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Supreme Court held the selection process for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor in the Department of Education in the International Centre for Distance Education and Open Learning, Shimla as ‘wholly illegal’ besides being unfair and unreasonable to the extent that interviews for general and reserved categories were conducted separately.

The bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta allowed the appeal filed by Pradeep Singh Dehal who was appointed under OBC Category, challenging the High Court’s writ order directing Himachal University to add ‘five marks’ to another candidate who had challenged Pradeep’s appointment.

Court in Pradeep Singh Dehal v State of Himachal Pradesh observed, “surprisingly, the writ petitioner has not been granted any marks under the heading “publications” in the interview held on May 12, 2012, when the candidates for under OBC category were interviewed but the writ petitioner was granted five marks for “publications” when the interview was being conducted for the post of Assistant Professor under general category on May 13, 2012. Though, the writ petitioner has not appeared in the interview but the fact remains that he has been granted five marks for “publications”. It is the same Selection Committee who conducted interview on May 12, 2012 and on May 13, 2012.”

Court held, “The High Court, while exercising the power of judicial review, does not sit in the arm chair of the experts to award the marks for publications, that too, on the basis of an earlier selection process.”

Court also said, “It is a consistent view of this Court starting from Indra Sawhney & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. that if a reserved category candidate is in merit, he will occupy a general category seat.” This view was reiterated in Vikas Sankhala v. Vikas Kumar Agarwal in 2017.

Court thus directed the University “to re-examine the selection process by constituting an Expert Committee who shall consider the “publications” of the candidates who were being considered in pursuance of advertisement No. 3 of 2011 and make suitable recommendations accordingly by having a joint merit list of all the categories of candidates who applied for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor.”

Court also cautioned the Expert Committee not to disturb the appointments of the candidates already selected, except the appellant whose selection has to be revised.

–India Legal Bureau

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