ARBITRARINESS : MERIT

Supreme Court of India

State Of Mysore vs S. R. Jayaram on 23 August, 1967

Equivalent citations: 1968 AIR 346, 1968 SCR (1) 349

Author: R Bachawat

Bench: Wanchoo, K.N. (Cj), Bachawat, R.S., Ramaswami, V., Mitter, G.K., Hegde, K.S.

PETITIONER: STATE OF MYSORE

Vs.

RESPONDENT: S. R. JAYARAM

DATE OF JUDGMENT:  23/08/1967

BENCH:

BACHAWAT, R.S.

WANCHOO, K.N. (CJ)

RAMASWAMI, V.

MITTER, G.K.

HEGDE, K.S.

 

CITATION:

 1968 AIR  346 : 1968 SCR  (1) 349 : 1981 SC1829  (116)

ACT:

Civil Service--Recruitment by competitive examination--Indication       by candidate as to which post he  prefers--Candidate entitled  to  post  because of  his  rank--State  Government appointing  him to another post--State Government's  power under  r.  9(2) of  the  Mysore  Recruitment  of   Gazetted Probationers'  Rules, 1959--If violative of Art. 14  of the Constitution.

HEADNOTE:

The  Mysore  Recruitment of  Gazetted  Probationers'   Rules 1959,  make  provision          for direct  recruitment to  several cadres in the State Services- on the basis of the result  of a competitive examination.  Under the first part of r. 9(2), the   candidates   are required  to   indicate      in   their applications their preferences for the cadres they wished to join.  After the examination, the list of successful  cardidates  in  order  of merit is  published.  and,        subject  to certain  reservations  for Scheduled castes and tribes and Backward  classes,   the   successful            candidates  have preferential  claim in the order of merit to appointment  in the  cadres for which they indicated their preference. The latter part of r. 9(2), however, reserves to the  Government the  right of appointing to any particular cadre any  candidate whom it considers more suitable for such cadre.

In  the present case an open  competitive  examination was held for   recruitment  to         the  posts   of Assist-ant Commissioners  in the Mysore Administrative Service  and  of Assistant Controllers in the Mysore State Accounts  Service. Though both  are  Class  I cadres  the       post  of  Assistant Commissioner had better prospects.  There were 20 vacancies in  the posts of Assistant Commissioners.   The  respondent indicated  his      preference for the post of  Assistant Commissioner.   Though his rank was fourth, the Public  Service Commission  recommended      that he and some others  should  be appointed  as Assistant Controllers while those who  ranked after  the  respondent were recommended for  appointment  as Assistant Commissioners.  The State Government accepted       the recommendation.

The  respondent thereupon filed a writ petition in the High Court asking for an order directing the State to appoint him as  Assistant  commissioner.  The High Court held  that the Government had under the latter part of r. 9(2) the power to decide            to  which  post or cadre the  respondent  should  be appointed. but that the Government should itself make up its mind  without consulting the Public Service Commission, and directed the Government to decide accordingly. The State appealed to this Court Held:  The latter part of r. 9(2) was violative of Arts.  14 and  16(1)  of the Constitution  and  therefore  the  State Government  had no power to withhold the post  of  Assistant Commissioner  from  the respondent who bad a  right  to  be appointed to that post having regard to his rank in order of merit.   The High Court should, therefore, have directed     the Government to appoint the respondent to the post. [354B-C] L/S5SCI 350

The  Rules  are silent on  the  question  as to  how    the Government  was to find out the suitability of        a  candidate for  a particular cadre, nor do the Rules give the  Public Service Commission the power to test the suitability  of  a candidate for a particular cadre or to recommend that he  is more suitable for it.  Further, there is no provision in the Rules under which the Government can test the suitability of a   candidate  for  any cadre after  the  result  of the examination is published.  Therefore, the latter part of  r. 9(2) gives the,Government an arbitrary power of ignoring the just  claims  of successful candidates, for  recruitment  to offices under the  State, and thus,  subverts the  basic objectives of ensuring equality of opportunity in the matter of employment by open competition. [352H: 353B-C; 354A-B]

JUDGMENT:

CIVIL APPELLATE    JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 283 of 1966. Appeal by special leave from the judgment and order dated March 13, 1963 of the Mysore High Court in Writ Petition No. 1440 of 1962. B. R. L. Iyengar, R. N. Sachthey for R. H. Dhebar, for the appellant.

The respondent appeared in person.

The Judgment of the, Court was delivered by Bachawat, J.

This appeal raises a question of the validity of the latter part of r. 9(2) of the Mysore Recruitment of Gazetted Probationers' Rules' 1959 framed by Governor of Mysore in exercise of his powers under the proviso to Art. 309 of           the Constitution. The Rules came into force on September 1 1, 1959. Rule 3 requires that for a period of five years. two-thirds of the number of vacancies as determined by the Government arising in the cadres in    the State Civil Services specified in the            schedule shall be filled      by recruitment        of candidates           selected under        the Rules.            The schedule lists two Class I and twelve Class 11 cadres. The two Class I cadres are those of (1) Assistant Commissioners in the Mysore Administrative Service and            (2) Assistant Controllers in the Mysore State Accounts Service. Both cadres are in the pay scale 'of Rs. 300-25-500-50-30-700. Rule 4 provides that the recruitments shall be made on the basis of the results of written and viva     voce examinations conducted annually by the Public 'Service Commission. Rules 5. 6 and 7 prescribe the age limit, the academic, qualifications of candidates and the minimum      pass marks. Rules 8 and 9 are in these terms:

.lm15 "8. List of successful candidates in the examination 'the names of candidates successful in the examination shall be published in the Mysore Gazette. by the Commission in     the order of merit.

9. Appointment of Probationers.--(1) Subject to the rules regarding reservation   of posts for backward classes contained in Government Orders Nos. GAD 26 ORR ORR 59,        dated the 18th July 1959, and the provisions of sub rule (2), the candidates successful in the examination whose names            are published          under rule 8 shall be appointed as Probationers to Class I posts in the order of merit, and thereafter to Class It posts in the order of merit.

(2) While calling for           applications, the candidates will            be asked to indicate their preferences as to the cadres they wish to join. The Government, however, reserves       the right of appointing to any particular cadre, any candidate whom it considers to be more suitable for such cadre."

By a notification dated September 26, 1959,            the Public Service Commission invited applications for admission to a competitive examination for the recruitment of Class I Probationers to 20 posts in the Mysore Administrative Service and 2 posts in the Mysore State Accounts Service. The number of posts were liable to alteration. 15 per cent of the          posts was reserved for Scheduled Castes and 3    per cent was reserved for Scheduled Tribes. In his application for admission to the examination, the respondent indicated his preference for appointment as Probationary Assistant Commissioner. He was an eligible candidate and was allowed to appear at            the examination. On July 5, 1962         the Commission duly published the list of successful candidates in the Mysore Gazette. In this list the respondent ranked fourth in the order of merit. It appears that            the Commission sent a separate recommendation to the Government stating            that they had selected the 20 candidates ranking 1 to 3, 5 to 8, 10 to 14, 16 to 19, 21, 22, 25 and 26 for appointment as Assistant Commissioners and the seven candidates ranking 4,       9, 15, 20, 23, 24         and 27 for appointment as Assistant Controllers. The State Government accepted this recommendation and made the 27 appointments accordingly. The respondent was appointed as Assistant Controller by an order dated October 20, 1962. The respondent was       not appointed as Assistant Commissioner though he had indicated his preference for that post. Aggrieved by this order, the respondent filed a writ petition in the Mysore High Court asking for an order directing the State of Mysore, to appoint him as Assistant Commissioner and for consequential reliefs. Before the High Court, it was common ground. that the two Class I posts, the post of Assistant Commissioner in the Mysore Administrative Service had better prospects and was more attractive. More promotional posts including posts in the I.A.S. cadre were open to Assistant Commissioners. Their next promotional post was that of Deputy Commissioner in the pay scale of Rs. 900-40-1100-50-1300. For an Assistant Controller in the Mysore State Accounts Service the next promotional job        was that of a Deputy Controller in the pay scale of L/S5SCI--9(a) Rs. 600-40-1000. The High, Court held,that (1)under r. 9(2) the Government-;had, the power to decide to which post or cadre a successful candidate should be appointed, (2) for; making the selection the Government had to apply its      own, mind, (3) the Public Service Commission had no power      to make the selection nor it need be consulted on this question under Art. 320(3) of the Constitution and (4), as    the Government made the selection without applying, its own mind on the            recommendation of the Commission, the      order dated October         20, 1962 was invalid.            Accordingly, the High Court by its order dated March 13, 1963 issued a writ of mandamus directing the Government to decide to which post or cadre the respondent should be appointed. From, this order, the State of Mysore appeals to this Court by special leave. In this appeal, the            State  of Mysore challenges        the correctness of the findings that (1) the Government did            not apply its own   mind in making the selection and (2)   the Public     Service Commission need not be consulted as to        the suitability of the candidate for such selection under Art. 320(3) 'of the Constitution. the State of Mysore naturally supports the finding that the Government had the power under r. 9(2) to select to which post or cadre a successful candidate should be appointed. But the more fundamental question is whether that portion of r. 9(2) which vests, in the Government this power of  selection is valid. The contention of the respondent is that this portion of     the Rule is, violative of Arts. 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The Rules make provision for the direct recruitment to several    cadres in the State Services on the basis of,   the result      of a competitive examination. The examination is held annually. It is open to all eligible, candidates. The result of the examination is announced and the list of successful candidates in the order of merit is published. Subject to the reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes      and Backward Classes, the successful candidates are entitled to be appointed as probationers to Class I posts in the- order of merit and thereafter to Class II posts in      the order of merit. If there are vacancies in a          number- of Class I or Class II cadres, r. 9(2) comes into play.       The candidates are required to indicate in           their   applications their preferences for the cadres they wish to join.    Had there been nothing more in           r. 9(2), the    'successful candidates would have the preferential claim in the order of merit to appointment in the cadres for 'which they indicated their preferences. Thus, if there are 20 vacancies in cadre 'A' and 1 7 vacancies in cadre 'B', a successful candidate ranking      fourth            in order of merit would be appointed as a matter of course to cadre 'A' for which he indicated     his preference.

But the latter part of r. 9(2) reserves to the Government the right of appointing to any particular cadre any candidate whom it considers more suitable for such cadre. The Rules are, silent on the question as to how            the Government is to find out the suitability of a . candidate for a particular cadre.     A. single        competitive examination is held to test the suitability 'of candidates for. several cadres. Those who succeed in the examination are found. suitable. for all the cadres and their. list in order of merit is published under r. 8.      No separate examination is         held to test the suitability of the candidate for any particular cadre. The list of successful candidates published under r. 8 does not indicate that any candidate is more suitable for cadre 'A' rather than for cadre 'B'. The Rules do not give the Public Service Commission the power to test the suitability of a candidate for a particular cadre or to recommend that he is more suitable for it.         Nor is there any provision in the Rules under which the Government can test the suitability of a candidate for any cadre after the result of the examination is published. The result is that the recommendation   of the Public Service Commission is not a relevant material nor is there any other material on   the basis of which the Government can find that a candidate is more suitable for a particular cadre. It follows that under the latter part of r. 9(2) it is open to the Government to say at its sweet will that a candidate is more suitable for a particular cadre and to deprive him of his opportunity to join the  cadre for which he indicated his preference.         Take the present case. An open competitive examination was            held for recruitment to the posts of Assistant Commissioners in the Mysore Administrative.          Service and  Assistant Controllers in the Mysore State Accounts Service. Though both are Class I posts, the post of Assistant Commissioner has better prospects. But for the latter part of r. 9(2) the successful candidates would have the preferential claim for appointment as probationers to, the posts of Assistant Commissioners in order of merit and thereafter to the posts of Assistant Controllers in the order of merit.   As a matter of fact, there were 20 vacancies in the posts of Assistant Commissioners.     The respondent ranked fourth in the 'order of merit. He indicated his preference for the post of Assistant Commissioner and had a preferential claim for appointment to that post. The candidates ranking 1st,     2nd, 3rd and 5th were appointed as Assistant Commissioners. The respondent though ranking fourth in order of merit          was singled out and was debarred from the           post of Assistant Commissioner. It is because of the arbitrary power under the latter part of r. 9(2) that the Government could make this unjust discrimination.

The principle            of recruitment by open competition aims at ensuring equality of opportunity in the matter of employment and obtaining the services       of the most  meritorious candidates. Rules 1 to 8, 9(1) and the first part of r. 9(2) seek to achieve this aim. The latter part of r. 9(2) subverts and destroys the basic objectives of the preceding rules. It vests in the Government an arbitrary power of patronage. Though r. 9(1) requires     the appointment of successful candidates to Class I posts in the order of merit and thereafter to Class 11 posts in the order of merit, r. 9(1) is subject to r. 9(2), and under the cover of r.  9(2) the Government        can even arrogate to itself the power of assigning a Class I post to a less meritorious and a Class II post to a more meritorious candidate. We hold that  the latter       part of r. 9(2) gives the Government an arbitrary power of ignoring the. just claims of successful candidates for recruitment to offices: under the State. It is violative of Arts. 14 and 16(1) of the Constitution and must be struck down.

Having regard to his rank in order of merit, the respondent had the right       to be appointed to the post of Assistant Commissioner. As the offending part of r. 9(2) is invalid, the State Government had no power to withhold the post      from him. The High Court should, therefore, have directed            the Government to appoint him to that post. In the result, we strike down the following part of r. 9(2) of the Mysore Recruitment of Gazetted Probationers' Rules, 1959: "The Government, however, reserves the right of appointing to any particular cadre, any candidate whom it considers to be more suitable for such cadre". The order passed by the High Court directing the Government to decide to which post or cadre the respondent should be appointed under r. 9(2). is set aside. We direct the State of Mysore to appoint the respondent to the post of Assistant Commissioner in the Mysore Administrative Service. For        the purpose of seniority, the respondent will be treated as appointed on October 20, 1962 according to his rank in the order of merit. Subject to the directions aforesaid,     the appeal is dismissed with costs.

V.P.S.               Appeal dismissed.

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