Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Division Bench of Daya Chaudhary and Sudhir Mittal, JJ. dismissed the review application filed by a person against the order passed by the State of Punjab regarding the inter se merit of sportspersons.
An order was issued by the State of Punjab giving directions for reservations of sportspersons; against which the petitioner had filed a case stating that while deciding the inter se merit of the students with the same sports gradation, merit was being ignored. The Court held that the inter se merit of candidates within the same sports gradation has to be determined on the basis of merit. However, the State of Punjab sought Special Leave to Appeal. In the SLP, it was directed by the Supreme Court that counseling would take place as per the order passed by the High Court. Meanwhile, a revised merit list was uploaded in which the merit positions of candidates were lowered. Thus, the instant review application was filed.
In reply to the review application, the State of Punjab submitted that the merit list was governed by Clause 6 of the Sports Gradation Policy dated 10-12-1997.
B.S.Patwalia, learned counsel for the non-applicant petitioner, argued that the review application was not maintainable as a petition seeking Special Leave to Appeal was pending before the Supreme Court. Whereas Gurminder Singh, learned senior counsel for the review applicants, stated that the pendency of SLP did not bar this court from exercising its review jurisdiction because the subject matter in both the matters was different.
The Court held that the pendency of such SLP does not attract the doctrine of merger. Even if, the SLP is dismissed by passing a speaking order, the doctrine of merger is not attracted. It relied on the judgment in Khoday Distilleries Ltd. v. Sri Mahadeshwara Sahakara Sakkare Karkhane Ltd., (2019) 4 SCC 376 to hold that a High Court can exercise review jurisdiction during the pendency of an SLP.
However, it was opined that the counseling order passed by the Supreme Court could not be ignored. Relying on Abbai Maligai Partnership Firm v. K. Santhakumaran, (1998) 7 SCC 386, the Court refrained from passing any order contrary to the directions of the Supreme Court and directed the applicants to seek clarification from the Supreme Court. [Rimnaaz v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 1704, decided on 06-09-2019]