The Supreme Court repelled the contention of the Bihar Public Service Commission regarding cancellation of the candidature due to non-submission of the original documents at the time of the interview as their true photocopies were on record and subsequently, the originals were also submitted before the BPSC.
IN a major relief to three candidates who were denied appointments to the Bihar Judicial Services, the Supreme Court on Friday directed their accommodation in the services noting that they were meritorious candidates.
A Bench comprising Justices J.K. Maheshwari and Justice Kalpathy Venkataraman Viswanathan passed an Order to this effect.
The Bench directed that the appellants Sweety Kumari and Vikramaditya Mishra, be accommodated in the 30th examination conducted by the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) and the appellant Aditi be accommodated in the 31st examination.
In the case of Sweety and Vikramaditya, their candidatures were rejected by the BPSC on account of the non-furnishing of original character certificates. The candidature of Aditi was rejected on account of the non-furnishing of the law degree during the interview.
Sweety, a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate, and Vikramaditya, an unreserved category candidate, appeared in the 30th Bihar Judicial Service Competitive Examination conducted for selection of civil judge (junior division) pursuant to an advertisement issued on August 23, 2018.
Both candidates were declared successful in the preliminary examination on October 5, 2019 after obtaining more marks than the cut-off for their respective category.
They were called for an interview but their candidature was rejected on account of not producing the original character certificates at the time of the interview. They had produced true photocopies.
The candidature of one Aaran Jain was also rejected on the same ground.
Aditi had applied in the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category in furtherance to the 31st Bihar Judicial Service Competitive Examination. She secured 501 marks, whereas the cut-off was 499.
Her candidature was rejected on the ground of not having the law degree certificate on the date of interview. The candidature of the similarly situated candidate Ankita was also cancelled on the same ground.
However, on the filing of separate writ petitions which was disposed of by a common Order, Ankita was granted relief by the high court due to the availability of vacancy in the SC category, but Aditi was denied relief due to the non-availability of the vacancy in the EWS category.
All three candidates were unsuccessful before the Patna High Court and appealed before the Supreme Court.
In this case, similarly placed candidates had petitioned the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court repelled the contention of the BPSC regarding cancellation of the candidature due to non-submission of the original documents at the time of the interview as their true photocopies were on record and subsequently, the originals were also submitted before the BPSC.
In Aarav Jai, the Supreme Court was of the view that non-submission of the originals at the time of interview is neither related to qualification nor eligibility and a verification and vigilance report is anyway obtained by the State during probation. Thus, the production of the original was not a mandatory condition.
“The stand of the BPSC had materially resulted in the dis-qualification of candidates who were otherwise in the merit list. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, this court directed that the rejection of candidature was improper, unjustified and not warranted,”the Supreme Court had held in Aarav Jain case.
In the Aarav Jain case, the Supreme Court directed the state to admit eight candidates by adjusting the available five vacancies in the unreserved category and for the other three candidates belonging to Economically Backward Class, SC and Backward Class category, it was directed to the state to either adjust them against future vacancies which were stated to be available at that time or the state was permitted to borrow three posts from future vacancies, one each in the respective categories.
Relying upon the ruling in the Aarav Jain case, the Bench held that there could not be any reason to deny similar benefits to Sweety and Vikramaditya at par with Aarav Jain and seven other candidates.
“We are of the considered view that the aforesaid two appellants (Sweety Kumari and Vikramaditya Mishra) cannot be discriminated against by not granting relief merely because of non-availability of vacancies in the 30th Examination,” the Bench directed.
In so far as the case of Aditi was concerned, the Bench noted that as per the affidavit submitted by the registrar general, it was apparent that out of 221 vacancies advertised, only 214 candidates were recommended for appointment and seven vacancies have been carried forward to the 32nd examination. Thus, there are vacancies, which are yet to be filled up for the 32nd examination.
The Bench directed to adjust one vacancy of EWS for the same examination or from the next examination and extend similar benefits to Aditi.
The Bench clarified that its Order was passed in the peculiar facts of the case to mitigate the plea of discrimination to candidates who were before it and who knocked on the door of the court well within time.
“It is made clear here that similarly situated candidates would not be entitled to claim the same benefit further, because they have not come before this court within a reasonable time,”the Bench held.
Rule 7(b) of the Rules contemplates that a candidate must satisfy the BPSC that his character is such as to qualify him for appointment to the service.
Rule 9 prescribes that a candidate should submit evidence as to educational qualifications; certificate of character from the heads of colleges where he has studied; the reference of two known persons; certificate of medical practitioner in the prescribed form; and the certificate of the duration of practice from the respective authorities.
The Bench noted that the second note to Rule 9 indicates that the certificates and other documents required should be true copies of the originals and each of them should be certified by a gazetted officer, specifying that after seeing the original, he certified the true copy of the same. The candidate may be required to produce the original before the BPSC at the time of viva voce.
It thus opined that the it could safely be perceived that the candidate must be of good character so as to satisfy the BPSC in this regard by submitting true photocopies and upon requirement by the BPSC, the original may be produced at the time of the viva voce.
Therefore, it is clear that a candidate should possess the character certificate and if required, it may be made available at the time of the interview, the Bench observed.
“The said language makes it clear that the production of the original certificates at the time of interview is not mandatory but directory.
“This is apparent from the language of second note to Rule 9 which uses the word ‘may be required to produce the originals before commission at the time of viva-voce test’,” the Bench held.