New Delhi (ILNS): The Supreme Court has ruled that the mere inclusion of the names of candidates in a selection list is not a “vested right to appointment”. The bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee passed this judgment while deciding on an appeal challenging a Delhi High Court order which directed Delhi Police to appoint two persons as constables even though they had failed to make it to the final merit list. The high court’s order has been set aside.
On January 27, 2013, a notice was published in the newspapers for filling up 523 vacancies for the post of ‘Constable (Executive) – Male’ in Delhi Police. The candidates appeared for a physical endurance and measurement test on October 4 that year. They qualified in the test and were allotted roll numbers for appearing in the written examination. Of a total of 50,422 candidates, 39,597 appeared in the written examination which was held on March 8, 2014. This examination was cancelled by the Delhi Police, and a fresh written examination was held on May 25, 2014, which was cancelled as well.
Finally, a written examination was conducted on November 16, 2014. After evaluation of OMR sheets, 514 candidates were provisionally selected on July 13, 2015. During the course of scrutiny, it was found that a bonus mark had not been allocated to candidates whose height was measured at 178 cm or above at the time of the physical endurance and measurement test. Thus, in the result which was declared on July 17, 2015, 32 new candidates came within the selection zone and 34 candidates were ousted.
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Some students then approached the Central Administrative Tribunal regarding certain questions which were wrong. The final result was declared again on February 22, 2016 in which 129 new candidates came into the selection zone and 123 candidates who had been declared selected earlier in the result were ousted.
Umesh Kumar and Satyendra Singh were selected earlier under the OBC category and later dropped from the merit list. They challenged the tribunal order before the Delhi High Court, which directed the appointment.
Madhavi Divan, Additional Solicitor General, has assailed the correctness of the judgment of the Delhi High Court as it is contrary to the law laid down by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Rajesh Kumar vs State of Bihar.
Senior Counsel Salman Khurshid, appearing on behalf of the respondents, submitted that there may be other candidates higher than the respondents in merit in the revised result, but none of them has approached this court under Article 136 of the Constitution or the High Court under Article 226.
Hence, the ultimate direction that was issued by the High Court should not be disturbed.
The court, while considering the appeal, observed: “The real issue, however, is whether the respondents were entitled to a writ of mandamus. This would depend on whether they have a vested right of appointment. Clearly, the answer to this must be in the negative. In Punjab SEB vs. Malkiat Singh, this court held that the mere inclusion of a candidate in a selection list does not confer upon them a vested right to appointment.”
The judgment also says: “In Rajesh Kumar, Justice TS Thakur, as the learned Chief Justice of India then was, dealt with a case where the model answer key and hence the process of evaluation of answer scripts by the Bihar Staff Selection Commission, had been found to be flawed.
“Such irregularities have become a bane of the public recruitment process at various levels resulting in litigation across the country before the Tribunals, the High Courts and ultimately this Court as well. Much of the litigation and delay in carrying out public recruitment would be obviated if those entrusted with the duty to do so carry it out with a sense of diligence and responsibility,” the Court said, regarding the irregularity that crept in while preparing answer keys.
“The direction was clearly contrary to law. The respondents have participated in the selection process and upon the declaration of the revised result, it has emerged before the Court that they have failed to obtain marks above the cut-off for the OBC category to which they belong,” read the concluding lines of the judgment.
Therefore, on ground of the above facts the Apex Court allow the appeals and set aside the judgments of the Delhi High Court.