Decided on December 03,1993

Ashutosh Mangotra Appellant
STATE Respondents


- (1.)THE petitioner challenges the selection of respondent No. 4 for the post of lecturer in music (vocal) and seeks a direction to the respondent -Public Service Commission to recommend his name for the post. Both the petitioner and respondent No 4 were candidates for the post of applications for which were invited by the J&K. Public Service Commission (the Commission, hereafter for short) pursuant to notification No. 12 -PSC of 1992 dated 28.4.1992. It transpires that in all 8 candidates appeared for the interview of which respondent No. 4 has been recommend for selection The petitioners case is that he possessed better merit and suitability for the post and that the recommendation made id favour of respondent No. 4 is vitiated because the expert, one, Mrs. Bhupinder Sheet I co -opted by the Commission for interviewing the candidates happened to be the teacher of respondent No. 4 when she was a student of M. A. (Music) at the Punjab University and is also presently guiding her Ph programme It is also alleged that the Commission had allotted 100 marks for the interview out of which 7o were to be awarded by the expert, who, it is averred, played a key role in the selection and whose opinion carried "a lot of weight". The submission, in other words, is that being a teacher of respondent No - 4 the expert was biased in her favour because of their very relationship and against the petitioner. In the other ancillary grounds taken, it is submitted that the interview conducted was as good as farce as the candidates were not given any opportunity to render any recital and was liable to be struck down because of the total weight age given to it as against 15% weight age recommended by the Supreme Court.
(2.)OBJECTIONS have been filed by respondents No. 2, 3 and 4. The respondent -Commission in its objections has submitted that the expert was not the only person to assess the suitability of the candidates as the selection committee comprised of two other members of the commission. It is explained that the role of an expert is of an advisory nature and the selection is made by all members of the selection committee on the basis of overall performance, academic merit, experience and other relevant factors. It is denied that any particular number of marks were allotted to the expert. It is also asserted that all candidates were provided opportunity of practical demonstration on the instruments either brought by them or provided by the Commission. It is further submitted that the Commission appoints an expert from amongst a panel of experts furnished by the Universities and the decision to nominate such an expert is taken independently and at that time it is not known as to whether any candidate appearing for the interview happens to be or has ever happened to be the student of such an expert. Respondent No.3 was also nominated out of a panel of expert, being expert of the Hindustani Vocal music. It is refuted that the petitioner possessed better merit on any score. On the contrary respondent No. 4 possessed better merit and suitability both on the academic side and also considering her performance in the interview.Respondent No. 3 in her communication to the Deputy Registrar of this Court, which has been treated as objections on her behalf, has denied that respondent No. 4 was ever her student in M A. (Music) at Chandigarh. It is, however, admitted that she is registered as a Ph.D. student like many other students under her. She submits that she has not teen guided by any other consideration except merit in evaluating the performance of the candidates. It is also pleaded that 95% of the questions asked related to the subject matter of music -both practical and theory and each candidate was allotted time to perform.
"Respondent No. 4 in her objections has thrown challenge to the maintainability of the writ petition which, according to her, is barred by the doctrine of estoppels and also the policy of the Apex Court discouraging interference in the selection made by expert bodies. It is also pleaded that the petitioner was ineligible to be called for the interview as he had not graduated with music. It is also claimed that she is admittedly superior in merit and has better teaching experience as against the petitioner. It is denied that she was ever the student of respondent No. 3 in M.A. (Music) at Chandigarh which she qualified as a private student, though it is conceded that she has taken up a research project as a private candidate which necessitates her visit to respondent No. 3 "quarterly or half yearly".

(3.)I have heard learned counsel for the parties and considered the record before me. The main burden of submissions made by Mr. Gupta, learned counsel for the petitioner was that it is not necessary for the petitioner to prove that respondent No. 3 was, in fact, biased against him or in favour of respondent No. 4, It is enough if the relationship between respondents No. 3 and 4 created a reasonable apprehension that respondent No. 3 would be biased in favour of respondent No. 4. It is submitted that closeness of any type was prone to generate bias and it could not be denied that the teacher -student relationship was as close a relationship as any other relationship. The degree of closeness in the present case, can be gathered from the objections filed by the respondent -expert who had indicated an intimate relationship with respondent No. 4 in the averments made by her. Mr. Gupta contended that added to this is the factor that the expert had a pivotal role to play in the selection process in as much as she was authorized to allot as many as 70 out of 100 marks to a candidate. According to him, no candidate could be selected without an okay from the expert and the same was true in the instant case also. He did not urge other grounds taken in the writ petition and sought support from Ashok Yadavs case (AIR 1987 SC 454).
Mr. Raina representing the respondent -commission challenged the very maintainability of the petition. He contended that the commission had only made a recommendation in favour of respondent No. 4 which has yet to be accepted by the Government rendering the petition premature. He also submitted that the petition was not liable to be entertained for the reason that the petitioner had participated in the selection process and could not be allowed to turn round and challenge the mode or manner of selection. On merits, he submitted, that a relationship of teacher and taught was a pious relationship and it cannot be imagined that teacher to whom all candidates are equally near and dear, would be biased in favour of one and against the other. He urged that the commission has made selection on the basis of overall performance of the competing candidates considering their academic merit and performance In the interview as also other factors like teaching experience etc. and the mere glance at the record of respondent No. 4 would show that she admittedly possessed far superior merit and suitability than the petitioner.

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