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Supreme Court today in State of Tamil Nadu v G. Hemalathaa & anr reversed a High Court judgement that had exercised discretion and granted relief to the Respondent on a sympathetic consideration on humanitarian ground.

A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta held that “any order in favour of the candidate who has violated the mandatory instructions would be laying down bad law.”

Civil Judge Examination has mandatory instruction of not marking the answer sheet with anything except the prescribed ink. The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission invalidated a candidate’s paper as there were pencil marks at several places on the sheet. It was the case of the candidate that she belonged to Backward class and hence a mistake committed inadvertently should be condoned and her score for Law Paper-I be declared, which would make her eligible for being appointed as a Civil Judge. It was her prayer that “the career of a meritorious backward class candidate should not be nipped at the bud.”

The High Court had exercised its inherent jurisdiction and directed the Commission to announce the results

Supreme Court observed that “No lenient view can be taken in cases of violation of the mandatory Instructions as the order in favour of the Respondent will be treated as a precedent. If the Respondent is given the relief sought for the other candidates who have been disqualified will also claim the same relief.”

Court quoted a 2009 US judgement by Roberts Cj., in Caperton v. A.T. Massey, “Extreme cases often test the bounds of established legal principles. There is a cost to yielding to the desire to correct the extreme case, rather than adhering to the legal principle. That cost has been demonstrated so often that it is captured in a legal aphorism: “Hard cases make bad law.”

–India Legal Bureau

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