1991 AIR 1607                          1991 SCR  (2) 812

 1991 SCC  (3) 368        JT 1991 (2)    537

 1991 SCALE  (1)935



     Constitution  of India, 1950: ARticle 14-Selection for the  post  of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in the U.P.  State Electricity  Board-Allocation of 40 marks for interview and  40  marks  forgroup discussion-As against  120  marks            for Written Examination-Whether arbitrary-Whether violative of.  Civil  Service: U.P. State Electricity  Board-Assistant Engineers (Civil)-Section-Allocation of marks-As against 120 marks for Written Test, 40 marks for interview and 40  marks for  group  discussion-Whether arbitrary-Selection  made  on such basis-Whether vitiated-Method of Group discussion along with  interview-Desirability and legality of-Ideal marks  to be allocated for interview and group discussion-Stipulated. 


     For  filling  up  the  posts  of  Assistant   Engineers (Civil),   the   U.P.  State  Electricity  Board issued   an  advertisement  calling for applications.  As per the  Scheme of  Examination, 120 marks were allocated for  Written            Test  and  40   marks each were allocated for Interview  and  group discussion.   By  following  the said  procedure  the  Board selected the successful candidates and appointed them.  Three  unsuccessful  candidates  filed  Writ  Petitions before        the  High  Court.  They   contended  that  the  marks  allocated  for            Interview and group discussion were  on       the higher side and as such the entire selection stood  vitiated  and was liable to be quashed.

     Accepting   the contentions, the High Court quashed  the  entire selection.  Aggrieved by the High Court's order, the appellants  who  were selected and  appointed  as  Assistant Engineers (Civil) preferred the present appeals, by  special leave.

     Allowing the appeals in part his Court,

     HELD:  1. The rule made by the U.P.  State   Electricity Board keeping 40 marks for Interview and 40 marks for  group  discussions is arbitrary and is quashed.  In future the marks for interview  and group discussion shall not be kept exceeding 10% and 5/5 respectively  of  the total marks.   However,  the  election  already  made  by  the Board for  the posts  of  Assistant Engineers (Civil) shall not be disturbed. [820A-B]

     2.    It  cannot  be  held  that  the  method  of   group discussion  along with interview for selection of  Assistant  Engineers  by the Board is in any manner wrong,  illegal  or unconstitutional.   It is in vogue in the Board           since    1979  and it lies in the wisdom of the Board to keep the method of group  discussion  as an aid to interview for  selection  of Assistant Engineers in future or not. [818A]

     3.    Group discussion is a mode of selection in  aid  of interview  in  order  to  assess  the  personality  of     the candidate  and determine his/her suitability to the  job  in hand. In the case of an interview or oral viva voce it  is restricted to a single candidate at a time while in the case of  group  discussion  it  takes  place  among  a  group  of candidates  themselves.  Generally, candidates of  same  age level, similar educational qualifications,  experience  and environmental  background are grouped together and asked  to discuss  a subject.  The purpose of group discussion  is  to assess the qualities, mental alertness, manner of  asserting  oneself,  showing regard for opinion of others,  ability  to discuss a subject without losing temper and his    initiative, tact  and  self confidence when confronted  with  a  problem facing a large number of people.  In group  discussion     the examiner  observes the candidates from behind and makes      his own assessment and as such the allotment of marks for  group discussion  cannot  be equated with the marks  allotted   for interview.   In the interview every candidate gets a  chance  and  the members of the interviewing board can in  a  better manner judge the intelligence, ability and  personality  of the candidate to determine his suitability for the job.     The  marks  for  group  discussion cannot be            kept  at  an  equal pedestal with the interview.  However, the group  discussion as  one   of the methods for assessing the suitability  of  candidate  for the post of Assistant Engineer has  not been kept  by any other State Electricity Board in  India  except  the  Andhra  Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh       Electricity  Boards. Taking      into  account  all  aspect of  the  matter  and     the procedure  adopted  at various examination, it is  fit    and proper     that  15 per cent marks in all are to  be  kept      for  interview,  and if the rule making authorities want to  keep group discussion also as one of the modes of selection then marks  for interview and group discussion should not  exceed 10 per cent and 5 per cent respectively of the total  marks.


     Mohinder Sain Garg & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors., JT 1990 4 SC 704, relied on.

     4.    It is no doubt correct that the Respondents  cannot be  stopped from challenging the rule which is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution but in  moulding the relief, their conduct in filing the Writ Petition before the  High  Court after taking chance and fully knowing  the percentage of marks kept for interview and group discussion, and  the  equities of those who have been selected  are  the relevant  considerations.   The appellants have   joined the post  on  28th  December,  1989  and  after  completing   the training  they  are discharging their  duties  at  different places.   Some of them had left their earlier jobs and have also  become averaged. It is not proper in the interest  of justice  to  set  aside the  selection    of  the  appellants.

[818G-H; 819A-B] 


     CIVIL APPELLATE JURISIDCTION: Civil Appeal Nos. 2433 to 2435 of 1991 etc. etc.   From  the Judgment and Order dated  20.3.1990  of  the Allahabad High Court in W.P. Nos. 10643,  10342 and 10706 of 1989.

     S.S.  Ray, P.P. Rao, S.N. Bhat,  Narendra Singh  Malik, Sunil  Gupta,  Harish  N. Salve and Pradeep  Misra  for  the Appellants.

     U.R.   Lalit,  R.C.  Verma,  Virendra   Mishra,   Gopal Subramaniam and Mrs. S. Dikshit for the Respondnets.

     The Judgment of the Court was delivered by

     KASLIWAL, J. Special leave granted.

     We are confronted in these appeals with the question as to what percentage of marks awarded for group discussion and interview  for selection of Assistant Engineers by the  U.P. State Electricity Board, is reasonable.

     The  U.P. State Electricity Board invited   applications for  filling up the posts of Assistant Engineers (Civil)  by issuing an  advertisement in April, 1989.  120  marks were allocated  for the written test, 40 marks for interview   and  40  marks for group discussion.   Written test was  conducted  by the Board on 9th July, 1989 and then interviews and group discussion  were  held in October and November,  1989.      The  result of the successful candidates in order of  merit was  published  in daily newspaper on 27th November,  1989.  The very  next day the Board also issued individual   letters  to the successful candidates calling  upon  them  to join on 26th December,  1989  at   Electricity Training Institute' Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow, The  appellants before us  joined  the institute  in December,  1989   and thereafter they were sent to various places for training and they  started drawing salaries in the  prescribed  pay-scale and  since  then  they  are  continuously  working  on  the respective posts.

     The three unsuccessful candidates filed writ  petitions in  the  Lucknow bench of the High Court  of  Judicature  at  Allahabd  inter   alia  on  the ground  that  the  marks  for interview  and group discussion had been allocated  on  the higher side and against the decisions of this Court and  as  such  the entire selection stood vitiated and was liable  to  be  quashed.  The High Court by Judgment dated 28th  March,  1990 allowed the writ petitions by a common Judgment on            the  ground    that  the marks allocated for  interview  and  group  discussion  were more than 20 per cent and hence  the  whole  selection  was liable to be quashed. Aggrieved      against  the Judgment  of  the High Court, the appellants  have  come  in  appeal to this Court by grant of special leave.

     As   a  result of the written examination  held  on   9th July,  1989 as many as 386 candidates were called for  group  discussion/interview. Later  on 49  more  candidates were  called   for  group discussion and interview.  A list  of  46  candidates who were declared successful was published by the Board.  Out of these 46 candidates, 25 belong to the general category.   The Board in its counter affidavit filed  before the  High Court admitted that group discussion was  part  of interview.  If that position is accepted then it shows  that 120  marks were allocated for written test and 80 marks   for interview 940 for interview and 40 for group discussion) and thus  it  comes to  40 per cent  of  the  total  marks for  interview.   This court had already dealt with the  question of  percentage            of marks to be allotted  for  interview  for selection  to  the  public  posts  in  the  latest  decision Mohinder Sain Garg & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors., JT 1990  4 SC 704 where the maximum percentage has been laid down  as  15 per cent of the total marks.        All the earlier cases   were  noted  in  this    case  and the question   is  no   longer   res  integra.  In view of these circumstances the High Court           was  right in holding that the marks allocated for interview  and  group  discussion  were  arbitrary.  The  High          Court  after holding            the percentage of marks as arbitrary  also  quashed  the  entire  selection.           This Court while  entertaining    the  special     leave  petition  on 23rd  April,  1990            stayed the  operation of the Judgment of the High Court and allowed   the  appellants  to  continue  in  employment  and  as  such   the  appellants  are   continuing in service.  We  had  heard   the arguments and at the time of reserving the judgment on 8th February, 1991 had given the following direction.

             "We direct Learned counsel for the Board to furnish the service rules for the       recruitment/selection  of  the  Assistant  Engineers of  all  the  Electricity  Boards of the various States in India.  The  Board  shall also furnish the Rules, if any, of any  other  public          sector  undertaking where  recruitment  are  made  of  Assistant  Engineers  or  of    equivalent  technical   personnel, where group  discussions  is  one  of  the conditions of  recruitment.   In  case      group  discussion  is there, then all   the  details   with  regard  to the percentage of marks  kept      for  group  discussion  and   other   details   including  subjects  given  for  group  discussion  should  be          furnished to this Court.   All  the  above material  should  be  furnished  within     three  weeks  with  an  affidavit  of     the  Secretary of the U.P. State Electricity Board."

     Pursuant  to  the above direction of  this  Court, the Secretary,   U.P.  State  Electricity  Board  submitted   an affidavit   stating that the Board addressed  communications to  16 Electricity Boards in the country and also  to  other public     sector  undertakings.  In  response  to  the    said communication,  the  information received by  him  has been furnished   before  this  Court.   According  to  the  said  information  14 Electricity Boards have sent  their  replies stating that there was no provision of group discussion  in their  rules  for  recruitment   to  the  post  of  Assistant Engineers.   Only one i.e. Andhra Pradesh State        Electricity  Board       has  informed  that  there  was   a   provision   for interview/group   discussion  in their rules  but  the  marks provided  were            100  for  written  examination and  10   for interview/group   discussion.  As regards the  public  sector undertakings, there is no provision for group discussion  in Coal  India  Ltd., Oil & Natural  Gas  Commission,  National  Hydro  Electric           Power Corporation, National  Thermal  Power Corporation  and Tehri Hydro Power Development Corporation. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has informed thaqt their rules provide for group  discussion and the marks allotted are  50  for  the  written examination, 35 for interview and  15       for  group discussion. HMT Ltd. has informed that in their  rules 100  marks are allotted for written examination and 100          for interview/group discussion.  Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. has  informed  that  there  is no  provision  for   written examination  and  10  for  interview/grew   discussion.     As regards   the  public  sector  undertakings,  there  is   no provision  for            group discussion in Coal India  Ltd.  Oil  & Natural   Gas  Commission   National  Hydro  Electric   Power  Corporation,  National Thermal Power Corporation and   Tehri  Hydro  Power Development Corporation. Hindustan   Aeronautics  Limited  has  informed that their rules provide  for  group  discussion  and  the  marks  allotted  are  50        for  written  examination,  35 for interview and 15 for group   discussion.  HMT  Ltd.  has informed that in their rules  100  marks   are allotted for written examination and 100 for interview/group discussion. Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. has informed thatthere is no provision for written examination in their rules and  they  have made a provision for 60 per cent  marks       for interview  and 40 per cent for group discussion.  The  above information shows that so far as Electricity are  concerned.  group discussion as  a  method  of  recruitment for  the  post  of  Assistant Engineers  is in vogue in Andhra Pradesh  State  Electricity Board  and the U.P. State Electricity Board and not  in   any  other  State  in  India.  So far  as  Andhra  Pradesh  State Electricity  Board is concerned, it has provided  100  marks for  written  examination and only  10  for  interview/group discussion  cumulatively.  Even in case of  recruitment   for Indian Administration Service and other administrative posts for  various departments in the States Group  discussion  is  not kept as a method of selection.  We     would now deal with the group discussion as a   mode of selection in aid of interview. The group discussion  test was first introduced in the western countries for  selection of   personnel for  their  armed  forces  and  finding   it successful,  they  introduced it in  the  service  selection boards  in India. Gradually the utility and success of this method of testing made it popular among other  organizations in  our country in public sector  and  private undertakings and  enterprises.  It  is  a mode of  selection   in  aid  of  interview in order to assess the personality o the candidate and determine his/her suitability to the job in hand. In the case of an interview or oral viva voce it is restricted to a single candidate  at  a time while in the  case  of  group discussion  it  takes  place among  a  group  of  candidates themselves,.  Generally,  candidates  of  same age   level, similar  educational  qualifications,   experience  and environmental  background are grouped together and asked  to discuss  a  subject.  A  group  usually  consists  of  5-10 candidates. The candidates in a group are given full  freedom to express their views on a subjct given for discussion.  In the  group discussion the candidate are not told as  to   who speak  first or last and how much time each  candidate will take  in  such discussion. The examiner gives two  or  three topics and asks the group to choose any one of them and then  proceed to discuss them. The examiner acts only as a  silent observer  in the background. The examiner may stay behind  a partition  from where he can watch candidates and listen  to them  but  cannot  be seen or heard by      the  group.  As the members   of  the  group   are engaged in   a  free  and  frank discussion  of the  topic  the          examiner  notes  down   the important  personality      characteristics            of  the   different speakers.  It  is observed by the examiner as  to  how  each  candidate interacts and reacts when behaving as a member  of the team.

    The aim of group discussion is to encourage members of a group  to express their ideas on a given subject at a  short notice  with a view to find a solution of the  problem.   The  U.P.  State Electricity Board  has submitted that  interview test  and  group  discussion are in vogue for  more  than  a decade as a method of selection for the post of Assistant Engineers. In our view it cannot be held that the method  of group  discussion  alongwith  interview   for  selection     of Assistant  Engineers  by the Board is in any  manner  wrong, illegal   or  unconstitutional. It is in vogue in  the  Board since 1979 and it lies in the wisdom of the Board to keep te Method  of  group  discussion as an  aid  to  interview   for  selection of Assitant Engineers in future or not.

    The question now which calls for our consideration is as  to what percentage of marks may be considered as  reasonable for group discussion. The purpose of group discussion is  to assess the qualities mental alertness, manner of  asserting oneself,  showing regard for opinion of others,   ability  to discuss a subject without losing temper and his   initiative,  that  and  self confidence when confronted  with  a  problem facing  a  large  number  of  people.  However, the   group  discussion   as   one  of  the  methods   for  assessing  the suitability of a candidate for the post of Assitant Engineer has  not been kept by any other State Electricity Boards  in India  except  Andhra Pradesh and Uttar   Pradesh.  In  group discussion the examiner observes the candidates from  behind and  makes his own assessment and as such the  allotment  of marks for group discussion cannot be equated with the  marks allotted  for  interview. In the interview  every  candidate gets a chance and the members of the interviewing board   can in  a  better  manner judge the          intelligence,   ability  and personality  of the candidate to determine  his suitability for  the job. The marks for group discussion cannot be    kept at an equal pedestal with the interview. Thus in our view as already   held  in Mohinder Sain Garg's case (supra)  15  per cent marks in all  are to be kept for interview, and if    the rule  making authorities want to keep group discussion            also as  one of the modes  of selection them marks for  interview and  group  discussion should not exceed 10 per cent  5   per cent respectively of the total marks.

    The  next question which arises for consideration is  as to   what  direction  would  be just  and  proper  in   the circumstances  of this case. We do not agree with  the        High Court  to quash the entire selection made  by the Board  for the  posts of Assistant Engineers (civil). It may  be  noted that  Rajeev Govil, Vivek Aggarwal and Gyanendra  Srivastava who remained unsuccessful had filed the writ petitions after taking chance and fully knowing the percentage of marks kept for  interview and group discussion. It is no doubt  correct that they cannot be stopped from challenging the rule  which is   arbitrary   and  violative   of  Article   14   of  the  Constitution,  but in modulating the relief,  their  conduct  and  the equities of those who have  been selected  are   the relevant  considerations. The appellants have jointed  the post on 28th December,  1989  and  after  completing   the  training  are discharging  their duties at different places. It  has  been submitted  on their behalf that some of them had left  their earlier  jobs and have also become overage. Thus we  do  not consider  it proper in the interest of justice to set  aside the selections of the appellants. We have seen the marksheet of  295 candidates of the general category who had  actually attended  the interview and group discussion. So far as      the respondents  in   general category are concerned,  they  have secured the marks in the following manner:


NAME              WRITTEN TEST   GROUP                    INTERVIEW                   TOTAL



Rajeev Govil                    85                  5                              29                               119

Vivek Aggarwal              87.5                12                             28                              127.5

Gyanendra Bah-

adur Srivastava                81                   17                            18                               116

The  last  candidate out of the 25  selected  candidates  in  general  category  has secured 134.5 marks. Out            of  the  25 candidates  selected in the general category,  5  candidates have secured lesser marks than Rajeev Govil in written test, 9  candidates  below Vivek Aggarwal and   2  below  Gyanendra Bahadur   Srivastava. A persual of the marksheet  also  shows  that  50  candidates  are such who have   not  been  selected instead  of  having secured 87.5 marks or above   in  written test,  79 candidates who have secured more than 81 marks  in a the written test. Even if we were inclined to give a further chance of interview and group discussion by keeping 10   per  cent  and  5 per cent marks respectively for  interview  and group  discussion, in all fairness it would be necessary  to give  chance to all such candidates who have secured  higher marks in the written test in comparison to the  respondents-writ petitioners. We have already taken the view that we  do  not consider it just and proper to set aside the  selections already   made. In  these  circumstances  even if  we  were inclined to give direction to the Board to create three more posts  and give chance to all the candidates securing  equal or  higher  marks in the written examination than  the writ  petitioners,   there  was  a  remote  chance  of  the  writ  petitioners being selected..In our view such exercise  would  be in futility, taking in view the chance of success of         the writ petitioners.

    In the result, we allow these appeals in part and  quash the  rule  made by U.P. State Electricity Board   keeping  40 marks for interview and 40 marks for group discussion  being arbitrary. We direct that in future the marks for  interview and group discussion shall not be kept exceeding 10% and  5% of the total marks, respectively. The selection already made by  the Board for the post of Assistant  Engineers  (civil)  shall  not be disturbed. In the facts and  circumstances  of the case parties shall bear their own costs.

G.N.                                              Appeals partly allowed.