Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of V. Chitambaresh and Ashok Menon, JJ. contemplated a writ petition where the question raised was related to the written exam conducted by Kerala Public Service Commission in 2015 for the recruitment to the post of Food Safety Officer. Commission had challenged the impugned order of the Administrative Tribunal which directed for a revised list.

The disputed question before the Tribunal was, “In a standard Fruit jam, the content of total soluble solids should not be less than:” four options were given for the questions and answer published by the Commission was alleged incorrect to which the candidate had raised an objection. The learned counsel for the respondent-candidates relied on the query dated 16-5-2016 and the answer elicited under the Right to Information Act, 2016 from the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India. It was submitted that answer referred to Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011 wherein standards of Jam are prescribed. According to which the correct option of the answer was not the one published by the Commission. The list of candidates was published and the interview commenced, subsequently, the final ranked list was published by the PSC. Respondents preferred the original applications before the Kerala Administrative Tribunal which sought to publish a revised ranked list. The respondents contended that they would have secured higher ranks if the correct answer (c) was accepted for awarding marks to the candidates in the written test. The respondents, however, did not choose to implead anyone in the ranked list at least in a representative capacity after paper publication though many in the ranked list would be prejudicially affected.

The Tribunal by impugned order in original petitions directed the petitioner-PSC to take appropriate measures to effect changes in the ranked list and to accept the answer (c) as the correct one. Commission thus, challenged the impugned order of the Tribunal.

The PSC in the meantime obtained an expert opinion from a relevant authority in the subject matter. It was indicated by the Expert that both the answers i.e one provided by the Commission and one the candidates alleged were acceptable and were in conformity. The petitioner relied upon the judgment of Supreme Court in Ran Vijay Singh v. State of U.P., (2018) 2 SCC 357, where the Court held that, “In the event of a doubt, the benefit should go to the examination authority rather than to the candidate.”

The Court observed that, the answer provided by the Commission is not far off the mark, further they relied on the expert opinion which suggested that both answers were acceptable. A genuine doubt raised as to the correctness of the answer key and the court in that event should give the benefit of doubt to the examination authority – PSC. It further emphasized that although it was submitted that about 90 candidates had already been advised by the PSC even before the preferring of the original applications by the respondents before the Tribunal, none of those who are in the ranked list have been impleaded even as eo nomine parties in the original applications which are bad for non-joinder of necessary parties. The decision in Rajesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2013) 4 SCC 690, was distinguishable inasmuch as the challenge therein was well before the appointment. The Court stated that rank list without those included therein being impleaded as party respondents at least in a representative capacity is impermissible in law. The Tribunal ought to have presumed the correctness of the answer key and should have extended the benefit of doubt to the PSC and dismissed the original applications for non-joinder as well. Hence, the order of Tribunal was set aside.[Kerala Public Service Commission v. Vimal C.A, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1676, decided on 28-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

“Wherever democratic institutions exists experience has shown that to secure an efficient civil service it is essential to protect it as far as possible from political or personal influences and give it that position of stability and security which is vital to its successful working as the impartial and efficient instrument by which Governments, of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies. In countries where this principle has been neglected, where the “spoil system” has taken its place, an inefficient and deorganized civil service has been the inevitable result and the corruption has been rampant.” 

                       – The Lee Commission, 1924

Tripura High Court: S. Talapatra, J. allowed a petition directing Tripura Public Service Commission (TPSC) to complete the recruitment process within eight months from the date of judgment.

TPSC by an advertisement dated 30-04-2016 had invited applications for recruitment to the Tripura Civil Services (TCS) Group-A gazetted by direct recruitment in terms of Rule 5 of the Tripura Civil Services Rules, 1965. The petitioner here had applied for the said selection in terms of the said advertisement. Since the petitioner was found eligible he was asked to appear in the preliminary examination. The result of the preliminary examination was published by the TPSC in their notification dated 30-10-2017. In this regard, there was no controversy. The petitioner was thus selected for appearing in the Main Examination. TPSC further published a notification showing the date of examination for various optional papers. Suddenly, on 05-06-2018 the General Administration (Personal and Training) Department issued a notification laying down the new recruitment policy for all establishments under the administrative control of the Government of Tripura. According to the new notification “weightage for the interview should not exceed 10 per cent of total marks. In exceptional case weightage of interview may be increased beyond per cent with the approval of cabinet, if sufficient justification exists.” Following the notification, TPSC started the process of termination of the recruitment process in which the petitioner was appearing. Hence, the present petition.

The learned counsels for the petitioner S.M. Chakraborty along with B. Chakraborty, contended that all the recommendations made in the new recruitment policy could only come into force prospectively. It was submitted that such cancellation was the grossly arbitrary and colourable exercise of power. He also mentioned the Judgment given in Gopal Krushna Rath v. M.A.A. Baig, 1999 1 SCC 544, in which it was well settled that no retrospective operation of the subsequent rules can be given in a pending selection process. It was also decided in the case that every statute or statutory rule is prospective unless it is expressly or by necessary implication made to have retrospective effect. In the concerned matter, the notification clearly said to have a prospective effect thus, the petitioner urged the Court to order TPSC to continue the process of selection and to complete it before a stipulated deadline as decided by the Court.

A.K Bhowmik learned counsel for the respondent categorically contended that the petitioner has no cause of action on cancellation of the recruitment process as the Government has inherent power to cancel the recruitment process, whether initiated by the Government Departments or by the TPSC. It had been further asserted that all existing recruitment processes initiated by the respective departments or the TPSC have been cancelled as the old recruitment policies failed to ensure transparency and fair play in the recruitment. He further vehemently submitted that at any moment, the State Government as an employer can withdraw any recruitment process and initiate a fresh process in terms of the new recruitment policy. The selection process can be revoked by the State Government at any stage in terms of the changed recruitment policy. As such, the writ petition is bereft of merit and is liable to be dismissed.

 The Court observed that respondent had utterly failed to provide any reason for cancelling the recruitment process inasmuch as no foundation had been raised to show that action has been taken to protect any greater or public interest the mode prescribed by those service rules for selection is infested impediment in following that procedure. Thus, the Court allowed the petitioner and ordered TPSC to complete the process of selection within 8 months of the judgment.[Samudra Debbarma v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 145, decided on 14-05-2019] 

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): The Bench of Neeraj Kumar Gupta, Information Commissioner, in an order in respect of an appeal filed before CPIO, M/o Railways, Railways Board, New Delhi stated that for the information sought is a part of a limited question bank the disclosure of which may compromise the basic integrity of the concerned question bank.

In the present application filed by the appellant under Right to Information Act, 2005 the information has been sought on 4 points, including inter-alia: (i) copy of answer sheet of aptitude test and (ii) to provide T-score in certified forwarding letter, etc.

Appellant submitted that complete information has not been provided to him, further he stated that the copy of his aptitude answer sheet as sought has not been provided to him along with information on point numbers 3 and 4.

Respondent in the present case relied on the decision of Delhi High Court in Ministry of Railways v. K.G. Arun Kumar, WP (C) No. 2173 of 2013 and CM No. 4120 of 2013 and stated that information on point no. 1 cannot be provided to the appellant as the questions in the aptitude test are very limited. Information sought on point nos. 3 and 4 are personal information of the third party which is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act.

Decision of the Commission:

Commission after hearing the submissions of the parties and on perusal of records agreed with the reply on point nos. 3 & 4 of the RTI application. Further, the Delhi High Court decision in Ministry of Railways v. K.G. Arun Kumar, WP (C) No. 2173 of 2013 and CM No. 4120 of 2013 was relied on and based on the same the decision was concluded stating that the question paper, answer key and answer sheet related to the aptitude test and that the question papers source their origin from a limited question bank the disclosure of which can jeopardize the pattern of questions asked in the said aptitude test.

Keeping in view the submission of PIO and Delhi High Court’s decision, Commission stated that: it understands the sensitivity of the matter and is hereby instructing the PIO to ensure the appellant while inspecting his answer sheet and answer key does not take photograph or obtain hard/soft copy of the same. [Mrityunjay Kumar Sharma v. CPIO, M/o Railways, RRB, Siliguri, WB, Second Appeal No. CIC/RAILB/A/2017/154940, Order dated 04-04-2019]

Legislation UpdatesRules & Regulations

G.S.R. 85(E)—In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 156 of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force Act, 1992 (35 of 1992), and in supersession of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force, Armourer Cadre (Group ‘B’ & ‘C’ posts), Recruitment Rules, 2010, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such supersession, the Central Government hereby makes the following rules regulating the method of recruitment to Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ posts in Armourer Cadre in Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force, namely:—

1. Short title and commencement—(1) These rules may be called the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force, Armourer Cadre (Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ posts), Recruitment Rules, 2019.

     (2) They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

2. Application—These rules shall apply to the posts specified in column (1) of the Schedule annexed to these rules.

3. Number of post, classification and level in the pay matrix—The number of said post, their classification and level in the pay matrix attached thereto shall be as specified in columns (2) to (4) of the said Schedule.

4. Method of recruitment, age-limit and other qualifications, etc.—The method of recruitment, age limit, qualifications and other matters relating thereto, shall be as specified in columns (5) to (13) of the aforesaid Schedule.

5. Disqualification— No person, —

     (a) who has entered into or contracted a marriage with a person having a spouse living; or

      (b) who, having a spouse living, has entered into or contracted a marriage with any person, shall be eligible for        appointment to the said post :

Provided that the Central Government may, if satisfied that such marriage is permissible under the personal law applicable to such person and the other party to the marriage and that there are other grounds for so doing, exempt any person from the operation of this rule.

6. Medical Fitness—Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, only those persons who are in medical category SHAPE-I, shall be eligible for appointment under the provisions of these rules.

Please follow the link for detailed notification: Notification

Ministry of Home Affairs

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Sanjeev Kumar, J., allowed a writ petition against the order of the respondent whereby the petitioner was declared unfit for the post of Constable (GD) in the Border Police Force.

The petitioner was subjected to a medical fitness examination by the respondent wherein he was found unfit due to “Gynaecomastia left”. The petitioner preferred an appeal against the order, however, he was again declared unfit by the review medical board vide the impugned order.

The Court perused the guidelines approved by the “Ministry of Home Affairs” for conducting the medical examination tests for recruitment of GOs and NGOs in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFS) and Assam Rifles (AR) and observed that the candidates to review medical examination cannot be rejected only on clinical findings and such clinical reports should be supported by corroboratory investigation reports and if needed opinion of specialists/super specialists of government hospitals/medical colleges/government approved medical centres should also be taken into account.

The High Court held that the respondent had not followed the guidelines strictly and the review medical report was not supported by a proper investigation. Hence, the Court quashed the impugned order, as it was found to be cryptic, non-speaking and in violation of the guidelines issued for the purposes. It further directed the respondent to reconvene the review medical board and conduct the medical examination of the petitioner in accordance with the guidelines and if the petitioner is found fit in the re-examination then he should be appointed to the post of the constable without any further delay. [Narinder Singh v. DG of CRPF,2018 SCC OnLine J&K 398, dated on 10-07-2018]

NewsTreaties/Conventions/International Agreements

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and Public Service Commission of Mauritius. The MoU will strengthen the existing relationship between UPSC and Public Service Commission of Mauritius. It will facilitate sharing of experience and expertise of both the parties in the area of recruitment. The MoU will develop institutionalized linkage between the Public Service Commissions of two countries. It defines the scope of cooperation between the PSC, Mauritius and the UPSC and sets out the areas of cooperation and obligations of the parties.

The areas of co-operation include the following

  • exchange of experience on modern approach to public service recruitment and selection, particularly the functions of the UPSC and the PSC;
  • exchange of information and expertise including books, manuals and other documents which are not of a confidential nature;
  • sharing of expertise in the use of Information Technology (IT) in the preparation of written examinations and holding of computer based recruitment tests and online examinations;
  • sharing of experience in single window system for expeditious scrutiny and speedy disposal of applications;
  • sharing of experience and expertise on the various processes involved in the examination system which are routine in nature;
  • organizing training sessions for officials, including through short attachments to the parties secretariat/headquarters on air matters concerned by the respective mandate of the parties.
  • sharing of experience on the modalities adopted on audit of processes and procedures followed by various Government Agencies in recruitment of posts under the delegated powers.

Background:

In the past, UPSC had signed MoU with Public Service Commission of Canada and Bhutan. The MoU with Canada was in existence during 15-03-2011 to 14-03-2014. The MoU with the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), Bhutan was signed by UPSC on 10-11-2005 for a period of 3 years. It was renewed on 09-09-2011 for a period of 3 years which expired by 08-09-2014. In pursuance of these MoUs, UPSC had conducted attachments and training programmes for the officers of RCSC, Bhutan.  Recently, an MoU was signed between UPSC and RCSC, Bhutan for the 3rd time on 29-05-2017 valid for a period of 3 years.

[Press Release no. 1523088]

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jammu and Kashmir: A Division Bench comprising of Ramalingam Sudhakar, J. and M.K. Hanjura, J. recently addressed a petition which challenged an order dated 9.12.2016 wherein, the appellants (petitioners) had been directed to accord the benefit of notional seniority to the respondents with effect from the time when the other candidates who had been granted with seniority along with directing the appellants to fix the pay and the benefits of the respondents accordingly.

The facts of the case are that an advertisement notice had been issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Recruitment Board for the post of teachers in the district of Jammu following which the respondents had submitted their application forms. The respondents were either graduates or post graduates and all of them possessed B.Ed degrees. The appellants had prescribed 50% weightage to the candidates’ 12th standard exam. Despite the respondents being comparatively more meritorious in that aspect, they had not been selected for the posts in question.

Aggrieved by the lower court’s decision upholding the appellants’ decision of not awarding the posts to the respondents, the latter had filed a Letters Patent Appeal wherein the criterion for the selection process was held to be unreasonable. This was followed by the J&K Service Selection Board reframing the criteria which was followed by the Board reevaluating the merit of all those who had filed the case in the first place and the respondents being appointed by the department. The respondents subsequently requested the court to issue a writ of mandamus to the petitioners commanding them to give effect to the respondents’ appointments from the year when the other selectees were appointed and that all such people be given benefits of the post from that very year itself.

A Single Judge Bench responded to the writ petition by disposing it off with directions to accord the respondents with notional seniority from the initial year of selection of the appointees resulting from the advertisement along with the benefits accruing out of the positions. The Division Bench upheld the decision of the Single Judge which only responded to a single individual’s writ petition for her recruitment in the disputed position. The Division Bench held that this decision needed to be upheld for others aggrieved by the initial decision of the Board which denied them their rightful position. The Court held that the law is that adherence to the rule of equality in public employment is a basic feature of our Constitution and since the rule of law is the core of our Constitution, a Court would certainly be disabled from passing an order upholding a violation of Article 14 or in ordering the overlooking of the need to comply with the requirements of Article 14 read with Article 16 of the Constitution. Therefore, consistent with the scheme of public employment, when the appointment is in terms of the relevant rules and after a proper competition among qualified persons, there can be no discrimination between the appointees on the same set of facts. [State v. Sushma Sharma,  2017 SCC OnLine J&K 732, order dated 7.12.2017]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission: The Commission recently addressed an application under the Right to Information Act before the Central Public Information Officer of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Ranchi seeking information pertaining to Special Recruitment in CRPF in 2013 including (i) the list of all the Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates who appeared in the medical test and (ii) copies of the result of medical test of all the ST candidates.

The appellant filed a second appeal before the Commission on the grounds that the information sought had been incorrectly denied on the basis that CRPF has been exempted from the provisions of the RTI as per Section 24(1) of the RTI Act, 2005.

The respondent submitted that the CRPF has been declared an exempt organization under Section 24(1) read with 2nd Schedule to the RTI Act, 2005 and that the information sought by the appellant did not pertain to allegations of corruption and human rights violations which is why the provisions of the RTI Act would not be applicable in this matter.

The Commission acknowledged that although in this case information had been sought from an organization to which the RTI Act does not apply as per Section 24(1) of the RTI Act, the information sought related to the recruitment of ST candidates, disclosure of which would enhance transparency and credibility of the respondent organization. But it was quick to note that since Point 2 of the RTI application pertains to the Medical Examination Report of the candidates, which is a third party personal information, the same couldn’t be provided to the appellant. Hence, the Commission held that information about the number of ST candidates that had appeared for the examination, the final number of selected ST candidates, the cut-off marks for those belonging to this category, marks obtained by the appellant would have to be provided to the appellant. [Sagar Munda v. Central Public Information Officer, CRPF; Decision No. CIC/SB/A/2016/001248, decided on 16.08.2017]