A K SHIMPI Vs. STATE OF GUJARAT
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
A K Shimpi
STATE OF GUJARAT
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P.D.DESAI, J. -
(1.)Though the impugned selection is challenged in the petition on several grounds only three grounds were pressed for my consideration during the course of hearing. Those grounds are as follows :
(2) The selection is vitiated on account of substantive and procedural unfairness arbitrariness and unreasonableness as well as non-application of mind and casualness; more particularly the proceedings of the Selection Committee are vitiated because:
(a) no norms or guidelines were laid down for judging the performance of the candidate at the interview and for evaluating his service record;
(b) the relative weightage to be given to the performance at the interview and the assessment based on service record was not decided upon;
(c) no rational and equitable formula for assessment and quantification of marks was adopted;
(d) the relevant and adequate material relating to each candidate was not available for making a just assessment;
(e) at the interview which lasted for hardly three or four minutes no relevant questions were put which might have a bearing on judging the suitability of the candidate on the basis of the viva voce test;
(f) all the members of the Selection Committee did not individually apply their minds to the selection of candidates on the basis of any known or pre-determined standard and they merely toed the line of the Chairman (Inspector General of Police) as is apparent inter alia from the fact that the Chairmans assessment sheet constitutes the sole authentic record regarding the assessment of each candidate and every selected candidate is found to have received the same grading from all the members;
(g) alternatively the time (two to three minutes) spent by the members for arriving at a consensus if any after each candidate was interviewed was too short to enable them to reach a fair judgment bearing in mind all the relevant aspects and viewing the question on an identical basis and from a uniform angle;
(h) the minutes of the Selection Committee which record the final decision based on the assessment made during the proceedings of the Selection Committee are factually incorrect and in some cases they do not tally with the actual assessments;
(i) the final selection is arbitrarily made because even out of those who secured the same grading only a few were picked up and chosen and others were left out for reasons which are not manifest on the record of the case;
(j) whereas qualified experienced and meritorious Head Constables who have successfully undergone the Head Constables training course and are confirmed and have put in long years of service in the cadre of Head Constables have not been selected Head Constables with much lesser experience and inferior service record who have not done the training course and are not confirmed have been selected; on the basis of the record produced by the authorities during the course of the hearing of the petition no explanation much less satisfactory explanation is discernible for such manifestly arbitrary selections.
(His Lordship held that in connection with the case of 45 Constables who had not successfully undergone the Head Constables Training course under Rule 121 having regard to the ground on which their selection was found to be defective there was no option but to set aside and quash the selection of those Constables because they were found to be ineligible. The selection in their case was ab initio void.)
(2.)Before I proceed to consider the question it would be profitable to refer to some judicial decisions which have a direct bearing on the point under consideration.
(3.)The validity of the admissions made to the Regional Engineering College Srinagar in the academic year 1979-80 was brought in question. The College was sponsored by the Government of India. It was established and its administration and management were carried on by a Society registered under the Jammu and Kashmir Registration of Societies Act 1898 The Society had framed certain rules regulating its administration. Rule 15 (iv) conferred power on the Board of Governors to make by laws for admission of students to various courses. Pursuant to Rule 15 (iv) the Board of Governors laid down the procedure for admission to students to different courses. For the purpose of the present petition suffice it to say that the procedure for admission to certain categories of students was on the basis of comparative merit as determined under the following scheme:
Separate marks were assigned under four different heads for the viva voce examination. The petitioners in that case challenged the validity of the admissions on the ground that the Society acted arbitrarily in the matter of granting of admissions first by ignoring the marks obtained by the candidates at the qualifying examination; secondly by relying on viva voce examination as a test for determining comparative merit of the candidates thirdly by allocating as many as 50 marks for the viva voce examination as against 100 marks allocated for the written test and lastly by holding superficial interviews lasting only 2 or 3 minutes on an average and asking questions which had no relevance to assessment of the suitability of the candidates with reference to the four factors required to be considered at the viva voce examination. The first ground of challenge was rejected. On the second ground of challenge. the holding was that it could not be said that the oral interview test is so defective that selecting candidates for admission on the basis of oral interview in addition to written test must be regarded as arbitrary. However the following further observations were made while dealing with the said challenge:
" The oral interview test is undoubtedly not a very satisfactory test for assessing and evaluating the capacity and calibre of candidates but in the absence of any better test for measuring personal characteristics and traits the oral interview test must at the present stage be regarded as not irrational or irrelevant though it is subjective and based on first impression. Its result is influenced by many uncertain factors and it is capable of abuse. We would however like to point out that in the matter of admission of Colleges or even in the matter of public employment the oral interview test as presently held should not be relied upon as an exclusive teSt but it may be resorted to only as an additional or supplementary test and moreover grant care must be taken to see that persons who are appointed to conduct the oral interview test are men of high integrity calibre and qualification" (Underlining supplied)
As regards the third ground of challenge it was held that the allocation of 50 out of 150 marks for the viva voce test was arbitrary and unreasonable inasmuch as it came to 32 1/2% of the total number of marks taken into account for the purposes of making the selection and it was observed as follows:
"....having regard to the drawbacks and deficiencies in the oral interview test and the conditions prevailing in the country particularly when there is deterioration in moral values and corruption and nepotism are very much on the increase allocation of a high percentage of marks for the oral interview as compared to the marks allocated for the written test cannot be accepted by the Court as free from the vice of arbitrariness There can be no court that allocating 33.1/3 of the total marks for oral interview is plainly arbitrary and unreasonable.....and selection of candidates made on the basis of such admission procedure cannot be sustained. ...We are of the view that under the existing circumstances allocation of more than 15% of the total marks for the oral interview would be arbitrary and unreasonable and would be liable to struck down as constitutionally invalid."
On the facts of the case it was pointed out that it was a rather disturb ing feature that a large number of successful candidates succeeded in obtaining admission to the College by virtue of very high marks obtained by them at the viva voce examination which tilted the balance in their favour though the marks secured by them at the qualifying examination were much less than those obtained by the petitioners and even in the written test they had fared much worse than the petitioners As regards the last ground of challenge the holding was that if the interview did not take more than 2 or 3 minutes on an average and the questions asked had no bearing on the factors required to be taken into account the oral interview test would be vitiated because it would be impossible in such an interview to assess the merit of a candidate with reference to these factors. On the facts of the case it was found that the inter view of each candidate did not last for more than two or three minutes on an average and hardly any questions were asked having bearing on the relevant factors. The selections made on the basis of such oral interview test were held to be vitiated as arbitrary. As regards the grant of relief however the Supreme Court was of the view that although the selections were vitiated on the two grounds mentioned above no relief could be granted in the exercise of discretion of the Court since it would caUse immense hardship to those students in whose case the validity of the selection could not otherwise be questioned and who had nearly completed three semesters and it would not be possible to restore the petitioners to the position as if they were admitted for the academic year 1979-80 which had long since run out. Besides in that case the respondents had agreed before the Court that the best fifty students out of those who had failed to secure admission would be granted admission for the academic year 1981-82 and that the seats allocated to them would be in addition to the normal intake of students in the College and an order was made accordingly. Having regard to all these factors the writ petitions were dismissed but the Supreme Court cautioned the authorities that for the future academic years selections should be made on the basis of the observations made in the judgment lest they might run the risk of being struck down.
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