Union of India Vs. Anand Kumar Pandey  INSC 384 (18 July 1994)
Singh (J) Kuldip Singh (J) Mohan, S. (J)
1995 AIR 388 1994 SCC (5) 663 JT 1994 (4) 419 1994 SCALE (3)386
Judgment of the Court was delivered by KULDIP SINGH, J.- Special leave granted.
Railway Recruitment Board, Patna, held
written examination followed by viva voce test for selection and recruitment to
various posts of non-technical popular categories in the Eastern Railway. A
panel of selected candidates was prepared and published. Meanwhile in an
investigation, conducted on a complaint received by the railway authorities, it
was found that unfair means were adopted by the candidates at Centre No. 115 (Katihar).
The question for consideration before the Central Administrative Tribunal
(Tribunal) was whether in such a situation the railway authorities could cancel
the selection and empanelment of the candidates from Centre No. 1] 5 and direct
them to sit in the written examination again? If so, could it be done without
complying with the rules of natural justice? The Tribunal answered the
questions in the negative and quashed the order of the railway authorities
calling upon the candidates to sit in the written examination once over again.
This appeal by way of special leave is against the judgment of the Tribunal.
Railway Recruitment Board, Patna invited
applications for selection and recruitment to various posts of non-technical
popular categories in the Eastern Railway.
selection was to be made as a result of written examination and a viva voce
test. A large number of candidates including the respondents appeared in the
written test from various centers in the city of Katihar. All the respondents, in the appeal herein, sat for the written
examination at Centre No. 115 called "Darshan Shah 665 Mahavidyalaya",
Katihar. It is not disputed that the respondents qualified in the written
examination as well as in the viva voce test and their names were included in
the panel of selected candidates which was published on 23-9- 1988. Meanwhile a
complaint dated 1-9-1988 was received by the railway
authorities wherein it was alleged that large- scale unfair means were adopted
by the candidates such as leakage of question papers and mass copying at Centre
No. II 5, Katihar.
Ahmed, learned Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the appellants has
placed on record the copies of the complaint, inquiry reports and noting part
of the file (confidential) for our consideration. Secretary (Vigilance),
Railway Board directed an inquiry into the complaint through General Manager
(Vigilance). Preliminary investigation report was sent to the Secretary on
30-11- 1988. Finally the Deputy Director (Vigilance) held detailed inquiry into
the allegations and sent his report dated 19-7- 1989 to the Executive Director
(Vigilance). The report was examined in detail at various levels in the Railway
Ministry and finally a decision was taken that 35 candidates of Centre No. 115
be subjected to a fresh written examination.
further decided that marks already obtained by them in the viva voce
examination would be taken into account.
further directed to complete the fresh examination within a period of one and a
half months. The file shows that the decision was finally approved by the
mentioned above, the decision of the appellants directing the respondents to
appear in a written examination once again was challenged by them before the
Central Administrative Tribunal, Calcutta. The Tribunal by the impugned judgment dated 20-12-1991 set aside the order of the appellants and directed
the appellants to make the appointments on the basis of the panel which was
published on 23-9-1988. While issuing notice in the
special leave petition this Court stayed the operation of the impugned judgment
of the Tribunal.
Tribunal set aside the order, directing the respondents to sit in the written
examination again, on the short ground that a panel of selected candidates
having been prepared and published the same could not be cancelled without
assigning any reason and without affording an opportunity to the empanelled
candidates. We are of the view that in the facts and circumstances of this case
the Tribunal fell into patent error in interfering with the order of the
inquiry report and the noting on the file show that the railway authorities
rightly came to the conclusion that there was large-scale copying at Centre No.
inquiry report reveals that overall pass percentage in the written examination
for all the centers at Katihar was 0.6% whereas the pass percentage in two
rooms at Centre No.
alone was 45.4%. It would be useful to have a look at the following data relied
upon by the railway authorities :
----------------------------------------------------------- Location CandidatesPassed
Written Pass %age -----------------------------------------------------------
1.Room 22 & Staff Room 44 20 45.4% 2.D.S. College (excluding 1155 15 1.3%
Room 22/Staff Room) 3.Overall for Katihar 6618 40 0.6% (excluding Room 22/Staff
Room of DS College)"
Manager (Vigilance) in para 4 of preliminary investigation dated 19-1-1989
addressed to Secretary (Vigilance) Railway Board has stated that S/Shri A.K. Pandey
and A.K. Kamati named in the complaint appeared in the written examination from
the Staff Room and both of them have secured the highest marks in the centre
and both of them have given identical "wrong and correct" answers.
The wrong answers cannot be identical unless the two candidates have copied
from the same source. The main allegation in the complaint was that the paper
was leaked beforehand and the answers were supplied to these two candidates who
were the wards of the railway employees. It was further alleged in the
complaint that these two candidates further sold the pre-solved answers to the
other candidates in the Centre.
the complainants himself was a candidate and appeared from the same Centre. Bibha
Kumari another candidate filed a statement before the Inquiry Officer saying
that she was a candidate in the selection and appeared in the written test from
Centre No. 1 15. She stated that examination started late and in the
examination hall chits were being supplied to the particular candidates.
railway authorities, relying upon the material placed on the record by the
inquiring agency came to the conclusion that it was not safe to make
appointments based on the written examination wherein unfair means were adopted
on a large scale. We see no ground to differ with the conclusions reached by
the railway authorities. The Tribunal was wholly unjustified in interfering
with the order of the appellants calling upon the respondents to sit in the
written examination again.
Court has repeatedly held that the rules of natural justice cannot be put in a
strait-jacket. Applicability of these rules depends upon the facts and
circumstances relating to each particular given situation. Out of the total
candidates who appeared in the written test at the Centre concerned only 35
candidates qualified the test. In that situation the action of the railway
authorities in directing the 35 candidates of Centre No. 115 to appear in a
fresh written examination virtually amounts to canceling the result of the said
centre. Although it would have been fair to call upon all the candidates who
appeared from Centre No. 115 to take the written examination again but in the
facts and circumstances of this case no fault can be found with the action of
the railway authorities in calling upon only 35 (empanelled candidates) to take
the examination afresh.
purpose of a competitive examination is to select the most suitable candidates
for appointment to public services.
entirely different than an examination held by a college or university to award
degrees to the candidates appearing at the examination. Even if a candidate is
selected he may still be not appointed for a justifiable reason. In the present
case the railway authorities have rightly 667 refused to make appointments on
the basis of the written examination wherein unfair means were adopted by the
candidates. No candidate had been debarred or disqualified from taking the
exam. To make sure that the deserving candidates are selected the respondents
have been asked to go through the process of written examination once again.
of the view that there is no violation of the rules of natural justice in any
manner in the facts and circumstances of this case.
We, therefore, allow the appeal, set aside the impugned judgment of the
Tribunal and dismiss the application of the respondents filed before the
Central Administrative Tribunal, Calcutta. No costs.