The Supreme Court observed that a writ court has the power to mould the relief and justice cannot be forsaken on the alter of technicalities.

The Court observed thus in an appeal filed by a man whose candidature for the post of Police Constable got cancelled due to the technical error with respect to his date of birth.

The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice K.V. Viswanathan held, “On the peculiar facts of this case, considering the background in which the error occurred, we are inclined to set aside the cancellation. We are not impressed with the finding of the Division Bench that there was no prayer seeking quashment of the results declared over the web. A reading of the prayer clause in the writ petition indicates that the appellant did pray for a mandamus directing the respondents to consider the candidature treating his date of birth as 18.12.1997 and also sought for a direction for issuance of an appointment letter. A Writ Court has the power to mould the relief. Justice cannot be forsaken on the alter of technicalities.”

Advocate Shaswati Parhi appeared for the appellant while Advocate Azmat Hayat Amanullah appeared for the State.

In this case, the appellant i.e., the candidate aspired to become a Police Constable and had applied for the said post under the reserved category as he belonged to the downtrodden segment of the society. Having possessed the eligibility criteria of being an intermediate (10+2 pass), he also cleared the written examination and the Physical Eligibility Test. He submitted his educational certificates/mark sheet as well as his caste certificate for document verification.

In 2018, final results reflected him as having failed and the only reason was that, while in the application form uploaded online, his date of birth was shown as December 8, 1997, in the school mark sheet, his date of birth was reflected as December 18, 1997. Having failed to receive any response, he filed a writ petition before the High Court stating that he was from a remote village and with the assistance of a person running the Cyber Café, he filled his form. He derived no benefit from the aforesaid technical error as he filled the eligibility criteria the either way. The Single Judge rejected the same and hence he approached the Division Bench. It affirmed the Single Judge’s order, aggrieved by which he was before the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court in view of the above facts noted, “The question that arises for consideration is whether the error committed in the application form, which was uploaded is a material error or a trivial error and was the State justified in declaring the appellant as having failed on account of the same?”

The Court, therefore, directed the State to treat the appellant as a candidate who has “passed” in the selection process held under the concerned advertisement issued by the Central Selection Board (Constable Recruitment), Patna with the date of birth as December 18, 1997. It further directed that if the appellant is otherwise not disqualified, his case be considered and necessary appointment letter be issued.

“We further direct that, in the event of there being no vacancy, appointment letter will still have to be issued on the special facts of this case. We make the said direction, in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. We further direct that the State will be at liberty in that event to adjust the vacancy in the next recruitment that they may resort to in the coming years. We notice from the written submissions of the State that 21,391 vacancies have been notified in Advertisement No.1 of 2023 and it is stated that the procedure for selection is ongoing. We place the said statement on record. We direct compliance to be made of the aforesaid direction within a period of four weeks from today”, also ordered the Court.

Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the appeal.

Cause Title- Vashist Narayan Kumar v. The State of Bihar & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 2)


Appellant: Advocates Shivam Singh, Ishwar Singh, Sahil Bhatiya, Suyash Vyas, Ravi Shanker Jha, and AOR Gopal Singh

Respondents: AOR Azmat Hayat Amanullah

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