SC paves way for appointment of 107 Civil Judges in Haryana

SC paves way for appointment of 107 Civil Judges in Haryana

Photo: iStock

Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 13

The Supreme Court on Friday paved the way for appointment of 107 judicial officers in Haryana by allowing the candidates to avail the benefit of grace marks in the Main (Written) Examination of Civil Judge (Junior Division) 2017 in which only nine of the 1,100 plus candidates had qualified.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court through its Registrar General to award 20 grace marks in Civil Law-I paper and 10 grace marks in Civil Law-II paper to all the candidates and prepare fresh results of the Main (Written) Examination of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in two weeks and complete the selection process in four weeks thereafter.

Partially allowing the writ petitions, the Bench, which also included Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant, said the entire selection process shall be completed in all respects before February 15, 2020.

“The left out vacant posts along with vacancies which have occurred meanwhile and those anticipated within next six months, be advertised as early as possible and be filled in accordance with the timeline prescribed by this Court in Malik Mazhar Sultan case,” it said.

However, the top court rejected the petitioners’ demand for re-evaluation by an “Independent Expert Committee”, saying it was not worth acceptance.

The Bench took note of the fact that the 107 posts were already lying vacant for a considerable long period and the re-evaluation would further delay it.

It said Justice (Retd) AK Sikri who looked into the evaluation process of the main examination for 107 posts of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in Haryana said Justice Sikri has thoroughly examined the fact situation before recommending the award of grace marks.

The top court also pointed out that there was no provision for re-evaluation in the Recruitment Rules and any such direction would run counter to the mandate of this court in HP Public Service Commission versus Mukesh Thakur that in the absence of any provision under the statute or statutory rules/regulations, courts should not generally direct re-evaluation.

A total 14,301 students took the preliminary examination held on December 22 last year for 107 vacancies and 1,282 of them were declared successful to take part in the main examination held on March 15 and 17 this year. More than 1,100 candidates appeared for the main examination nut only nine of them qualified.

The high court had 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.

Out of these 107 posts, which were re-notified on August 27, 2018, 75 were meant for General Category and the remaining 32 were earmarked for Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes (a), Backward Classes (b), Economically Backward Persons in General Category, Ex-Service Men and Physically Handicapped Persons of Haryana State.

Preliminary Examination pursuant to the re-notified vacancies was held on December 22, 2018, and its result was declared on January 21, 2019. Main Examination was held between March 15 and March 17, 2019, and results of the Main Examination were declared on April 11, 2019 wherein only nine candidates (six from General Category and three from Reserved Categories) were declared qualified and invited for viva voce.

The order came on a petition filed by 92 aspirants to the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in Haryana, seeking quashing of the result of its Main (Written) Examination which was declared on April 11. They had challenged the selection process and evaluation method adopted terming the entire exercise as “unreasonable, arbitrary and mala fide”.

Alleging that there was a “serious problem” with the evaluation method for selecting judicial officers in Haryana, the petitioners submitted that if the selection process was not stayed, it would cause irreparable damage to them and other unsuccessful candidates.

They alleged that RTI applications filed immediately after the result of the main examination seeking disclosure of marks, copies of answer scripts, model answers and marking criteria were not answered and interviews were scheduled.

It was “surprising” that at least 20-30 candidates who appeared for the main examination and were not selected for the interview were those who had already cleared judicial examinations of other states or were sitting judges in their respective states, they had pointed out.

“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 has said.

The Supreme Court had on May 3 appointed Justice (Retd) AK Sikri to look into the evaluation process of the main examination. Earlier, it had directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court Registry not to appoint any civil judge in Haryana without its nod and during the proceedings it had even summoned the Registrar General with all the selection records pertaining to the examination.

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