The Madras High Court, Madurai Bench, has allowed the petition of a candidate whose answer paper was invalidated by Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) for writing ‘Jai Hind’ at the end of her essay.

A candidate had filed a petition seeking a declaration that the invalidation of her answer paper in Essay Part-B (Main Exam) for recruitment to the posts included in Combined Civil Services Examination-II Group-II Services (2013-2014) conducted by the TNPSC as illegal.

A Single Bench of Justice Battu Devanand held, “In such a moment of reflection and soul searching, for some youth, it's a natural way of expression to end an essay or a speech with some patriotic slogan summarizing the essence of the topic such as "Jai Hind". So, in this case, "Jai Hind - Let us live united with nature." appears to be a natural, spontaneous and effective culmination of the essay on the given topic rather than any tacit signal of attempting any malpractice.”

The Bench said that "Jai hind" or "victory to India" is the most commonly uttered slogan in India, whether it is at the end of the school prayers by children or at the end of a speech by eminent persons.

Advocate G. Karthik represented the petitioner while Standing Counsel V. Panneer Selvam represented the respondent.

In this case, the petitioner sought direction to the respondent to evaluate her answer paper in Essay Part-B (Main Exam) and award marks and consider her for appointment to the posts included in Combined Civil Services Examination-II Group II Services within the time stipulated by the Court. The counsel for the petitioner submitted that in pursuance to an advertisement issued by the respondent for recruitment to the posts included in Combined Civil Services Examination-II Group-II Services, the petitioner applied for the same under BC Woman (PSTM). The preliminary test was conducted and the petitioner was successful in the same. Thereafter, she was permitted to participate in the main examination conducted. In the forenoon, Part-A examination on General Studies was conducted and, in the afternoon, Part-B exam on Essay was conducted.

The petitioner was called for the certificate verification and she proved her eligibility. Thereafter, she attended interview for 40 marks and was then called for the counselling. In pursuance to the counselling, she was not selected on the ground that she had secured only 184 marks in total. Hence, on making query, she came to know that she was awarded 160 marks in Part-A and 24 marks in interview and in Part-B, the answer paper itself was made invalidation and not evaluated. The petitioner applied under R.T.I. Act and she got the reply with much difficulty only after approaching the Information Commission. She got a response stating that she had written something irrelevant to the questions on the last page of the answer paper. On a perusal of her answer paper, it was seen that the answer to the question "Write a detailed account on importance and conservation of natural resources", the petitioner concluded by writing as "Jai Hind, Let us live united with nature".

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “While the respondent invalidating the answer paper of the petitioner on the ground that the petitioner made some impertinent remarks at the end of the essay, it ought to have considered the entire essay written by the petitioner. Only the competent examiner can decide whether the words written as “Jai Hind - Let us live united with nature” can be considered as the concluding remarks to the answer to the question in Part-B, which was an issue with regard to the conservation of natural resources. The respondent cannot took a decision invalidating the answer paper of the petitioner coming to a conclusion that the said words written by the petitioner at the conclusion of the essay are impertinent.”

The Court further noted that for development and prosperity of the country, the conservation of natural resources is very essential and important and that it is the duty of every citizen to safeguard the natural resources available in the country.

“Those persons, who are having the idea of “patriotism”, definitely safeguard the natural resources for the benefit of the future generations. Besides that, natural resources are related to the nature. There is no any dispute that we have to live with the nature. As such, while writing essay, on the issue of importance and conservation of natural resources, at conclusion writing as “Jai Hind – Let us live united with nature” by the petitioner is very relevant and appropriate to the question and as such, the said writing cannot be treated as impertinent remarks or to give some indication to the examiner about her identity”, said the Court.

The Court also observed that it is the last word to be seen in several communications wherever the patriotic fervour is invoked towards the motherland i.e., India or Bharat and this slogan or term JAI HIND is said to be coined by an Indian revolutionary Champaka Raman Pillai during British raj in 1907 but its importance became significant after Nataji Subhash Chandra Bose immortalised it as his armed force INA' s battle cry.

“While writing an essay on “Importance and conservation of the natural resources” some young scholar or educated youth would naturally become emotional and while discussing the ways and means of protecting nature and conserving natural resources in the interest of society at large, may spontaneously feel patriotic”, added the Court.

The Court, therefore, concluded that the action of the respondent in invalidating the petitioner’s answer paper in essay is illegal, unjust, and arbitrary being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the writ petition and directed the respondent to validate the petitioner’s answer papers and award marks.

Cause Title- M. Kalpana v. The Secretary, Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission

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