SC directs Punjab & Haryana HC to not appoint civil judges without its nod
The Supreme Court Monday directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court Registry not to appoint any civil judge in Haryana without its nod and summoned the Registrar General with all the selection records pertaining to the exams held to fill 107 posts in lower judiciary.
The top court was hearing the plea filed by 92 aspirants to the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in Haryana. They alleged that 1,282 examinees, who had qualified the preliminary tests, appeared for the mains and out them only 9 were selected for the interview against a total 107 vacancies.
“Issue notice, returnable on May 3. The Registrar General of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana will be present with the records of the selection, including the evaluation of the answer scripts of all the candidates appeared in the Main Written Examination.
“No appointments will be made without leave of the court,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The plea, filed through Prashant Bhushan, Amiy Shukla and Shakti Vardhan, has listed out several discrepancies and sought quashing of the result of the Main (Written) Examination of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in the Haryana, which was declared on April 11.
The bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, was hearing the petition challenging the selection process and evaluation method adopted in the examination on the grounds of being “unreasonable, arbitrary and malafide”.
The plea alleged that if the examination’s selection process was not stayed, it would cause irreparable damage to the petitioners and other un-successful candidates.
The petitioners alleged that various RTI applications were filed immediately after the result of the main examination seeking disclosure of marks, copies of answer scripts, model answers and marking criteria, but to no avail and the interview tests were scheduled on the basis of the already declared results.
The petitioners have alleged that there was a “serious problem” with the evaluation method being conducted for selecting judicial officers in Haryana.
A total 14,301 students took the preliminary examination held on December 22, 2018 for total 107 vacancies.
“1,282 students, out of 14,301, who were declared successful in preliminary examination, took the main examination held on March 15 and 17, 2019,” it said.
The main examination was cleared only by nine students out of 1,282, against the total vacancies of 107 which means that a total of 99.298 percent of the students failed the test, the plea said.
It further said that it was “surprising” and “invited disbelief” that at least 20-30 candidates, who had appeared for the main exam but were not selected for the interview are those who have already cleared judicial examinations of other states or are sitting judges in their respective states. “Some of the candidates who have not been found fit for the interview are the toppers and gold medalists in their respective reputed law colleges, the plea said.
Through the information obtained under RTI Act, it is clear that in the last examination cycle leading to appointment of successful candidates to state judicial services, there was “no marking criteria” for the evaluation of answer scripts in the related mains examination and the performance of the candidate in the written examination depended solely on discretion of the examiner, the plea alleged.
It also alleged that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had further responded that information was not available with the concerned branch about existence of model answers or their copies and principles governing grace marks.
The petition says that the high court has already scrapped the entire preliminary examination held earlier on July 16, 2017 on account of paper leak and had issued direction for an enquiry in to the entire issue.
The plea said that unless the selection process for the examination is re-examined to make it more rational and reasonable, one of the most important factors responsible for “huge pendency” and “delay in justice”, which is lack of sufficient number of judicial officers, will not be tackled.