Judges Selection- Stipulations In The Advertisement Can Only Be Changed In Terms Of Statutory Rules:SC [Read Judgment]
The Supreme Court has observed that appointments to the post of judicial officers are to be made in terms of stipulations contained in the advertisement and such stipulations can only be changed in terms of statutory Rules.
The Supreme Court was considering appeal against High Court Of Hyderabad For The State Of Telangana And State Of AP order in which it had held that the decision of the Selection Committee declaring that the petitioners and each of them are not eligible to be absorbed for not securing the minimum qualifying marks in viva voce or aggregate qualifying marks in written and viva voce is illegal and arbitrary.
While allowing the writ petitions filed by P Murali Mohana Reddy and others (who had taken the exams conducted for the working/former ad-hoc Fast Track Court District Judges for absorption into regular cadre of Additional District Judges), the high court had held that the decision of the Selection Committee declaring that they are not eligible to be absorbed for not securing the minimum qualifying marks in viva voce or aggregate qualifying marks in written and viva voce, is illegal and arbitrary. The bench had also direct their appointment as they have qualified in the written test and have also taken viva voce test. The high court had held that the minimum qualifying marks in the viva voce test cannot be laid down after the written test is over.
The bench noticed that the judgment in Brij Mohan Lal's case had directed all the states to conduct written examination for the ad-hoc Fast Track Court District Judges, who were appointed directly from the Bar and presiding/presided over the Fast Track Courts, and to initiate the process of selection for absorption of those officials. Following were the directions issued:
- Written examination is to be conducted for 150 marks.
- Interview is to be conducted for 100 marks.
- Qualifying marks in the written examination shall be aggregate 40% for general candidates and 35% for SC/ST/OBC candidates.
- Each of the appointees shall be entitled to one mark per year of service in the FTCs, which shall form part of the interview mark.
The bench said that the high court is right to the extent that the appointments are to be made in terms of stipulations contained in the advertisement. "Though, such terms can be changed, but that has to be done in terms of statutory Rules. Insofar as advertisement is concerned, there was no mention of securing minimum qualifying marks in the viva voce test. The High Court is also right in pointing out that Rule 6 of the Rules does not contains any provision of securing minimum qualifying marks in the interview. At the same time, it stipulates qualifying aggregate marks in written examination and viva voce, as 40% for general category, 35% for backward category and 30% for SC/ST category in the written examination. This requirement of securing minimum qualifying marks in the written examination was fulfilled by the respondents," it said.
The bench further said that the judgment in Brij Mohan Lal's case, though does not lay down minimum qualifying marks for viva voce, prescribes qualifying marks in aggregate i.e., both for written examination and interview combined.
The court noticed that none of them could secure qualifying aggregate/consolidated percentage marks. "Insofar as non-securing of qualifying consolidated marks by the respondents is concerned, though the High Court has noted this fact but has not touched upon this aspect at all. It has only dealt with the aspect of requirement of minimum qualifying marks in viva voce test."
Among them, Sunitha Busireddy and S Sarada Devi secured 99.7 and 99.3 marks, respectively, as against the required marks of 100 (aggregate marks). In their case, the bench said: "Insofar as Sunitha Busireddy is concerned, when the marks are rounded off, it has to be treated as 100 marks. Since, S. Sarada Devi is also short by only 0.7 marks, there is no reason not to round off her marks to 100 as well, going by the consideration that they have been working as ad-hoc judges for number of years and also the fact that it was only a qualifying examination for the purpose of regularisation. Therefore, these two candidates/respondents have to be treated as qualified the written test and interview when their marks are aggregated."
As regards other two candidates could not secure 40%/35% aggregate marks, the bench said that they cannot be treated as having qualified the examination (consisting of written test and interview). But the bench invoked Article 142 and issued this direction: "However, we find that they have, by this time, substantial number of years of service. Moreover, in the written examination they could secure 40%/35% marks though they fell short of this target when it comes to securing aggregate marks is concerned. It may also be pointed out that one of the candidates belongs to the Scheduled Caste category and as per the Rules persons belonging to the SC/ST category are supposed to secure a minimum qualifying mark of 30% in the written examination. In such circumstances, it would be more appropriate to give them one more chance to appear in the written examination and viva voce, which should be held by the High Court in accordance with the mandate in Brij Mohan Lal's case."
The court also directed the high court to hold examination within a period of six months and said during this period, these two persons shall also continue in service.
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