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Candidates cannot seek same relief as others if situations are not similar: SC

Anmol Kumar Tiwari & Ors. v. The State of Jharkhand & Ors.

Civil Appeal Nos. 429-430 of 2021 with Civil Appeal Nos. 431-434 of 2021, Civil Appeal No.435 of 2021, Civil Appeal Nos.436-477 of 2021, Civil Appeal No. 478 of 2021

Decided on 18th February, 2021

Counsel for appellants: Mr. P.S. Patwalia, Mr. Venkataramani, Mr. Deepak Nargolkar

Counsel for Respondents: Mr. Tapesh Kumar Singh

The present case was decided by a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Indira Banerjee.

The facts of the case state that there was an advertisement calling applications for the posts of Police Sub-Inspectors, Attendants and Company Commanders. There were 384 posts vacant for these jobs. There was a written examination, in which 1217 applicants passed and in the interview process, 382 were selected against 384 vacancies as candidates belonging to SC Quota for the two posts of Sergeant were not available. There was an enquiry committee being set up for the same which found that the selection process was not fair as the merits were overlooked and preference was given undue importance.

A Writ was filed by the unsuccessful candidates. During the pendency period, 42 candidates chosen on the basis of the original select list were cancelled and in the revised list, 43 people were appointed on basis of a report by a committee headed by DGP of Jharkhand. The Writ was disposed and the parties were at a liberty to challenge the revised list made by the Government.

Another Writ Petition was filed by the 42 people who were disqualified from the jobs after selection in the revised list. The intervenors in this petition were the ones who secured more merit than the petitioners, as there were no vacancies which would add the intervenors, the High Court refused to grant any relief to the intervenors. A Letters Patent Appeal was filed and was heard by a division bench of the High Court. The Court did not accept the appeal given by the parties, as there were no vacancies. Dissatisfied with dismissal of LPAs, the present appeal was made by the intervenors and the State Government before this Court.

The learned Counsel for the intervenors contended that the merits of the intervenors are more than that of the writ petitioners which make them more eligible for the posts. They also submitted that 550 posts are still vacant and the people who are more meritious are 120 in number and can be appointed in the vacancies in the posts.

The learned Counsel representing the State Government submitted that initially the writ petitioners were appointed through irregularities by the authorities. He contended that the statement made on behalf of the government which stated that there were no vacancies for appointing the intervenors cannot be found fault with. He further submitted that the intervenors in the Writ Petitions have no right to seek appointment as only 384 posts of Sub-Inspectors were advertised.

The learned Counsel on behalf of the Writ Petitioners, Mr. Prashant Bhushan, submitted that the High Court was current in granting the relief to the writ petitioners as they are not the ones responsible for the mistake committed by the State Authorities, and hence, their appointments should not be cancelled.

The Court heard the Counsels for the parties.

The Court noted that two issues arose for their consideration. With respect to the correctness of the direction given by the High Court to reinstate the Writ Petitioners, the Court stated:

As the Writ Petitioners are similarly situated to the Appellants in Vikas Pratap Singh’s case (supra), we are in agreement with the High Court that the Writ Petitioners are entitled to the relief granted. Moreover, though on pain of Contempt, the Writ Petitioners have been reinstated and are working at present. (Para 9)

With respect to the issue of claim of the intervenors in the Writ Petitions for appointment, the Court stated that the intervenors cannot claim any parity with the Writ Petitioners, reasoning that:

Appointment of persons with lesser merit ignoring those who have secured more marks would be in violation of the Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. The intervenors in the Writ Petitions admittedly have secured more marks than the Writ Petitioners. After cancellation of the appointments of the Writ Petitioners, 43 persons have been appointed from the revised select list. Those 43 persons have secured more marks than the intervenors. By the appointment of 43 persons, the number of posts that were advertised i.e. 384 have been filled up. The intervenors have no right for appointment to posts beyond those advertised. (Para 10)

Relief granted to Writ Petitioners is mainly on the ground that they have already been appointed and have served the State for some time and they cannot be punished for no fault of theirs. The intervenors are not similarly situated to them and they cannot seek the same relief. (Para 10)

The Court upheld the judgement given by the High Court of Jharkhand and dismissed the appeals.

Yashwardhan Bansal



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