Supreme Court Holds That Nobody Is Entitled To a Direction Contrary To Law, Even if No Action Is Taken in Court

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On 7th October, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court set aside the High Court’s judgement directing the appointment of the respondents to the post of Constable (Executive), Delhi Police. The respondent was denied appointment under OBC Category post revision of results. 

Background

On 27 January 2013, a notice was published in the newspapers for filling up vacancies for the post of ‘Constable (Executive) – Male’ in the Delhi Police. The respondents were declared to be selected under the OBC category. During the course of scrutiny, the examination results were cancelled several times. However, the respondents to the present Civil Appeals were declared as selected from the OBC category in the revised results as well.

All the selected candidates were issued the prescribed forms so as to expedite the process of recruitment. In the ordinary course, both the respondents would likely have been appointed as Constables in the Delhi Police. However, on 29 September 2015, some other candidates approached the Central Administrative Tribunal. The applicants before the Tribunal challenged the answer keys in the written examination. 

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The Competent Authority in Delhi Police appointed an Expert Committee to examine all the issues and to submit its report. In the meantime, the recruitment process for the joining of selected candidates was kept in abeyance and no offers for appointment were issued. The Expert Committee submitted its report. It was found that there were typographical errors in the answer keys. Resultantly, the entire result was revised. The cut-off for the OBC category after re-evaluation of results was 79.49134163 marks. The marks which were secured by the two respondents in the revised results fell below the mark. 

Umesh Kumar then filed a writ petition under Article 226 in the Delhi High Court which was allowed by a judgment dated 6.12.2018. It was directed to appoint the respondent to the post of Constable (Executive), Delhi Police. Hence, the present appeal was filed in the Supreme Court. 

Petitioner’s Contentions

Ms Madhavi Divan, ASG appeared on behalf of the petitioners. She submitted that:

  1. Both the respondents secured marks below the cut-off for the OBC category in the revised list. 
  2. More than 200 candidates ranked higher than the respondent Umesh Kumar and Satyendra Singh. 
  3. The mere fact that the respondents had been furnished with requisite documents including the agreement form did not confer a vested right to appointment. 
  4. The judgement of the Delhi High Court is contrary to the law laid down by a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Rajesh Kumar vs State of Bihar (discussed below).

Respondent’s Contentions

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Mr Salman Khurshid, Senior Counsel appeared on behalf of the respondents. He submitted that:

  1. Grave prejudice has been caused to respondents when they have ousted post revision of results. 
  2. There may be other candidates higher than the respondents in merit in the revised result, but none of them has approached the SC. Hence, the ultimate direction that was issued by the High Court should not be disturbed.

Issue 

Whether the respondents have a vested right of appointment and were entitled to a writ of mandamus.

Court’s Observations

A bench comprising Justices Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee made the following observations: 

  1. The respondents did not have a vested right of appointment. In Punjab SEB vs. Malkiat Singh, the SC held that the mere inclusion of a candidate in a selection list does not confer upon them a vested right to appointment.
  2. In Rajesh Kumar vs the State of Bihar, the Court then refused to oust those individuals from service who did not make the grade after revaluation of the result since they had been in service for nearly seven years. However, in the present case, the revised result was declared even before offers of appointment were made to the respondents since the entire process of recruitment had been put in abeyance.
  3. The respondent tendered his resignation to RPF without any justification when the recruitment process had not been concluded and even before an offer of appointment was made to him. In any event, it would have been open to him to seek re-enlistment in the RPF at the material time which he chose to not do.
  4. The High Court had been manifestly in error in issuing a mandamus to the appellant to appoint the respondents to the post of Constable (Executive) in Delhi Police. The direction was clearly contrary to law. The respondents have participated in the selection process and upon the declaration of the revised result, it has emerged before the Court that they have failed to obtain marks above the cut-off for the OBC category to which they belong.

Court’s Decision

The appeal was allowed. The judgments of the High Court were set aside. The Writ Petitions were dismissed. 

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Click this link to view the original judgement


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