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'Judicial Review of Examining Body's Decision Is Limited', Rajasthan HC Dismisses Plea Challenging District Judge Recruitment Process

ANIRUDH VIJAY
24 Feb 2022 4:54 PM GMT
Judicial Review of Examining Bodys Decision Is Limited, Rajasthan HC Dismisses Plea Challenging District Judge Recruitment Process
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The Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur dismissed a batch of writ petitions challenging the District Judge Recruitment process. In this matter, all the petitioners herein failed to make a mark in the preliminary examination. They were not shortlisted and did not qualify for the main examination. Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Sudesh Bansal, ruled, "All in all we find that...

The Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur dismissed a batch of writ petitions challenging the District Judge Recruitment process.

In this matter, all the petitioners herein failed to make a mark in the preliminary examination. They were not shortlisted and did not qualify for the main examination.

Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Sudesh Bansal, ruled,

"All in all we find that the exercise undertaken by the specially constituted committee which culminated into a well-reasoned report touching threadbare on each and every disputed question, and which report was accepted by the examination committee, calls for no interference."

Notably, the respondents submitted the Special Committee Report comprising the consideration of petitioners' representations in sealer cover. The court observed that publishing the answer keys of the questions and entertaining representations from the candidates was the first step in the right direction. If participation of the candidates was thus encouraged in the process of making the selection more transparent, there was no reason why the consideration of such representations should also not be made public, added the court.

In this regard, the court further opined that this would be a step further in bringing transparency in the selection process. The court also added that at least when the challenge is brought, the relevant portion of the report should have been included in the reply so that the petitioners can deal with it.

The court observed that the instances of the examination committee being forced to change the correct answer or delete the question has to be kept to the minimum. The court also noted that the expert bodies should not commit multiple errors in setting up question papers which eventually force them to delete several questions. The court added that the question as well as its multiple choices must be so clear as to permit no ambiguity.

In these petitions petitioners have raised the following three grounds of challenge and have answered accordingly:

(1) As per Rules of 2010 candidates 15 times the notified vacancies would be called for main examination, however for 85 notified vacancies, 1275 candidates had to be invited as against 1015.

(2) No separate cut-off marks are prescribed for women general candidates.

The court observed that the shortfall in the number of candidates who qualified for the written main examination was on account of shortage of candidates belonging to certain categories. The court noted that if there is a shortfall of candidates in a particular category be it reserved or otherwise and therefore in the total number of candidates who graduate to the next level of recruitment process namely of the written main examination, there is shortfall, it cannot be characterized as a departure from the procedure prescribed in the Rules or in any other manner irregular or illegal. The court opined that similarly, the explanation rendered by the respondents with respect to no separate cut-off marks being prescribed for the women candidate is also acceptable.

It was pointed out by the court that in the general category candidates more than 15 times the number of vacancies notified for the women candidates had already qualified. Prescribing any cut-off marks would perhaps act in reverse and limit the number of candidates in this category, observed the court. The court ruled that the requirement of prescribing cut-off marks for this category therefore by virtue of this development had become redundant.

(3) Petitioners have questioned deletion of six questions by the examination committee and have argued that the decision to continue with one question which according to them did not present any correct choice was wrong.

Relying on a series of judgments of the Supreme Court, the court observed that the judicial review of the decision of the examining body, be it in the field of education or in the recruitment to public employment, is extremely limited. The court opined that when the examination is being conducted by an expert body and disputed questions are scanned by a specially constituted expert committee, the Courts are extremely slow in interfering with the decisions of such bodies. Unless it is pointed out that there is a glaring error or an irrational decision has been rendered, the Court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India would not interfere, observed the court.

Additionally, the court independently examined each questions along with committee's recommendations and observed that in every instance, the committee has examined the position correctly and where ever it was found that either the question was ambiguous or the multiple choices in the question papers did not present one and only one clear cut answer which was correct, recommendation was made for deleting such questions.

Other Observations by the Court

The court noted that Clause (2) of Article 233 provides that a person not already in the service of the Union or of the State shall only be eligible to be appointed as District Judge if he has been for not less than seven years an advocate or a pleader and is recommended by the High Court for appointment. The court also refused to to go into this question as contention has been raised without giving any specific instances or further details regarding participation of any disqualified candidates

Reliance was placed by the court on Chandra Mohan v. State of U.P [(1967) 1 SCR 77], wherein it was held that the expression "the service" in clause (2) of Article 233 has to be seen as judicial service. This view in the case of Dheeraj Mor Vs. High Court of Delhi [(2020) 7 SCC 401], observed the court.

In addition to this, the court rejected the contention raised by the petitioner with respect to allowing as many as 50 legal advisers by the respondents in the preliminary examination, on the ground that no details of the alleged legal advisers were provided. Whether such legal advisors are in government service and if so in what capacity is also not stated, added the court.

Case Title: Rajkamal Basitha v. Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur and connected matters

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Raj) 75

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