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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Service matter - selection process - written test 50% and interview 50% - tribunal set aside the selection process - High court though upheld the way of allotment of marks as wrong but modified the order and order the things may gone as it is as there are no malafides - Apex court confirmed the same = Bishnu Biswas & Ors. ... Appellants Versus Union of India & Ors. ...Respondents = 2014 (Apr.Part) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41375

     Service matter - selection process - written test 50% and interview  50% - tribunal set aside the selection process - High court though upheld the way of allotment of marks as wrong but modified the order and order the things may gone as it is as there are no malafides - Apex court confirmed the same =

The interviews were conducted  and  a  final  result  sheet  was
      published.  In pursuance thereto, appointment letters were  issued  to
      the appellants herein.
      Challenging the said appointments, the  unsuccessful  candidates
      filed Original Application before  the  Tribunal  which  was  allowed,
      
quashing such appointments as equal marks were earmarked for both  the
      written examination and interview which is impermissible  in  law  and
      that the interview was never part  of  the  recruitment  process   and
      thereby ordering initiation of fresh recruitment process.
       
The appointees/appellants challenged the said order  before  the
      High Court.  
The High Court upheld the reasoning of the  Tribunal  but
      modified the order to the extent of continuing the recruitment process
      from the point it stood vitiated.
         In pursuance of the  judgment  and  order  of  the  High  Court,
      termination letters were issued to the appellants.
            Hence, these appeals.=              
However, the Court cautioned observing that  the
      awarding of higher percentage of marks to those who got lower marks in
      written test in comparison to some who had got higher marks in written
      examination,  an  adverse  inference  from  certain  number  of   such
      instances can be drawn.  However, in absence of any allegation of mala
      fides against  the  Selection  Committee  or  any  Member  thereof,  a
      negligible few such instances, would not justify  the  inference  that
      there was a conscious effort  to  bring  some  candidates  within  the
      selection zone.
      In the instant case, the rules of  the  game  had  been  changed
      after conducting the written test and admittedly not at the  stage  of
      initiation of the selection process.
 The marks allocated for the  oral
      interview had been the same as for written test  i.e.  50%  for  each.
      The manner in which marks have been awarded in the  interview  to  the
      candidates indicated lack of transparency.  
The candidate who  secured
      47 marks out of 50 in the written test had been given only 20 marks in
      the interview while large number of candidates got equal marks in  the
      interview as in the written examination.   
Candidate  who  secured  34
      marks in the written examination was given 45 marks in the  interview.
      Similarly, another candidate who  secured  36  marks  in  the  written
      examination was awarded 45 marks in the interview. 
The fact that today
      the so called selected candidates are not in  employment,  is  also  a
      relevant factor to decide the case finally. 
If the whole selection  is
      scrapped most of the  candidates  would  be  ineligible  at  least  in
      respect of age as the advertisement was issued  more  than  six  years
      ago.
            
Thus, in the facts of this case the direction of the High  Court
      to continue with  the  selection  process  from  the  point  it  stood
      vitiated does not require interference.
            
In view of the above, the appeals are devoid of  merit  and  are
      accordingly dismissed. No costs.
 2014 (Apr.Part) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41375
B.S. CHAUHAN, J. CHELAMESWAR

                    REPORTABLE




                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                      CIVIL APPEAL NOs. 4255-58 of 2014






      Bishnu Biswas & Ors.                         ... Appellants


                                   Versus


      Union of India & Ors.                        ...Respondents








                               J U D G M E N T




      Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.

      1.    These appeals arise out of the common judgment and  order  dated
      5.4.2013, passed by the High Court of Calcutta, Circuit Bench at  Port
      Blair in W.P.C.T. Nos.607-610 of  2012  partly  allowing  the  appeals
      against the judgment and order dated 24.8.2012, passed by the  Central
      Administrative  Tribunal,  Calcutta  (Circuit   Bench,   Port   Blair)
      (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  ‘Tribunal’)  allowing  the   O.A.
      No.124/AN/2010 and quashing the appointment orders dated 5.2.2009  and
      4.6.2009.
      2.    Facts and circumstances giving rise to these appeals are:
      A.    That an  advertisement  dated  4.2.2008  was  published  by  the
      respondent  authorities  calling  for   applications   from   eligible
      candidates as  well  as  from  those  who  were  registered  with  the
      Employment Exchange for appointment to the 8 posts of Group ‘D’ staff.
       The recruitment rules only provided for a written examination  having
      50 maximum marks.
      B.    The written examination was held on 25.1.2009 which was given by
      870 candidates out of which  573  candidates  obtained  20  and  above
      marks.
      C.      A  press  notice  dated  27.1.2009  was  issued  calling   the
      successful candidates for interview, though  such  interview  was  not
      part of the recruitment process.
      D.    The interviews were conducted  and  a  final  result  sheet  was
      published.  In pursuance thereto, appointment letters were  issued  to
      the appellants herein.
      E.    Challenging the said appointments, the  unsuccessful  candidates
      filed Original Application before  the  Tribunal  which  was  allowed,
      quashing such appointments as equal marks were earmarked for both  the
      written examination and interview which is impermissible  in  law  and
      that the interview was never part  of  the  recruitment  process   and
      thereby ordering initiation of fresh recruitment process.
      F.    The appointees/appellants challenged the said order  before  the
      High Court.  The High Court upheld the reasoning of the  Tribunal  but
      modified the order to the extent of continuing the recruitment process
      from the point it stood vitiated.
      G.    In pursuance of the  judgment  and  order  of  the  High  Court,
      termination letters were issued to the appellants.
            Hence, these appeals.
      3.    Shri Mahabir Singh, learned senior counsel duly assisted by  Ms.
      Aishwarya Bhati, learned counsel  appearing  for  the  appellants  has
      submitted that the employer has a right  to  prescribe  for  a  higher
      qualification or a stringent test than prescribed under the  statutory
      rules in order to select the best candidates and once the selection is
      over and the candidates appeared without any protest, they  cannot  be
      permitted to make a summer salt  and  challenge  the  selection  as  a
      whole.  Thus, the judgments impugned i.e. of the Tribunal as  well  as
      of the High Court are liable to be set aside.
      4.    Per contra, Shri R. Balasubramaniam, learned  counsel  appearing
      for the respondents has opposed the appeals contending that it was not
      permissible for the employer to change the rule of the game after  the
      selection process commenced even  if  the  employer  is  entitled  for
      prescribing a higher qualification or a stringent test than prescribed
      under the rules.  In the instant case as the finding of fact has  been
      recorded by the courts below that there had been  no  transparency  in
      awarding the marks in interview and the interview marks could  not  be
      same as that of the written test,  the  court  should  not  grant  any
      indulgence in  such  case.   Hence,  the  appeals  are  liable  to  be
      dismissed.
      5.    We have heard learned counsel for the parties  and  perused  the
      record.
      6.    This Court has considered the issue  involved  herein  in  great
      detail in Ramesh Kumar v. High Court of Delhi  &  Anr.,  AIR  2010  SC
      3714, and held as under:

           “11. In Shri Durgacharan  Misra  v.  State  of  Orissa  &  Ors.,
           AIR1987 SC 2267,  this  Court  considered  the  Orissa  Judicial
           Service Rules which did not provide for prescribing the  minimum
           cut-off marks in interview for the purpose  of  selection.  This
           Court held  that  in  absence  of  the  enabling  provision  for
           fixation of minimum marks in interview would amount to  amending
           the Rules itself. While deciding the said case, the Court placed
           reliance upon its earlier judgments in  B.S.  Yadav  &  Ors.  v.
           State of Haryana & Ors., AIR 1981 SC 561, P.K. Ramachandra  Iyer
           & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.,  AIR  1984  SC  541  and  Umesh
           Chandra Shukla v. Union of  India  &  Ors.,  AIR  1985  SC  1351
           wherein  it  had  been  held  that  there   was   no   “inherent
           jurisdiction” of the Selection Committee/Authority to  lay  down
           such norms for selection in addition to the procedure prescribed
           by the Rules. Selection is to be made giving strict adherence to
           the statutory  provisions  and  if  such  power  i.e.  “inherent
           jurisdiction” is claimed, it has to be explicit  and  cannot  be
           read by necessary implication for the obvious reason  that  such
           deviation from the Rules is  likely  to  cause  irreparable  and
           irreversible harm.


           12. Similarly, in K. Manjusree v. State of  A.P.,  AIR  2008  SC
           1470, this Court held that selection criteria has to be  adopted
           and declared at the time  of  commencement  of  the  recruitment
           process. The rules of the game cannot be changed after the  game
           is over. The competent authority, if the statutory rules do  not
           restrain, is fully competent to prescribe the minimum qualifying
           marks for written examination as well as for interview. But such
           prescription must be done at the time of initiation of selection
           process. Change  of  criteria  of  selection  in  the  midst  of
           selection process is not permissible.


           13. Thus, the law on the issue can be summarised to  the  effect
           that in case the statutory rules prescribe a particular mode  of
           selection, it has to be given strict adherence  accordingly.  In
           case, no procedure is prescribed by the rules and  there  is  no
           other impediment in law, the competent  authority  while  laying
           down the norms for selection may prescribe  for  the  tests  and
           further specify the minimum benchmarks for written test as  well
           as for viva voce.”




      7.    In Himani Malhotra v. High Court of Delhi,  AIR  2008  SC  2103,
      this Court has held that it was not permissible for  the  employer  to
      change the criteria of selection in the midst  of  selection  process.
      (See also: Tamil Nadu Computer Science BEd Graduate  Teachers  Welfare
      Society (1) v. Higher Secondary School Computer Teachers Association &
      Ors., (2009) 14 SCC 517; State of Bihar &  Ors.  v.  Mithilesh  Kumar,
      (2010) 13 SCC 467; and Arunachal Pradesh Public Service  Commission  &
      Anr. v. Tage Habung & Ors., AIR 2013  SC 1601).
      8.    In P. Mohanan Pillai v. State of Kerala  &  Ors.,  AIR  2007  SC
      2840, this Court has held as under :
           “It  is  now  well-settled  that  ordinarily  rules  which  were
           prevailing at the  time,  when  the  vacancies  arose  would  be
           adhered to. The qualification must be fixed at  that  time.  The
           eligibility criteria as also the procedures as was prevailing on
           the date of vacancy should ordinarily be followed.”


      9.    The issue of the change of rule of the game has been referred to
      the larger Bench as is evident from the judgment in Tej Prakash Pathak
      & Ors. v. Rajasthan High Court & Ors., (2013) 4 SCC 540.
      10.   However, the instant case is required to be  considered  in  the
      light of the findings of facts recorded by the Courts below:-
           The Tribunal after appreciating the evidence on record, recorded
      the following findings:
           “The applicant had secured 47 marks out of  50  in  the  written
           examination.  He was  given  only  20  marks  in  the  interview
           whereas persons like Miss Zeenath Begum, Mr. Mohsin, Mr.  Bishnu
           Biswas, Mr. Mohan Raof, Mr. Bharati Bhusan, Mr. Dilip Bepari and
           others got equal marks  in  the  interview  as  in  the  written
           examination or  more  distorting  results.   For  instance,  Mr.
           Bishnu Biswas got 34 marks in the written  examination  and  was
           given 45 marks in the interview.  Similarly,  Mr.  Dilip  Bepari
           got 36 marks in the written examination and got 45 marks in  the
           interview.  In case of Shri Bishnu Biswas he was  not  qualified
           as per recruitment rules since he did not possess the prescribed
           8th pass certificate for the post.  Directions have been  sought
           from the Tribunal to set aside the  appointment  orders  of  the
           private respondents as per orders of 5.2.2009 and 4.6.2009.”


      11.   The High Court considered these issues and recorded the  finding
      of fact that  undoubtedly  awarding  of  marks  in  the  above  manner
      indicated lack of transparency in the matter.
      12.   The High Court has  further  held  that  distribution  of  marks
      equally both  in  the  written  test  and  in  the  interview  is  not
      permissible at all.  In the instant case, there has been 50 marks  for
      the written test as well as 50 marks for interview  though  the  rules
      did not envisage holding of the interview at all.


      13.   This Court in Ashok Kumar Yadav & Ors. etc.  etc.  v.  State  of
      Haryana & Ors., AIR 1987 SC 454 held that allocation  of  22.2%  marks
      for the viva voce test was excessive and unreasonably high, tending to
      leave room for arbitrariness.
      (See also : Munindra Kumar & Ors. v. Rajiv Govil & Ors., AIR  1991  SC
      1607; Mohinder Sain Garg v. State of Punjab & Ors., (1991) 1 SCC  662;
      P. Mohanan Pillai (supra); and  Kiran Gupta & Ors. etc. etc. v.  State
      of U.P. & Ors. etc., AIR 2000 SC 3299).
      14.   In Satpal & Ors. v. State of Haryana & Ors., 1995 Supp  (1)  SCC
      206, this Court disapproved allocation  of  85%  of  total  marks  for
      interview observing that such  fixation  was  conducive  to  arbitrary
      selection. While deciding the said case the court placed reliance upon
      the Constitution Bench judgment in Ajay Hasia  etc.  v.  Khalid  Mujib
      Sehravardi & Ors., AIR 1981 SC 487, wherein the court  had  held  that
      allocation of more than 15% of the total marks for the oral  interview
      would be arbitrary and unreasonable and would be liable to  be  struck
      down as constitutionally invalid. Thus, it is evident that the  courts
      had always frowned upon prescribing higher  percentage  of  marks  for
      interview even when the selection has been on  the  basis  of  written
      test as well as on interview.
      15.    The  appropriate  allocation  of  marks  for  interview,  where
      selection is to be made by written test as well as by interview, would
      depend upon the nature of post and no straight-jacket formula  can  be
      laid down.  Further there is a distinction while considering the  case
      of employment and of admission for an  academic  course.   The  courts
      have repeatedly emphasized that for the purpose  of  admission  in  an
      education institution, the allocation of interview marks would not  be
      very high but for the purpose of employment, allocation of  marks  for
      interview would depend upon the nature of post.
      16.   In Mehmood Alam Tariq & Ors. v. State of Rajasthan &  Ors.,  AIR
      1988 SC 1451, this Court had upheld fixation of 33% marks  as  minimum
      qualifying marks for viva test.
      17.   In State of U.P. v. Rafiquddin & Ors.,  AIR 1988  SC  162,  this
      Court upheld the fixation of 35% marks as minimum qualifying marks  in
      the viva test for selection for the  recruitment  to  the  post  of  a
      judicial magistrate.
      18.   In Anzar Ahmad v. State of  Bihar  &  Ors.,  AIR  1994  SC  141,
      allocation of 50% marks for viva  test  and  50%  marks  for  academic
      performance was upheld by this Court while considering the appointment
      of Unani Medical Officer observing  that  court  must  examine  as  to
      whether  allocation  of   such   higher   percentage   may   tend   to
      arbitrariness.
       19.  In Jasvinder Singh & Ors. v. State of J&K & Ors., (2003)  2  SCC
      132, this Court upheld the allocation of 20% marks for  viva  test  as
      against 80% marks for written test for selection to the post  of  Sub-
      Inspector of Police.  However, the Court cautioned observing that  the
      awarding of higher percentage of marks to those who got lower marks in
      written test in comparison to some who had got higher marks in written
      examination,  an  adverse  inference  from  certain  number  of   such
      instances can be drawn.  However, in absence of any allegation of mala
      fides against  the  Selection  Committee  or  any  Member  thereof,  a
      negligible few such instances, would not justify  the  inference  that
      there was a conscious effort  to  bring  some  candidates  within  the
      selection zone.
      20.   In the instant case, the rules of  the  game  had  been  changed
      after conducting the written test and admittedly not at the  stage  of
      initiation of the selection process. The marks allocated for the  oral
      interview had been the same as for written test  i.e.  50%  for  each.
      The manner in which marks have been awarded in the  interview  to  the
      candidates indicated lack of transparency.  The candidate who  secured
      47 marks out of 50 in the written test had been given only 20 marks in
      the interview while large number of candidates got equal marks in  the
      interview as in the written examination.   Candidate  who  secured  34
      marks in the written examination was given 45 marks in the  interview.
      Similarly, another candidate who  secured  36  marks  in  the  written
      examination was awarded 45 marks in the interview. The fact that today
      the so called selected candidates are not in  employment,  is  also  a
      relevant factor to decide the case finally. If the whole selection  is
      scrapped most of the  candidates  would  be  ineligible  at  least  in
      respect of age as the advertisement was issued  more  than  six  years
      ago.
            Thus, in the facts of this case the direction of the High  Court
      to continue with  the  selection  process  from  the  point  it  stood
      vitiated does not require interference.
            In view of the above, the appeals are devoid of  merit  and  are
      accordingly dismissed. No costs.


                                                              …………………………….J.

    (Dr. B.S. Chauhan)


                                                              …………………………….J.
                                                                         (J.
    Chelameswar)

    New Delhi,
    April 2, 2014.

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