Singh Vs. Punjabi University, Patiala, & Ors  INSC 676 (6 December
PASAYAT & S.H. KAPADIA
out of S.L.P. (C) No. 17044 of 2005) WITH CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7245 OF 2005
(Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 18092 of 2005) AND CIVIL APPEAL NO.7246-7247 OF
2005 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) Nos. 18993-94 of 2005) AND CIVIL APPEAL NO.7248
OF 2005 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No.25298 of 2005) CC No. 11226 of 2005
ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
appeals challenge is to the judgment rendered by a Division Bench of the Punjab
& Haryana High Court holding that the selection of the appellants for the
post of Lecturers in the Department of Defence and Strategic studies was
factual background in a nutshell is as follows:
University, Patiala through its Registrar issued an advertisement in the
newspapers on July 25, 2002 vide which various posts of Readers as well as
Lecturers for different departments were advertised. Three posts of Lecturers
in the Department of Defence & Strategic Studies were advertised. The last
date for receipt of applications from eligible persons was indicated as August
corrigendum later on, the last date for receipt of the applications was
extended up to September 16, 2002. As per the rules and regulations of the
respondent-University, the eligible conditions for applying to the post of
Lecturer in the University are as follows:
" The basic qualification for the post of Lecturers is MA in
defence Strategic Studies and eligibility test for the Lecturership
conducted/accredited by UGC.
The candidates who have completed M.Phil degree by 31st Dec. 1993
or have submitted Ph.D. Thesis to the University in the concerned subject
before 31st Dec. 2002 are exempted from appearing the NET/SET examination
conducted by the UGC.
As per the advertisement the candidate must have passed Punjabi in
Matriculation examination or have passed Punjabi Prabodh or Punjabi Praveshika
belonging to States other than Punjab or Union Territory Chandigarh, who have
not passed Punjabi at Matric level are required to pass Punjabi Prabodh
examination from language Department, Punjab Patiala before appearing for interview."
Mr. Ajay Sondhi and Suveer Singh filed writ applications challenging selection
of the appellants as Lecturers. The writ petitioners Ajay Sondhi and Suveer
Singh claimed that being eligible candidates and fulfilling all the terms and
conditions, they had applied for the post of a Lecturer in Defence and
Strategic Studies before the last date of submission of the applications. They
qualified at eligibility test for Lecturership in University and Colleges,
conducted by University Grants Commission. It was further specifically pleaded
by them that they had studied Punjabi in matriculation also.
a grievance that Umrao Singh and Kewal Krishan who had applied for the post of
Lecturer were not eligible as they were not qualified. Umrao Singh had not
qualified the eligibility test for the Lecturership in Universities and
Colleges, as required by the University Grants Commission and was not even
exempted from the aforesaid test, since he had submitted his Ph.D thesis on
September 23, 2002 only i.e. after the last date of receipt of the
applications. Similarly, Kewal Krishan was not eligible since he had not passed
his matriculation examination with Punjabi language. Accordingly, it was
claimed that the selection of the aforesaid Umrao Singh and Kewal Krishan was
totally contrary to the University Rules and Regulations and also contrary to
of the writ-petitioners Ajay Sondhi and Suveer Singh was resisted by the
respondents, i.e. the University and the non-official respondents. The
university submitted that Umrao Singh had submitted his thesis for evaluation
on 16.9.2002 and not on 23.9.2002 as was claimed. Reliance was also placed on a
decision dated 10.1.2003 whereby the Syndicate had decided that period of two
years would be given to the recruits/selectees for passing Punjabi upto
matriculation examination and the condition of Punjabi upto matriculation level
at the time of recruitment shall not be implemented and the aforesaid
examination was to be conducted by the University itself.
Court was of the view that though by corrigendum the last date was extended
upto 16.9.2002, the original date was 12.8.2002 and, therefore, respondent
no.3-Umrao Singh was not eligible. In any event he had submitted the thesis on 23.9.2002.
Similarly, it was held that respondent no.4-Kewal Krishan was not eligible as
he had not qualified his matriculation examination in Punjabi language.
the selection of Umrao Singh, Kewal Krishan and Inderjeet Singh was quashed.
of the appeals learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the approach
of the High Court is clearly erroneous. Learned counsel for the appellant-Umrao
Singh submitted that the requirement in the advertisement was as follows:
The basic qualification for the post of Lecturers is MA in defence Strategic
Studies and eligibility test for the Lecturership conducted/accredited by UGC.
candidates who have completed M.Phil degree by 31st Dec. 1993 or have submitted
Ph.D. Thesis to the University in the concerned subject before 31st Dec. 2002
are exempted from appearing the NET/SET examination conducted by the UGC.
per the advertisement the candidate must have passed Punjabi in Matriculation
examination or have passed Punjabi Prabodh or Punjabi Praveshika Examination,
candidates belonging to States other than Punjab or Union Territory Chandigarh,
who have not passed Punjabi at Matric level are required to pass Punjabi
Prabodh examination from language Department, Punjab Patiala before appearing
for interview." Undisputedly, the last date for making the application in
terms of the corrigendum issued was 16.9.2002. The High Court proceeded on
erroneous impression that the thesis of the appellant-Umrao Singh was submitted
on 23.9.2002. The High Court held that he had neither passed the eligibility
test conducted by the University Grants Commission nor he had submitted the
thesis for Ph.D. entitling him for exemption from the said test. The appellant
Kewal Krishan and the University submitted that in terms of the Syndicate
decision dated 10.1.2003, extended period was granted to pass Punjabi
examination. There was no suppression of any material fact and considering his
comparatively better merit he was selected. Learned counsel for Inderjeet Singh
submitted that though there was no grievance made by the writ-petitioner so far
he is concerned; his selection has also been quashed. Learned counsel for the
University supported the stand of the appellants. Learned counsel appearing for
Ajay Sondhi submitted that the High Court has analysed the factual position in
its proper perspective and there is no infirmity in its conclusions to warrant
of the appellant-Umrao Singh does not present any factual controversy. From the
stand of the University and the documents annexed, it is clear that Umrao Singh
submitted his thesis on 16.9.2002 which was within the period of eligibility.
That being so, the High Court was not justified in accepting the stand of Ajay
Sondhi that the thesis was submitted on 23.9.2002. By referring to a wrong date
the selection of Umrao Singh was held to be invalid.
conclusion is clearly erroneous. The selection of Umrao Singh does not suffer
from any infirmity.
So far as
appellant Inderjeet Singh is concerned there was no challenge to his selection
and, further the High Court indicated no reason as to how his selection was not
legal. On that ground alone the order of the High Court so far as appellant
Inderjeet Singh is concerned stands quashed.
So far as
the appellant Kewal Krishan is concerned, though the University supported the
selection, one thing is clear that the advertisement itself indicated that the
applicant was required to pass the concerned examination before appearing for
interview. Admittedly, this is not a case of that nature. The decision of the
University subsequent to the last date of making the application and after the
process of selection had started cannot, in any way, come to the assistance of
appellant-Kewal Krishan. The eligibility criteria of passing the Punjabi
examination was a condition which goes to the root of eligibility. By a
subsequent decision that condition could not have been altered.
aspect which this Court has highlighted is scope for relaxation of norms.
Although Court must look with respect upon the performance of duties by experts
in the respective fields, it cannot abdicate its functions of ushering in a
society based on rule of law. Once it is most satisfactorily established that
the Selection Committee did not have the power to relax essential
qualification, the entire process of selection so far as the selected candidate
is concerned gets vitiated. In P.K. Ramchandra Iyer and Ors. v. Union of India
and Ors. (1984 (2) SCC 141) this Court held that once it is established that
there is no power to relax essential qualification, the entire process of
selection of the candidate was in contravention of the established norms prescribed
by advertisement. The power to relax must be clearly spelt out and cannot
otherwise be exercised.
Maharashtra State Road Transport Corpn. And Ors. v. Rajendra Bhimrao Mandve and
Ors. (2001 (10) SCC 51), it was held as under:
has been repeatedly held by this Court that the rules of the game, meaning
thereby, that the criteria for selection cannot be altered by the authorities
concerned in the middle or after the process of selection has commenced.
the decision of the High Court, to the extent it pronounced upon the invalidity
of the circular orders dated 26.6.1996, does not merit acceptance in our hand
and the same are set aside." The view was recently re-iterated in
Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission v. B. Swapna and Ors. (2005
(2) Supreme 615).
the High Court was right so far as its decision relates to appellant Kewal
Krishan is concerned, and no interference is called for. In the ultimate, the
appeals filed by Umrao Singh and Inderjeet Singh are allowed while the appeal
filed by appellant Kewal Krishan is dismissed. There shall be no order as to
costs. It is however made clear that the selection process which was permitted
to be continued shall be finalized, after giving effect to the present judgment.