Percentage of Marks for Interview : Arbitrariness









 1990 SCR  Supl. (3) 108  1991 SCC  (1) 662

 JT 1990 (4)   704     1990 SCALE  (2)1014


 Civil Service:

     Excise and Taxation Inspectors-- Appointment of--Examination-Viva  voce--Value  and importance of--Fixing  25      of  total marks  Whether arbitrary and excessive--Calling for  a  large   number         of  candidates --Whether   vitiates   selection--Quashing of selection-Desirability of. 


    For  filling up 47 posts of Excise and Taxation  Inspectors in Punjab, the Chairman, Selection Committee issued  an advertisement  in newspaper. The advertisement          stated            that there would be three written papers in English, Punjabi   and General            Knowledge  of Degree Standard and would  carry         100 marks  each. Those who obtain 33% in each paper and  40%  in the  aggregate were to be called for interview          which  would carry 100 marks.    The examination  was held and the  Selection  Committee called more than 1200 candidates for interview. By the    time the  Selection commenced  the vacancies  increased  to    54.  comprising  of 28 posts or Taxation Inspectors and 26  posts of Excise Inspectors. After the interview and selection, all the  54 posts were filled, taking into account the  reservations made for Scheduled Caste, Backward class, Ex-servicemen, dependents of freedom fighters etc. The appellants           who were unsuccessful in the interview filed a Writ Petition  in the  High  Court challenging the procedure  adopted  by      the Selection  Committee.  The  High Court       dismissed  the          Writ  Petitions following two Judgments of its Full Bench, v. iz.,  Joginaer  Singh v. State of Haryana, AIR 1966 Punjab &       Haryana 339 and Vikram Singh & Ors. v. The Subordinate Services Selection Board, Haryana & Ors'., AIR 1988 Punjab &  Haryana 299.  The appellants have preferred the appeals          by  special leave, against the Judgment of the High  Court.  The      Writ Petitioners  have approached this Court direct   challenging the selection made.

    The appellants and the petitioners contended that  since the  Selection Committee  had called  1200  candidates for interview for only 54 posts, it gave the power of arbitrariness  for selection of the candidates. It was mpossible  to carry out a satisfactory viva voce list if such a large 109 number         of candidates were called for interview. The  interview was not only casual but also superficial and stoppy and the assessment made at such interviews can never reflect the true  measure of the personality of the candidates.  It     was also contended that keeping 100 marks for interview, that is 25 per cent of the total marks, gave arbitrary powers to the Selection  Committee, and hence violative of Article  14  of the Constitution.

    On  behalf of the respondents it.was contended that the  Writ Petitions and appeals were not maintainable since all the  respondents in the High Court were not impleaded; that since the selected candidates have already joined the  posts such  appointments may not be quashed. It was  further contended that  the observations made in Ashok  Kumar  Yadav's case have no relevance to the present cases since the selection was made by Departmental Selection Committee and not by Public       Service Commission; that all the candidates who     had qualified  in the written examination had to be called for interview irrespective of the number; that marks were awarded  by the members of selection Committee who were  experts, solely       on the basis of the response of candidates and  that no excessive marks were awarded to any candidate.

    Dismissing the Writ Petitions and one appeal and  allowing the other appeals, this Court,

    HELD:  1.1. Ashok Kumar Yadavs case was decided in 1985 and  there  is no reason why the State of  Punjab  did          not follow the same for making selections in 1989 for the  posts of  Excise and Taxation Inspectors. It is no  doubt  correct that the selection of Taxation and Excise Inspectors is done by  a Subordinate Selection body and not by  Public  Service Commission yet no valid reason has been given as to why that principle should not be applied in these cases as well. Even if the said principle may not in terms apply in these  cases to  the extent of laying down 12.5% of the total  marks            for viva  voce test which was made applicable for selections  to be made by V.P.S.C., the percentage of viva voce test in the present        cases at 25% of the total marks is  arbitrary and excessive. There could be no gain saying that viva voce test cannot be  totally dispensed with, but taking note  of        the situation and conditions prevailing in our country, it would not be reasonable to have the percentage of viva voce  marks more than 15 per cent of the total marks in the selection of candidates  fresh from college/school for public  employment by direct recruitment where the rules provided for a composite  process of selection-namely, written examination and interview. [133G-H; 134A-C]110

    1.2. It would be doing injustice to such candidates, who have  already  been selected and have joined the  posts,  to quash  their selections even if it is held that 25 per  cent marks for viva voce test were excessively high. [134D-E]

    1.3. Though it was not proper for the Selection  Committee to have called as much as 1200 candidates for  selection of 54 posts, the selection cannot be vitiated merely on this ground        as  such action is not tainted by any mala  fide  or oblique      motive. The respondents also stated that  they    had called all the eligible candidates as the same practice was followed  since          1970 and according to the  rules  all   such candidates had qualified in the written examination, and had to be called for interview.

    JUDGEMENT: Ashok Kumar Yadav and Ors. etc. etc. v. State of Haryana

etc.  v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors., [1971] 2 SCR 430; Miss Nishi Maghu and Ors. v. State of J & K & Ors., [1980] 4            SCC 95;  Ajay Hasia & Ors. v. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi and  Ors.,

[1981] 1 SCC 722; Koshal Kumar Gupta & Ors. v. State of J  & K and Ors., [1984] 3 SCR 407, relied on.

    State  of U.P. v. Rafiquddin and Ors., [1987] Supp.            SCC 401;  Mahmood  Alam Tariq and Ors. v. State of            Rajasthan  & Ors., [1988] 3 SCC 241; distinguished.

Liladhar  v.  State of Rajasthan & Ors., [1981] 4  SCC           159, referred to.

    2. Even if the entire selection is quashed and a  direction given to hold the viva voce test afresh by reducing the percentage of marks, it would be a futile exercise so far as the  two  Writ Petitioners are concerned, as they  stood  no chance         of being selected even remotely. According to  Ashok Kumar  Yadav's case candidates should be called  only  three times the number of seats available for appointment. If that criteria  was  applied         then the two  Writ  Petitioners    had absolutely  no chance of being called for interview for         the one  post of Taxation Inspector in the category of  backward

class. [135C-E].

    Ashok Kumar Yadav and Ors. etc. etc. v. State of Haryana & Ors. etc. etc. [1985] Suppl. SCR 657, referred to.

    3.1. In the general category 897 candidates had appeared in interview and so far as one of the four appellants, viz., Rajesh Kumar Saili is concerned, he secured 26 marks in interview and his position  was 668th. He stood no chance of being called   for interview  if candidates upto three times the number of         the posts  were called for interview. Even if the percentage  of marks  in viva voce was reduced from 25 per cent to  15  per cent he stood no chance of selection even remotely. [135G-H]

    3.2.  The respondents are directed to appoint the  other three appellants belonging to general category on the  posts of  Taxation Inspector/Excise Inspector as the case may be, if they are otherwise found suitable for these posts. It  is further       made clear that in case anyone of these  appellants has  become over-aged during this period, this would not  be considered  as a disqualification for their  appointment  to the above post. [136G-H; 137-A]