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]

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]

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]