The Delhi High Court recently reiterated the settled position of law that selection criteria cannot be changed after the admission process is over.
“The rules of the game cannot be changed after the game is over. The competent authority, if the statutory rules do not restrain, is fully competent to prescribe minimum qualifying marks for written examination as well as for interview, but such prescription must be done at the time of initiation of selection process. The change of criterion of selection in the midst of selection process is not permissible,” Justice V. Kameswar Rao observed.
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by one Paramjit Singh against the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL), which had conducted a recruitment drive for the post of Junior Operator Grade-I in February, 2011. The Petitioner did not get appointed despite the fact that he had obtained the second highest marks in the written examination. He was then informed that this was due to the fact that he had failed to make the cut-off in the interviews, since the interview was of a qualifying nature.
The question now posed before the Court was whether the fixing of cut off marks of 35% for General/OBC candidates, before the Interview process could commence, was justified.
The Court noted that the issue earlier come up before the Supreme Court in the case of K. Manjusree Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2008) 3 SCC 512, wherein it was held that the selection criterion has to be adopted and declared at the time of commencement of recruitment process.
It then held that in the absence of such requirement in the advertisement, IOCL could not have stipulated 35% as the cut-off marks for OBC candidates. The Court, however, noted that in the case in hand, no prejudice had been caused to the Petitioner. It, therefore, concluded that the process could not have been illegally modified in favor of the selected candidates, as the marks of the written test were not disclosed to the interviewers.