Merit Should be the criteria in Public Employment: Supreme Court

In a recent case, the Supreme Court has observed that public employment selections should be on a merit basis.

While passing the judgement on Thursday, the Bench comprising Hon’ble Justice L Nageswara Rao and Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee further observed that appointing people with lesser and ignoring candidate’s who score more is a violation of Article 16 and 14 of the Indian Constitution.

Facts of the Case:-

In the instant case, appointees to post of Attendants ( Sergeant ), Police Sub Inspectors and Company Commanders by Home Department of Jharkhand Government were terminated because the selection list was wrongly prepared by ignoring merit of candidates and by giving undue importance to the preference given by them.

Jharkhand High Court allowed the writ petition filed by these appointees and ruled that they cannot be held responsible for irregularities committed by authorities in matters for selection and that there is no allegation of misrepresentation or fraud part. The Court also stated that these appointees should be appointed against future or current vacancies.

Other candidates filed intervention applications before the High Court and argued that they should also be appointed as they had secured more marks than people who were reinstated. However, Jharkhand High Court dismissed these applications.

Aggrieved, the parties moved to the Supreme Court.

Observations of the Supreme Court

The Apex Court agreed with the High Court’s view and stated that appointments of the candidate appointed earlier and had also worked at their post for some time could not be revoked by States as they were not at fault.

While considering the intervenors’ contention, the Court observed that selection to public posts should be based on merit. If candidates who are lower on the merit list are appointed while candidates who scored higher are ignored, it will violate Articles 14 and 16.

However, the Court stated that intervenors were nor similarly situated to other petitioners and cannot seek the same relief. The Court held that by the appointment of 43 persons ( who had incidentally scored more marks than intervenors ), the number of posts advertised had been filled. Therefore, intervenors don’t have the right of appointment beyond those advertised.

Case Details:

Title: Anmol Kumar Tiwari vs the State of Jharkhand

Case No.: Civil Appeal 429 of 2020

Coram: Hon’ble Justice L Nageswara Rao and Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee

Date of Order: 18.02.2021

Click to Read/Download Judgment

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