Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Supreme Court orders Bihar Public Service Commission to list categories to employ petitioners denied posts over character certificate

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The Supreme Court Bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Vikram Nath directed the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) to prepare a chart showing the category in which each of the petitioners is eligible to be employed in the BPSC in a plea filed by petitioners who were rejected for the post solely for failing to produce the original character certificate in interview, despite being eligible by merit.

The Bench observed that character certificate is not a document to show merit, so if they are eligible by merit, they must not be rejected and only 5 vacancies are available so to give every petitioner justice, directed the BPSC to prepare a chart showing which petitioners are eligible for which categories of the available vacancy this year or next year or as the case may be. However, one of the petitioners, Chandan Bharatiya (Candidate no. 2395), who had not cleared the eligibility was dismissed from the case.

The bench earlier issued notice in the matter thereafter 9 petitioners filed the SLP along with present petitioner as they were not allowed to be employed in the BPSC despite qualifying the preliminary test, written test and viva and were eligible to sit in the interview.

The Respondent, Bihar Public Service Commission, had come out with an advertisement for holding the 30th Bihar Judicial Services Competitive Examination for filling up 349 vacant seats of Civil Judge (Junior Division).

The petitioner cleared the preliminary competitive examination as well as mains written examination and appeared for interview on 21.10.2019, however, in the final result declared by the Commission on 29.11.2019, the petitioner’s candidature was shown as rejected along with 31 others for non-production/ verification of documents.

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In the interview letter issued by the Commission on 18.10.2019, the letter mentioned the documents which the candidates had to carry for verification at the time of interview – character certificate issued by the College/University where the candidate last studied along with other documents.

The petitioner having completed his LLB from the Campus Law Centre, Delhi and being an aspirant for judicial service in the past, had appeared for different judicial examination held in different states. The petitioner was enrolled as an Advocate with the Delhi Bar Council.

The petitioner called the Joint Secretary-cum-Examination Controller of the BPSC on telephone on 15.10.2019 and 16.10.2019 and with respect to the character certificate enquired as to whether the character certificate of SDM will suffice or did the candidates specifically need the character certificate issued from the College. It is stated by the petitioner that the Controller of Examination clarified that any character certificate with original copy will be sufficient.

The petitioner accordingly appeared, his documents were verified and he was permitted to appear for the interview by the authority concerned of the BPSC. The petitioner was carrying the original copy of character certificate dated 16.1.2019 issued by the SDM, Rewari, the original copy of bonafide cum character certificate dated 23.7.2018 issued by the Faculty of Law, Delhi along with copy of character certificate dated 29.8.2019 issued by the College. The same were produced in front of the authority concerned prior to interview and thereafter the petitioner was allowed to appear for interview. The petitioner’s original copy of character certificate issued by the College on completion of his Law Degree could not be produced on the date of interview as it had been submitted by the petitioner with the Bar Council of Delhi at the time of his enrollment as an Advocate.

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The petitioner requested the authority to give him time to submit his original character certificate and for the same, the authority directed him to post and email the original certificate to the Commission. The petitioner approached the Bar Council, Delhi on 22.10.2019 to release his original character certificate which was released in favour of the petitioner and the petitioner emailed the same to the Commission on 23.10.2019 and also sent/submitted the original character certificate by speed post on 26.10.2019 & received on 30.10.2019.

The petitioner was carrying a copy of the character certificate along with the original issued by the SDM and also one by the petitioner’s College but it appears that both were not considered by the Commission although both verified and fulfilled the objective and purpose of the character certificate. Referring to the minutes of the meeting of the Members of the Commission held on 27.11.2019 at 3 pm, it is submitted that although the candidature of the petitioner was cancelled for want of verification of the character certificate with its original, the respondent-Commission discriminated against the petitioner in not cancelling the candidature of a number of other students.

Therefore, the petitioner approached the Patna High Court, wherein the High Court dismissed their Petition vide order dated 04.05.2021 & relying on “Director of Settlement A.P and Ors v. M.R. Aparao and Anr.[(2002) 4 SCC 638” observed that petitioner not having submitted his original certificate, which he accepts on affidavit and which is in clear violation of the terms of the advertisement, he cannot pray for grant of relief on the ground of violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

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The High Court relying on

“Bedanga Talukdar versus Saifudaullah Khan [(2011) 12 SCC 85]” held “selection process has to be conducted strictly in accordance with the stipulated selection procedure. There cannot be any relaxation in the terms and conditions of the advertisement unless such a power is specifically reserved. Even if the power of relaxation is provided in the Rules, it must still be mentioned in the advertisement.”

Being aggrieved by the High Court order, the petitioner approached Supreme Court wherein the Apex Court observed that character certificate is not a document to show merit so if they are eligible by merit they must not be rejected and issued the above-mentioned directions to the BPSC.

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