Service Selection Examinations – Judicial Review Power Is Supervisory In Nature And Its Jurisdiction Is Not That Of An Appellate Body: SC
A two-judge Bench of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice P.S. Narasimha has held that the challenge to the legality of the decision-making process must be appreciated with reference to relevant well-known inputs and that in judicial review, power of the Court being supervisory in nature, jurisdiction is not that of an appellate body.
An advertisement was issued in June 2015 for filling up the post of Gram Panchayat Adhikari. The Minister for Panchayati Raj had passed away before the date scheduled for examination. In the examination, a question was put up asking who was the present Panchayati Raj Minister in Uttar Pradesh.
Clearly, the Minister who had passed away i.e., Late Shri Kailash Yadav could not have been the correct answer. The Court noted that this was an uncontemplated event as can be seen with the benefit of hindsight.
A decision was taken by the Appellant that candidates who selected Late Shri Kailash Yadav as the answer or those who did not mark any option will be awarded one mark and no action will be taken in respect of candidates who have chosen any of the other 3 options.
The Respondent fell short by one mark. A Writ Petition was filed praying to award a mark to him. Single Judge dismissed the Writ Petition. The Division Bench allowed the appeal holding awarding of marks to those who did not give an answer to a question cannot be proper.
The Division Bench proceeded to direct the Appellant to take a decision to either delete question no. 46 of booklet series 'C' or to award the marks to the Respondent also and if he came in the merit on awarding of marks then to take further appropriate action as per merit position.
Hence, the appeal before the Supreme Court.
The Court noted that circumstances overtook both the Commission and the candidates, however, on the date of the exam, option B [Late Shri Kailash Yadav] was not the correct answer and hence a decision was taken by the Commission. The Court noted that the Respondent had not impugned the decision of the Commission in the Writ Petition.
The Court noted that much water has flown and the selection is being taken forward since the DB rendered its decision and therefore direction to delete the question may not be an appropriate remedy.
On the question of giving the mark to the Appellant the Court held "As far as the other option which is couched as direction to the appellant is concerned which is to give a mark to the respondent, we have to necessarily sustain such a direction on the basis of the illegality of the decision taken by the appellant being successfully impugned."
The Court held that the principle of judicial review is supervisory in nature and not being that of an appellate body.
The Court noted that the Respondent represented a section of those candidates who gave an answer which was not correct by any yardstick at any point in time. The Court noted that the distinction drawn by the Commission cannot be characterized as palpably arbitrary.
Hence, the Court proceeded to allow the appeal, and the judgement of the Division Bench was set aside.