The Supreme Court has held that the use of different languages for filling up the OMR sheet and answer sheet cannot be accepted and upheld the rejection of the candidature of a candidate for the constable post.

The Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta & Justice Vikram Nath has observed –

"Since the advertisement contemplated the manner of filling up of the application form and also the attempting of the answer sheets, it has to be done in the manner so prescribed."

In this case, the Writ Petitioner – Respondent belonging to the OBC category had filled up the application form for the post of Constable in Railways along with a Postal order in English. His signatures were also in English consisting of two letters 'M' and 'S.' His application form was accompanied with a self-attested marksheet of high school examination and other certificates. All the documents were self-attested and signed in Hindi.

Thereafter, the Respondent appeared for the written test where he wrote a paragraph in Hindi on the OMR sheet, though in the application form he had written in English. He signed in Hindi then and again signed as "M S."

Since the Respondent was not appointed even after obtaining much higher marks than the cut-off in the OBC category, he preferred a Writ Petition before the Allahabad High Court. The High Court remitted the matter to the Appellants to reconsider the entire issue. The candidature was rejected by the Competent authority and its decision was set aside by the Single Bench of the High Court. The order was affirmed by the Division Bench of High Court.

The question which was required to be examined by the Apex Court was to the effect of violation of the condition provided in the advertisement that the application has to be in the language for which the candidates want to attempt the question paper, and what is the effect of using different language in the application form than the OMR sheet.

ASG Madhavi Divan appeared for the Appellants while Counsel Prashant Bhushan appeared for the Respondent before the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court noted that the condition that language in the application form shall be used for the purposes of OMR examination is for the reason that in case any dispute arises in respect of identity of the candidate, the same can be verified from the two handwritings.

"The sole reasoning given by the Division Bench of the High Court of time gap between the filling up of the application form and the examination, and hence inadvertent filling up of OMR sheet in Hindi by the writ petitioner is based on surmises and conjectures. Once the writ petitioner has filled the application form in English, having also signed in English, it cannot be said to be an inadvertent mistake when he has written the para in Hindi. Such writing in different language violates the instruction clearly mentioned in the advertisement," the Bench held.

The Court held that the language chosen is relevant to ensure that the candidate who has filled the application form alone appears in the written examination to maintain probity. The answer sheets have to be in the language chosen by the candidate in the application form.

In this context, the Court added –

"It is well settled that if a particular procedure in filling up the application form is prescribed, the application form should be filled up following that procedure alone."

"Therefore, the reasoning given by the Division Bench of the High Court that on account of lapse of time, the writ petitioner might have attempted the answer sheet in a different language is not justified as the use of different language itself disentitles the writ petitioner from any indulgence in exercise of the power of judicial review," the Bench opined.

Additionally, the Court noted, "Since the writ petitioner has used different language for filling up of the application form and the OMR answer book, therefore, his candidature was rightly rejected by the appellants."

Thus, the Court held that the order passed by the High Court cannot be sustained and set aside the same and allowed the appeal.

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