Director General, Telecommunication
& ANR Vs. T.N. Peethambaram  INSC 194 (19 September 1986)
THAKKAR, M.P. (J) THAKKAR, M.P. (J) SINGH,
CITATION: 1987 AIR 162 1986 SCR (3) 828 1986
SCC (4) 348 JT 1986 496 1986 SCALE (2)471
Telegraph Engineering Service (Group 'B')
Recruitment Rules 1981-Rule 2 in Appendix III-"minimum" pass
mark-What it means.
Rule 2 in Appendix III of the Telegraph
Engineering Service (Group 'B') Recruitment Rules 1981 was interpreted by the
appellant Department as requiring the candidates to secure 50% minimum pass
marks for the general candidates and 45% minimum pass marks for the Scheduled
Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in 'each' of the four subjects or items.
On a challenge made by the respondent to this
interpretation by the Department, the Administrative Tribunal took the view
that the requirement as regards securing minimum pass marks in the examination
by the candidates concerned is referable to 'aggregate' and not to 'each' of
the four subjects or items of the examination.
Allowing the appeal of the Department, this
HELD: 1. The 'Rule' does not employ the
expression 'aggregate'. Injection of the word 'aggregate' in the Rule in the
disguise of interpretation would be self defeating and lead to absurd results
and accordingly would be contrary to well established canons of construction,
not to speak of a common-sense-oriented approach. [830E-F]
2. The interpretation propounded by the
Tribunal would result in havoc and have a catastrophic consequencs. [830D]
3. Since the Rule does not specify a
different passing standard for 'each' subject, the prescribed minimum passing
standard must be the yardstick to apply to each of the subjects or items.
Minimum must mean the minimum in 'each', as much as, minimum in 'aggregate'.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No.
3141 of 1986 829 From the Judgment and Order dated 6.3.1986 of the Central
Administrative Tribunal, Madras in Transferred Application No. 479 of 1986.
G. Ramaswamy, Additional Solicitor General,
P. Parmeshwaran and R.P. Srivastava for the Appellants.
Harish N. Salve, Rajiv K. Garg, N.D. Garg and
Mr. N. Safaya for the Respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
THAKKAR, J. 'Fails' in one subject, but 'passes' the examination. It is not a
tounge-in-the-check remark, for, passing an examination does not mean passing
or securing the minimum passing marks in each subject or item of examination
provided the candidate secures the minimum passing marks in aggregate, and he
is entitled to be declared as having passed the examination according to the
Central Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal hereafter), Hyderabad, which has
upheld the aforesaid proposition canvassed by the respondent. The validity of
this view is in focus before this Court in the present appeal by Special Leave.
Rule 2 in Appendix III of the Telegraph
Engineering Service (Group 'B') Recruitment Rules, 1981, for limited
Departmental Qualifying Examination, in the context of which the controversy
has arisen. reads thus:- "2. Limited Departmental Competitive Examination:
(i)(a) Advanced Technical paper- . . . 100
marks General (b) Advanced Technical Paper- . . . 100 marks Special.
(c) General Knowledge and . . . 50 marks
Current Affairs (d) Assessment of . . . 75 marks Confidential Reports (ii) (a)
The minimum pass marks in the examination shall be 50% for general candidates
and 45% for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe candidates." 830 This
rule was interpreted by the concerned Department as requiring the candidates to
secure 50% minimum pass marks for the general candidates and 45% minimum pass
marks for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in "each" of the four
subjects or items. The Tribunal has taken the view that the Department was wrong
in so interpreting the Rule and has formed the opinion that on a true
interpretation, the rule requirement as regards securing minimum pass marks in
the examination by the candidates concerned is referable to
"aggregate" marks and not to each of the four subjects or items of
the examination. It has been overlooked by the Tribunal that the 'Rule' does
not employ the expression 'aggregate', and that it is impossible to inject the
said word in the rule in the disguise of interpretation, as it would lead to
absurd results. An illustration will make the 'obvious' point 'more obvious'.
The illustration might be viewed in the scenario of a medical degree
examination. Can one who secures zero, say in surgery, but secures high marks
in the other papers, so that the minimum aggregate standard is attained, be
declared to have passed the examination? Such an interpretation would result in
havoc and have catastrophic consequences. Examining the examination rule in the
present context, the nihilist result is equally conspicuous. Say, a candidate
secures zero in the first paper of 'Advanced Technology (general), or second
paper of Advanced Technology (Special), but secures full marks in the rest of
the subjects (or items). He would be securing (0 + 100 + 50 + 75) or (100 + 0 +
50 + 75) (= 225 i.e. 56.25%) minimum passing marks and would be entitled to be
declared as having passed and having become entitled to the out flowing
preferential treatment. Similar would be the outcome also in a case where a
candidate's Confidential Record is bad and he earns no points in that item.
Such an interpretation would thus be self-defeating and lead to absurd results,
and accordingly, would be contrary to well- established canons of construction,
not to speak of a common-sense-oriented approach. Since the rule does not
specify a different passing standard for 'each' subject, the prescribed minimum
passing standard must be the yardstick to apply to each of the subjects or
items. Minimum must mean minimum in each, as much as, minimum in aggregate. The
Tribunal should not have therefore upset the decision of the concerned
Department and imposed on the department the mistaken interpretation propounded
by it. In the result, the decision of the Tribunal must be reversed.
The appeal is, therefore, allowed accordingly.
There will be no order as to costs.
A.P.J. Appeal allowed.