On 17th December 2020, a Single Judge Bench consisting of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar heard the case of Bhupinder Kumar Sharma v. State of Punjab and others via video conferencing.
A petition was filed challenging the validity of the appointment of respondent as President of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRC), under Section 10 (1)(a) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (Composition of District Forum).
The petition also sought to strike down:
- Rule 5 (7) (b) and (c) of the Punjab Consumer Protection (Appointment, Salary, Allowances and Condition of Service of President and Members of the State Commission and the District Forum) Rules, 2018.
- Rule 10 of the Punjab Superior Judicial Service Rules, 2007.
Facts of the case
A notice was issued on 14th December 2018 by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Punjab (SCDRC) inviting applications for appointment to 11 posts of Presidents of DCDRCs in Punjab on a whole time basis.
The petitioner who was working as Additional Public Prosecutor in the Department of Prosecution and Litigation, Punjab, submitted an application for the post. The petitioner made enquiries when he did not receive any intimation on the selection process. He was informed that his application was received after the cut-off date.
The petitioner indicated that the result of the selection was announced in the last week of December, 2019. Further, the persons in the selection list had earlier been appointed as either Members of the DCDRCs or were employed in the Government of Punjab, and would not qualify to be appointed as President of a DCDRC as they did not fulfil the basic qualification for such post in terms of Section 10 (1) (a) CPA.
The appointment of the respondents as Presidents of the DCDRCs was criticized as being illegal and violative of A.14 and A.16 of the Indian Constitution on the ground that an arbitrary procedure was adopted.
However, the petitioner did not receive any response on the indications provided by him and on the questioning of his rejection. Hence, the petition was filed.
The Court observed that the petitioner did not challenge Rule 5 (7) (b) and (c) of the PCP Rules, 2018 at the time of application, but in fact challenged it on rejection of candidature. Further, the settled legal position is that, having participated in the selection process, the rejected candidate cannot challenge the validity of the rules.
The Court referred to Madras Institute of Development Studies v. Dr K Sivasubramaniyan AIR 2015 SC 3643, which held that “The question as to whether a person who consciously takes part in the process of selection can turn around and question the method of selection is no longer res integra.”
The Court referred to the case of Madan Lal & Ors. vs. State of J&K & Ors. (1995) 3 SCC 486, which held that, “if a candidate takes a calculated chance and appears at the interview, then, only because the result of the interview is not palatable to him, he cannot turn round and subsequently contend that the process of interview was unfair or the Selection Committee was not properly constituted.”
The Court referred to the case of Manish Kumar Shahi vs. State of Bihar, (2010) 12 SCC 576, which held that “The petitioner invoked jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India only after he found that his name does not figure in the merit list prepared by the Commission. This conduct of the petitioner clearly disentitles him from questioning the selection and the High Court did not commit any error by refusing to entertain the writ petition.”
The Court held that the rejection of the respondent’s candidature cannot be faulted. The Court was not persuaded to interfere with the selection of the Respondent as Presidents of the DCDRCs under Section 10 (1) (a) of the CPA read with Rule 5 of the PCP Rules, 2018. Thus, the petition was dismissed.
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