The Supreme Court recently observed that instructions issued by the Public Service Commissions to the candidates are mandatory and to be strictly complied with and the High Courts cannot relax/modify these instructions.
For Use of A Pencil, A Chance To Become A Judge Was Lost
The facts of this case would reveal why is it so important to scrupulously follow the instructions issued in competitive examinations.
G. Hemalathaa, an advocate, applied to the posts of Civil Judges in the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Service. After clearing preliminary exams, she participated in the written test conducted by Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission. It turned out that she had underlined the answer sheet with pencil at several places in Law Paper-1. As such marking was in violation of Instruction issued by the Commission which prohibits candidates from using a pencil for any purpose, she was disqualified.
The High Court, taking a lenient view, allowed her writ petition observing that the underlining of some portions of the answer sheet in pencil was done unwittingly and inadvertently and that she did not gain any advantage from such marking.
In the appeal filed by the state against the High Court judgment, the Apex Court bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta observed:
The Instructions issued by the Commission are mandatory, having the force of law and they have to be strictly complied with. Strict adherence to the terms and conditions of the Instructions is of paramount importance. The High Court in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the Constitution cannot modify/relax the Instructions issued by the Commission.
Hard cases make bad law
The bench also refused to invoke Article 142 of the Constitution holding that it cannot approve the judgment of the High Court as any order in favour of the candidate who has violated the mandatory Instructions would be laying down bad law. The bench also quoted from a judgment of US Supreme Court, in this regard:
"Extreme cases often test the bounds of established legal principles. There is a cost to yielding to the desire to correct the extreme case, rather than adhering to the legal principle. That cost has been demonstrated so often that it is captured in a legal aphorism: "Hard cases make bad law."
Senior Advocates R. Venkatramani and V. Mohana appeared on behalf of the appellant and the respondent respectively.
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