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 a case where a man was tried for and later acquitted from charges under Section 498A/406/34 IPC, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah, JJ held that the apprehension that a stigma shall continue with the name of the appellant is misconceived, as stigma, if any, is already over by acquittal.

The appellant had challenged the order of the Principal Secretary, Madhya Pradesh, Law and Legislative Department declaring him ineligible for being appointed to the post of District Judge (Entry Level) and had sought reconsideration by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh. On this the Court said that the mere fact that subsequently after more than a year when the person whose candidature has been cancelled has been acquitted cannot be a ground for reconsideration of his application by the High Court.

Brief facts of the case

The appellant submitted an online form after the High Court of Madhya Pradesh issued an advertisement dated 09.03.2017 inviting applications for recruitment in the post of District Judge(Entry Level) in the cadre of Higher Judicial Service by Direct Recruitment from amongst the eligible Advocates.

  • The appellant after being declared successful in the Main Examination was called for interview.
  • The appellant received a communication on 06.04.2018 from the Law and Legislative Department informing that he has been selected for the post of District Judge (Entry Level). He was asked to appear before the Medical Board for the health tests.
  • On 02.07.2018, the copy of the FIR filed against him by his wife in the year 2014 under Section 498/406/34 IPC was asked for.
  • On 14.09.2018, order was issued by the Principal Secretary, Madhya Pradesh, Law and Legislative Department declaring the appellant ineligible and directing for deletion the name of the appellant from the select list.
  • The Government also issued a Gazette notification deleting the name of the appellant from the main select list.
  • On 18.09.2019, the appellant was acquitted of the charge framed against him in the aforementioned criminal case registered against him by his wife.

Arguments advanced before the Supreme Court

It was argued before the Court that appellant having disclosed the lodging of FIR against him has not concealed any fact before the High Court and he, having been selected on merit, was entitled to be appointed. On the subsequent acquittal of the appellant on 18.09.2019 his case for appointment was to be reconsidered by the High Court and the High Court committed an error in not considering the appellant for appointment. The candidature of the appellant could not have been cancelled merely on the ground of pendency of criminal case.

“The appellant could not have been deprived of the employment after acquittal. There was no other material on record to indicate that antecedent or conduct of the appellant was not upto the mark. The High Court ought to have sent the matter back before the Higher Judicial Service and Examination-cum-Selection Committee for reconsideration.”


WHAT THE COURT SAID


On validity of the order declaring the appellant ineligible

The Court, however, noticed that the present is not a case where the name of the appellant was deleted in the select list on the ground of any concealment of criminal case against him. The name of the appellant was included in the select list which was forwarded to the State. The State after character verification submitted a report which report was considered on 18.07.2018 by the Administrative Committee (Higher Judicial Service) and Examination-cum-Selection and Appointment Committee and a resolution was taken that due to pendency of the case under Section 498A, 406-34 IPC on the basis of complaint filed by the wife, the appellant is not considered suitable for being appointed to the post of District Judge.

Stressing of the requirement that after declaration of the merit list the candidates have to be given appointments in time bound manner so that they may join the respective posts, the Court noticed that on the date when the Committee declared the appellant unsuitable, criminal case against him under Section 498A and 406 IPC was pending which was registered on a complaint filed by the appellant’s wife.

“The mere inclusion in the select list does not give an indefeasible right to a candidate. The employer has right to refuse appointment to the candidate included in the select list on any valid ground. The persons who occupy Judicial Service of the State are persons who are expected to have impeccable character and conduct.”

The character verification report was received from the State where pendency of the criminal case was mentioned which was the reason for the Committee to declare the appellant unsuitable.

On reconsideration of application by High Court after acquittal of the appellant

“In the present case the acquittal having taken place after the close of recruitment process, there was no question of examining the acquittal order by the High Court at the time of finalizing the selection process.”

The Court noticed that there can be no dispute that in event it is found that decision by which the candidature of a candidate is rejected is arbitrary or actuated by malafide such decision can be interfered by the Constitutional Courts. However, the decision of Examination-cum-Section and Appointment Committee for holding the appellant unsuitable was based on the relevant consideration, i.e., a criminal case against the appellant under Section 498A/406/34 IPC was pending consideration which was registered on a complaint filed by the wife of the appellant.

“Such decision of the Committee was well within the jurisdiction and power of the Committee and cannot be said to be unsustainable. The mere fact that subsequently after more than a year when the person whose candidature has been cancelled has been acquitted cannot be a ground to turn the clock backward.”

On stigma attached with appellant’s name

It was argued before the Court that due to deletion of the name of appellant from select list a stigma is attached to him, for removal of which this Court may issue notice in this SLP. The Court, however, said that the appellant having already been acquitted by the judgment dated 18.09.2019 stigma of criminal case has already washed out and the criminal case having resulted in acquittal no stigma is attached to the appellant’s name on the above ground.

[Anil Bhardwaj v. High Court of Madhya Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 832, 13.10.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This petition was filed before the Bench of Subodh Abhyankar, J. by the petitioner who was working on deputation against the order whereby his services were repatriated to the parent department.

Petitioner challenged the impugned order on the ground that the nature of deputation in the instant case was different from the normal transfer on deputation. It was only after selection of petitioner that he was appointed on deputation. Thus, petitioner could not have been repatriated.

Petitioner submitted that the instant petition filed was covered under the decision passed in the case of Ram Avtar Singh v. State of M.P., WP No.13505 of 2018, where the impugned order of repatriation was set aside and Court made clear that the order would not come in the way of respondents to repatriate petitioners in accordance with law.

High Court in the facts and circumstances of the case set aside the impugned order of repatriation in the light of the order passed in the aforementioned case and since impugned order of repatriation was quashed petitioner was allowed to work at his deputation. Therefore, this petition was allowed. [Rajendra Prasad Nayak v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 258, dated 14-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court Of Uttaranchal: A Division Bench comprising of  U.C. Dhyani and  Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. dismissed a challenge against the appointment of State Chief Information Commissioner. The main challenge in the petition was that the office of the State Chief Information Commissioner has become the ‘dumping ground’ for retired bureaucrats, who are rewarded for their loyalty to the State Government.

The question posed in the writ petition is – whether the state government can defy the mandate of the Union legislature and the spirit of the RTI Act by appointing Chief Information Commissioner to favour certain officers, who have retired, or are due to retire in the near future?

The contention put up by the petitioner is that according to Section 15(1) of RTI Act, the requirement of the appointment of a retired bureaucrat is not a necessity, rather it prescribes the requirement is of a person shall be eminent in public life with wide knowledge and experience in particular field.

Further, it has been stated by the Hon’ble Court, that, Court cannot sit in judgment over the wisdom of the government in the choice of person to be appointed as long as the person satisfies all the eligibility criteria along with the process prescribed. Therefore, it has been observed by the court that the writ of quo Warranto cannot be issued unless there is a clear violation of law and here clearly the appointment has is not contrary to the statutory rules.

Concluding the judgment, the Hon’ble Court while agreeing to the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner in the matter of appointments to higher echelons, fairness should be the hallmark of selection, it does not find any illegality or irregularity in the appointment of the State Chief Information Commissioner, it also hoped that in the future, the persons of eminence will be drawn from these walks of life also. [Chandra Shekhar Kargeti v. State Of Uttarakhand; 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 29, order dated 10-01-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

On 09.08.2017, a ‘concept note’ on a Central Selection Mechanism (CSM) for the lower judiciary was notified on the Supreme Court website afterthe 3-judge bench of JS Khehar, CJ and AK Goel and AM Khanwilkar, JJ, on 04.08.2017, asked the Registry to prepare and send the note to the Registrars of all the High Courts. The said direction was given after the Court initiated suo motu proceedings after a letter dated 28.04.2017 was written by the Secretary of the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice (Government of India), to the Supreme Court of India.

According to the ‘Concept Note’, under CSM, the candidates will write a single common examination, namely the District Judges Recruitment Examination (DJURE), and be considered for selection in all the States for which they fulfill the eligibility criteria. Here are the key points from the Concept Note

Why a Central Selection Method?

  • Conducting DJURE would mean having a consistent and rigorous selection process
  • Fixed time-table of holding such examinations will enable an advocate who is unsuccessful in a given year, to try harder and make further attempts in a planned manner for the subsequent years.
  • More candidates will appear for the examination, of which the best eventually make the grade and qualify as central service officers.
  • CSM will provide a regular pool of meritorious candidates to recruitment and selection bodies for State Judicial Services across India.
  • District Judges Recruitment Examination (DJRE) will eradicate uncertainty and irregularity by providing fix syllabus and schedule of examination.

Effect on existing structure of Judiciary

  • DJURE would not compromise the autonomy of the States in regulating the terms of recruitment or the conditions of service. All existing rules regarding reservation, eligibility and service conditions in the States would continue to be in force.
  • DJURE will neither recruit, nor appoint candidates as District Judges. It will merely present a pool of candidates from whom judges can be recruited, after an interview with the selection authority. The actual prerogative of appointment of any judges to State Judicial Services would remain with the Governor of a State, as prescribed under the Constitution of India.
  • DJURE will not alter the existing eligibility criteria in different States. The eligibility criteria and the rules/regulations for reservation prevalent in the States will remain intact. Specific requirements of each State in terms of testing knowledge in local laws or local language will also be protected.

Structure of DJURE: DJURE will be split into 4 law papers and interview.

Authority conducting DJURE

  • 5-member Central Selection Committe consisting of one chairperson and four other members, all nominated by the CJI, and may include sitting or retired judges. The four members shall preferably represent each of the four regions of the country.
  • Secretariat for conducting the DJURE written exams, and constituting Interview Boards for conducting interviews for different state judicial services
  • Interview Boards solely responsible for conducting the interviews of candidates who have qualified on the basis of the National and State ranks

Funding: CSM will be funded by the Central Government, keeping in mind the all India nature of the examination.

Bi-annual DJURE: Concept Note suggests that the timeline of the DJURE should begin by Intimation of Vacancies by the High Court to the Secretariat on March 15 every year and should conclude with the publication of results on August 31. The 6-month timeline will allow CSC to conduct DJURE twice a year.

To read the full ‘Concept-note’, click here.