The Supreme Court, on Thursday, agreed to reconstitute a Constitution Bench for hearing the issue, whether the "rules of the game" can be changed after the selection process has started.
The issue had arisen in a batch of cases relating to the selection process of District Judges conducted by certain High Courts. The primary question is whether the selection criteria can be changed during the process.
A 5-judge bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Hemant Gupta, Surya Kant, MM Sundresh and Sudhanshu Dhulia commenced with the hearing of the matter.
Mentioning the matter before a Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice J.B. Pardiwala, Advocate, Mr. Kuriakose Varghese informed the Bench that since Justices Indira Banerjee and Hemant Gupta have retired now, a new Constitution Bench be formed to hear the matter.
The CJI said that he would constitute a new 5-Judge Bench to hear the matter.
The issue was referred to the Constitution Bench by a 3-judge bench in the case Tej Prakash Pathak and others v. Rajasthan High Court and others (2013) 4 SCC 540. In Tej Prakash, the bench doubted the correctness of an earlier decision K. Manjusree v. State of Andhra Pradesh and another (2008) 3 SCC 512, where it was held that the selection criteria cannot be changed midway during the process as "it would amount to changing the rules of the game after the game was played which is clearly impermissible". The Manjusree case held as invalid a subsequent introduction of cut-off for the interview marks, which was not originally stipulated in the notification.
In Tej Prakash, the three-bench judge doubted whether the prohibition against changing the rules of the game could be held as absolute and non-negotiable.
"In our opinion, application of the principle as laid down in Manjusree case (supra) without any further scrutiny would not be in the larger public interest or the goal of establishing an efficient administrative machinery", the bench observed in Tej Prakash while referring the matter to 5-judge bench.
Salam Samarjeet Singh v. High Court of Manipur At Imphal and Anr (2016) 10 SCC 484 also dealt with almost a similar issue and has since been posted along with Tej Prakash (supra) by order dated 10.08.2017. The matter Sivanandan C.T. & Ors. v. High Court of Kerala & Ors. raising a similar point has also been referred to the Constitution Bench.
Notably, all these cases are concerned with the selection process for appointment of District Judges.
Case Title: Tej Prakash Pathak And Ors. v. Rajasthan High Court And Ors. C.A. No. 2634 of 2013