The Supreme Court noted that the Appellant had not gained any indefensible right to be appointed in Haryana Superior Judicial Services by qualifying in the selection process.

The Court dismissed a Civil Appeal challenging the judgment and order of the High Court dismissing the Petition seeking appointment in Haryana Superior Judicial Service. The Court noted that the State has the power to fill all vacancies or leave some unfilled under Haryana Superior Judicial Service Rules, 2007 (Rules, 2007), but a valid reason must be provided for doing so.

The Bench comprising Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Pankaj Mithal observed, “A simple reading of the above paragraph would reveal that though it is up to the employer or the State to fill up all the notified vacancies or to keep all of them or any of them vacant but it does not mean that the employer/State can act arbitrarily in not filling up those posts and the decision not to fill up the vacancies has to be a bona fide one supported by appropriate reasons”.

The Bench noted, “Therefore, a conscious decision was taken to add these 4 general category vacancies to the already advertised vacancies, thus making the number of general category vacancies to be 13 [14-5=9+4=13]. Thus, only 13 candidates were appointed. The respondents have not acted arbitrarily in making such appointments”.

Advocate Rakesh Dahiya appeared for the Appellant, Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran appeared for the Respondents and Advocate Monika Gusain appeared for the State.

The High Court issued a notification for the recruitment of 22 officers for the Haryana Superior Judicial Services (HSJS), directly from the Bar, with 14 positions available for general category candidates, 5 for scheduled caste candidates, and 3 for backward class candidates. Despite successfully passing the written examination and interview and ranking 14th on the merit list, the Appellant was not appointed. One of the top 13 candidates who joined the service later resigned. The Appellant invoked the writ jurisdiction of the High Court, contending that the 14th post for general category candidates should not be kept vacant arbitrarily, and sought his appointment to the position. The High Court did not grant him the relief. A Civil Appeal was filed challenging the judgment and order of the High Court, wherein the Court partially allowed the Writ Petitions. Still, the Appellant was not accorded any relief insofar as his appointment to the higher judicial service of the State under direct recruitment quota was concerned.

The Court noted the employer or State has the choice to fill all advertised vacancies or leave some vacant, but they must have valid reasons for not filling them and cannot act arbitrarily. 13 out of the 14 candidates were appointed because five general category candidates who were already serving as Additional District and Session Judges had applied for their absorption and filed a petition seeking regularisation on substantive posts. The High Court committee recommended the absorption of these five judges on fresh posts, leaving only nine positions available for selection. Meanwhile, 20 new vacancies became available, and four general category candidates were appointed through direct recruitment from the Bar, in addition to one candidate from the Scheduled Caste category. Therefore, the Bench noted that the decision was made to add these four general category vacancies to the already advertised ones, making a total of 13 general category vacancies. The respondents were not acting arbitrarily in making these appointments.

Furthermore, the Court noted that the respondents had provided a valid reason for appointing only 13 selected candidates, leaving the Appellant at no 14. The Court held that the Respondents had acted fairly and logically, without any malice towards the Appellant.

The Court noted the Appellant's argument that they could have easily filled the vacancy caused by the resignation of a selected candidate. However, the Court held that such an argument needs to be revised because all the initially advertised vacancies were already filled. If a selected candidate joins and then resigns, a new vacancy arises that can only be filled by issuing a proper advertisement and following the selection process again.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Appeal.

Cause Title: ​​Sudesh Kumar Goyal v The State of Haryana & Ors. (2023 INSC 842)

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