Non-Grant Of Seniority Based On Revised Marks Will Render Process Of Re-Evaluation Redundant: Observes SC
Observing that once marks are increased on re-evaluation, the respective candidates whose marks are increased will have to be placed at the appropriate place in the merit list, the two-judge Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice Sanjay Karol held that "non-grant of seniority based on revised marks, would render the process of re-evaluation redundant".
The Court also held that having failed to challenge the earlier decision to have the re-evaluation of 13 candidates only and even having not applied for the re-evaluation at the relevant time though the exercise of re-evaluation was going on thereafter, it was not open for the Respondents to make a grievance subsequently that the re-evaluation of the marks of 13 candidates cannot be at their disadvantage.
Advocate Bhavana Duhoon appeared for the Appellant and Advocate K. Krishna Kumar appeared for the Respondent.
Going by the background of the case, applications were invited by the High Court of Delhi in the year 2016 to fill up 27 vacant posts of private secretaries, and appointments were made including the Respondent. Not selected candidates approached the High Court seeking revaluation, and the matter was disposed of, observing that it would be appropriate for the Special Committee to consider the report of re-evaluation and recommend further course of action. Later, the Acting Chief Justice took a decision that those candidates, whose marks were increased and whose marks were found to be higher than the candidates already appointed may be appointed against the vacant 22 vacancies of private secretaries without disturbing those 27 candidates already appointed.
Thereafter the Respondent moved a representation seeking re-evaluation, after a period of 15 months from the date of obtaining the copy of the answer sheet, being dissatisfied by the denial of seniority as per the increased marks. The Special Committee rejected the representation stating that relief of re-evaluation cannot be granted at a belated stage. However, thereafter, the revised merit list was uploaded on the internet. Resultantly, A batch of 21 candidates including Respondents, who were already appointed earlier, filed a writ on the ground that their rank has been affected as a result of the new merit list. Thereby, the High directed that the seniority of candidates mentioned in the Final merit list and those who were granted the benefit of re-evaluation would be considered as appointed, however, their seniority and position shall be reckoned after the last appointed candidate. Hence the present appeals.
Since the earlier decision of re-evaluation of 13 candidates attained the finality and thereafter, the marks of 13 candidates came to be increased, the Apex Court held that Special Committee was absolutely justified in its decision to accord notional seniority as per the revised marks/merit list.
"At the relevant time, none of the selected 22 candidates including the Respondent applied for re-evaluation and even challenged the decision of the Special Committee to re-evaluate the marks of only 13 candidates," added the Court.
The Bench observed that the candidates whose marks have been increased cannot be deprived of their position in the select list, and on the correction of an error, they were required to be given the benefit of notional seniority i.e., inter se seniority on the basis of merit.
“There was no fault on the part of the appellants. It was because of the wrong marking at the relevant time they were deprived of the appointments and they were not placed in the merit list and as such was required to be corrected on the revision of the marks on re-evaluation. Therefore, the Special Committee was absolutely justified in taking to accord the notional seniority in accordance with the revised marks to candidates”, added the Bench.
Accordingly, the Court restored the decision of the Special Committee and concluded that the respective Appellants shall be entitled to the notional seniority in accordance with the revised marks on re-evaluation and allowed the appeals.
Cause Title: Sunil and Ors. v. High Court of Delhi and Ors.