Ritu Mahajan Vs.
Indian Oil Corporation & Ors.  INSC 260 (9 February 2009)
JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 804 OF 2009 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 12193
of 2002) RITU MAHAJAN ..
INDIAN OIL CORPORATION & ORS. ..Respondents WITH I.A. Nos. 213-214 in T.C.
(C) No. 100/2002
this appeal, we are concerned with the issue regarding allotment of a Petrol
Pump at Dhariwal, which was reserved for women candidate.
appeal is filed against the Judgment and Order dated 01.02.2002 passed by a
Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, whereby the Writ Petition
filed by the appellant was dismissed on the ground that there was no infirmity
in the selection of fifth respondent for allotment of the Retail Outlet
Oil Corporation - respondent No. 1 herein issued an advertisement in the
"Tribune" dated 22.06.2000 whereby allotment of Retail Outlet
Dealership/SKO-LDU Dealership and LPG distributorship was advertised. In the
said advertisement one retail outlet, which was to be set at Dhariwal was also
advertised. In the said advertisement, it was mentioned that in respect of the
locations reserved for women only, on receipt of their application for Retail
Outlet Dealerships/SKO-LDO Dealerships/LPG Distributorship, other things being
equal, preference would be given to unmarried women above 40 years of age and
widows. It was also mentioned that the Oil Companies would also provide the above
women an adequate working capital for a full operation cycle for the operation
of the Dealership/Distributorship.
appellant - Ritu Mahajan, deceased fifth respondent - Smt. Rani Gauba and
others applied for allotment of Retail Outlet Dealership at Dhariwal, which was
reserved for women only. Pursuant to receipt of the said applications the
appellant, the deceased fifth respondent as also others were called for
interview on 24.04.2001. The aforesaid interview was taken by Dealers Selection
Board (for short `Board') and after completion of the said interview a merit
list was prepared in which the fifth respondent was placed at first position
and the appellant was placed at the second position. As there was only one
outlet to be allotted at Dhariwal, in terms of the position in the merit list
the letter of intent was issued to the fifth respondent.
appellant protested against the selection of the fifth respondent on the ground
that she was not eligible to be considered for selection and even otherwise she
was inferior to the appellant in all respects on the basis of the criteria laid
down. The protest of the appellant, however, did not find favour with the
Corporation or the Board and they refused to cancel the allotment in favour of
the fifth respondent.
the appellant filed a Writ Petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court
with a prayer for quashing of the allotment in favour of the fifth respondent
with a further prayer that the appellant be allotted the aforesaid Petrol Pump.
The Division Bench who heard the matter, however, passed the impugned order
dated 01.02.2002 holding that the fifth respondent was eligible for allotment
of retail outlet dealership and the Board did not commit any illegality in
selecting and recommending the name of fifth respondent for allotment of the
aggrieved by the said Judgment and Order of the Division Bench, the present
appeal was filed on which we heard the learned counsel appearing for the
parties and also scrutinized the documents placed on record.
Yashraj Singh Deora, learned counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that
in terms of the advertisement for allotment of the petrol pump, the minimum
educational qualification was matriculation but the fifth respondent neither
attached the matriculation certificate along with the Application Form nor the
same was even produced at the time of interview and her application was wrongly
entertained and, therefore, the said application was liable to be dismissed at
the threshold. It was also submitted that even otherwise as per the criteria
the appellant has higher merit in all the fields in comparison to the fifth
respondent and, therefore, she deserves to be selected in preference over the
the aforesaid submission, Mr. Rakesh Kumar Khanna, learned senior counsel
appearing for the fifth respondent specifically stated that her qualification
was matriculation and along with her application she also produced school
leaving certificate, which would indicate that she had passed her matriculation
in the year 1969. It was also submitted that fifth respondent was selected on
the basis of overall assessment, in which she was found by the Board to be more
competent than the appellant and the said decision having been upheld by the
High Court the same should not be interfered by this Court.
is undisputed that an advertisement was issued for allotment of one Retail
Outlet dealership of petrol pump at Dhariwal. The said petrol pump was reserved
for women category and that other things being equal, preference was to be
given to unmarried women above 40 years of age without earning parents and
In addition, the oil
companies were also to provide an adequate working capital for a full operation
cycle for the operation of the dealership/distributorship. The said amount was
to be re-payed in 100 equal monthly installments alongwith interest @ 11% per
annum and the first installment was to begin from 13th month of commissioning
the time of submitting the application for allotment, the appellant was 28
years of age and was married.
She had completed
B.E. (Electricals) from Punjab University, Patiala and had an experience of
approximately about 1 = years as an in-charge of R & D Section of M/s.
Standard Electricals Ltd. The Gross Income (including self, spouse and
dependent children) was shown to be Rs. 72,376/- p.m. On the other hand the
fifth respondent was alleged to be Matriculate and was of 47 years of age at
the time of submission of application. She was a widow and had an experience of
near about 4 years of running a P.C.O.
Board was required to assess and allot marks to the candidates under three
categories and the marks obtained by the appellant and fifth respondent are as
Educational Qualification & 55 45 General level of intelligence General
Assessment 21 27 Total 112 110 Under the said three categories the total marks
obtained by the appellant was more than the fifth respondent. But, there were
two more categories, namely, Capability to Arrange Finance and Capability to
provide Infrastructure & Facilities on which also assessment was made.
After marking on the later two criteria the fifth respondent was found with the
maximum marks and was placed at Serial No. 1.
aforesaid findings and the conclusions of the Board were challenged in writ
petition. It may, however, be mentioned at this stage that in a case filed
before this Court, titled as Onkar Lal Bajaj v. Union of India the issues with
regard to the allotment of marks, the criteria followed by the said Board in
allotting marks to various candidates were challenged on the ground that the
selection was based on Political Consideration. In the said case, this court by
the judgment and order dated 20-12-2002 reported in (2003) 2 SCC 673
constituted a committee of two Judges' comprising Mr. Justice S.C. Agarwal, a
former Judge of this Court and Mr. Justice P.K. Bahri, a former Judge of the
Delhi High Court, to examine 413 cases including the present case pertaining to
the allotment to the fifth respondent. The Committee constituted by this Court
examined the records and submitted a Report. The relevant portion of the said
report is placed on record as Annexure P-3 at page 120 of the paper book.
the said Report, it was mentioned that on the basis of the marks awarded by the
members of the Board at the interview, the name of following applicants, in the
order of merit, was published on 24.04.2001:
(i) Smt. Rani Gauba;
(ii) Smt. Ritu
Mahajan; and (iii) Smt. Paramjeet Kaur.
It was stated in the
said Report that the Board was not required to allot any marks in two
categories i.e. Capability to arrange finance and Capability to provide
Infrastructure & Facility as the said outlet was a Company Owned Company
Operated Retail Outlet and the finance was to be made available in easy terms
from the corpus funds to the selected candidates in such reserved category. The
Committee, therefore, took out the marks allotted in the aforesaid two
categories and the total marks obtained by the three candidates were found as
General Total Business Qualification & Assessment Ability & Gen. Level
of & Salesman Intelligence Ship No. 1 Rani 38 45 27 110 Gauba No. 2, Ritu
36 55 21 112 Mahajan No. 3 39 40 22 101 Sagarika 16.On the face of the Total
Marks obtained, the committee found that the appellant comes at serial No. 1
with 112 marks, while the fifth respondent comes at serial No. 2 with 110
marks. The Committee, thereafter, having recorded the aforesaid findings
proceeded to examine whether there was any arbitrary allotment of marks to any
of the candidates and on examining the first category, namely, Educational
Qualification & General Level of Intelligence it was found that the fifth
respondent is matriculate whereas the appellant - Ritu Mahajan is B.E.
(Electrical). Upon considering the said qualifications, it was found that the
allotment of equal marks viz. 25 by the Chairman to the appellant and fifth
respondent was unjustified and was held as arbitrary. So far as the category
with respect to Personality, Business ability and Salesmanship is concerned
the committee observed that the fifth respondent was running PCO since 1996 whereas
the appellant - Ritu Mahajan was working as Incharge of R & D Section of
M/s Standard Electricals Ltd. in 1995-97, and therefore, it cannot be said that
the fifth respondent is having better experience than the appellant. The two
members allotted better marks to appellant than the fifth respondent whereas
the Chairman allotted higher marks to fifth respondent as compared with
appellant. In this view of the matter the Committee held that the Chairman
allotted marks arbitrarily to tilt the balance in favour of the fifth
respondent. So far as General Assessment is concerned, it was found that the
higher marks given by the Chairman to the fifth respondent again were
unjustified. The Committee, therefore, held that the allotment made in favour
of the fifth respondent was not on merits.
17. The aforesaid
comparison of merits is based on relevant records and therefore the scrutiny
and conclusions arrived at by the Committee cannot be said to be in any manner
arbitrary or unjustified. The Committee has appreciated the respective merit of
the two candidates and on such appreciation has come to a finding that the
appellant is a better candidate for which it has given cogent and valid
18. We have also
scrutinized the records submitted by the parties and on bare perusal of the
same, we find that the appellant was more meritorious than the fifth respondent
on all counts. For the operation of the said outlet finance was to be provided
by the Oil Corporation, which was to be re-payed in 100 equal monthly installments
alongwith interest @ 11% per annum and the first installment was to begin from
13th month of commissioning of dealership. Thus Capability to arrange finance
and Capability to provide Infrastructure & Facility could not have been
relevant and material criteria. On that score we fully endorse the opinion of
the committee constituted by this Court.
We may also mention
that in the present case no preference could have been given to the fifth
respondent as the same was to be given to unmarried women above 40 years of age
without earning parents and widows only on other things being equal. In the
present case as also held by the committee the appellant was higher in merit in
comparison to the fifth respondent in all the criteria and thus all the
factors and consideration cannot be said to be equal.
19. The said report of
the committee was upheld by this Court in Mukund Swarup Mishra v. Union of
India being Transferred Case (Civil) No. 100 of 2002 reported in (2007) 2 SCC
536. In the present case an objection is filed by the fifth respondent against
the report of the Committee. In view of our findings and conclusions recorded
hereinbefore, it is held that the objection has no merit. We accept the report
having found the same as valid and legal.
20. We are of the
considered opinion that the ratio of the decision in Mukund Swarup (supra)
would become fully applicable to the facts and circumstances of this case.
In terms of the said
judgment and order the fifth respondent was liable to vacate the said retail outlet
at Dhariwal within 3 months from 12-01-2007. However as the applications filed
by the fifth respondent were not disposed of the status quo was directed to be
21. In that view of the
matter, the selection of fifth respondent for allotment of Retail Outlet
Dealership at Dhariwal is set aside and the Indian Oil Corporation - respondent
No. 1 is hereby directed to make allotment of the said Retail Outlet Dealership
at Dhariwal in favour of the appellant immediately. The appeal is allowed accordingly.
22. I.A. Nos. 213-214 in
T.C. (C) No. 100/2002 are disposed of accordingly.
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