top of page

The alteration to norms would not affect the ongoing selection process unless the new Rules are to b


The appeal was filed in the Supreme Court of India before the bench consisting of Honourable Justice R.Banumathi, Honourable Justice A.S.Bopanna, and Honourable Justice Hrishikesh Roy.

This appeal arises out of the Special Leave Petition(Civil) No. 23677 of 2019. The Assam Public Service Commission (for short “APSC”) has approached this Court to challenge the judgment and order dated 8th August, 2019 in W.P. (C) No. 4600 of 2019 whereby the Gauhati High Court struck down a portion of Clause 12.2 of the Assam Public Service Commission (Conduct of Business) Procedure, 2019.

The following portion of Clause 12.2, incorporated with effect from 1st April 2019, under the 2019 Procedure, was struck down by the High Court,

“Any proceeding in relation to interviews, selections or competitive examination pending on the date of commencement of these Procedures may be continued and completed in accordance with the provisions of the Rules in force prior to such commencement.”

The result of the above is that the norms of selection for an ongoing process gets changed mid-stream in the course of recruitment


It was submitted by the appellants counsel that the APSC, besides conducting the subject recruitment/selection for the Water Resources Department, was also undertaking selection process for the posts of, inter alia, Computer Operator/Typist, Forest Ranger, Agricultural Development Officer for which respective advertisements were issued prior to incorporation of the 2019 Procedure and the process of selection through screening test/written test were conducted under the 2010 Rules. So far as the recruitment for the 65 posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) advertised on 21.12.2018, the learned counsel pointed out that the last date for applying for the post was stipulated as 02.02.2019 and thereafter around 6000 applicants including the four respondents, appeared for the screening test conducted on 30.06.2019 under the 2010 Rules. Adverting to these relevant dates, the appellant argued that the process of selection in the present case had commenced with the issuance of advertisement well before the 2019 Procedure was notified with effect from 01.04.2019 and therefore, the selection should be in accordance with the 2010 Rules which prevailed on the date of the advertisement.

The appellant’s counsel further argued that alteration of the selection norms by the APSC through the 2019 Procedure which has prospective application, should have no bearing on the ongoing process, on account of the savings clause incorporated in the 2019 Procedure.


Per contra Ms. Rekha Pandey, learned counsel appearing on behalf of respondent Nos. 1 to 4 (writ petitioners) by referring to the preamble of the 2019 Procedure argued that the new Procedure was adopted to bring in more transparency in the conducting of recruitment by the Commission, on account of the deficiencies noticed in the process in the 2010 Rules. It was argued that adopting the 2019 Procedure for the viva-voce segment of the recruitment exercise would ensure weightage for merit and avoidance of arbitrary selection, which was possible under the 2010 Rules. The respondents counsel referred to Rules 29 and 30 of the 2010 Rules to highlight that the procedure envisaged did not provide adequate weightage to test the merit of the candidates, on their academic/professional qualification, service experience, etc. and therefore, the 2019 It was seen that procedure should govern the next phase of selection.

Whether selection should be conducted under the 2019 Procedure?

In the above backdrop, if the next segment of selection was to be conducted under the 2019 Procedure, the performance of the candidate in the afore noted screening test to the extent of 87.8 percent of the total marks, will determine the final selection of the candidate. The question, therefore, was whether this would be fair on the candidates when the performance of a few would be determined more by lucky guess and the real merit may have no role in the aggregate score. The other relevant question was whether the method of selection should be permitted to be changed midway, by adopting the 2019 Procedure incorporated with effect from 01.04.2019 or the vacancies, which were advertised on 21.12.2018.

The laws with regard to the applicability of the Rules which are brought anew during the selection process have been crystallized by this Court. It was held that the norms existing on the date when the process of selection begins, will control the selection and the alteration to the norms would not affect the ongoing process unless the new Rules are to be given retrospective effect. (the State of Bihar and Others vs.Mithilesh Kumar).Similarly in N.T. Devin Katti and Others vs. Karnataka Public Service Commission and Others, this Court held that a candidate has a limited right of being considered for selection in accordance with the Rules as they existed on the date of advertisement and he cannot be deprived of that limited right by amendment of the Rules during the pendency of the selection, unless the Rules are to be applied retrospectively.


The Honourable Supreme Court of India, after hearing the contentions and arguments of both the parties observed that if the direction in the impugned judgment of the High Court is to be followed for conducting the next segment of the selection, for the single recruitment process the candidates will be evaluated by two different sets of procedure i.e. the 2010 Rules and the 2019 Procedure and such dual norms must not govern the ongoing recruitment process.


Thereby, this Honourable Court, after going through the facts and circumstances in depth delivered its judgment as under,

“In view of the foregoing, we are persuaded to hold that the recruitment process initiated by the APSC through the advertisement dated 21.12.2018 for the 65 posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil), of the Water Resources Department should be finalised under the 2010 Rules. Consequently, the direction issued for the application of the 2019 Procedure in the impugned judgment is found to be not merited and the same has accordingly interfered. The appeal stands allowed by permitting the APSC to complete the process of selection for the advertised posts, by following the 2010 Rules.”

Tanvi Srivatsan 



bottom of page