District Judge Recruitment: No Harm In Doing Away With Minimum Marks In Interview: Karnataka HC [Read Judgment]

District Judge Recruitment: No Harm In Doing Away With Minimum Marks In Interview: Karnataka HC [Read Judgment]

“This Court is of the opinion that the decision of the selection committee in awarding lesser than the minimum marks prescribed in the interview would only mean that in the assessment of the Committee, the candidature of the petitioners for appointment as Judges, cannot be considered.”

The Karnataka High Court has observed that here is no harm in doing away with the minimum marks in interview.

Justice R. Devdas suggested that, instead of minimum marks, a clause could be stipulated that if the selection Committee is of the opinion that a candidate is not suitable for appointment, the Committee could mark the candidate as 'failed' or 'try again', where the candidate is found too young.

Marks could be awarded in the interview only for 'suitable' candidates for further consideration, in terms of the other provisions, the judge said.

The court was considering a writ petitions filed by Dhanesh Mugali and others who were not included in the select list for the post of District judges because they did not obtain the minimum marks prescribed in the interview/viva-voce. The writ petition was filed challenging prescription of minimum marks in the recruitment Notification.

The court observed: "No doubt, in Ramesh Kumar's case, the Apex Court had held that in All India Judges' Association (3) case, the Apex Court had accepted Justice Shetty Commission's report that there should not be a stipulation on minimum marks to be obtained in interview and as a consequence, the directions ought to have been given effect to. But the fact remains that many of the High Courts including the High Court of Karnataka continued to maintain the requirement of minimum marks to be obtained in interview."

The Court also noted that in the case of Salam Samarjeet Singh, the Apex Court has held that All India Judges' Association (3) case is sub silentio on the recommendation of Shetty Commission as to "no cut-off marks for viva-voce. Referring to judgment in Subash Chander Marwah, the court added that even if minimum marks are not prescribed for interview, the selection committee is entitled to form an opinion about the suitability or unsuitability of a candidate to be appointed as a Judge. Dismissing the writ petition, the bench said:

"In the case on hand, the prescription of minimum marks in the interview was stipulated in the recruitment Notification. No prejudice is caused to the petitioners. Having regard to the minimum marks prescribed, the selection Committee has assessed the candidates and awarded lesser than the minimum marks prescribed, in respect of the petitioners. There is a definite meaning behind the marks awarded to the petitioners. We cannot disregard the combined and considered opinion of the members of the selection committee, who are none other than the Hon'ble Judges of this Court. If the Committee is of the opinion that a candidate is unsuitable to be appointed as a Judge, the decision of the Committee requires to be respected."

The court added that the assessment and considered opinion of the selection Committee requires to be respected because they only had the benefit of personally interviewing the candidates and assessing the performance and personality of the candidates. In this context, the court suggested:

"This Court deems it fit to volunteer a suggestion as regards the contentious issue of fixation of minimum marks in the interview. There is no harm in doing away with the minimum marks in interview, provided, a clause could be stipulated that if the selection Committee is of the opinion that a candidate is not suitable for appointment, the Committee could mark the candidate as 'failed' or 'try again', where the candidate is found too young. Marks could be awarded in the interview only for 'suitable' candidates for further consideration, in terms of the other provisions."

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