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Ramjit Singh Kardam & Ors. Vs. Sanjeev Kumar & Ors.

[Civil Appeal No. 2103 of 2020 arising out of SLP (C) No. 35373 of 2013]

[Civil Appeal No. 2104 of 2020 @ SLP (C) No. 35471/2013]

[Civil Appeal No. 2105 of 2020 @ SLP (C) No. 35466/2013]

[Civil Appeal No. 2107 of 2020 @ SLP (C) No. 35857/2013]

[Civil Appeal No. 2106 of 2020 @ SLP (C) No. 35811/2013]

[Civil Appeal No. 2108 of 2020 @ SLP (C) No. 39466/2013]

[Civil Appeal Nos. 2164-2166 of 2020]

[@ SLP (C) Nos. 5275-5277/2014]

[Civil Appeal Nos. 2168-2169 of 2020]

[@ SLP (C) Nos. 12403-12404/2014]

[Civil Appeal No. 2167 of 2020 @ SLP (C) No. 10647/2014]

Ashok Bhushan,J.

1. These appeals have been filed against the common judgment dated 30.09.2013 of High Court of Punjab and Haryana dismissing LPA filed by the appellants affirming the judgment of learned Single Judge dated 11.09.2012 by which the Selection dated 10.04.2010 selecting appellants on the post of Physical Training Instructor (PTI) was set aside. All the appeals having been filed against the common judgment involving common facts and questions of law, for deciding the batch of appeals, it shall be sufficient to refer pleadings in Civil Appeal No.2103/2020, Ramjit Singh Kardam and others versus Sanjeev Kumar and others.

2. The brief facts necessary to be noted for deciding these appeals are: -

2.1. The Haryana Staff Selection Commission (hereinafter referred to as Commission) vide Advertisement No.6 of 2006 dated 20.07.2006 invited applications for various posts enumerated in different category numbers in the Advertisement. Under category No.23, 1,983 posts of PTI (Physical Training Instructor) were advertised. The Advertisement mentioned the educational qualifications for the post. Advertisement contained a special instruction in following words: -

"Special Instructions:

The prescribed essential qualification does not entitle a candidate to be called for interview. The Commission may short list the candidates for interview by holding a written examination or on the basis of a rational criteria to be adopted by the Commission. The decision of the Commission in all matters relating to acceptance or rejection of an application, eligibility/suitability of the candidates, mode of and criteria for selection etc. will be final and binding on the candidates. No inquiry or correspondence will be entertained in this regard."

2.2. In pursuance of advertisement for the posts of PTI, 20,836 applications were received by the Commission. The notification dated 28.12.2006 was published by the Commission to the effect that the Commission has decided to hold the written examination on 21.01.2007. Notification further mentioned there shall be 100 objective type Multiple Choice Questions, 60 Questions relating to Academic Knowledge of the respective subject for which a candidate is appearing in the test and 40 Questions related to General Knowledge, General English and Hindi upto Matric Standard.

Each question was to carry two marks. The candidates were required to secure minimum qualifying marks in written test i.e. 50% for General Category and 45% for SC/BC. Notification further mentioned that Viva-voice will be of 25 marks. The notification further provided that candidates equal to three times of the vacancies will be called for interview based on their performance in the written test. The written examination was held on 21.02.2007.

2.3. A public notice was issued on 01.02.2007 by the Commission that due to several complaints/reports with regard to malpractices and cheating committed in written examination held on 21.01.2007, Commission has decided to cancel the aforesaid examination.

2.4. Another notice dated 11.06.2008 was issued by the Commission re-notifying the written examination for the PTI on 20.07.2008. However, before the written examination could take place on 20.07.2008, another notice dated 30.06.2008 was issued by the Commission cancelling the written examination to be held on 20.07.2008. Another notice dated 11.07.2008 was published by the Commission to shortlist the candidates for interview. The notice mentioned that keeping in view the large number of applications, Commission has decided to shortlist eight times candidates of the advertised post in the respective category for interview on the basis of essential academic advertised qualification. Notice also mentioned the minimum weighted score of each category.

2.5. On 18.07.2008, the interview schedule was published by the Commission which provided that Interview was notified from 02.09.2008 to 17.10.2008. 15,582 candidates appeared in the interview. One member of the Commission and one expert member headed each Interview Committee from A to H. Although the interview was completed in the year 2008 itself, the Commission could declare the result of the selection after one and half years only on 10.04.2010 which was published on 11.04.2010. At the end of the result as published in the newspaper, criteria adopted for selection was also mentioned to the following effect: -

"Criteria Adopted for Selection:

The criteria adopted by the Commission for making selection is given below: -

1) Academic marks............60 Marks

2)Marks obtained in the Viva voice out of ............30 Marks Total: 90- Marks"

3. Challenging the Select list dated 10.04.2010, large number of writ petitions were filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court including CWP No.15656 of 2010, Sanjeev Kumar and others versus State of Haryana and others. The writ petitioners before filing writ petitions had obtained information under Right to Information Act details of which information were mentioned in the writ petition. Various grounds were taken in the writ petition to challenge the selection. The writ petitioners pleaded in the writ petition that some of the candidates have been awarded more than 25 marks in viva-voice.

Further, some of the candidates have been selected and appointed who did not possess the requisite qualification of certificate in Physical Education conducted by Haryana Education Department or an equivalent qualification recognized by Haryana Education Department. The petitioners further pleaded that once the criteria was laid down by the Commission, the same was required to be followed strictly while making the selection and it was not proper to change the criteria. The petitioners pleaded that criteria has been changed by the respondent authority to get the desired result and in order to bring the candidates within the zone of selection in order to grant them undue benefits for the reasons best known to the respondent authorities.

4. The Petitioner No.1 of CWP No.15656 of 2010 pleaded that out of 62 Candidates who have been appointed in district Yamuna Nagar, 61 are less meritorious as compared to petitioner No.1. The petitioner No.1 although secured 41.68 marks in academic qualifications but could get only 8 marks in the interview. Petitioner further pleaded that all other petitioners secured good marks in academic qualifications but they received less marks in vivavoice due to which they could not be included in the Select list.

5. On an application given under RTI asking for a copy of the criteria, it was only on 17.06.2010 the criteria was supplied. The writ petitioners further pleaded that authorities while making selection neither adopted any rationale criteria nor selected the candidates on the basis of merit. The criteria was changed from time to time in order to select some favourites. Entire selection appears to be a fraud played upon the general public. 25 marks were mentioned for viva-voice but when the result was finalized the candidates were awarded marks more than 25 marks. Paragraph 51 of the W.P.No.15656 of 2010 enumerated the main points involved in the writ petition.

"51. That the main law points involved in the writ petition are: -

i) Whether the respondent - authorities have adopted pick and choose policy while selecting the private respondents?

ii) Whether the marks allocated for the interview as per the advertisement could be changed subsequently after the commencement of the selection procedure at the whims of the respondent authorities?

iii) Whether any rational criteria was adopted by the respondent - authorities while awarding the marks for the viva-voce?

iv) Whether the marks for the vivavoice were required to be bifurcated under various heads?

v) Whether the persons who did not possess even the requisite educational qualification could be selected for the post?

vi) Whether the selection conducted by the respondent - authorities is fair transparent and sustainable in the eyes of law?

vii) Whether while making the selection Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India have been violated?

viii)Whether the action of the respondent-authorities is arbitrary, discriminatory and unsustainable in the eyes of law?

ix) Whether the petitioners should be allowed to suffer for no fault on their part especially when the petitioners possess better academic record as compared to the selected candidates?"

6. In the writ petition No.15656 of 2010, following prayers were made:-

"i. relevant records of the case be summoned;

ii. to issue a writ in the nature of Certiorari quashing the selection list Annexure P-9 dated 10.04.2010 and to issue a writ in the nature of Mandamus directing the respondent authorities to select and appoint the petitioners as PTI's and it is further prayed that during the pendency of the writ petition the respondents may kindly be restrained from appointing the selected candidates to the posts of PTI's.

iii. To issue any other appropriate writ, order or direction as this Hon'ble Court may deem fir and proper in the facts and circumstances of the present case;

iv. To dispense with from filing the certified copies of the Annexures;

v. Prior notices to the respondents may kindly be dispensed with;

vi. To allow the petitioners to file photostat copies of the Annexures;

vii. Costs of the writ petition be awarded in favour of the petitioners and against the respondents, Any other order which this Hon'ble Court may deem fir may kindly be passed."

7. The selected candidates were also subsequently impleaded as parties in most of the writ petitions and repeated efforts were made to serve them. Hundreds of selected candidates were duly served. Written statements were also filed by selected candidates in the writ petitions. The High Court noticed that several respondents have not been served due to various reasons. Rest of candidates were served through substituted service for which public notice was published in the daily "The Tribune" on 21.03.2012.

8. A counter affidavit was also filed by the Commission opposing the writ petition. Learned Single Judge had also called for the original record from the Commission which were produced by the Commission before the Court.

9. Learned Single Judge after hearing the counsel for the parties and after perusing the record allowed all the writ petitions by judgment and order dated 11.09.2012. Operative portion of the judgment of the learned Single Judge is as follows: -

"These writ petitions are thus allowed. The purported selection made by the Haryana Staff Selection Commission in pursuance to the advertisement No.6/2006, result whereof was published on 11.04.2010 relating to category No.23 for the posts of PTIs, is hereby quashed. A direction is issued to the Haryana Staff Selection Commission to hold a fresh selection, in accordance with law, within a period of five months from the date of receipt of certified copy of this order. Photocopies of the original noting files produced in Court as also the purported criteria laid down by the Commission dated 03.08.2008 have been got prepared, kept in a sealed cover and placed on the records of CWP No.15656 of 2010 to be opened only on Court orders. Produced original records be handed over to Mr. Harish Rathee, learned Senior Deputy Advocate General, Haryana.

(AUGUSTINE GEORGE MASH)
JUDGE
11.09.2012"

10. LPA No.1594 of 2012 and several other LPAs were filed before the Division Bench challenging the judgment dated 11.09.2012. Apart from LPAs filed by selected candidates, few of the LPAs were also filed by some of the writ petitioners they being partly dissatisfied by the order of the Single Judge as the issue of ineligibility and disqualification of selected candidates expressly raised by them have not been gone into by learned Single Judge.

11. The State of Haryana as well as Haryana Staff Selection Commission had also filed LPA challenging the judgment of the learned Single Judge. All the LPAs were heard and decided by the Division Bench vide its judgment dated 30.09.2013. The Division Bench upheld the order of learned Single Judge. Operative portion of the judgment of the Division Bench dated 30.09.2013 is as follows: -

"54) For the reasons afore-stated, we uphold the decision of the learned Single Judge and consequently: -

i) LPA Nos. 1841 and 1903 of 2012 filed by the Haryana Staff Selection Commission are dismissed with cost of Rs.50,000/- each to be deposited with the High Court Legal Services Committee within a period of one month;

ii) LPA No.1562, 1831 to 1839, 1842 to 1855, 1879 to 1902, 1904 to 1917, 1997, 2002, 2028 of 2012; 248 & 262 of 2013 jointly filed by the State of Haryana and the Haryana Staff Selection Commission are dismissed with cost of Rs. 10,000/-in each case to be deposited with the High Court Legal Services Committee within one month;

iii) LPA Nos. 1555,1557,1592,1594, 1856 to 1860, 1870 to 1878, 1918 to 1920, 1950 of 2012; 529 of 2013 filed by the selected candidates are dismissed with cost of Rs.10,000/- each to be deposited in the High Court Lawyer Welfare Fund within one month;

iv) LPA Nos. 1595, 1760,1967,2194 of 2012; and 303 of 2013 filed by the writ petitioners are disposed of in the light of the observations made in para- 53 of this Court;

55) Photostat copies of the four files containing original notings and decisions taken by the Commission or its Chairman from time to time, the decision dated 03.08.2008 have been retained and shall be kept as a part of the judicial record. The original record be returned to the Commission under receipt.

56) Ordered accordingly. Dasti."

12. These appeals have been filed by the selected candidates whose selection had been set aside by learned Single Judge and affirmed by the Division Bench. The State of Haryana as well as Haryana Staff Selection Commission had also filed Special Leave to Appeal being SLP(Civil) No. 11143-11210 of 2014 which was disposed of by this Court by following order dated 30.07.2014: -

"Delay condoned. The issue arising in this group of special leave petitions is pending before this Court in SLP(C) No.35373 of 2013 etc. filed at the instance of selected candidates. All the questions raised herein would be open to the petitioner State to be urged in SLP(C) No. 35373 of 2013. In that view of the matter, we do not consider it necessary to issue formal notice in these special leave petitions. Accordingly, they are not being entertained. The special leave petitions are disposed in terms of the above."

13. While entertaining the SLP No.35373 of 2013, Ramjit Singh Kardam and others versus Sanjeev Kumar and others, and other special leave petitions, this Court passed following order on 29.11.2013: -

"Issue Notice. Returnable in three weeks. Status Quo, as on today shall be maintained in the meantime." 14. These appeals were heard on various dates by this Court. On 22.01.2020, this Court passed following order: - "Hearing to continue tomorrow (23.01.2020). Learned counsel for the State may produce the original record of selection."

15. Further, when the matter was heard on 23.01.2020, learned counsel for the State as well as Commission produced certain original records on which date following order was passed: -

"Learned counsel for the State today placed before this Court an original tabulation register of the result sheet, selection list register, interview marks register of the member as well as of expert, which indicate that marking have been done separately. The letter dated 03.08.2008, in original, has also been placed before the Court, which was also placed before the High Court. Heard in part. List for continuation of arguments on 29.01.2020. Learned counsel for the State shall produce rest of the original records on the next date of hearing i.e. 29.01.2020."

16. Matter was further heard by this Court on 29.01.2020 when following order was passed:-

"We have heard learned counsel for the parties. Learned counsel appearing for the Commission has placed before us further original records i.e. File No.1 containing correspondence and another original file. On the earlier occasion learned counsel for the Commission has produced the original records which we have noticed in our order dated 23.01.2020. The register containing marking by expert member of the Commission were produced from which it appears that the expert member has graded the candidates in A, B and C category whereas the member of the Commission has given marks out of 30.

On our query as to whether there was any guidelines to reflect the evaluation by the Commission member or how both were to be correlated, learned counsel for the Commission could not give any reply. Learned counsel for the petitioners has further submitted that in above facts situation, Commission be directed to file an affidavit explaining the relevant procedure and the guidelines, if any, with regard to selection in question and other selection at the relevant time. With regard to letter dated 03.08.2008, which was produced in an envelope on the last occasion, learned counsel for the Commission submitted that the said letter as well as the proceeding sheets are not on the original records which have been produced today.

Learned counsel for the respondents, who were writ petitioners, submits that the State Government may also be directed to give details of the vacancies, existing as on date in the relevant PTI Cadre. We allow two weeks' time to the learned counsel for the Commission to


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