K. Channegowda & Ors Vs. Karnataka Public Service Commission
& Ors  Insc 556 (6 October 2005):
B.P. Singh & Arun Kumar (Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.11589-11639 of 2003) WITHCIVIL APPEAL NO.6313 OF 2005 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 24322 of 2003) Dr. K.
Rameshwarappa Appellant Versus Karnataka Public Service Commission and another
Respondents AND CIVIL APPEAL NOS.6223-6312 OF 2005 (Arising out of SLP (C)
Nos. 610-699 of 2004} M. R. Ravi and others Appellants Versus Karnataka Public
Service Commission and Others Respondents B.P. SINGH, J.
Special leave granted in all the matters.
In this batch of appeals the common judgment and order of the High Court of
Karnataka at Bangalore dated October 11, 2002 has been assailed.
The matter relates to the conduct of competitive examination by Karnataka
Public Service Commission for recruitment to the post of Gazetted Probationers
(Group 'A' and 'B' Posts). Some of the unsuccessful candidates approached
Karnataka Administrative Tribunal with a grievance that the competitive
examination conducted by the Karnataka Public Service Commission was not fair
and impartial. The manner in which the examination was conducted and the
evaluation of the answer scripts by the examiners were suspect. In particular
allegations were made about the favours shown to one K. Rameswarappa, the
appellant in Civil Appeal arising out of SLP ) No. 24322 of 2003 and two of his
relatives who had secured high positions and were ultimately selected.
The Karnataka Administrative Tribunal by its judgment and order dated
February 6, 2002 allowed the applications filed before it, inasmuch as it found
certain irregularities committed in the conduct of the competitive examination,
and in particular favours shown to the aforesaid Rameswarappa and some of his
relatives. The Tribunal ultimately directed the Karnataka Public Service
Commission to get all the answer scripts evaluated afresh after appointment of
fresh examiners in accordance with the procedure contained in the order. It
also gave certain directions in regard to the evaluation of the answer scripts
and the declaration of the result.
The Karnataka Public Service Commission filed writ appeals before the High
Court of Karnataka at Bangalore challenging the findings recorded by the
Administrative Tribunal and the ultimate order passed by it. The High Court
after hearing the parties gave certain directions for the re- evaluation of
some of the answer scripts, though not all. The High Court was of the view that
having regard to the findings recorded by it, it was not necessary to get all
the answer scripts evaluated over again. The judgment and order of the High
Court has been impugned in this batch of appeals.
The appellants in the appeals arising out of SLP ) Nos. 11589 to 11639 of
2003 are the unsuccessful candidates who were not selected for appointment.
They contend that the entire examination should have been scrapped in view of
the findings recorded by the Tribunal and the High Court.
The appellants in appeals arising out of SLP ) Nos.610-699 of 2004 are the
successful candidates who were selected for appointment by the Karnataka Public
Service Commission on the basis of the declared result.
They contend that for no fault of theirs' the answers scripts are sought to
be re-evaluated, particularly when the High Court was able to identify the
culprits and the beneficiaries of the irregularities committed in the
evaluation and moderation of the answer scripts. They contend that apart from
the persons against whom a clear and categoric finding has been recorded, there
is no need to order fresh evaluation of the answer scripts in 15 optional
subjects and also in general studies.
The appellant in the appeal arising out of SLP ) No. 24322 of 2003 is one
Dr. Rameshwarapppa against whom findings have been recorded by the Karnataka
Administrative Tribunal which have been affirmed by the High Court. He has
challenged the findings recorded against him and has prayed for setting aside
the judgments and orders of both the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal and the
The facts of the case may be briefly noticed.
On February 4th, 1998 the Government of Karnataka sent requisition to the
Karnataka Public Service Commission for the selection of 415 candidates for
appointment to the post of Gazetted Probationers (Group 'A' and 'B' posts).
Pursuant to the said requisition, the Karnataka Public Service Commission
issued an advertisement on March 9, 1998 inviting applications. As many as
85598 applications were received in response to the said advertisement and out
of them 79130 applications were found to have been validly made by eligible
candidates. In accordance with the rules for selection to the said posts, a
preliminary examination was held followed by the main examination. The
preliminary examination was held on August 30, 1998 in which 56228 candidates
appeared. Result of the preliminary examination was declared on November 16,
1998 and on the basis of the aforesaid result 9857 candidates were found
eligible to take the main examination. The main examination was held between
April 9, 1999 and May 3, 1999. The answer scripts were evaluated between May
17, 1999 and June 18, 1999. On January 12, 2000 the result was declared and as
many as 2397 candidates qualified for the personality test. In the months of
July and August, 2001 the personality test was held and the provisional list of
selected candidates was declared on September 28, 2001.
In February, 2000 eight candidates who had failed in compulsory papers of
Kannada and/or English filed writ petitions before the High Court alleging
serious irregularities in evaluation of the answer scripts. The writ petition
came up before a learned Single Judge of the High Court who by a reasoned order
dated March 21, 2000 referred the aforesaid writ petitions to the Division
In the meantime 24 other candidates filed writ petitions before the High
Court. Those writ petitions were also clubbed with writ petitions filed by
eight candidates earlier and another Writ Petition No. 7022 of 2000 filed by
another candidate. Ultimately the Division Bench held that the writ petitioners
may seek remedy before the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal and that writ
petitions were not maintainable. The High Court transferred all the 33 writ
petitions filed in the High Court to the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal.
Nine other petitioners had directly approached the Karnataka Administrative
Tribunal. In this manner 42 matters were heard and disposed of by the Karnataka
Administrative Tribunal vide its judgment and order dated February 6, 2002.
Aggrieved by the judgment and order of the Karnataka Administrative
Tribunal, the Karnataka Public Service Commission preferred writ petitions
before the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore being Writ Petition Nos.
12548-12589 of 2002 which have been disposed of by the impugned common
judgment and order.
The Karnataka Administrative Tribunal concluded that the valuation of the
answer scripts could not be regarded as fair. In the facts and circumstances of
the case no distinction could be made between answer scripts validly valued and
those not validly valued. It was, therefore, necessary that all the answer
scripts should be re-evaluated. Accordingly, it directed the Karnataka Public
Services Commission to get all the answer scripts valued afresh by appointing
examiners who are in no way interested in the candidates taking the
examination. The examiners were to be appointed after verifying their
declaration that none of their relatives specified in the format of the
declaration was a candidate. The Commission was directed to erase all the code
numbers and give fresh code numbers to the answer scripts relating to the
compulsory as well as the optional subjects.
It, further, directed that all answer scripts wherein more than 60% marks
were awarded must be valued by a set of two examiners. In case there was a
difference exceeding 5% of the marks in evaluation by the two examiners, the
matter must be referred to the third examiner. It also directed that Karnataka
Public Service Commission shall permit re-evaluation of answer scripts of all
those candidates who seek such re-evaluation within the time to be specified,
and on such payment as may be determined. It further obliged the Commission to
furnish to all candidates marks obtained by them in all the papers.
The High Court, however, modified the directions of the Tribunal. It came to
the conclusion that in the facts and circumstances of the case it was not
necessary to get all the answer scripts re-evaluated. It directed
moderation/random review by the Head Examiner and Chief Examiner only in regard
to subjects where the same had not been adequately done earlier.
This had to be done in the manner suggested by the Public Service Commission
in para (b) of its memo dated March 27, 2002 which reads as follows :- "..on
the basis of random review of answer scripts done in respect of answer scripts
evaluated by each Examiner average variation shall be arrived at.
Wherever the average variation is less than plus or minus 20, general review
of the marks awarded need not be done. However where the average difference is
plus or minus 20 or more the marks awarded by such examiner shall be increased
or deceased by that average in respect of each of the answer scripts evaluated
by that Examiner. In case the average variation is less than plus or minus 20
but variation in respect of individual answer scripts is plus or minus 20 or
more those answer scripts would be subjected to third valuation." The
entire process of moderation was directed to be done under the supervision of
the Secretary of Karnataka Public Service Commission. It was left to the
discretion of the Secretary of the Karnataka Public Service Commission to have
the moderation done either at a two tier level (Head Examiner and Chief
Examiner) or at only one level. The Secretary of the Karnataka Public Service
Commission was directed to select and prepare a fresh panel of Head/Chief
Examiners for this purpose. The process of interviews and selection carried out
during the pendency of the applications before the Karnataka Administrative
Tribunal was declared to be illegal.
The Commission was further directed to re-evaluate the compulsory papers
(English and/or Kannada) of those candidates who had approached the High Court
or Tribunal for such re-evaluation before the date of judgment. After
re-evaluation and moderation as directed, the Commission shall prepare the list
of candidates to be called for personality test in accordance with the Rules.
It would thus be seen that whereas the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal
directed that all the papers be evaluated by the examiners afresh, the High
Court confined it to re-evaluation and moderation of some papers, and that too
only in those subjects wherein that was considered necessary, applying the
scaling method. A significant finding recorded by the High Court is that there
was hardly any material to raise any suspicion about the fairness of the
examiners in examining the answer scripts. Some doubts arose when
re-evaluation/moderation was done by the Head Examiner/Chief Examiner in
respect of some of the subjects. The High Court, therefore, gave directions for
a limited re-evaluation and moderation confined to some subjects only, and did
not consider it necessary to order a total re-evaluation of answer scripts of
all subjects, or cancellation of the examination itself.
It will be necessary at this stage to notice the salient findings recorded
by the Karnataka State Administrative Tribunal and the High Court. The Tribunal
after noticing the submissions urged on behalf of the parties observed that
during the course of argument it enquired of the Karnataka Public Service
Commission about its willingness to re-evaluate the answer scripts of the
applicants before it. The senior counsel appearing on behalf of the Commission
submitted that the Commission was not willing to undertake that exercise. The
Tribunal subsequently suggested, after arguments were concluded, to the
Commission that it may produce the marks list of the top 50 candidates in each
category indicating the marks assigned by the Head Examiner and the Chief
Examiner as the case may be, but the Commission filed a memo declining to
produce the information sought by the Tribunal for administrative reasons and
having regard to the limited scope of judicial review in such matters. It was
also explained by counsel appearing for the Commission that the Secretary of
the Commission had gone for a training to Mussorie for a period of 6 to 8 weeks
and that the keys of the almirahs where the records had been kept were with
him, and therefore the required information could not be produced readily.
The Tribunal also sought clarification from the Commission about the
allegations made against some of the candidates namely Rameshwarappa and his
relatives. The Commission confirmed the fact that Rameshwarappa and his
relatives were seated in the same hall to take the examination. They had opted
for same optional subjects and their answers were valued by the same examiner.
In the facts and circumstances of the case, the Tribunal formulated the
following contentions of the Petitioners which required examination by it :
"(i) That they are highly qualified persons having secured very high
professional degrees such as their chosen fields and in that back ground it is
inconceivable that they should have been failed in Compulsory papers, the
expected standards of which are not more than SSLC standards.
(ii) That the valuation of the papers by the examiners are apparently
erratic as not to be regarded as fair to all the candidates as for example,
members of the one family like sister, brother and brother-in- law securing top
ranking in the final examination indicating thereby manipulation of marks
secured by them, bearing no connection between the marks given and the quality
of answers; that one of the senior employees of the KPSC whose son had appeared
for the examination had participated in the examination process including
evaluation of the answer scripts casting a serious doubt as to the fairness in
valuation of the answer scripts.
(iii) That one of the model answers had been leaked-out prior to the
examination affecting the fairness of the examination process".
Repelling the submission urged on behalf of the Karnataka Public Service
Commission that a candidate cannot seek revaluation of his answer scripts
merely on his own perception of good performance, the Tribunal observed that
the mere fact that a candidate may think that he has performed extremely well
and yet not awarded marks which he rightly deserved, may not by itself justify
the revaluation of the answer scripts. However, in the light of other
allegations of unfairness and arbitrariness, if found to be true,
re-examination of the answer scripts may be justified. Reliance placed by the
Karnataka Public Service Commission on the decision of this Court in
Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education and another
vs. Paritosh Bhupeshkumar Sheth and others : AIR 1984 SC 1543 did not,
according to the Tribunal, support the case of the Commission.
That decision was distinguished on the ground that in that case the Rules
specifically prohibited the authorities to entertain a claim of revaluation. In
the instant case it observed that the Rules were silent on this aspect of the
matter and, therefore, in the absence of any express prohibition the Karnataka
Public Service Commission certainly had the power to order fresh evaluation of
answer scripts if it was satisfied that there was evidence of unfairness and
mal practice in the valuation of answer scripts. In the interest of fairness,
the Commission may exercise such authority wherever necessary.
As regards allegations of unfairness in valuation of answer scripts, the
Tribunal noticed that in the case of Remeshwarappa and his relatives the answer
scripts were first valued by the Examiner and then by the Chief Examiner who
awarded very high marks to them which really enabled them to get high positions
in the merit list resulting in their ultimate selection.
The Tribunal noticed the marks awarded to Rameshwarappa and his relatives
Nagaraja and Triveni which demonstrated that very high marks were awarded by
the Chief Examiner and in some cases 80% marks were awarded as against 30%
awarded by the Examiner. The Tribunal commented on the manner in which the Chief
Examiner increased the marks awarded to these candidates. This also disclosed
that the model answers prepared to maintain uniformity in the award of marks
was not adhered to, because in that event there could not be possibility of
such a huge difference in the award of marks by the Examiner and the Chief
Examiner. This reflected on the fairness in the valuation of the answer scripts
and demonstrated that the answer scripts were not valued on the basis of the
model answers prepared as per the accepted standard.
The Tribunal further commented on the refusal of the Karnataka Public
Service Commission to accept a suggestion of the Tribunal that all the answer
scripts of the applicants should be revalued. In fact the suggestion of the
Tribunal that the marks list of the top 50 candidates in each category be
produced showing the marks awarded to them by the Examiners, Head Examiner and
the Chief Examiner was not accepted. The Tribunal did not find the explanation
given by the Commission to be convincing. The Tribunal went to the extent of
holding that the refusal of the Karnataka Public Service Commission to produce
the marks assigned to top 50 candidates gave rise to an adverse inference that
if such tabulated statement of marks was produced it would have gone against
The Tribunal also commented on the conduct of some of the officials who
shouldered heavy responsibility in the conduct of the examination.
Apart from the Secretary of the Commission, one Sadyojathaiah, who was
Incharge Secretary for a few months, did not declare that his son was also
taking the examination. In fact his daughter also took the examination but was
unsuccessful. This only showed that the declaration made by the
Examiners/officials were not scrutinized and enquired into with the result that
the wards/relatives of some of the officials closely associated with the
conduct of the examination also participated in the competitive examination.
May be that they did not act unfairly, but what was important was that the
examination must be seemed to have been conducted fairly.
A contention was raised before the Tribunal that the model answers were
known even before the examination was conducted and that such a model answer
relating to the compulsory subject, namely Kannada language prepared by the
Karnataka Public Service Commission was filed in a batch of applications. The
Karnataka Public Service Commission averred that these model answers were
prepared only a couple of days prior to commencement of the valuation, but it
did not deny that the model answer filed with the applications purporting to be
the model answer for the Kannada language subject was in fact not the model
answer prepared by the Commission. Though the Tribunal did not record a
categoric finding of fact that such a model answer was available to the
candidates even before the conduct of the examination, it commented on the fact
that the model answer was available to a candidate who annexed it with his
application which demonstrated that the Commission was not able to maintain
secrecy in such matters.
The Tribunal also held that the Karnataka Public Service Commission could
not deny revaluation of answer scripts if sought by any candidate who is
aggrieved by the valuation of his answer scripts. To deny a candidate the right
to seek revaluation amounted to denial of fairness to him. Therefore, in the
absence of a specific rule prohibiting re-evaluation, it would be obligatory on
the Karnataka Public Service Commission to grant such re- evaluation within a
specified time after the announcement of the result. It referred to earlier
instances where the Public Service Commission had permitted re-evaluation of
the answer scripts.
On such findings the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the award of marks
to the candidates did not appear to be fair resulting in the vitiation of the
merit list. But the Tribunal following the principles laid down in Anamica
Mishra and others vs. U.P. Public Service Commission, Allahabad and others :
1990 (Suppl.) SCC 692 held that the entire examination need not be set aside in
the facts and circumstances of the case.
Fairness could be ensured if the answer scripts were revalued after taking
necessary precautions to ensure fairness. It, therefore, passed an order for
fresh valuation of all the answer scripts laying down guidelines which have
been earlier referred to in this judgment.
We may observe at this stage that the Tribunal after considering the
material on record came to the conclusion that in respect of atleast three
candidates namely, Rameshwarappa, Nagaraja and Triveni who were high rank
holders, the marks awarded by the Chief Examiner was much more than the marks
awarded to them by the examiner. That is how, they managed to secure high
positions in the competitive examination. The findings of the Tribunal are also
borne out by the report of the Sub committee constituted by the Commission to
investigate the matter. The Committee found that serious irregularities were
committed by one Prof.
K.S. Shivanna, Chief Examiner when he reviewed the marks awarded to
Rameshwarappa, Nagaraja and Triveni. The said Rameshwarappa was employed as
Deputy Director of Food and Civil Supplies while Nagaraja was his wife's
brother and Smt. Triveni and Smt. Hemalatha were two sisters of his wife. The
report of the Sub-committee discloses that their academic record was average.
All of them had chosen the same optional subjects. In General Studies Paper I
and II and History Papers I and II all of them had chosen the very same
questions for answering and their answers were also identical. The
Sub-committee found that Prof. Shivanna had been appointed Chief Examiner to
examine answers written in Kannada medium in the subjects General Studies and
History. He had evaluated 127 answer scripts as Chief Examiner. It was
discovered that in respect of the aforesaid four candidates he had even awarded
marks for totally wrong answers. He later claimed that by oversight such
mistakes were committed. He described as bona fide errors the awarding of more
marks than the maximum prescribed. It was found that six other candidates had
been shown such favourable treatment by Prof. Shivanna, out of whom two were
ultimately selected but the remaining four could not get selected. The evidence
collected by the Subcommittee established that the aforesaid Rameshwarappa used
to visit the then Secretary of the Commission very frequently, while Prof.
Shivanna was his research guide for the Ph. D programme. It also appeared from
the material collected by the Sub- committee that after the evaluation of
answer scripts, all the three had undertaken a joint foreign trip. The
Sub-committee came to the conclusion that Sri Monappa the then Secretary of the
Commission had parted with the code numbers of the candidates to Prof.
Shivanna, who was willing to oblige Rameshwarappa and some others. The
Sub-committee found that Prof.
Shivanna who was Chief Examiner in respect of answer scripts in Kannada
medium, in the subjects General Studies and History, also picked up answers
given in English medium as in the case of Nagaraja and Triveni. He sought to
explain this by saying that since Prof. Raju Naidu, Chief Examiner of English
medium was away, those papers had been brought to him and he had accordingly
moderated those papers.
We do not wish to go into the details of the findings recorded by the Subcommittee
because we are informed that a proceeding is pending against Sri Rameshwarappa.
The selection of the alleged favoured candidates has also been cancelled. Any
observation made by us, or finding recorded in respect of the matter, may
prejudice the case of Rameshwarappa in the pending proceeding, and, therefore,
we do not wish to make any further comment on this aspect of the matter. The
findings of the Sub committee have been noticed by us, as also by the High
Court, in the context of the challenge to the validity and fairness of the
competitive examination only for that limited purpose and not with a view to
finding the guilt or otherwise of Sri Rameshwarappa.
In the writ petitions preferred before the High Court against the order of
the Tribunal, while the selected candidates challenged the order for fresh
moderation in some subjects, the unsuccessful candidates challenged the
fairness of the examination and prayed for cancellation of the examination
itself. The Karnataka Public Service Commission justified its stand before the
We have earlier noticed that the Tribunal after conclusion of the hearing of
the matter, had suggested to the Commission on November 11, 2001 that it may
produce the marks awarded to the top 50 candidates in each category, by the
Head Examiner and the Chief Examiner. The Commission expressed its inability to
give the aforesaid information having regard to the scope of the proceeding
before the Tribunal. It was also stated that since the Secretary of the
Commission was away on training at Mussorie for a period of six to eight weeks
and the keys of the Almirah in which the records were kept were with him, the
information could not be produced immediately.
However, before the High Court the Commission voluntarily produced the marks
obtained by the top 50 candidates in each category, and with necessary
particulars. The Commission also furnished the particulars of marks obtained by
all the candidates who were ultimately selected for the personality test
disclosing the marks awarded to them by the Examiner and thereafter the Head
Examiner or Chief Examiner after moderation. The High Court directed the
Commission to produce the list of candidates in whose cases the variation in
marks was plus or minus 20 or above (out of 300 marks) in a subject and also to
furnish the particulars of cases where the Chief Examiners had done random
re-evaluation with particulars of difference in marks. Accordingly, the
Commission had produced necessary statements as required by the Court. The
relevant part of the Memo filed before the Court is as follows : - "The
Commission has placed before this Hon'ble Court subjectwise abstract of total
number of answer scripts valued, number of answer scripts moderated by the Head
Examiner and/or Chief Examiner and cases where the marks awarded in moderation
is plus or minus 20 or more vis-`-vis the marks awarded by the Examiner. The
total number of cases where the variation is plus or minus 20 or more has been
identified as 661. Keeping in mind anxieties expressed and apprehensions stated
during the hearing of the writ petitions and the suggestions that fell from the
Bench of this Hon'ble of this Hon'ble Court, the Commission has examined the
entire issue in the light of the scheme laid down by the Commission regarding
valuation of the answer scripts. The endeavour of the Commission has been to
find a solution which would be in line with the scheme of examination
prescribed by the Commission.
Keeping the above objective in mind and in deference to the suggestions that
emerged during the hearing of the writ petitions, the Commission is making the
(a) Wherever the random review done by the Head Examiner is less than 10 per
cent of the answer scripts evaluated by any examiner in any subject, the short
fall would be made up examinerwise and subjectwise by random review of answer
scripts to the extent of shortfall. While doing so, it will be ensured that
random sampling shall not be less than 5 per cent of the top-level answer
(b) The Commission has always been of the view that review referred to at
para 3 of the scheme of valuation is not analogous to scaling technique. It has
been understood by the Commission as review of marks of particular answer
script taken up for random review by the Head Examiner. However, during the
hearing it has been expressed that review should be understood as scaling
technique. The Commission has considered the suggestion and is of the opinion
that on the basis of random review of answer scripts done in respect of answer
scripts evaluated by each examiner average variation shall be arrived at.
Wherever the average variation is less than plus or minus 20 general review of
the marks awarded need not be done. However, where the average difference is
plus or minus 20 or more, the marks awarded by such examiner shall be increased
or decreased by that average in respect of each of the answer scripts evaluated
by that examiner. In case the average variation is less than plus or minus 20,
but variation in respect of individual answer scripts is plus or minus 20 or
above those answer scripts would be subjected to third valuation.
(c) As a result of random review if in respect of any candidate the change
in marks is too generous or too adverse to the candidate, the Commission would
refer such paper for third valuation.
The secretary who was holding the post at the time when central valuation
was conducted in respect of examination in question is no longer with the
Commission. The Commission would ensure that disinterested staff of the
Commission headed by the Secretary will supervise and monitor the entire
process of review and revaluation that would be undertaken as set out
The High Court has noticed the fact that on March 27, 2002 this memo had
been prepared and circulated to all Counsels appearing in the matter. However,
since the service of notice of the respondents was not complete and the matter
was being heard only for the grant of interim relief at that stage, the memo
was not actually filed and was later filed on July 22, 2002. We have noticed
these facts because it was argued before us that this memo is anti-dated. The
observations of the High Court must set at rest this controversy.
On some aspects of the matter the Tribunal as well as the High Court have
recorded concurrent findings. It has been concurrently found that so far as Sri
Rameshwarappa is concerned, as also his two relatives, with the assistance of
Chief Examiner, Prof. Shivanna and the Secretary of the Commission, they were
shown undue favour and their marks were increased by Prof. Shivanna to such an
extent that they obtained high positions and were selected for appointment. In
doing so, Prof. Shivanna had committed irregularities. The High Court however
has further recorded a finding that so far as evaluation of the answer papers
by the Examiners is concerned no case of irregularity or unfairness has been
established. It is only at the stage of moderation, and that too the moderation
undertaken by Prof. Shivanna, that there is evidence of irregularity and
unfairness confined to the cases of the three selected candidates, though seven
other unsuccessful candidates had also been given high marks by Prof. Shivanna.
It has, however, been concurrently held that in the facts and circumstances of
the case it was not necessary to cancel the examination. While the Tribunal
felt that all the answer scripts should be valued afresh, the High Court held
that it was not necessary to do so. The High Court was of the view that only
those answer scripts required to be re-evaluated which had been moderated by
Shivanna as also those answer scripts in various subjects where the
requisite percentage of answer papers as required by the guidelines were not
moderated by the Head Examiner/Chief Examiner. The High Court further directed
that scaling method should be adopted in re-evaluation so that the benefit of
moderation is not confined to those candidates whose answer scripts are by
chance picked out for moderation, but the benefit is extended to all candidates
who may have similarly suffered or gained on account of the examiner being
strict or liberal in awarding marks.
Having perused the material placed before us we are satisfied that this is
not a case where the examination deserves to be cancelled. We are also
satisfied that the finding recorded by the High Court that there is really no
allegation imputing unfairness in the matter of examination of answer scripts
by the examiners, is justified. The allegations, if any, relate to the stage of
moderation by the Chief Examiners, and in particular confined to the conduct of
Chief Examiner Prof. Shivanna.
The High Court has very meticulously examined the material on record and it
is not necessary for us to undertake that exercise over again.
The High Court had called for and examined the following statements/
extracts :- "i) statement showing the merit-wise marks of the first 50
candidates category wise (that is GM, Group 1, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, SC and ST);
(ii) statement showing the subject-wise marks awarded by the Examiners, Head
examiners and Chief examiners, where the difference is plus 20 and above (335
(iii) statements showing the subject wise marks awarded by the Examiners,
Head Examiners and Chief Examiners, where the difference is minus 20 and above
(in regard to 326 candidates);
(iv) Subject wise abstracts showing the number of answer scripts moderated
by Head Examiners and Chief Examiners and the number of answer scripts where
the variation on moderation is plus or minus 20 and more;
(v) subject-wise list of Examiners, Head Examiners and Chief
The High Court found that random review of adequate number of answer scripts
had been done in the seven optional subjects (out of thirty) noticed in
paragraph 31 of its judgment. Review disclosed that variation of marks had not
exceeded plus or minus 20 (out of 300 marks). The High Court, therefore, found
that there was no irregularity in review evaluation or moderation in the
aforesaid seven subjects and no interference was, therefore, called for.
It further found that in the four subjects noticed in paragraph 32 of its
judgment consisting of two papers each, there was adequate random review of
answer scripts by the Chief Examiners and there was no variation beyond plus or
minus 20 marks (out of 300 marks) in some papers, and only a very few, that too
marginal, in other papers. There was, therefore, no need to interfere with the
evaluation in respect of the aforesaid four subjects. In the optional subject
Chemistry also, the material placed on record, did not justify any interference
with the evaluation of answer papers.
However, the High Court found that in the optional subject Agriculture and
Marketing, no Head Examiner has been appointed, and the Chief Examiner had
reviewed only three answer scripts out of 222 in Paper I and only four out of
279 in Paper II, that is 1% to 2%. Similar was the case with optional subject
Criminology. In regard to the remaining 16 optional subjects and General
Studies the High Court found that the number of answer scripts were large and
the variation exceeding plus or minus 20 marks were also substantial. The
necessary particulars have been noticed by the High Court in paragraph 34 of
its judgment. The High Court has observed that the moderation in these subjects
was restricted only to the answer scripts which were reviewed, without adopting
the scaling technique of moderation by applying the upward or downward revision
of all the answer scripts evaluated by the respective examiners. Even the
random review was not done to the extent suggested in the guidelines, nor was
any record maintained to show whether moderation was done by the Head
Examiner/Chief Examiner in the manner required by the guidelines.
The High Court further noticed that there were serious irregularities in the
review valuation by one of the Chief Examiners namely, Prof. Shivanna who had
evaluated 127 answer scripts as Chief Examiner in the subject General Studies
and History. The High Court has noticed the findings recorded by the Subcommittee
appointed by the Commission to investigate into the matter. The High Court
found that glaring irregularities were committed by Prof. Shivanna in the
random review done by him in History Papers I and II and General Studies Papers
I and II and, therefore, there was need to review the process of moderation
even in these subjects.
In view of its findings the High Court set aside the direction of the
Karnataka Administrative Tribunal for a fresh evaluation of all the answer
scripts. The High Court directed that moderation, or random review, will be
undertaken only where such moderation/random review was found to be inadequate.
The subjects in which re-evaluation has been ordered have been enumerated in
paragraph 39(b) of the judgment of the High Court. In so doing, the Karnataka
Public Service Commission has been directed to apply the scaling method as
described in paragraph (b) of its memo dated March 27, 2002. The moderation is
required to be done under the supervision of the Secretary of the Karnataka
Public Service Commission, and it is open to him to have the moderation done at
two tier level (i.e. Head Examiner and Chief Examiner) or at only one level,
that is Chief Examiner. A fresh panel of Head and/or Chief Examiner shall be
prepared. The High Court did not direct moderation/ random review in respect of
the subjects where it found random review to be adequate and there was no
conspicuous variation in marks awarded by the examiner and the Head Examiner. The
High Court in its impugned order has enumerated those subjects/papers in
sub-para (c) of its order.
The High Court further directed to hold fresh interviews and selection in
place of those carried out during the pendency of the applications before the
Karnataka Administrative Tribunal. It further directed the Karnataka Public
Service Commission to re-evaluate the compulsory papers (English and or
Kannada) of those candidates who had approached the High Court and the Tribunal
for such re-evaluation before the date of the Judgment.
The High Court has directed that a fresh list of candidates shall be
prepared and candidates invited for personality test in accordance with Rules.
We may at the outset notice the submission urged on behalf of the
unsuccessful candidates that the entire examination should be cancelled and a
fresh examination be held. We have noticed earlier the findings of the Tribunal
as well as the High Court on this aspect of the matter. It has been
concurrently held by the Tribunal as well as the High Court that it is not
necessary to hold the examination afresh. However, while the Tribunal held that
all the papers should be evaluated afresh, the High Court after a meticulous
examination of the material placed on record has come to the conclusion that it
is not necessary to re-evaluate all the papers. It has upheld the evaluation of
papers in some subjects while it has directed re-evaluation in some others. The
High Court did not consider it necessary to order fresh evaluation of all the papers
by the examiners, because it did not find any allegation or evidence of
partiality or favouritism against the examiners.
Even the Tribunal has not specifically recorded any finding that the
examiners acted in improper or unfair manner. The allegations really are
against the re-evaluation of papers by Head Examiners/Chief Examiners and in
particular against the conduct of Prof. Shivanna, who it is found granted
abnormally high marks to his favourite candidates so that they may rank high in
the merit list and be ultimately selected. The Tribunal as well as the High
Court have concurrently held that the conduct of Prof. Shivanna was improper
and unfair and we do not find any reason to interfere with their concurrent
finding. However, we do not wish to make any further observations since we are
informed that proceedings are pending against Prof. Shivanna and necessary
action is being taken in this regard. We further clarify that the finding
recorded in these proceedings is only for the purpose of disposing of these
appeals and should not prejudice the case of the parties in the pending
So far as the Tribunal is concerned, it has ordered fresh evaluation by the
examiners, while the High Court has directed re-evaluation only at the Head
Examiners/Chief Examiners level, that is at the stage of moderation/ random
review. We find that there is really no justification for fresh evaluation of
all the answer scripts by the examiners, and we concur with the finding of the
It appears to us that the Tribunal directed fresh evaluation of all answer
scripts because the suggestion made by the Tribunal for production of the marks
assigned to the top 50 candidates in each category was not accepted by the
Commission. However, before the High Court the relevant material was produced
and the High Court had the advantage of scrutinizing the material placed before
it. Counsel for the successful candidates is, therefore, right in his
submission that if the material asked for had been produced before the Tribunal,
perhaps the Tribunal would not have drawn an adverse inference and directed a
wholesale re-evaluation of all the answer scripts.
On the question of re-evaluation by Head Examiner/Chief Examiner, the High
Court has placed the subjects into two categories viz; those where sufficient
percentage of answer scripts as required by the Rules had not been taken up for
random review/moderation, and secondly, those where the random
review/moderation is either found to be unfair (as in the case of Prof.
Shivanna), or where the variation of marks awarded by the examiner and the
Chief Examiner/ Head Examiner was plus or minus 20 or more. The High Court has
recorded reasons for directing re-evaluation in only some of the subjects. In
regard to other subjects the High Court has found that sufficient number of
answer scripts were randomly evaluated and moderated, and further there was no
conspicuous variation in the award of marks by the examiners and the Head
Examiners. Obviously, therefore, there was no need to get such answer scripts
re-evaluated. However, where sufficient number of answer scripts were not
re-evaluated by Head Examiner/Chief Examiner as required by the Rules, the High
Court was certainly justified in directing compliance of the Rules.
Another aspect of the matter is with regard to applying the scaling method
as per the direction of the High Court. The scaling method has been described
earlier in this judgment. The selected candidates have a grievance against the
application of this method. It was submitted that it may not be proper to apply
the scaling method only in respect of subjects where the answer scripts have to
be moderated by Head Examiner/Chief Examiner and not to other subjects where
the High Court has upheld the moderation/ random checking by the Head
Examiner/Chief Examiner. We have given the submission our serious thought. The
scaling method is applied only with a view to maintain a uniform standard in
the marking of answer scripts. As is well known some answer scripts are
randomly taken up for evaluation by Head Examiners/Chief Examiners. It may be
that some examiner may be very liberal and generous in awarding marks whereas
some other examiner may award much less marks for the same quality of answer.
Upon moderation, no doubt the candidate whose answer paper is moderated gets
benefit of moderation, but such benefit is not extended to other candidates
whose answer scripts may have been examined by the same examiner, but were not
randomly selected for re-evaluation by the Head Examiner/Chief Examiner. It is
true that there is bound to be some difference in the marks awarded by
different examiners in the same subject. But the need for applying scaling
method arises only in cases where the variation in marks awarded exceeds a
certain level. It is, therefore, not necessary that the scaling method should
be applied in all cases. The scaling method will be applied only where the
variation in marks is plus or minus a certain level or percentage. The High
Court in the instant case has directed that scaling method shall be applied
only when it is found that average variation is plus or minus 20 or more.
Wherever the average variation is less than plus or minus 20, general review of
the marks awarded need not be done. We were told that the scaling method is now
being applied in many competitive examinations held in this country and the
purpose of applying the scaling method is to bring about a certain uniformity
of standard in the matter of award of marks by the examiners. No exception can
be taken to the scaling method in principle.
In fact this Court in U.P. Public Services Commission vs. Subhash Chandra
Dixit and others : AIR 2004 SC 163, has found the scaling method to be fair
since it seeks to eliminate the inconsistency in the marking standards of the
examiners. This Court has observed:- "There is a vast percentage
difference in awarding of marks between each set of examiners and this was
sought to be minimized by applying the scaling formula. If scaling method had
not been used, only those candidates whose answer sheets were examined by
liberal examiners alone would get selected and the candidates whose answer
sheets were examined by strict examiners would be completely excluded, though
the standard of their answers may be to some extent similar. The scaling system
was adopted with a view to eliminate the inconsistency in the marking standards
of the examiners".
Then remains the question as to whether it will make any difference in the
instant case if the scaling method is not applied to subjects where valuation
and revaluation has been upheld by the High Court. In our view, it will make no
difference because the High Court has not found it necessary to direct
re-evaluation of answer scripts in those subjects where the average variation
was not found to be more than plus or minus 20%. Thus, the subjects in which
the High Court has not directed re-evaluation are those subjects where in any
case the scaling method would not be applicable because the average variation
of marks has been found to be within the prescribed parameter. We, therefore,
uphold the direction of the High Court to apply the scaling method in
re-evaluation of answer scripts pursuant to the order of the High Court.
No doubt counsel for the successful candidates submitted that it was not
necessary to apply the scaling method as the same purpose can be achieved by
the procedure already prescribed. It was submitted that the percentage 5 or 10%
as the case may be for random evaluation is the minimum prescribed. There is
nothing which prevents the random re- evaluation of a larger percentage of
answer scripts. There was, therefore, no need to apply the scaling technique.
This submission must be rejected because even if answer scripts more than the
percentage prescribed are reviewed by Head Examiner or Chief Examiner, that
will not achieve the purpose for which the scaling technique is adopted,
because the scaling technique is confined to award of marks by examiners in the
same subject who are either too liberal or too strict in awarding marks with
the result that the average variation is more than plus or minus 20 marks. If
the desired result is to be achieved all the answer papers examined by a
particular examiner will have to be re-evaluated. As between the two options,
we find the scaling method to be more practical and effective.
The counsel for the successful candidates as well as counsel appearing on
behalf of the Karnataka Public Service Commission submitted that it is not
necessary even to re-evaluate the answer scripts in some of the subjects as
directed by the High Court because the findings of the Sub-committee appointed
by the Karnataka Public Service Commission is clear and categoric. The
Sub-committee which inquired into the irregularities committed in the conduct
of the examination found that the irregularities were committed by Prof.
Shivanna who awarded very high marks as the Chief Examiner to his favourite
candidates namely, Rameshwarappa and the members of his family. There were 10
cases which were identified for favoured treatment, out of whom three were
selected. In all Shivanna had moderated only 127 answer papers and, therefore,
it was not necessary to re- evaluate the other answer scripts except those
re-evaluated by Prof.
Shivanna as the Chief Examiner. It was also submitted on behalf of the
successful candidates that the guidelines provided that random review or random
sampling should not be less than 5% of the top level answer scripts and over
all random review should not be less than 10% of the answer scripts evaluated by
each examiner. However, according to them, the High Court has increased the
percentage to 20% instead of 5 to 10%.
There is no merit in either of the two submissions. The High Court has found
as a fact that in some subjects random review was not done to the extent
prescribed in the guidelines (5% of top level answer scripts and over all
random review of 10%). No minutes or record were maintained to show whether
moderation was done by the Head Examiners/Chief Examiners in the manner
required by the guidelines. In these circumstances, one cannot find fault with
the direction of the High Court for re-evaluation of answer scripts in subjects
in which moderation/random review was not done in accordance with the
The submission that the guidelines earlier provided only for a random review
to the extent of 5 to 10 % which has now been increased to 20%, is based on a
factually wrong assumption. The High Court in paragraph 35 of its judgment has
noticed that the random review prescribed under the guidelines was to be done
in respect of 5% of top level answer scripts and 10% over all random review.
Even the memo filed by the Karnataka Public Service Commission and accepted by
the High Court assured that whenever random review done by the Head Examiner was
less than 10% of the answer scripts evaluated by any examiner in any subject,
the shortfall would be made up examiner-wise and subject-wise by random review
of answer scripts to the extent of shortfall. While doing so it will be ensured
that random sampling was not be less than 5% of the top level answer scripts.
We have, therefore, no doubt that the direction of the High Court has not
deviated from the guidelines. Moreover, 5% or 10% as the case may be is the
minimum required percentage of random review. It can always be more than the
We shall now notice some of the other submissions advanced before us. It was
argued before us that the key answers had been leaked out. The High Court has
noticed the contention advanced before it and observed that the same was
neither pursued nor established. The facts disclosed that the model answers
were prepared only a few days before the actual commencement of the valuation.
In the instant case, valuation commenced on May 17, 1999 while the examination
was held between April 9, 1999 and May 3, 1999. There was, therefore, no
question of the model answers being leaked out earlier so as to be available to
the examinees on the dates of examination.
It was also argued before the High Court and faintly submitted before us
that the writ petitioners were students who had a good academic record and,
therefore, it was unbelievable that they would have failed in compulsory papers
English and Kannada which were of SSLC level. It was explained by the
Commission that it is not as if all writ petitioners had failed in compulsory
subjects English and Kannada. Only three had failed in English and one had
failed in Kannada. The other writ petitioners had passed in the compulsory
subjects English and Kannada, but since they had not secured high marks over
all they were not called for personality test. In any event, the Karnataka
Public Service Commission had agreed to re- evaluate the compulsory papers of
the applicants/petitioners who had already approached the Tribunal or the High
Court. The High Court has accepted the submission on behalf of the Commission
and clarified that the relief in regard to re-evaluation of compulsory papers
should be restricted to those candidates who have approached the Tribunal or
the High Court, and not to others.
A submission was sought to be urged before us on behalf of the unsuccessful
candidates that even the interview conducted for selection of candidates was
not proper inasmuch as 350 candidates out of 390 were awarded 195 marks each. Counsel
for the successful candidates submitted that such a contention was not raised
either before the High Court or the Tribunal, and there is no pleading or
finding on this aspect of the matter. It is not necessary for us to examine
this question. The High Court has directed holding of fresh interviews on the
basis of marks obtained after re-evaluation of answer scripts in accordance
with the directions of the High Court. Since fresh interviews will be held, the
grievance of the aforesaid petitioners does not subsist.
Having considered all aspects of the matter, we are satisfied that no
interference by this Court in these appeals is called for. The High Court has
taken care to safeguard the interest of all concerned and to rule out the
possibility of unfairness in the re-evaluation of the answer scripts. The
directions made by the High Court are adequate to deal with the peculiar facts
of this case.
We, therefore, dismiss all the appeals and affirm the judgment and order of
the High Court.