Prescribing Minimum qualifying marks of 40% in Interview for Judges Selection is valid: Gujarat HC [Read Judgment]

Prescribing Minimum qualifying marks of 40% in Interview for Judges Selection is valid: Gujarat HC [Read Judgment]

Gujarat High Court has upheld the provision prescribing minimum qualifying marks of 40% in viva-voce conducted for direct recruitment to the cadre of District Judge and Civil Judge.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice R.Subhash Reddy and Justice Vipul M Pancholi has held that the amendment made in sub-rule (3) of Rule 8 in the Gujarat State Judicial Services Rules, 2005 prescribing minimum qualifying marks of 40% in viva-voce conducted for direct recruitment to the cadre of District Judge and Civil Judge is neither in violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution nor in violation of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the  All India Judges' Association Case.

The recruitment to the cadre of District Judge in the State of Gujarat is governed by Gujarat State Judicial Services Rules, 2005. Rule 5 provides for the method of recruitment, qualification and the age limit. Rule 8 of Rules of 2005 provides for the competitive examination. The Rules of 2005 came to be amended on 23.06.2011 by Gujarat State Judicial Services (Amendment) Rules of 2011. The grievance of the petitioner is that the recommendation for the appointment of the petitioner could not go through for the reason which the petitioner came to know later on that he failed to secure minimum 40% marks out of 50 marks which was prescribed as benchmark by the selection committee. It is the case of the petitioner that though the Rules of 2005 did not prescribe any such condition of securing benchmark at the interview level for being finally selected, such criteria was wrongly applied by the selection committee. The petitioner has filed the present petition in which the petitioner has also challenged the vires of Rule 8(3) of Amendment Rules of 2011.

The High Court has considered the following questions:

1) Whether it is open for the petitioner to challenge the criteria prescribed under amended sub-rule (3) of rule 8 after having participated in the selection process and having failed to obtain minimum qualifying marks?

2) Whether the amendment made in sub- rule (3) of rule 8 in the Rules of 2005, prescribing minimum qualifying marks of 40% in viva-voce conducted for direct recruitment to the cadre of District Judge and Civil Judge is violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India and the directions issued by the  Apex Court in the case of All India Judges' Association ?

The High Court has answered the first question as follows:

“It is clear that the amendment in the impugned Rule came to be effected from 23.06.2011. The same was published in the Official Gazette and thereafter advertisement was issued on 03.05.2012 wherein also there is specific reference with regard to the minimum benchmark in viva-voce. The petitioner having participated in the interview fully knowing that 40% minimum benchmark is prescribed in the viva-voce, it is not open for him to turn around thereafter when he failed at the interview and contend that the provision of minimum benchmark for viva-voce is not proper. It is well settled that if a candidate takes a calculated chance and appears at the interview, then, only because the result of the interview is not palatable to him, he cannot turn round and subsequently contend that the process of interview was unfair. Accordingly, our answer to question No.1 is that it is not open for the petitioner to challenge the criteria prescribed under amended Rule 8(3) after having participated in the selection process and having failed to obtain minimum qualifying marks.

Answer to the Second Question:

The Bench has answered the second question, as follows:

“From close scrutiny of aforesaid sub-rules of rule 8, we are of the view that in sub-rule (5) itself it has been stated that the object of Viva-Voce Test (interview) is to assess the suitability of the candidate for the cadre by judging the mental alertness, knowledge of law, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, skills, attitude, ethics, power of assimilation, power of communication, character and intellectual depth and the like, of the candidate. Thus, the object for which minimum benchmark is prescribed in the impugned rule has reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved. In fact the qualities which the Judicial Officer would possess are delineated by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Delhi Bar Association v. Union of India, reported in (2002) 10 SCC 159. A judicial officer must, apart from academic knowledge, have the capacity to communicate his thoughts, he must be tactful, he must be diplomatic, he must have a sense of humour, he must have the ability to defuse situations, to control the examination of witnesses and also lengthy irrelevant arguments and the like. Existence of such capacities can be brought out only in an oral interview. It is imperative that only persons with a minimum of such capacities should be selected for the judiciary as otherwise the standards would get diluted and substandard stuff may be getting into the judiciary. We are of the opinion that the respondent No.1 - High Court has therefore set a benchmark i.e. minimum 40% marks out of 50 marks in viva-voce.

Accordingly, our answer to question No.2 is that the amendment made in sub-rule (3) of Rule 8 in the Rules of 2005 prescribing minimum qualifying marks of 40% in viva-voce conducted for direct recruitment to the cadre of District Judge and Civil Judge is neither in violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution nor in violation of the directions issued by the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of All India Judges' Association (supra).

Read the Judgment here.