Yet again, divergent views emanated from the Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice R. Banumathi in the matter of challenge against prescribing minimum marks for viva voce conducted by the High Court of Manipur for an appointment to the post of district judge (entry level).
Salam Samarjeet Singh, an aspirant for the district judge post, was declared unsuccessful in viva voce conducted by the high court, for failing to get 40% marks. Though there were no minimum marks prescribed in the rules and advertisement, the full court took a decision that “no one shall be declared pass and selected for appointment unless he secures minimum 40% from the interview”.
He challenged the said action, by preferring a writ petition before the apex court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
Justice Banumathi dismissed the writ petition he filed before the apex court observing that when the decision of the full court was to ensure selection of a meritorious candidate, it cannot be said that the decision of the high court amounted to change in the criteria of selection after the selection process had started. It was also held that keeping in view the Rules and having regard to the seniority of the post which is district judge (entry level), the high court cannot be faulted with for exercising its residuary right reserved in its favour by prescribing cut-off marks for the interview.
Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, in his separate dissenting opinion, allowed the writ petition and observed that the high court resolution was not communicated to the petitioner and it was neither a part of the Rules nor of the advertisement and, hence, the theory that if a candidate takes a calculated chance and faces the selection procedure, then on the result being unfavourable, he cannot be permitted to turn around and challenge the process of selection, is not at all attracted. The theory rests on the hypothesis that the impugned procedure or rule is already in public domain and the candidate must, therefore, be aware of it when he participates, Justice Singh said.
Read the Judgment here.