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SMS Intimation To Candidate's Mobile Number Sufficient Communication For Selection Process : Supreme Court

Shruti Kakkar
20 Nov 2021 12:22 PM GMT
SMS Intimation To Candidates Mobile Number Sufficient Communication For Selection Process : Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has rejected the argument of a candidate that the intimation given through SMS about physical fitness test and document verification is not sufficient. The Court noted that the SMS intimation was given in the mobile number furnished by the candidate."When a requirement is stated in the application to provide the mobile number, it is with a purpose to communicate and in...

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The Supreme Court has rejected the argument of a candidate that the intimation given through SMS about physical fitness test and document verification is not sufficient. The Court noted that the SMS intimation was given in the mobile number furnished by the candidate.

"When a requirement is stated in the application to provide the mobile number, it is with a purpose to communicate and in the instant case, the appellants have sent the SMS to the very number which had been furnished by the appellant", the Court said.

Further, the Court observed that a line has to be drawn at some stage as otherwise, the recruitment process undertaken by the competent authorities would be meaningless without a timeline and the next recruitment process will also get affected as determination of the number of vacancies for the next process would keep fluctuating.

The observation has been made by the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna while considering a special leave petition assailing the order passed by the Division Bench of Allahabad High Court ("impugned order").

In the impugned order, the High Court had upheld Single Judge's order of directing the State of UP to permit the respondent to appear for the document verification and physical fitness test for the post of Constable in pursuance to the recruitment advertised in the year 2015.

While allowing State's appeal the bench in State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors v Pankaj Kumar observed that,

"In any event, though indulgence was shown in the earlier cases, a line has to be drawn at some stage as otherwise, the recruitment process undertaken by the competent authorities would be meaningless without a timeline and the next recruitment process will also get affected since determination of the number of vacancies for the next process will keep fluctuating. The process herein had commenced in the year 2015 and the document verification along with the physical fitness test was held in 2018. Several candidates who were permitted pursuant to the order of the High Court had taken part in early January 2019. Since sufficient time has elapsed thereafter it would not be appropriate to make an exception in the case of the respondent at this stage as otherwise the trickle would continue."

Factual Background

The State of UP ("Appellant") had published an advertisement in 2015 to recruit Police Constables to the Provincial Armed Constabulary (Male) by direct recruitment. The respondent ("Pankaj Kumar") was one of the candidates who responded to the advertisement and submitted his application. Pursuant thereto, the admit card was issued to the respondent and the initial fitness examination was held.

To complete the process of selection, the documents were to be verified and the candidates were to be subjected to a physical fitness test which was to be made subsequently as the next stage of recruitment process.

The issue in the present matter was with regard to the respondent being unable to appear for the physical fitness test and the verification of documents which he alleged was for want of written communication.

As per the appellants, the candidates who were required to appear for the physical fitness test and document verification were intimated by issuing SMS over the mobile phone, the number of which had been furnished in the application. It was also submitted that several other candidates who had received such SMS had appeared and took part in the process of document verification and the physical fitness test. It was only the respondent who had not appeared, made out a grievance about appellants not intimating the respondent through post.

Aggrieved, the Respondent approached the High Court by way of writ petition seeking issuance of directions to the State to complete his document verification and the physical fitness test pertaining to his height, weight and chest measurement and declare the result after completing the process.

Case Before Single Judge

Although the Single Judge did not record the finding with regards to violation or non compliance of Uttar Pradesh (Civil Police) Constable and Head Constable Rules, 2008, but concluded that there was inadvertence on respondent's part since an applicant would not have deliberately not participated in the process of recruitment. The Court thereby directed the State to permit the respondent to appear for the document verification and physical fitness test for the post of Constable in pursuance to the recruitment advertised in the year 2015.

Case Before Division Bench

On the intra court appeal preferred by the State, the Division Bench while approving the decision of Single Judge indicated that there was no dispute to the fact that except for the SMS sent to the respondent no other mode of information was sent.

Submission Of Counsels

Appearing for the State, Advocate Pradeep Misra submitted that the negligence of the respondent in not responding to such SMS by appearing for the further process should be to his own detriment and could not interfere with the process of selection which had been completed.

Counsel also referred to the notification dated May 15, 2018 wherein the details of the process of selection had been indicated and the candidates had also been notified therein that the result is available on the website, the details of which was furnished. He thereafter submitted that the candidates were required to keep track of the details of the selection process through the website and that the respondent could not come up with the contention as has been put forth by him herein.

Representing the respondent, Advocate Sarvesh Kumar Dubey contended that Rules contemplated that the intimation had to be sent through post, but no such intimation was issued to the respondent and that the mere issue of SMS intimating the date of further process in the selection would not be sufficient.

He also contended that that the mobile number would be furnished by the candidates at the time of making an application and in the instant case since about 3 years had elapsed from the date of the application, there could be no assumption that the candidate would possess the very same mobile connection and the number.

Supreme Court's Analysis

"When a requirement is stated in the application to provide the mobile number, it is with a purpose to communicate and in the instant case, the appellants have sent the SMS to the very number which had been furnished by the appellant," the Court observed.

With regards to the counsel for respondent's contention that a person may not retain the same number after a long lapse of time, the Court said that no material had been brought on record to indicate that the respondent did not possess the said mobile connection as on the date the SMS was sent.

"Further, the argument as put forth by the learned counsel for the respondent that one may not retain the same number after lapse of long time would hold good even for the address which is furnished for the issue of postal communication. In a given case, the person may not reside in the same address which is furnished for communication as it existed when the application was made," the Court further observed.

On this aspect the bench in the judgement authored by Justice AS Bopanna opined that in such circumstance, it was for the candidate to intimate any change to the authorities, since such change would be within the knowledge of the candidate and it was in his or her own interest such intimation was to be made.

"When there can be no dispute that the respondent was in possession of the same mobile connection, the detail of which was furnished in the application and the SMS had been sent to the respondent, the respondent having not acted on the same cannot at his own convenience make request to be permitted to participate in the selection process which has already concluded, not having utilized the opportunity which was available to him," Court added.

Case Title: State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors v Pankaj Kumar| Civil Appeal No. 6860 Of 2021

Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna

Citation : LL 2021 SC 666

Click Here To Read/Download Judgement



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