SC Upholds Centre’s Decision To Scrap Limited Competitive Examination For Recruitment To IPS [Read Judgment]

SC Upholds Centre’s Decision To Scrap Limited Competitive Examination For Recruitment To IPS [Read Judgment]

We have no doubt that the decision to scrap the LCE recruitment has been taken in the larger public interest, the bench said.

The Supreme Court has upheld the decision taken by the Central government to scrap the Limited Competitive Examination (LCE) recruitment for making appointments to the Indian Police Service (IPS), observing that the same has been taken in the ‘larger public interest’.

The Challenge

In 2012, the UPSC had invited applications for filling up posts in the IPS through LCE and written tests and interviews were conducted but till date, the results of the same have not been yet declared. The amendment of the Indian Police Service (Recruitment) Amended Rules, 2011 introducing LCE in addition to the normal modes of recruitment, was challenged in a multitude of petitions filed in different high courts. The Delhi and Gauhati high courts upheld the validity of the amended rules. On the plea of the Union of India, the Supreme Court transferred all the petitions pending before different high courts to itself.

In January this year, the Central Government stated before the Court that it had taken a decision to scrap the LCE held in the year 2012, which was objected to by candidates who had appeared in the LCE. The three-judge bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Deepak Gupta then proceeded to decide whether the decision to scrap the LCE recruitment was justified.

Govt’s reasons for scrapping LCE

Following are the reasons were given by the government in support of its decision:



  • percentage of vacancies has gone down;

  • the selection process has been delayed by many years which will mean that the persons selected will be at least 5 years older than as expected;

  • that many petitions are still pending and the matter has not been finally decided, which could lead to further delay; and

  • it is apprehended that there would be a surfeit of litigation between candidates, if any, appointed through LCE and those who are recruited by direct recruitment or promotion during the years 2012 to 2018.


Candidates’ version

The candidates, through their counsels, senior advocates Dushyant Dave and R Venkatramani, invoking Doctrine of Legitimate Expectation and Promissory Estoppel, contended that the reasons given by the government in its affidavit do not satisfy the test of overriding public interest or higher purpose.

Scrapping in Larger Public Interest

Negating those contentions, the bench observed that the petitioners have no enforceable right to claim that the result should be declared or that they should be appointed if found meritorious. The court also held that principle of promissory estoppel can only be invoked by a person who has changed his position to his detriment on the basis of the promise held out to him. “This is not the position in the present cases. All the candidates are serving in the State Police or the Central Police Organisation or in the Army. Their position has not been adversely affected by the selection process and therefore, the principle of promissory estoppel is not applicable.”, Justice Deepak Gupta said in the judgment.

As regards legitimate expectation, the bench agreed with the reasons given by the Central government to scrap LCE and observed: “We cannot be oblivious to the fact that if the Union is compelled to make the appointments, this will lead to a plethora of litigation where the persons recruited to the IPS between 2013 and 2018 will claim seniority over the persons, who appear in the LCE. We are not going into the merits of the issue but, we can easily visualize the huge amount of litigation which will in all probability ensue, where members of the IPS would be litigating against each other. Such litigation would not be in public good and will achieve no higher purpose. In fact, such litigation may also affect the morale of the officers in the IPS.”

When we examine the decision taken by the Central Government in a holistic manner, we have no doubt that the decision to scrap the LCE recruitment has been taken in the larger public interest. The decision is definitely not mala fide. It is not actuated by extraneous reasons. It cannot be said that the decision is arbitrary, the bench said while disposing all the transferred cases as infructuous.

Read the Judgment Here