings.

The Court directed the Chief Secretary to take action against the members of the interview board of the Directorate of Soil and Water Conservation who conducted the interview and hijacked the process without any adherence to ordinary norms of fairness. The Court also directed the State Government and Directorate of Soil and Water Conservation to pay damages of Rs.3 lakh as he was treated unfairly and lost a lifetime opportunity to obtain a job that he deserved. The Court also said that the State Government is open to extract the costs or a substantial portion from the members of the interview board.

[Pynskhemlang Nongrang v. Directorate of Soil and Water Conservation, 2022 SCC OnLine Megh 477, decided on 08.09.2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. S.R. Lyngdoh, Mr. H.R. Nath and Mr. K.V.E. Kharnongbak, Counsel for the Appellant;

Mr. B. Bhattacharjee (AAG), Counsel for the Respondent;

Ms. R. Colney and Mr. S. Sengupta, Counsel for the Respondent 3;

Mr. K. Ch. Gautam, Counsel for the Respondent 3.

*Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Case BriefsSupreme Court


Supreme Court: In a case challenging the result of direct recruitment for Punjab/Haryana Superior Judicial Service, the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi* and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ., reversed the impugned order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court rejecting the challenge to the selection process.

The Court held that the discrepancy regarding incomplete question paper could not be an inadvertent human error and that somebody must be held responsible for it. However, considering that the exam was conducted after 4-5 years, the Court opined that a fresh selection process could not be initiated, and the endeavour of the Court should always be to salvage the selection as much as possible.

Grounds for Challenge

The appellant is one of the applicants who had participated in direct recruitment to Punjab Superior Judicial Service/Haryana Superior Judicial Service, had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court on being disappointed by not being qualified in the written examination with his trifold grievance:

  • Though, Paper V (Criminal Law) was of 200 marks, at the commencement of the examination, the question paper handed over to the candidates contained only 4 questions (nos. 1, 2, 3, and 5) of 160 marks in total instead of 200 marks. It was only when the complaint was made by the candidates that, after approx. an hour after the commencement of the examination, question no.4 was handed over as a supplementary question paper and no extra time was given for answering the additional question.

  • Despite repeated demands, the respondents have failed to provide the marks obtained by the appellant in the written examination. Even the application filed by the appellant under the Right to Information Act, 2005 came to be rejected.

  • In Paper VI (General Knowledge) which was an objective type paper, there were no instructions and no OMR sheet was supplied and the candidates were called upon to make a circle out of the four multiple choices, and the question paper supplied had to be returned to the Invigilators.

  • No provisional answer key was uploaded.

Impugned Decision

All three objections raised by the appellant were repelled by the High Court at the motion stage, without calling for a written response from the respondents. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant had challenged the impugned order of the High Court by contending that the process adopted by the respondents was neither transparent nor fair and the written examination may be cancelled or at least the Paper V may be cancelled and be conducted afresh; only thereafter the merit list be declared of the candidates who qualified the main examination.

Interim Order

Noticeably, the Supreme Court, by an earlier order while calling upon the respondents for their written response, had permitted the respondents to continue with the interview process with a further direction that the result would not be declared in the meantime. Hence, the interview has been held and the result is pending declaration.

Analysis and Findings

Non-availability of OMR Sheet

With regard to the objection about Paper VI (General Knowledge), the Court observed that all instructions were made available to the candidates specifically indicated on the overleaf of the question paper and all the candidates had a common level playing field. Hence, in the absence of any material on record in rebuttal, the allegation was not sustainable and deserved to be rejected.

However, the Court added that to keep transparency in the process of holding examination, particularly in such cases where there is a multiple-choice question paper, it is always advisable that there shall be an OMR so that the question paper can be retained by each of the participants and after the examination is held, and a provisional answer key is to be uploaded inviting objections from the candidates and after collating such objections, the same be placed before a subject expert committee and the report of the committee shall be examined by the recruiting authority and thereafter the final answer key is to be uploaded.

Non-disclosure of Marks under RTI Act

So far as the marks of the written examination not being supplied to the appellant under the Right to Information Act, 2005 was concerned, the Court opined that as long as the process is not complete, the marks of the written examination are not to be uploaded or made available to the candidates and if it is being permitted, that will not be in the interest of the applicants. The Court said,

The disclosure of the marks in the main examination before it is finalised and the viva-voce is conducted would be against the principles of transparency, rather it will invite criticism of bias or favouritism.

Incomplete Question Paper

On the contention that only four questions were there in the original paper and question no. 4 of 40 marks was handed over to the candidates later on, the Court opined that the same could not be an inadvertent human error as being projected by the respondents. Calling it a serious lapse on the part of the recruiting authority, the Court held that somebody must be held responsible for it and such kinds of lapses certainly cannot be countenanced by the Court.

However, noticing that there was no objection in reference to the four questions (nos. 1, 2, 3, and 5) of Paper V (Criminal Law), the Court opined that it would be just to let the respondents evaluate question nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 of Paper V (Criminal Law) of 160 marks and exclude the question no.4 which was supplemented at a later stage of 40 marks while evaluating the marks secured by the candidates in Paper V. The Court expressed,

At this stage, the Court cannot be oblivious of the fact that the Punjab/Haryana Superior Judicial Service Examination, 2019 has been held after 4-5 years and since the fate of the examination 2019 is still sub-judice in this Court, fresh selection process could not have been initiated and if this irregularity pointed out can be possibly eliminated from the process of selection, particularly in the written examination, the endeavour of the Court should always be to salvage the selection as possible.


In the light of above, the appeal was allowed and the impugned order of the High Court was set aside. Additionally, the Court directed that the result of the intervenor (Aashish Saldi), who had participated as against 10% quota in-service officer under Rule 7(3)(b) of the Punjab Superior Judicial Services Rules, 2007 and had no lis with the present process, be declared and further action may be taken in accordance with Rules, 2007.

[Harkirat Singh Ghuman v. Punjab & Haryana High Court, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1111 , decided on 29-08-2022]

*Judgment by: Justice Ajay Rastogi

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Counsel for the Appellant: Deepkaran Dalal;

Counsel for the Respondent: Abhimanyu Tewari;

Counsel for the Intervenor Aashish Saldi: Kaveeta Wadia.

*Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Allahabad High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts


Allahabad High Court: While dismissing the writ petitions filed challenging the different criteria set for men and women in the Physical Eligibility Test as notified for the Excise Constable (General Selection), Examination 2016, Saurabh Shyam Shamshery, J. held the same to be non-arbitrary in nature.

Petitioners participated in recruitment process to the post of ‘Excise Constable' according to selection procedure prescribed under Uttar Pradesh Direct Recruitment to Group ‘C' Post in pursuance of an Advertisement issued by the U.P. Subordinate Service Selection Board. There were three major issues for consideration:

(a) Whether challenge to Rules of a recruitment process at instance of unsuccessful candidates would be permissible?

(b) Whether different set of criteria/yard stick for Physical Efficiency Test for male and female candidates has allowed arbitrariness being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution?

(c) Arbitrariness if any, has resulted into an anomaly which leads to selection of 143 female candidates i.e. much more than their 20% reserved quota of 81 seats?

Regarding issue (a) Senior advocate for the petitioner argued that petitioners approached this Court before final result was announced and had challenged the criteria of different yardstick for physical efficiency test for male and female being arbitrary. 143 female candidates were selected much beyond to their 20% quota (81 seats) and it is an eventuality which appears after the final result, as expected by the petitioners and therefore, this petition was filed even before final result was announced, therefore, present writ petition still maintainable at instance of the petitioners not withstanding being unsuccessful candidates.

Counsel appearing on behalf of respondents and other Advocates for other respondents opposed above submission that it is settled law that after participation in recruitment process upto the final stage, it is not open for an unsuccessful candidate(s) to challenge the criteria/rules of selection.

The Court reproduced the relevant pats of the judgment in Ashok Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2017) 4 SCC 357 and Ramjit Singh Kardam v. Sanjeev Kumar, (2020) 20 SCC 209 noting that petitioners had participated in the recruitment process with open eyes, having complete knowledge of different criteria of physical efficiency test for male and female, however, when they anticipated likely to be unsuccessful in final result, they approached this Court just before declaration of final result, challenging the entire notification as well as criteria of physical efficiency test. Thus, the Court was of the opinion that the petitioners have to be estopped from challenging recruitment process as well as physical efficiency test being different for male and female after they have participated therein with open eyes.

Regarding issue (b) and (c) Senior Counsel on behalf of petitioners submitted that there was discrimination between male and female candidates in respect of their respective criteria for physical efficiency test being different and it was comparatively easy for female candidates to score more marks in comparison of male candidates.

Counsel for the Subordinate Services Selection Board submitted that criteria for male and female are on different yardstick details thereof were part of advertisement and also, mentioned in earlier part of this judgment. The different criteria were based on basis of different physical ability of a male and a female.

The Court opined that ground of arbitrariness appears to be baseless on face of it and as it is raised without considering the ratio behind fixing of different yardstick for physical efficiency test for male and female. The Court mentioned the examples of the recently held CommonWealth Games where the difference of criteria of physical efficiency test is based on physical strength of a male and a female as in number of research papers it has come that in a normal situation male has more physical strength than her female counterpart.

The argument to challenge criteria of female for physical efficiency test is not only without any legal basis but is also against women empowerment.”

The Court relied on Saurav Yadav vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors, (2021) 4 SCC 542, wherein it has been categorically held if number of female candidates have satisfied their quota and have entered into general list, on their own, merit, then separate list of women candidates is not required. Thus, issue (b) and (c) was accordingly decided against the petitioners. concluding “Women empowerment can make the society powerful.”

[Pramod Kumar Singh v. State of U.P., Writ – A No. – 4225 of 2022, decided on 30-08-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ajay Kumar Rai, Alok Mishra, Binod Kumar Mishra, Advocates, Counsel for the Petitioner;

C.S.C., Chandan Sharma, Siddharth Singhal, Uday Pratap Singh, Vinit Kumar Sharma, Seemant Singh, Advocates, Counsel for the Respondent.

*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a service matter where upon reshuffling and on insertion of two OBC candidates into general category select list, two general category candidates already appointed and working since long would have been expelled or removed, thereby unsettling the entire selection process, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ exercised its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India to do complete justice to all the candidates involved.

Factual Background

BSNL issued notification in 2008 for filling up the post of Telecom Technical Assistants (TTAs). The recruitment was to be made by conducting a competitive examination of eligible candidates in an objective type paper of 200 marks. However, in the exam which was conducted no person from general category candidate got more than 40% marks. However, four candidates from OBC category obtained more than 33% marks.

Despite the poor pass percentage of candidates in the TTA examination, BSNL relaxed the qualifying marks by 10% for all candidates owing to the acute shortage of manpower. Accordingly, the qualifying marks were refixed at 30% for general category and 23% for reserved category.

However, two candidates, who were found to be more meritorious than the general category candidates subsequently were found eligible to be appointed against the reserved category – OBC. Therefore, the respondent No.1, who was wait listed No.1 in OBC category, approached the Tribunal for a direction to prepare a fresh list for all candidates based on relaxed standard and act on the said combined merit list. It was, inter alia, pleaded that there cannot be two cut-off marks for a single selection. It was submitted that there was an unreasonable classification by providing another set of cut-off marks and the action was discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.

It was the case on behalf of the original applicant that those two candidates belonging to OBC category, who were having more merit were required to be adjusted against the general category seats and consequently the seats reserved for OBC category were required to be filled in from remaining reserved category candidates on merit.

Tribunal’s ruling

Tribunal directed BSNL to consider the candidature of the respondent No.1, if sufficient vacancies exist for placement of the candidates of OBC and further his candidature shall be considered against the present and future vacancies on OBC category.

High Court’s Ruling

Rajasthan High Court dismissed the writ petition preferred by BSNL by observing that the BSNL should have given appointment to the two candidates belonging to OBC category, against the vacancies which were not reserved vertically in the event of shuffling the said two persons to general category (admittedly both the candidates have secured and/or have more merit than the general category candidates, who were appointed). The High Court further observed that consequently the respondent no. 1 could have been selected against the vacancies reserved for the OBC.

Supreme Court’s Ruling

When the matter reached the Supreme Court, various decisions were taken note of wherein it was held that the reserved category candidates securing higher marks than the last of the general category candidates are entitled to get seat/post in unreserved categories. Further, even while applying horizontal reservation, merit must be given precedence and if the candidates, who belong to SCs, STs and OBCs have secured higher marks or are more meritorious, they must be considered against the seats meant for unreserved candidates. It is further observed that the candidates belonging to reserved categories can as well stake claim to seats in unreserved categories if their merit and position in the merit list entitles them to do so.

Applying the law laid down by the Supreme Court in various decisions to the facts of the case on hand, the Court noted that the two candidates, namely, Alok Kumar Yadav and Dinesh Kumar, belonging to OBC category, were required to be adjusted against the general category as admittedly they were more meritorious than the last of the general category candidates appointed and that their appointments could not have been considered against the seats meant for reserved category. Consequently, after considering their appointments in the general category, the seats meant for reserved category were required to be filled in from and amongst the other remaining reserved category candidates on merit such as respondent No.1.

“If such a procedure would have been followed, the original applicant – respondent No.1 would have got appointed on merit in the reserved category seats in the vacancy caused due to the above procedure.”

Therefore, the findings of the High Court were upheld.

The Court, however, was also alive to the fact that by reshuffling and on insertion of two OBC candidates into general category select list, two general category candidates already appointed shall have to be expelled and/or shall have to be removed, who are working since long and it may unsettle the entire selection process. Therefore, to strike a balance and to ensure that the two general category candidates, who are already appointed will not have to be removed and at the same time, respondent No.1 being a reserved category candidate also gets accommodated, if he is so appointed, in exercise of the powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, the Court ordered that on reshuffling and on respondent No.1 being appointed now against the reserved category seats and while the Alok Kumar Yadav and Dinesh Kumar, belonging to reserved category, to be treated in the general category seats, two candidates already appointed and belonging to general category shall not be removed. However, respondent No.1 shall get the seniority from the date the general category candidates were appointed, who were having lesser merit than Alok Kumar Yadav and Dinesh Kumar.

[Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. Sandeep Choudhary, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 524, decided on 28.04.2022]

*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah


Amicus curiae: Senior Advocate Dr. Rajeev Dhavan and Advocate Gaurav Agrawal

For BSNL: Advocate Pradeep Kumar Mathur

For respondent no.1: Advocate Puneet Jain

Tripura High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: Indrajit Mahanty, CJ. dismissed a petition which was filed by the petitioner who was appointed as Junior Security Supervisor at (A-1 Level) in the category of Scheduled Tribe and had appeared for the computer-based test and physical standard test conducted by the ONGC. It was alleged that in the selection process the petitioner was awarded 72 marks but was not selected whereas the candidate (respondent 3) who got only 66.10 marks was wrongly and illegally selected by the respondent 2.

ONGC had filed the reply and in the said reply they placed reliance on the selection criteria fixed in the advertisement.

Court is of the considered view that the eligibility criteria fixed by the respondent No.2 was clear and categoric and it was clear that the marks obtained by a candidate in the CBT written examination would constitute 85% of the marks for consideration and the marks obtained in the qualifying examination would constitute 15% of the marks, therefore, totaling 100%. Resultantly, although respondent 3 had received 66.10 marks in CBT written examination, he received higher marks i.e. 10 marks due to the qualifying examination and the petitioner received 5 marks on account of having obtained 44% marks in his Class-XII examination.

The Court was of the view that petitioner can have no grievance for his non-selection especially since there was only one post for Scheduled Tribe and the respondent 3 in total obtained higher total marks than the petitioner.[Moon Raj Bahadur v. ONGC,  2021 SCC OnLine Tri 654, decided on 01-12-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

For Petitioner(s) : Mr R.G. Chakraborty

For Respondent(s) : Mr T.D. Majumder, Sr. Adv., Mr Soumen Saha and Mr Tapash Halam

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

In Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. v. R. Santhakumari Velusamy, (2011) 9 SCC 510, the bench of RV Raveendran and Markandey Katju, JJ laid down principles relating to the promotion and upgradation which read as under:

(i) Promotion is an advancement in rank or grade or both and is step towards advancement to a higher position, grade or honour and dignity. Though in the traditional sense promotion refers to advancement to a higher post, in its wider sense, promotion may include an advancement to a higher pay scale without moving to a different post. But the mere fact that both-that is, advancement to a higher position and advancement to a higher pay scale-are described by the common term “promotion”, does not mean that they are the same. The two types of promotion are distinct and have different connotations and consequences.

(ii) Upgradation merely confers a financial benefit by raising the scale of pay of the post without there being movement from a lower
position to a higher position. In an upgradation, the candidate continues to hold the same post without any change in the duties and responsibilities but merely gets a higher pay scale.

(iii) Therefore, when there is an advancement to a higher pay scale without change of post, it may be referred to as upgradation or promotion to a higher pay scale. But there is still difference between the two. Where the advancement to a higher pay scale without change of post is available to everyone who satisfies the eligibility conditions, without undergoing any process of selection, it will be upgradation. But if the advancement to a higher pay scale without change of post is as result of some process which has elements of selection, then it will be a promotion to a higher pay scale. In other words, upgradation by application of a process of selection, as contrasted from an upgradation simpliciter can be said to be a promotion in its wider sense, that is, advancement to a higher pay scale.

(iv) Generally, upgradation relates to and applies to all positions in a category, who have completed a minimum period of service. Upgradation can also be restricted to a percentage of posts in a cadre with reference to seniority (instead of being made available to all employees in the category) and it will still be an upgradation simpliciter. But if there is a process of selection or consideration of comparative merit or suitability for granting the upgradation or benefit of advancement to a higher pay scale, it will be a promotion. A mere screening to eliminate such employees whose service records may contain adverse entries or who might have suffered punishment, may not amount to a process of selection leading to promotion and the elimination may still be a part of the process of upgradation simpliciter. Where the upgradation involves a process of selection criteria similar to those applicable to promotion, then it will, in effect, be a promotion, though termed as upgradation.

(v) Where the process is an upgradation simpliciter, there is no need to apply the rules of reservation. But where the upgradation involves a selection process and is therefore a promotion, the rules of reservation will apply.

(vi) Where there is a restructuring of some cadres resulting in creation of additional posts and filling of those vacancies by those who satisfy the conditions of eligibility which includes a minimum period of service, will attract the rules of reservation. On the other hand, where the restructuring of posts does not involve creation of additional posts but merely results in some of the existing posts being placed in a higher grade to provide relief against stagnation, the said process does not invite reservation.

Read full judgment here.

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Manoj Kumar Tiwari, J., decided a petition which was filed by the petitioner challenging the order dated 17-04-2021 passed by Dean (Academics), AIIMS, Rishikesh wherein petitioner’s representation, made pursuant to the order of this Court passed in WPMS No.794 of 2021, had been rejected.

Petitioner had applied for admission in PG Diploma Course, pursuant to a notification issued by AIIMS Rishikesh in the month of August, 2020 sand election for admission to said PG Diploma course was to be made through a competitive examination. He was one of the 13 candidates shortlisted for the interview; he appeared in the interview but was not given admission. There were 05 seats available in the said course namely, PG Diploma in Respiratory Medicine, but only 04 seats were filled and since petitioner was the 5th candidate in order of merit, therefore, he had filed the writ petition which was disposed of by order dated 01-04-2021 with liberty to the petitioner to make a representation and the Competent Authority in AIIMS, Rishikesh was directed to take decision thereupon within a period of two weeks. Dean (Academics), AIIMS, Rishikesh had rejected petitioner’s representation vide order dated 17-04-2021 thus the instant petition was filed.

The Court observed that out of the 13 short-listed candidates, only 12 appeared for interview and out of those 12 candidates, 04 were given admission in PG Diploma (Respiratory Medicine) and 1 seat was still lying vacant and it was also an admitted position that the petitioner stands 5th in order of merit in the selection for admission to the aforesaid course. The petitioner was not given on the ground that he had scored only 17.47 percentile in the selection process but the Court observed that the impugned order is silent as to whether there was any condition regarding cut-off marks stipulated before commencement of selection process and in this situation the admission cannot be denied.

The Court set aside the impugned order dated 17-04-2021 and directed the Dean (Academics), AIIMS, Rishikesh to reconsider petitioner’s representation on merits and pass a speaking order in accordance with law.

[Laxman Singh Brijwal v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Utt 485, decided on 19-05-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Counsel for the petitioner: Mr Pankaj Tangwan

Counsel for the respondents: Mr Rakesh Thapliyal, Assistant Solicitor General assisted by Mr Lalit Sharma

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case relating to the appointments to the post of Police Constables in the State of Uttar Pradesh, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., has upheld State Government’s decision of shifting of candidates, who were earlier selected against posts meant for reserved categories, to the open category.

The Court has held,

“With the availability of 3295 additional posts, in the re-working exercise, if the candidates who were already selected against reserved posts were entitled to be considered against open category posts, that exercise cannot be termed as illegal or invalid on any count. These 3295 posts were part of the same selection process initiated in 2013 for filling up 41610 posts and as such the adjustment was rightly done by the State.”

In the present case,

  • By issuing an advertisement on 20.06.2013, selection process was undertaken to fill up 41610 posts of Police Constables [U.P. Civil Police/Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC)/Fireman]. The petitioners had participated in the selection process as candidates of General Category.
  • After the requisite examinations, results were declared on 16.07.2015, in which 38315 candidates were successful. Thus, as on that date, there were vacancies which were not filled as no suitable candidates were available. About 2312 vacancies had remained unfilled and additionally, there were 982 vacancies arising out of causes such as nonreporting of the selected candidates.
  • In the circumstances, the Supreme Court in Ashish Kumar Yadav v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1968 issued following directions:

“It is accepted by the learned counsel for the State that the State did not undertake any process of selection in respect of those 2312 vacancies. In the circumstances it is directed:

    1. A) The State shall within a month from today complete the entire process of selection in respect of 2312 vacancies strictly in accordance with law.
    2. B) The State shall follow the principle of reservation while filling up these 2312 vacancies.
    3. C) While filling up these vacancies, the State shall adhere to the minimum required qualifying marks as devised during the process of selection but subject to this, the State shall consider all eligible candidates and go strictly in order of merit.
    4. D) The State shall before the next date of hearing, shall file a list of all the selected candidates.

It is also accepted that apart from these 2312 vacancies, there are still 982 vacancies to be filled up in the original selection.”

  • Consequently, selection in respect of 3295 posts was undertaken in accordance with the aforementioned direction and hence, certain candidates coming from ‘Reserved Categories’, who were initially selected against Reserved Categories’ seats, were now shown against ‘Open Category’ in the list published on 11.11.2019.

According to the petitioners in the present case, this shifting prejudiced the chances of ‘Open Category’ candidates and that there should not have been any adjustment of the candidates who were already selected in ‘Reserved Categories’ and all those seats should have been made available to the ‘Open Category’.

In response, the State gave details about the last selected candidates in various categories and has stated that the last selected person in ‘General Male Category’ was one Pawan Singh (having secured 313.616 marks). Except the petitioners at serial Nos. 22 and 24, who had secured 313.616 marks, none of the 48 petitioners had secured marks in excess of 313.616. It was stated that since large number of candidates had secured exactly 313.616 marks, tiebreaker principle was adopted in which these two petitioners got eliminated.

Upholding the selection process, the Court held that the selection in respect of 3295 posts was undertaken in accordance with the directions issued by this Court in Ashish Kumar Yadav v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1968 and the State Government and its functionaries were obliged to go strictly in order of merit and apply the principle of reservation.

[Pramod Kumar Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 223, decided on 16.03.2021]

*Judgment by: Justice UU Lalit

Know Thy Judge| Justice Uday Umesh Lalit

Appearances before the Court by:

For petitioners: Senior Advocate P. S. Patwalia

For State: Additional Advocate General Vinod Diwakar,

For Intervenors: Senior Advocates B. P. Patil and Vinay Navare

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“Where the recruitment to public employment stands vitiated as a consequence of systemic fraud or irregularities, the entire process becomes illegitimate. On the other hand, where it is possible to segregate persons who have indulged in mal-practices and to penalise them for their wrongdoing, it would be unfair to impose the burden of their wrong-doing on those who are free from taint. To treat the innocent and the wrong-doers equally by subjecting the former to the consequence of the cancellation of the entire process would be contrary to Article 14 because unequals would then be treated equally.”

Supreme Court: The bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and MR Shah, JJ has upheld the Delhi Government’s decision to cancel the selection process conducted by Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB) during the year 2014 -15 and said,

“The nature of the allegations which were found to be substantiated upon a careful examination by the first Committee showed that the credibility of the process itself had been eroded. In such a situation, where a decision is taken by the Government to cancel the entire process, it cannot be held to be irrational or arbitrary, applying the yardstick of fair procedure and proportionality to the decision-making process.”

The Controversy

On 26 December 2009, DSSSB issued an advertisement inviting applications for various posts among them being the post of [(Grade 2 (DASS)]/Head Clerk (post code 90/09) for a total of 231 vacancies in Services Department – II, GNCTD. 62,056 applications were received, and 61,179 were found eligible.

The scheme of the examination comprised of:

 (i) Tier-I – a preliminary examination for shortlisting candidates for the main examination. This was an objective type test carrying 200 marks and for a duration of 2.5 hours – Conducted on 29 June 2014 – 8,224 candidates appeared.

(ii) Tier-II – the main examination which was of a descriptive type carrying 200 marks for a duration of 2.5 hours.

Notably 4,712 candidates (approximately 55 per cent) were drawn from 22 pin codes of Delhi as against a total of 609 pin codes.

Between 14 October 2014 and 27 March 2015, complaints were received by the DSSSB as to serious irregularities in the conduct of Tier-I examination alleging:

(i) leakage of question papers;

(ii) mass cheating;

(iii) allotment of common examination centres and rooms to members of the same family; and

(iv) impersonation of candidates.

The results of the Tier-I examination were declared on 21 October 2014 and 2,415 candidates were shortlisted. The Tier-II examination was conducted on 29 March 2015 and its results were declared on 15 July 2015.

On 22 August 2015, following the receipt of “serious complaints” in the office of the Chief Minister, GNCTD regarding irregularities in the conduct of the examinations conducted by DSSSB for the post of Grade-II DASS, a Committee consisting of the Director (Vigilance) and District Magistrate (East) was appointed to enquire into the matter and submit its report.

Findings of Committee

First Committee

  • As many as 50 candidates who had high marks in the Tier-I test (e.g. 170 out of 200) secured less than 50 marks in the Tier-II test and some candidates had obtained zero marks;
  • The absence of randomization enabled candidates who were closely related to sit in a sequence;
  • A significant proportion of the candidates belonged to a concentrated geographical area.
  • A delay of almost five years in conducting the Tier-I examination. As a result, of the 62,056 applicants only 8224 had appeared at the Tier-I examination giving rise to an apprehension that adequate information had not been furnished to candidates.
  • There were examples of candidates who had secured high marks in Tier – I examination but extremely low marks in the Tier-II exam.
  • The Committee found it “astonishing that the whole marks lists is dominated by a particular section of society” based on their surnames.
  • Members of the same family were found to be sitting in close proximity both in the Tier-I and Tier-II examinations of which details were tabulated in the report.
  • The Committee had addressed a questionnaire to the officials of DSSSB in regard to the alleged irregularities but they expressed their inability to answer the queries.
  • The videography was blurred, thumb impressions were unrecognizable, jammers were not working properly and candidates had been allowed to appear irrespective of their educational qualifications.
  • There was a racket which had led to the impersonation of candidates. This racket involved a person by the name of Anil Kumar Malik who was the Chief Invigilator at a particular centre, who was allegedly connected with a coaching centre which was also involved in the leakage of the question papers. The Committee noted the allegation that this person had repeatedly fixed his duties in a choice of his own centres with the help of DSSSB staff and there were instances of impersonation which had emerged.

In this backdrop and considering the voluminous nature of the documentary material, the Committee was of the view that either the CBI or the Crime Branch would be able to investigate into the matter.

The Committee also noticed that the issuance of admit cards only through the electronic mode, which was not prescribed in the advertisement. One of the main reasons for the appearance of a small proportion of candidates as compared to the applications was the inability of candidates to access the internet to download the e-admit cards. Further, the advertisement had not mentioned that admit cards shall be issued through the electronic medium only.

“A period of five years had elapsed since the date of the advertisement. It was not possible for the candidates to keep a vigil on the notifications of a single examination. In this backdrop, the decision of DSSSB, during the course of the process, to allow only e-admit cards was a deviation which resulted in a small number of candidates appearing in the Tier-I examination. This was clearly a pointer to the denial of equal access and opportunity to all candidates in the selection process.”

Second Committee

The Second Committee was formed “to check the credentials of all the candidates falling in the zone of consideration in the merit list, for Gr.II/DASS (post code 90/09) for checking of the candidate and the authenticity of his/her candidature”.

It was argued that when the Deputy Chief Minister directed that a Committee be constituted to check for impersonation from amongst candidates within the zone of selection, by his noting dated 23 December 2015, this would necessarily mean that the explanation which was tendered by DSSSB in regard to whether any irregularities had taken place in the examination stood accepted and nothing further remained except to check for impersonation. Hence, it has been submitted that once the second Committee came to the conclusion that none of the 281 candidates in the zone of selection were found to be engaged in impersonation, there was no basis thereafter to cancel the examination.

Analysis by the Supreme Court

“Recruitment to public services must command public confidence. Persons who are recruited are intended to fulfil public functions associated with the functioning of the Government. Where the entire process is found to be flawed, its cancellation may undoubtedly cause hardship to a few who may not specifically be found to be involved in wrong-doing. But that is not sufficient to nullify the ultimate decision to cancel an examination where the nature of the wrong-doing cuts through the entire process so as to seriously impinge upon the legitimacy of the examinations which have been held for recruitment.”

The Court noticed that the complaints in regard to the recruitment process related both to the Tier-I and Tier-II examinations. The complaints were carefully analysed by the first Committee and as noted earlier serious irregularities were found.

“The irregularities were not confined to acts of mal-practice or unfair means on the part of a specific group of persons. On the contrary, the report of the Committee found deficiencies of a systemic nature which cast serious doubts on the legitimacy of the entire process of recruitment involving both the Tier-I and Tier-II examinations.”

The order of the Deputy Chief Minister dated 23 December 2015 did not differ with the conclusions of the first Committee. In fact, the said order refrained from commenting on the findings of the first Committee. All that the Deputy Chief Minister’s order directed was the narrowing of the scope of further investigation to one of the irregularities, that is, impersonation.

“In directing that a verification be carried out on whether any of the candidates in the zone of selection had been guilty of impersonation, the Deputy Chief Minister’s order did not wipe out the irregularities in the entire examination process. It is not possible to accept the submission that after ordering a verification on impersonation, nothing further remained to be done and that there could be no further rejection of the sanctity of the process on the basis of the report of the first Committee. It is quite possible that the Deputy Chief Minister directed a further investigation into the allegations of impersonation only to lend credibility to the ultimate decision which he would take.”

Further, the conduct of DSSSB and its officials was itself under a cloud. Their explanation could by no means be regarded as conclusive or binding upon the authorities of GNCTD. The Deputy Chief Minister in recommending that the entire process be cancelled emphasised the systemic nature of the violations which had taken place. These violations may or may not involve all of the candidates within the ultimate zone of selection but that is beside the point for the simple reason that the gravamen of the charge in the present case is not in regard to the taint which attaches to a specific group of persons but to the sanctity of the recruitment process as a whole.

The precedents of this Court sufficiently demonstrate that when the credibility of an entire examination stands vitiated by systemic irregularities, the issue then is not about seeking to identify the candidates who are tainted. In the present case, as we have seen, there was a basic denial of equal access to the Tier-I examination.

Hence, both the High Court and the Tribunal erred in laying exclusive focus on the report of the second Committee which was confined to the issue of impersonation.

“The report of the second Committee is only one facet of the matter. The Deputy Chief Minister was justified in going beyond it and ultimately recommending that the entire process should be cancelled on the basis of the findings which were arrived at in the report of the first Committee. Those findings do not stand obliterated nor has the Tribunal found any fault with those findings.”

Key Directions

(i) DSSSB and GNCTD must now take adequate measures to ensure against the recurrence of such instances which erode the credibility of and public confidence in the recruitment process. A comprehensive exercise to re-visit the modalities and safeguards is to be carried out within a period of two months to ensure that the probity of the recruitment process in future is maintained.

(ii) The notification dated 15 March 2016 of GNCTD cancelling the Tier-I and Tier-II examinations held for recruitment to the post of Head Clerk [(Grade II (DASS)] under post code 90/09 is upheld.

[Sachin Kumar v. Delhi Subordinate Service Selection Board, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 161, decided on 03.03.2021]

*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava and Sheel Nagu, JJ., dismissed the instant petition, whereby the petitioners sought to avail the benefits of subsequent relaxations in essential qualification.

The grievance of the petitioners was that they possess the qualification of Post Basic B.Sc (nursing) course without integrated CCH curriculum and as per the advertisement (August-September 2020) for the post of Community Health Officer; the said Post Basic B.Sc (nursing) course without integrated CCH curriculum was a disqualification. A subsequent instruction had been issued by National Health Mission on 23-11-2020 to allow even those persons having post basic B.Sc nursing course without integrated CCH curriculum to be eligible.

Counsel for the Mission, Sankalp Sharma contended that the Mission had decided to apply this amendment in the requisite qualification for the subsequent selection process and not for the current process which had already begun.

The Court expressed that, “It is trite principle of service jurisprudence that once process of recruitment commences on issuance of advertisement, no changes in the essential qualification/disqualification can be made during subsistence of the said recruitment.” The Court observed that, according to service jurisprudence the rules of game cannot be changed, once it has begun. The aforesaid time tested principle is based on sound reasoning that in case such change in the rules of recruitment is permitted then large number of persons who had not applied for being not eligible as per the recruitment and who would become eligible based on the relaxation made, would be deprived of their right to be considered for public employment which would amount to violation of their fundamental right under Article 16 of the Constitution. The Court relied on Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation v. Rajendra Bhimrao Mandve, (2001) 10 SCC 51, whereby the Supreme Court had held that, the rules of the game meaning thereby, the criteria for selection cannot be altered by the authorities concerned in the middle or after the process of selection has commenced.

Therefore, the Court disposed of the present petition holding that the subsequent relaxation in the essential qualification/disqualification notified by the Mission could not be made applicable to the on-going recruitment in question and thus petitioners cannot reap the advantage of the same. [Ramkhiladi Sharma v. National Health Mission, 2020 SCC OnLine MP 2975, decided on 05-12-2020]

Tripura High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

“Wherever democratic institutions exists experience has shown that to secure an efficient civil service it is essential to protect it as far as possible from political or personal influences and give it that position of stability and security which is vital to its successful working as the impartial and efficient instrument by which Governments, of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies. In countries where this principle has been neglected, where the “spoil system” has taken its place, an inefficient and deorganized civil service has been the inevitable result and the corruption has been rampant.” 

                       – The Lee Commission, 1924

Tripura High Court: S. Talapatra, J. allowed a petition directing Tripura Public Service Commission (TPSC) to complete the recruitment process within eight months from the date of judgment.

TPSC by an advertisement dated 30-04-2016 had invited applications for recruitment to the Tripura Civil Services (TCS) Group-A gazetted by direct recruitment in terms of Rule 5 of the Tripura Civil Services Rules, 1965. The petitioner here had applied for the said selection in terms of the said advertisement. Since the petitioner was found eligible he was asked to appear in the preliminary examination. The result of the preliminary examination was published by the TPSC in their notification dated 30-10-2017. In this regard, there was no controversy. The petitioner was thus selected for appearing in the Main Examination. TPSC further published a notification showing the date of examination for various optional papers. Suddenly, on 05-06-2018 the General Administration (Personal and Training) Department issued a notification laying down the new recruitment policy for all establishments under the administrative control of the Government of Tripura. According to the new notification “weightage for the interview should not exceed 10 per cent of total marks. In exceptional case weightage of interview may be increased beyond per cent with the approval of cabinet, if sufficient justification exists.” Following the notification, TPSC started the process of termination of the recruitment process in which the petitioner was appearing. Hence, the present petition.

The learned counsels for the petitioner S.M. Chakraborty along with B. Chakraborty, contended that all the recommendations made in the new recruitment policy could only come into force prospectively. It was submitted that such cancellation was the grossly arbitrary and colourable exercise of power. He also mentioned the Judgment given in Gopal Krushna Rath v. M.A.A. Baig, 1999 1 SCC 544, in which it was well settled that no retrospective operation of the subsequent rules can be given in a pending selection process. It was also decided in the case that every statute or statutory rule is prospective unless it is expressly or by necessary implication made to have retrospective effect. In the concerned matter, the notification clearly said to have a prospective effect thus, the petitioner urged the Court to order TPSC to continue the process of selection and to complete it before a stipulated deadline as decided by the Court.

A.K Bhowmik learned counsel for the respondent categorically contended that the petitioner has no cause of action on cancellation of the recruitment process as the Government has inherent power to cancel the recruitment process, whether initiated by the Government Departments or by the TPSC. It had been further asserted that all existing recruitment processes initiated by the respective departments or the TPSC have been cancelled as the old recruitment policies failed to ensure transparency and fair play in the recruitment. He further vehemently submitted that at any moment, the State Government as an employer can withdraw any recruitment process and initiate a fresh process in terms of the new recruitment policy. The selection process can be revoked by the State Government at any stage in terms of the changed recruitment policy. As such, the writ petition is bereft of merit and is liable to be dismissed.

 The Court observed that respondent had utterly failed to provide any reason for cancelling the recruitment process inasmuch as no foundation had been raised to show that action has been taken to protect any greater or public interest the mode prescribed by those service rules for selection is infested impediment in following that procedure. Thus, the Court allowed the petitioner and ordered TPSC to complete the process of selection within 8 months of the judgment.[Samudra Debbarma v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 145, decided on 14-05-2019] 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Two writ petitions were filed together before the Bench of Prakash Shrivastava, J., where petitioners were seeking a direction to respondents to permit them to participate in the second stage of selection process.

The petitioner had challenged a clause of one of the annexures related to submission of domicile certificate before the last date of submission of the form. Facts of the case were that petitioner had applied for a post of Subedar for which the last date of submission of application form was extended. After clearing the first stage of selection process they were denied participation in the second stage on the ground that domicile certificate was issued after the last date of submission of application form. This denial was the cause of filing this petition.

Petitioner contended that there was no requirement to possess domicile certificate before the last day of submission of application form and thus this requirement could not have been inserted in a subsequent notice. Also that they are domicile of the State and the other entire requirements were fulfilled by them.

High Court noted that recruitment to the post in question was governed by M.P. Police Executive (Non-Gazetted) Service Recruitment Rules, 1997. As per the advertisement, the domicile certificate was required for those candidates who are seeking age relaxation and petitioner was not seeking such relaxation. The record was found to be showing that petitioners were having domicile certificate for verification at the second stage of the selection process. In the application form, there was no column relating to domicile certificate, hence the respondents could not have denied the petitioner’s participation in the second stage of the selection process. Therefore, the writ petition was allowed. [Aakansha Meena v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 491, Order dated 27-03-2019]

Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A writ petition was filed before a Single Judge Bench comprising of Ritu Bahri, J., where selection process for the post of Junior Coach (Athletics) was in question.

Facts of the case were that the petitioner had applied in the selection process for the post of Junior Coach (Athletics) in response to an advertisement. When the final results for the post were out, petitioner’s name was found in the waiting list where he had applied for the post under the EBPG category. The EBPG category had 3 posts vacant where the selection of respondent had been challenged by the petitioner. The ground on which respondent’s selection was challenged was that he belonged to SBC (Special Backward Class) category thus could not have taken benefit under the category of EBPG by virtue of Clause 5 of the relevant notification which states that person claiming reservation under other categories are not entitled to reservation in the EBPG category. According to a certificate issued to respondent, it was found that he had taken benefit of EBPG category. 

The High Court agreeing with the petitioner on the question of law, however, observed that respondent had taken benefit of only one category i.e. EBPG. Therefore, no reason to interfere in the result was found and the writ petition was dismissed. [Sandeep v. State of Haryana,2018 SCC OnLine P&H 1673, decided on 01-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the light of serious irregularities in the selection process of appointment of assistant teachers in government lower primary schools, the Bench of AK Goel and RF Nariman, JJ directed that for the purity of selection to the public posts, as far as possible the selection process conducted by the selection bodies, especially the State Public Service Commissions and the State Selection Boards, is videographed.

Directing the Registry to send a copy of the order to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, for being forwarded to the concerned authorities for compliance, the Bench further directed:

“at examination centres as well as interview centres CCTV cameras should be installed to the extent viable. Footage thereof may be seen by an independent committee of three members and report of such committee may be placed on the website concerned.”

The Court gave the said order when the irregularities in the State of Meghalaya was brought to it’s notice. The Court noticed that such incidents were being reported in several cases as it had recently dealt with such a matter in Avinash C. v. State of Karnataka, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 330, decided on 4.4.2018. [State of Meghalaya v. Phikirba Khariah, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 336, order dated 06.04.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Aggrieved by the decision of a Single Judge in a petition filed by P. Chitra, a national level athlete, who had been denied participation in the International Association of Athletic Federation World Championship (IAAF World Championship) 2017, to be held in London, the Athletic Federation of India (appellant herein) filed an appeal and the matter was heard by a Division Bench comprising of Navaniti Prasad Singh, CJ. and Raja Vijayaraghavan V, J.

The original petition contended that the decision to not include the petitioner was arbitrary because she was the gold medalist in the 1500m race in the Asian Athletic Championships, Bhubhaneshwar, which ensured automatic qualification as the area champion. The learned Single Judge, on account of urgency of the matter, granted interim relief and directed the Federation to ensure the participation of the petitioner in the World Championship.

However, the Federation contended that the petitioner secured a second position in the Nationals held subsequently which was the reason why she was disqualified and she was therefore suppressing material facts. Moreover, the Federation also contended that the Court could not interfere with the decision of an expert body like itself. Rejecting these arguments of the Federation, the Court held that there had been a lot of controversy with regard to the selections of various athletes for the aforesaid World Meet.

The rule whereby an athlete had to perform well in the Nationals had not been entirely followed by the Federation itself in the selection of athletes. The Court acknowledged the fact that representing one’s country in a world meet is the dream of every athlete and it was necessary for the Court to interfere in the arbitrary manner the Federation had been functioning. However, it was also brought to light that no new entries could be made to the list of participants representing the country post July 24, 2017. Observing that the writ issued by the interim order is a futile one incapable of obedience, the Court allowed the appeal and vacated the interim order. [Athletics Federation of India v. Chitra PU, 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 11402, dated 03.08.2017]

Andhra Pradesh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana: In a writ petition challenging the validity of Rule 7 of the Andhra Pradesh State Judicial Services Rules, the Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ. and A. Shankar Narayan, J. allowed the petitioner, a visually challenged person, to participate in the selection process for appointment to posts in the Andhra Pradesh State Judicial Services.

In the instant case, the petitioner submitted his application to appear in the aforementioned Judicial Services exam but his application was rejected and he was told that he was not entitled to appear in the examination and also, no reservation could be provided to him. The petitioner argued that State’s Judicial Service Rules violated his right to equality as it provides reservation for Physically handicapped persons but does not allow any reservation for persons with visual disabilities being in violation of Sections 32 and 33 of the Person with Disabilities Act, 1995 which provides for at least 3% quotas for people with disabilities, of which 1% should be for those with blindness or low vision. They further argued that Delhi Judicial Services Examination in 2015 provided such reservation to the visually challenged and other High Courts too had similar provisions.

The Court held that the question whether reservation should be provided in Judicial Services for the blind, can only be examined after a counter-affidavit is filed by the respondents but the petitioner cannot be denied participation in the selection process under the open category merely on account of his blindness. [Arepalli Naga Babu v. High Court of Hyderabad, Writ Petition No. 31033 of 2016, decided on 14-11-2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Refusing to interfere with the 10% concession granted by the State of Rajasthan to reserved category candidates in TET by the letter dated 23.03.2011 as on that basis, two recruitment tests have been conducted and candidates who have been selected are now teaching for last number of years, the Court said that the State should bring the relaxation within reasonable limits for future selections as very high percentage of relaxation may amount to compromising with quality which may not be conducive to maintaining standards of education. The Court noticed that except for the State of Andhra Pradesh, no other State has granted such wide range of concessions as the State of Rajasthan did in its letter dated 23.03.2011 and hence, said that in order to impart quality education, we need those teachers who are processed of essential aptitude and ability to meet the challenges of teaching at the primary and upper primary levels.

By guidelines dated 11.02.2011, it was specified that the minimum pass percentage of TET is 60, however, later by a communication dated 23.03.2011, relaxation to the reserved category candidates was granted in minimum pass marks in the TET. The candidates belonging to SC/ST, OBC, SBC and women belonging to General category were to be given 10% relaxation in pass marks in TET. Many candidates belonging to the General category filed writ petitions in the High Court of Rajasthan challenging their selection on the ground that minimum percentage for passing TET was 60% and, therefore, all those candidates belonging to the reserved categories who secured less than 60% in TET could not be declared as having passed TET and were, therefore, ineligible to participate in the selection process.

The Bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and R.K. Agrawal, JJ said that giving of desired concessions to the reserved category persons ensures equality as a levelling process, however, on the other hand, when it comes to selection process such reserved category candidates have to compete with general category candidates wherein due regard for merit is given. Therefore, only those candidates belonging to reserved category who are found meritorious in selection are ultimately appointed. The Court said that no concession becomes available to the reserved category candidate by giving relaxation in pass marks in TET insofar as recruitment process is concerned. It only enables them to compete with others by allowing them to participate in the selection process. Hence, the reserved category candidates who secured more marks than marks obtained by the last candidate selected in general category, would be entitled to be considered against unreserved category vacancies.

Having said so, the Court said that the effect of the order would be as follows:

  • Those reserved category candidates who secured pass marks on the application of relaxed standards as contained in the extant policy of the Government in its communication dated March 23, 2011 to be treated as having qualified TET examination and, thus, eligible to participate in the selection undertaken by the State Government.
  • Migration from reserved category to general category shall be admissible to those reserved category candidates who secured more marks obtained by the last unreserved category candidates who are selected, subject to the condition that such reserved category candidates did not avail any other special concession. It is clarified that concession of passing marks in TET would not be treated as concession falling in the aforesaid category.

[Vikas Sankhala v. Vikas Kumar Agarwal, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1154 , decided on 18.10.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench of R. Banumathi and Shiva Kirti Singh, JJ gave split decision in the writ of certiorari filed by the petitioner seeking the quashment of the Notification dated 16th February, 2015 issued by the High Court of Manipur, whereby the petitioner was declared unsuccessful in viva-voce conducted by the High Court of Manipur for appointment to the post of District Judge (Entry Level) in Manipur Judicial Services Grade-I. The matter will be placed before a larger Bench for final adjudication.

The Impugned Notification notified that “no one shall be declared pass and selected for appointment unless he secures minimum 40% from the interview”. The petitioner, however, was not able to secure 40% in the interview and hence, argued that the marks obtained in the viva-voce should be merely added to the marks obtained in the written examination to finalize the merit list and it was not permissible to have fixed a minimum bench mark for the viva-voce as it amounts to change in the criteria of selection in the midst of the selection process.

Banumathi, J rejected the said contention and said that under the MJS Rules a scheme of converting the numerical marks of each question into an appropriate grade, according to the formula given in the table and re-converting into grades, is stipulated. In the table, the percentage of marks and Grade prescribe that marks below 40% is Grade ‘F’ which means ‘Fail’. Keeping in view the Rules and the table converting numerical marks into Grades and the final Select List that is prepared by adding cumulative grade value obtained in the written examination and the interview/viva-voce, fixing 40% for interview/viva-voce out of total marks of 50 is in consonance with MJS Rules and it will not amount to change in the criteria of selection in the midst of selection process. The object of conducting interview/viva-voce examination has been rightly stated in the Rules to assess suitability of the candidate by judging the mental alertness, knowledge of law, clear and original exposition, intellectual depth and the like. Hence, having regard to the seniority of the post which is District Judge  (Entry Level), the High Court cannot be faulted with for exercising its residuary right reserved in its favour by prescribing cut-off marks for the interview. Also, the petitioner participated in the selection process and only because in the final result the petitioner being unsuccessful, he cannot turn around and contend that the criteria for selection was changed.

Shiva Kirti Singh, J, on the other hand, said that the Rules and the instructions clearly demonstrate that there was no cut-off mark or pass mark for the viva voce examination in the past. Not providing any pass mark for the viva voce while so providing for the written examination clearly indicates that the Rules deliberately chose not to prescribe any cut-off for the viva voce. The statutory rules did prescribe a particular mode of selection which did not require any pass mark for the viva voce examination and it had to be given strict adherence accordingly, at least till the ongoing recruitment process got concluded. Since the procedure was already prescribed by the Rules, in the present case there was clear impediment in law in the way of the High Court in proceeding to lay down minimum pass mark for the viva voce test which was meant only for the petitioner as he was the lone candidate successful in the written examination. Although no case of bias has been pleaded, the impugned action would validly attract the criticism of malice in law. Also, the petitioner being the lone candidate having passed in the written examination, it matters little whether minimum marks for interview were introduced before or after calling him for interview. [Salam Samarjeet Singh v. High Court of Manipur at Imphal, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1120, decided on 07.10.2016]