Yesterday, a division bench of the Supreme Court held that merely because a candidate’s name appears in a selection list, it does not give them a right to appointment.
Brief facts of the case Commissioner of Police and Anr Vs. Umesh Kumar
The Delhi police issued a notice on 27.01.2013 for filling up vacancies for Constable (Executive) – Male As per the notice, there were 523 vacancies. Many candidates appeared for the physical cum endurance test 4.10.2013. Out of the total 50,442 candidates, 39,597 candidates appeared for the written exam that was held on 08.03.2014. This exam, as well as a second exam, was cancelled as well.
A written exam was then held on 16.11.2014 and was a multiple-choice exam. Five hundred fourteen candidates were selected provisionally on 13.07.2015.
During the scrutiny, it was found that a bonus of 1 mark was not given to candidates who were above 178 centimetres in height. Accordingly, the final result was revised, and a new result was declared on 17.08.2015.
Respondents, in the present case, were selected from the OBC category. The cut-off mark for OBC category was 71.29004295, and the respondent no.1 ( Umesh Kumar) secured 74.16991306 marks and the second respondent Satyendra Singh scored 71.49891738.
The selected candidates, including the respondents, were asked to submit their character verification form and medical fitness certificate. The respondents submitted both the form, and it was duly checked that the forms were in order.
However, some of the candidates who had appeared for the same exam filed a case in the Central Administrative Tribunal and alleged that they were not allotted marks for question Nos. 17, 55, 56, 71, 75, 79, 86 and 90 .
An expert committee was constituted to check if their allegations were correct. The expert committee examined the questions and their answers and concluded that some questions were wrong or had no correct answers.
The complete result of the recruitment exam was revised. For the OBC community to which the respondents belonged the cut off was revised to 79.49134163 marks. The respondents scored 77.51406888 and 77.27164463 marks, respectively.
Some candidates challenged the correctness of the revised result before CAT. The O.A was dismissed by the CAT and so were review petitions. Then the candidates approached the Delhi High Court which also dismissed their petition.
On 21.03.2016, the respondent filed O.A. No. 1146 of 2016 in the CAT which was also dismissed. Then the respondent Umesh Kumar filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, and an order was passed in his favour. Based on the judgement passed in the Umesh Kumar case, the petition filed by Satyendra Singh was allowed as well.
Hon’ble Delhi High Court directed the respondents to appoint the petitioners to the post of Constable ( executive ), Delhi Police.
Aggrieved by the order passed by the Delhi High Court, the respondents( appellants ) in this case filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.
Proceedings Before the Supreme Court
Arguments raised on behalf of the appellants:-
- It was stated that the revaluation of the first exam was necessary due to the order passed by the CAT.
- As per the expert committee, some irregularities were noted, and because of that, the answer key and cut-off were revised.
- It was also stated that as many 228 candidates scored higher than Umesh Kumar and 265 candidates ranked higher than Satyendra Singh.
- It was argued that just because the respondents have been successful in the first exam, it does not confer them a right to appointment.
- The respondents failed to get the required marks as per the revised, and therefore cannot claim to be successful.
- It was further argued that the judgement passed by the Delhi high court was contrary to the law laid down in Rajesh Kumar vs the State of Bihar
- The counsel stated that the Delhi High Court should not have considered the ground taken by Umesh Kumar that he resigned from the Railway Protection Force.
Arguments raised by the counsel for the respondents:-
- Mr Salman Khurshid, who appeared on behalf of the respondents, stated that neither of the respondents was at fault.
- Both the candidates were successful in the first result that was declared on 17.07.2015
- Because of the declaration of the second result, grave prejudice has been caused to the respondents.
- It was also submitted that even though there were candidates who had scored more than them in the recruitment exam, none of them approached the High Court or the Supreme Court so the decision passed by the High Court should not be disturbed.
The reasoning of the Court
The Supreme Court went through all the sequence of events in the case and acknowledged the fact that authorities should have conducted the exam more professionally. The Court observed that 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.
However, the Supreme Court Court opined that the main issue, in this case, was whether the respondents had a vested right of appointment.
A reference was made to Punjab SEB vs Malkiat Singh, where it was held that mere inclusion of a candidate in a selection list does not confer upon them a right to appointment.
It was also observed that even though the recruitment process had some initial hurdles due to allotment of marks and irregularities in the question paper, everything was rectified as per law.
Hon’ble Supreme Court also disagreed with the argument that just because the respondents approached the Court and others didn’t would not entitle them to a direction contrary to the law since they had no vested right to appointment.
On the issue that the respondent Umesh Kumar had resigned from his post in RPF, the Court held that he resigned even before the results of the exam were declared, and so this ground is invalid.
The Decision of the Court
The Supreme Court Court held that the decision of the Delhi High Court directing the appellants to recruit the respondents does not conform with the law because the respondents were unsuccessful in clearing the exam.
Appeal filed by the appellants was allowed, and the judgment passed by the Delhi High Court was set aside.
Title : Commissioner of Police and Anr Vs. Umesh Kumar
Case No. Civil Appeal No. 3334 of 2020
Date of Judgment : 07.10.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice D. Y Chandrachud and Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee
Advocates:- Ms Madhavi Divan, for the appellants ; Mr Salman Khurshid for the respondents