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Posted at: Apr 17, 2018, 12:54 AM; last updated: Apr 17, 2018, 12:54 AM (IST)

HC: Charge of arbitrariness in selection not unfounded

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16

Holding that allegation of arbitrariness in a selection process initiated by Rohtak-based Pandit BD Sharma University of Health Sciences was not unfounded, the Punjab and Haryana High Court imposed costs of Rs 10,000 on the screening committee with the Vice-Chancellor (VC) as one of its members.

Allowing a petition filed by candidate Gaurav against the university and other respondents, Justice Amol Rattan Singh also quashed selection of Neelam as medical records clerk.

The university was also directed to conduct a screening test for the post with “sufficiently high maximum marks allotted for the test” to ensure fair selection, while restricting interview marks to about 15 per cent of the total.

The interview marks were directed to be assigned on the basis of different criteria. In alternative, it was asked to hold the interview process afresh before video recording interviews of all appearing candidates.

In his detailed order, Justice Amol Rattan Singh asserted that candidates scoring higher marks than the selected candidate at the pre-interview stage were given much lower marks than her, which was done to ensure that she eventually scored highest marks to enable her selection and appointment.

The petition, filed last year, had asserted that the last date for submission of applications was November 7, 2016. The entire selection committee, including the VC, was made respondent in the petition. The members were, in fact, impleaded by their names.

Justice Anmol Rattan Singh observed that the petitioner would be entitled to costs of Rs 10,000 and five of the respondents, including the VC and selected candidate, would pay Rs 2,000 each.

Justice Amol Rattan Singh added that normally, the High Court did not interfere in a selection process on the ground of arbitrary marks awarded in an interview, with the candidates having taken their chances in accordance with the criteria framed.

Referring to the interview process, Justice Amol Rattan Singh noted that the court would not substitute itself in place of the selection committee as obviously it could not comment on the performance of candidates before the panel in the absence of video recording of the interview process.

But the court, in the overall circumstances of the present case, found it unable to agree with the counsel for the respondents. The Bench, rather, was in agreement with the counsel for the petitioner that “the interview process would seem to be smacking of arbitrariness to favour the respondent”.

Justice Amol Rattan Singh added that the petitioner was not debarred from challenging the selection process on the ground of mala fides and arbitrariness, simply because the person securing higher marks than him at the pre-interview stage did not challenge selection of the respondent.

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