Merit List Not A Reservoir For Future Appointments: Orissa High Court Dismisses Plea Filed With 15 Yrs Delay
The Orissa High Court has held that a 'select/merit list' cannot be deemed to be a 'reservoir' for the purpose of appointments. While denying appointment to a candidate who approached the Court, 15 years after publication of the select list, a Single Judge Bench of Justice Sangam Kumar Sahoo placed reliance on the following observations made by the Supreme Court in State of Orissa & Anr. v. Rajkishore Nanda & Ors.:
"A select list cannot be treated as a reservoir for the purpose of appointments, that vacancy can be filled up taking the names from that list as and when it is so required. It is the settled legal proposition that no relief can be granted to the candidate if he approaches the Court after expiry of the select list. If the selection process is over, select list has expired and appointments had been made, no relief can be granted by the Court at a belated stage."
The petitioner had filed application for appointment to the post of Multiple Purpose Assistant (GRS) as was advertised by the Collector, Angul in the year 2007. After scrutiny of documents relating to qualifications, the petitioner was placed at serial no. 3 of the select list. Subsequently, the person who was placed at serial no. 1 was declared disqualified and the candidate at serial no. 2 died in the meantime.
The petitioner, thus, filed the writ petition praying for a direction to the Collector -cum- C.E.O., Zilla Parishad, Angul to give him appointment as Multiple Purpose Assistant (GRS) in Jharbeda Gram Panchayat under Pallahara Block, as he was next in the list.
Contentions of the Petitioner
Mr. S.K. Pradhan, counsel for the petitioner stated that since the petitioner remained as the sole candidate in the merit list which was prepared in the year 2007, he should be given appointment in the said post. It was further submitted that a representation was filed on 18.11.2021 before the Collector-cum- C.E.O., Zilla Parishad, Angul and a copy of the same was also served on the Project Director, District Rural Development Agency, Angul but the same was not acted upon.
Contentions of the Respondents
Mr. Saswat Das, Additional Government Advocate for the respondents submitted that the petitioner is praying the Court to act upon the merit list (select list) which was prepared in the year 2007. He contended that there is an inordinate delay in approaching the Court and in the meantime, almost fifteen years have passed and therefore, the merit list prepared in the year 2007 cannot be treated as a perpetual reservoir for the purpose of appointment.
Further, he argued, no indefeasible right accrued in favour of the petitioner merely because his name finds place in the select list. He also highlighted that in the year 2018, a comprehensive guideline has been prepared which prescribes that the final merit list shall remain valid for a period of one year from the date of final publication.
The Court noted the observations made in Rajkishore Nanda (supra), wherein it was held that a person whose name appears in the select list does not acquire any 'indefeasible right' of appointment. Empanelment, at the best, is merely a condition of eligibility for the purpose of appointment and by itself does not create a vested right to be appointed. It also held that the select list cannot be treated as a reservoir for the purpose of appointments.
Justice Sahoo also observed that the petitioner approached the Court after an inordinate delay of nearly 15 years and failed to offer any reasonable explanation for the aforesaid delay. Thus, he held:
"Law is well settled that persons seeking relief against the State under Article 226 of the Constitution, cannot get discretionary relief obtainable thereunder unless they fully satisfy the High Court that the facts and circumstances of the case clearly justified the laches or undue delay on their part in approaching the Court for grant of such discretionary relief. The unexplained delay on the part of the petitioner in approaching the High Court for redressal of his grievance under Article 226 of the Constitution would be sufficient to justify rejection of the petition."
Accordingly, the writ petition was dismissed being devoid of merit.
Case Title: Kalandi Charan Barik v. State of Odisha & Ors.
Case No.: W.P.(C) No. 22181 of 2022
Order Dated: 5th December 2022
Coram: S.K. Sahoo, J.
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. S.K. Pradhan, Advocate
Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. Saswat Das, Additional Government Advocate
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 160