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MANJU BALA versus STATE OF HARYANA & ANR

High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh

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Manju Bala v. State of Haryana & Anr - CWP-19894-2005 [2006] RD-P&H 2864 (4 May 2006)

CWP No.19894 of 2005 [1]

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.

C.W.P.No.19894 of 2005

Date of Decision: 17.05.2006

Manju Bala .........Petitioner

v.

State of Haryana and another .........Respondents CORAM: HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE J.S.KHEHAR
HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE P.S.PATWALIA

***

Present: Mr.Rajbir Sehrawat, Advocate

for the petitioners.

Mr.Jaswant Singh, Addl.A.G., Haryana

for the respondents.

***

P.S. PATWALIA, J.

This order will dispose of Civil Writ Petition Nos.19894, 19754, 19128, 19362, 19728, 19638, 19866, 19537, 19641, 19846, 19535, 19542, 19724, 19878, 19930, 20084, 20169, 20212, 20431 of 2005, 33, 41, 100, 186, 236, 268, 1288 and 2116 of 2006. The factual matrix leading to the filing of these writ petitions is as under:-

The State of Haryana vide advertisement No.1 of 2005 published on 16.7.2005 invited applications for filling up 381 temporary posts of Lecturers in the School Cadre in the Department of Education by way of direct recruitment.

All the petitioners in this bunch of writ petitions submitted their applications in response to the advertisement for being considered for appointment to these posts.

Interviews to consider the claims of various candidates against the advertised posts CWP No.19894 of 2005 [2]

commenced in December, 2005. Inspite of the fact that the petitioners were fulfilling the minimum eligibility qualifications for being considered for appointment, they were not called for interview. It is at that stage that these writ petitions were filed with a prayer that the respondent-State of Haryana should be directed to interview the petitioners and to consider them for selection against the posts of Lecturers which have been advertised.

Notice of motion was issued in these writ petitions and it was ordered that in the meanwhile, the petitioners may be interviewed provisionally, subject to the outcome of the writ petitions. It was also ordered that the result would not be declared till further orders.

In response to the notice issued a written statement has been filed by the Under Secretary, Higher Education, Haryana on behalf of the State Government. In the reply it is disclosed that against 381 posts of Lecturers which were advertised 2806 applications were received. The selection was to be made on the basis of academic record and interview alone, without there being any written test. Since the number of applications received were many times the number of posts advertised the State Government took a decision to short list the candidates to be called for interview and it was decided to call three times the number of candidates than the posts advertised. For this purpose the State Government had formulated a criteria which was disclosed to the Court at the time of arguments. A copy of the same was also supplied to the learned counsel appearing for the petitioners. The criteria is as under:-

"CRITERIA FOR SELECTION OF LECTURERS (COLLEGE CADRE) I Academic Record (See Point No.I in Note) Masters Level Degree

40 maximum

marks

i) Marks obtained upto 55% being minimum Nil ii) Beyond 55% one number for every additional percentage (See point No.V in Notes)

II Good Academic Record 10 maximum

marks

CWP No.19894 of 2005 [3]

i) Ist Division in all three lower examinations i.e. BA Final, Prep. Or +2 and Matric prior to

MA/M.Sc./M.Com 10

ii)` Ist Division in two lower examinations i.e. BA Final, Prep. Or +2 and Matric prior to MA/M.Sc./M.Com. 5 iii) Ist Division in one lower examinations i.e. A Final, Prep. Or +2 and Matric prior to MA/M.Sc./M.Com 2 III Weightage for additional/Higher Qualifications (See point No.IV in notes)

10 maximum

marks

i) Ph.D 10

ii) M.Phil 5

IV Teaching Experience (See point No.III in Notes) 05 maximum marks

V Co-curricular Activities (See point No.II in notes) 10 maximum marks

i) University Yough Festival (Only if attained Prize-not Participation alone) 1

ii) Debates (if attained position in inter college debates 2 iii) NCC 02 maximum

marks

a) C Certificate 2

b) B Certificate 1

iv) NSS (Camp of 10 days atleast) 01 maximum marks

v) Sports (Only Open Championships) (International) 04 maximum marks

a) Position 4

b) Participation 3

(National)

a) Position 3

b) Participation 2

(State)

a) Position 1

VI Interview 25

GRAND TOTAL 100

NOTES:-

i) No written test will be organized for filling up these posts UGC instructions and relevant Service Rules will be followed in the recruitment process. NET in the relevant subject is compulsory for the post of Lecturer (College Cadre) as per Service Rules and UGC guidelines.

CWP No.19894 of 2005 [4]

ii) Weightage for only one highest certificate will be given to the candidates for Sports and NCC Activities. They will have to furnish an affidavit that they will perform the duties relates to NCC/NSS and Sports activities. Sports certificates must be of a Sport recognized by the Sports Department Haryana.

iii) For teaching experience of every academic session one mark be given. Teaching experience (only at college or University level) for atleast six months in an academic session may be considered as one unit. Only those candidates to be given weightage who have submitted Experience Certificate (countersigned by Principal of college/Head of Institute/Department).

iv) Those candidates, who are given relaxation for clearing UGC NET examination on the basis of M.Phil or Ph.D qualifications according to the service rules, will not be given weightage for additional/higher qualifications for that particular degree.

v) That in the marks for the academic record those candidates who are given relaxation for obtaining 55% marks in Master level degree, As Per The Service Rules, may be given additional number for every additional percentage beyond 55% only."

It is further contended in the reply that this short listing is strictly in accordance with Note III appearing in the advertisement which specifically states that the number of candidates to be called for interview can be restricted on the basis of qualification and experience higher than the minimum prescribed in the advertisement. The said clause is in the following terms:- "The prescribed essential qualifications are minimum and mere possession of the same does not entitle candidates to be called for interview. Where the number of applications received in response to advertisement is large and it will not be convenient or possible for the department to interview all these candidates, the Department may restrict the number of candidates for interview to a reasonable limit CWP No.19894 of 2005 [5]

on the basis of qualifications and experience higher than the minimum prescribed in the advertisement by holding a Screening Test or any other method devised by the Department." It is further stated in the reply that merit of the petitioners in this bunch of writ petitions was not sufficiently high enough for them to be amongst the candidates equal to three times to the number of posts advertised in each subject and consequently the petitioners were not called for interview having been excluded in the powers of short listing.

When the matter came up for final hearing on 5.4.2006, counsel for the petitioners in principle did not dispute the proposition that it is always open to a recruiting agency to short list the number of candidates to be called for interview on the basis of either a screening test or any other rational method. This is for the reason that this proposition of law is by now well settled by a number of judgments of the Apex Court. In Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission v. Navnit Kumar Potdar & Anr., 1995(1) RSJ 142, the Supreme Court upheld the action of the Commission in limiting the number of candidates to be called for interview by only calling those candidates who had an experience of 7 years as against minimum experience of 5 years prescribed in the service rules. This judgment was subsequently followed by another Bench of the Apex Court in Union of India & Anr. v. T.Sundararaman & Ors., JT 1997(5) SC 48 by observing as hereunder:-

"4. The Tribunal has clearly erred in doing so. Note 21 to the advertisement expressly provides that if a large number of applications are received the commission may short list candidates for interview on the basis of higher qualifications although all applicants may possess the requisite minimum qualifications. In the case of M.P. Public Service Commission v. Navnit Kumar Potdar & Anr. JT (1994) 6 SC 302 this court has upheld short listing of CWP No.19894 of 2005 [6]

candidates on some rational and reasonable basis. In that case, for the purpose of short listing, a longer period of experience than the minimum prescribed was used as a criterion by the Public Service Commission for calling candidates for an interview. This was upheld by this Court. In the case of Govt. of A.P. v. P.Dilip Kumar & Anr.

JT (1993)2 SC 138 also this Court said that it is always open to the recruiting agency to screen candidates due for consideration at the threshold of the process of selection by prescribing higher eligibility qualification so that the field of selection can be narrowed down with the ultimate objective of promoting candidates with higher qualifications to enter the zone of consideration. The procedure, therefore, adopted in the present case by the Commission was legitimate. ....."

A Division Bench of this Court in Rajesh Sharma and another v.

Haryana Public Service Commission, 1999(1) RSJ 728 has also upheld the power of the recruiting agency to short list the candidates to be called for viva voce by observing as hereunder:-

"6. As far as the jurisdiction of the Commission to hold screening test is concerned, we do not find any merit in the contention of the learned counsel because the recruiting agency, like the Commission, has the power to devise appropriate mode for shortlisting the candidates to be called for viva voce. In this case, the number of applications received for recruitment against 74 posts was over 1500 and it would have been wholly impracticable for the Commission to interview each and every candidate. It may have consumed many weeks or even months before the Commission could determine the comparative merit of the candidates by holding interviews.

Therefore, its action of holding screening test cannot be declared CWP No.19894 of 2005 [7]

illegal. This is also the view taken by the Apex Court and this Court in the following decisions:-

(1)Jayant Kumar Chavhan vs. Public Service Commission, M.P. Indore and another, 1979(1) SLR 316; (2)Ashok Kumar Yadav and others vs. State of Haryana and others, AIR 1987 SC 454;

(3)V.J.Thomas and others vs. Union of India and others, AIR 1985 SC 1055;

(4)S.B.Mathur and others vs. Hon'ble the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and others, AIR 1988 SC 2073; (5)The Government of Andhra Pradesh vs. P.Dilip Kumar and another, JT 1993(2) SC 138;

(6)Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission vs. Navnit Kumar Potdar and another, 1995(1) RSJ 142: AIR 1995 SC 77;

(7)Union of India and another vs. T.Sundararaman and others, JT 1997(5) SC 48;

(8)Dr.Lovekesh Kumar and others vs. State of Punjab and others, 1998(1) RSJ 566 (P&H)."

Notwithstanding what has been stated hereinabove, learned counsel for the petitioners, however, contended that in the facts of this case, the criteria adopted by the State Government for shortlisting the candidates was arbitrary and illegal on the grounds that;

(i)the selection committee itself could not have formulated the criteria to short list the candidates which can only be done by the employer i.e. the State Government and hence the criteria formulated by the committee is liable to be set aside on this basis; (ii) the criteria for short listing was formulated after the receipt of CWP No.19894 of 2005 [8]

application forms and hence was vitiated in law; (iii)the criteria actually was one for selection itself and not short listing of candidates and having assessed the candidates on this criteria, the selection committee could not have stopped mid way but was duty bound to call the candidates, as per criteria, for interview also;

(iv) the criteria is bad as it accords weightage to NCC and Sports candidates which fact was not disclosed in the advertisement; and (v)the grant of weightage for NCC/Sports and extra co-curricular activities to the candidates has no nexus for assessing the suitability of candidates for the posts of Lecturers which should only be done on the basis of their academic record and hence the criteria granting credit for these activities is arbitrary and illegal and is liable to be set aside.

We shall now deal with these contentions raised by the learned counsel one by one.

In so far as the first contention that the criteria should have been formulated by the State Government and not by the Departmental Selection Committee is concerned, to satisfy ourselves of the correct factual position, we had summoned the record relating to the formulation of the criteria. On an examination of the record, it transpired that on 13.10.2005, after all the applications received had been scrutinized, it was proposed by the Special Secretary, Higher Education that the ratio of candidates to be called for interview should be three times the number of posts advertised. For the purpose of this short listing criteria was proposed. It was stated that since the post of Lecturer required effective communication skill and capacity to be articulate, the proposed criteria had been formulated. This note was considered by the Financial Commissioner, Education, who approved the same and ultimately the matter went upto the level of CWP No.19894 of 2005 [9]

Chief Minister, where also it was approved on 26.10.2005. Some minor changes were proposed which were incorporated and on this basis, the final criteria was sent to the Departmental Selection Committee, on the basis of which the short listing of the candidates was done. In view of this factual position, the very basis of the submission made by counsel for the petitioners to the effect that the criteria had been framed by the selection committee is knocked out. As a matter of fact, the criteria was framed by the employer in the Department of Education and approved upto the level of Chief Minister, Haryana. In fact a reading of the file leaves us with a positive impression that there has been a complete application of mind at all levels while formulating the criteria. This submission of counsel for the petitioners, therefore, cannot be accepted.

The next contention raised by the counsel that the criteria is vitiated as it was formulated after the last date of receipt of applications, also cannot be accepted. It is only after all applications are received that the recruiting agency would be in a position to know the exact number of candidates who applied for the posts. It is only at that stage that the recruiting agency would be in a position to decide as to whether or not the number of applicants is so large that there is a necessity of reducing the candidates to be called for interview by adopting a mode of short listing. Therefore, a decision whether or not there is a requirement of short listing the candidates to be called for interview would depend on the number of applications received and such a decision would necessarily have to be taken only after applications have been received and their scrutiny is over. It is only then that the recruiting agency would know as to how many valid applications have been received and whether or not there is a need to short list the candidates.

This has been done in the present case. The record shows that once the number of applications received for 381 posts was very large being 2806. A decision was taken to short list the candidates. In our opinion, there is no legal infirmity in this decision. The second contention of the learned counsel, therefore, must also fail.

CWP No.19894 of 2005 [10]

Mr.Rajbir Sehrawat, learned counsel appearing for some of the petitioners forcefully contended that a reading of the criteria would show that it is a composite criteria of 100 marks. Out of these, 60 marks have been kept for academic record/good academic record/higher qualification, 5 marks for teaching experience, 10 marks for co-curricular activities which included Sports, NCC/NSS and apart from this 25 marks were kept for interview. It is the submission of the counsel that once the petitioner had been assessed for academic record, experience and co-curricular activities, then it was incumbent on the State Government to have called him for interview so that his total performance out of 100 marks could be assessed. We are afraid that we cannot agree to this contention. What the respondents has done in the present case is that after granting credit to all the candidates who had applied for their academic record, teaching experience and extra co-curricular activities, the top three candidates for each post have been called for interview. This has been done subject wise and separately in the general and reserve categories. The candidates securing the maximum marks on the basis of academic record, experience and extra co-curricular activities have been called for interview equal to three times the posts advertised. We are of the opinion that there is no legal infirmity in the course of action adopted by the respondents. In fact the short listing has been done strictly as per law.

It was then contended by learned counsel for the petitioners that no credit could be given for achievement for Sports and Co-curricular activities as it had not been stated in the advertisement that such certificates are required to be tendered by the candidates. However, as against this, learned counsel for the respondents submitted that in the application form which had been duly filled up by all the candidates, it had been duly mentioned in Column No.12 that co- curricular activities, prizes in University Youth Festivals, Sports participation and position at National or International level, NCC/NSS categories should be detailed by all the candidates and certificates should be attached in support of the claims CWP No.19894 of 2005 [11]

made. It was further stated by the counsel for the respondents that all candidates who had such certificates, had duly attached the same with their application forms.

Therefore, no prejudice has been caused to any of the petitioners. Further it is not the case of any petitioner that he could not submit a certificate relating to any co- curricular activity. Having examined the application forms, we are satisfied that information of co-curricular activities was required to be given and it is clearly stated therein that it should be supported by the certificates duly attested by the concerned supervisor of the College/School/University/Sports department of Haryana. In this view of the matter, we are of the opinion that since all the petitioners had information that certificates were to be attached and as a matter of fact, certificates were attached, no prejudice has been caused to the petitioners on account of the fact that this was not mentioned in the advertisement. Since, factually everybody has been assessed for extra co-curricular activities, we find no merit in this contention.

The last issue raised relates to a challenge to 10 marks for co- curricular activities. This includes marks for attaining a prize in a University Youth Festival or an Inter-College debate. The credit of 1 or 2 marks has been given for NCC certificates and having attended an NSS camp of 10 days. A maximum of 4 marks have been accorded for an International position, 3 marks for National position and 1 mark for State position with 3/2 marks for participation at the International or National level. It is, thus, seen that only 10 marks out of the total marks have been kept for extra co-curricular activities. The posts advertised are College cadre Lecturers. A teacher is required to have effective communication skill and is also required to be articulate. If a candidate has participated in an University Youth Festival, Inter-college debating, NSS camp or Sports, it would certainly be an asset to the performance of his duties as a lecturer. Giving the credit of total 10 marks for all these activities together, in the circumstances, cannot be considered to be arbitrary. We, thus, cannot agree with the counsel for CWP No.19894 of 2005 [12]

the petitioners on this score as well.

Before concluding, it must be noticed that Mr.S.K.Sharma, learned counsel appearing for petitioner Savita Sharma in Civil Writ Petition No.19754 of 2005 and Mr.Sanjiv K. Tamak appearing for petitioners Dr.Bharti and others in Civil Writ Petition No.236 of 2006, raised a contention that merit of their clients had not been properly assessed even in terms of the criteria framed. Mr.Sharma contended that the petitioner had not been given the benefit of her Ph.D degree.

To satisfy ourselves, we had asked Mr.Jaswant Singh, learned counsel appearing for the State of Haryana to produce the application forms and compilation of marks awarded to them. The application forms were produced. In so far as petitioner Savita Sharma is concerned, it was explained to us that as per Note 4, she was not entitled to marks for Ph.D. degree as she was given relaxation in passing the UGC/NET examination on the basis of Ph.D. degree and, therefore, as per the criteria she was not entitled to additional marks for that degree. Having examined the application forms, we are satisfied that petitioner Savita Sharma has been correctly assessed in terms of the criteria. On perusal of the record produced the assessment of petitioners in Civil Writ Petition No.236 of 2006 was also found to be correct as per the criteria.

In view of what has been stated hereinabove, we do not find any merit in the contentions raised by learned counsel for the petitioners in this bunch of writ petitions. The writ petitions are consequently dismissed. It is clarified that the interim orders granted to the petitioners while issuing notice of motion are also consequently vacated. In the circumstances of this case, there are no orders as to costs.

( P.S.PATWALIA )

JUDGE

( J.S.KHEHAR )

May 17, 2006. JUDGE

RC


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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