V.S. Deshpande, J.
(1) The Director General of Ordnance Factories, Government of India in the Ministry of defense, framed a Scheme to be operated by the Director General of Ordnance Factories in 1950. The object of the scheme was to select apprentices for training for appointment, inter alia, to the posts of Chargemen Grade Ii and Supervisors Grade A. The selection of the apprentices for appointment to these posts was to be done according to paragraph 11 (a) of the Scheme which is as follows :
'POSTTraining employment. (a) On satisfactory completion of the apprenticeship course, the apprentices will be graded by the Director General, Ordnance Factories as fit for appointment to the grades of Chargemen Gr. I or Ii or Supervisors Gr. 'A' or equivalent grade of Sr. Draughtsmen, Sr. Planners, Sr. Rate-Fixers and Sr. Estimators or unfit. Some outstanding appretices may also be graded as Assistant Foreman. While Government offer no guarantee of appointment, successful candidates will be offered appointment in the grades in which they have qualified subject to the availability of vacancies and subject to their being found fit, both physically and in other respects for such appointment.'
For judging the fitness for these appointments the Director General, Ordnance Factories held an examination from time to time, the relevant Examinations for this case being from 1964 to 1970. The percentages of marks which were adopted for fitness to appointments to these posts were broadly, 56 per cent to 61 per cent for appointment as Chargemen Grade Ii, and 33 per cent to 40 per cent for appointment as Supervisors Grade A. Those who obtained less than 33 per cent marks failed and were allowed to appear again at the subsequent examination with the same opportunity of qualifying for either of the two posts. Candidates who are actually appointed as Supervisors Grade A were not again allowed to compete for being appointed as Chargemen Grade It, but an exception was made in case of candidates who could be called marginal. They were persons who could have been appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii if slightly different standards of marking would have been adopted. Roughly, they were persons who had secured marks which were less than 5 per cent below the standard adopted in the particular examination for appointment to the posts of Chargemen Grade II.
(2) Some persons who have been appointed as Supervisors Grade A filed writ petition No. 729 of 1976 challenging the operation of the Scheme by the Director General of Ordnance Factories in respect of appointments to the posts of Chargemen Grade Ii mainly on the following three grounds:
(1)That the standard of marks for appointment to the posts of Chargemen Grade Ii should have been announced by the Selection Board before holding a particular examination and such a standard should have been uniform for all the examinations like, for instance, the standard of 60 per cent fixed by the University for getting I class in examinations held by the University. The fluctuation of the standards adopted by the Board from examination to examination was arbitrary and mala fide. The lowest standard adopted by the Selection Board was 56 per cent in July, 1964. The marks obtained by the petitioners in examinations held at other times were more than 56 per cent. Since some persons have been appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii even though they got only 56 per cent marks in the examination held in July, 1964, the petitioners say that 56 per cent should be regarded as the standard for appointment to the posts of Chargemen Grade Ii in all the examinations held by the Board and the petitioners who have secured marks in examinations other than the examination of July, 1964 higher than 56 per cent should be appointed to the posts of Chargemen Grade II. (2) Candidates who had failed in an examination should not have been allowed to appear in a subsequent examination to qualify for the posts of Chargemen Grade Ii contrary to a letter dated 6-11-1962 by the Assistant Director General of Ordnance Factories written for the Director General of Ordnance Factories to all the Ordnance Factories. Those persons who have been so allowed and appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii should be deprived of that benefit. (3) Certain persons who had obtained marks which were below the standard in a particular examination for appointment as Chargemen Grade Ii by less than 5 per cent marks should have been allowed to appear again at a subsequent examination for qualifying as Chargemen Grade Ii, even though they have been appointed as Supervisors Grade A.
(3) The last contention of the petitioners was upheld by the learned single Judge who directed the respondents to allow the petitioners to appear for a subsequent examination and if the petitioners qualify for appointment as Chargemen Grade Ii then to grant them seniority retrospectively from the year in which they were denied the opportunity of appearing for the examination on the basis of their being marginal candidates. The other two contentions were not accepted by the learned single Judge. Hence this appeal.
(4) The main contention of the appellants is that the standard of marks for appointment of a trainee as a Chargeman Grade Ii as a result of an examination held by the Director General of Ordnance Factories should have been fixed in advance and announced to the candidates and also that the same standard should have been adhered to for all the examinations. In the counter affidavit for the Government it has been stated that the standard was fixed by the Central Selection Board keeping in view the standard of question papers and evaluation vis-a-vis the performance of the candidates in a particular examination. The standard adopted by the Board for gradiation examination as Chargemen Grade Ii in respect of a particular gradiation examination held in a particular year was applied uniformly in respect of all the examinees who appeared at that particular gradiation examination. This was neither arbitrary nor discriminatory nor mala fide nor unjust. The analogy of University examinations was not applicable.
(5) The question whether the standard should be announced before the examinations and whether it should apply uniformly to all the examinations has to be considered in relation to the objects of a particular examination system. The University examinations are meant to have the same standard each year for the simple reason that the comparison among the candidates successful at different examinations is not only possible but is also desirable. The candidates who pass at a particular examination are not to be appointed to any particular post. The examinations are not for the purpose of any appointments. It is thus immaterial whether in a particular examination any person gets a first division or not or too many persons get the first division.
(6) On the contrary, the examination held by the Selection Board of the Director General of Ordnance Factories was essentially meant to select persons from the trainees for appointment to the posts of Chargemen Grade Ii and Supervisors Grade A. If the Selection Board was of the view that certain appointments to these posts should be made on the result of a certain examination the standard to be adopted by the Board had to serve this purpose. That is to say the Board would have to decide how many persons should be appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii and how many should be appointed as Supervisors Grade A. It is with that object in view that the Board would decide to fix the standard of the percentage of marks. Further, it has been stated in the counter affidavit that the standard adopted at a particular examination was determined by the Selection Board keeping in view the standard of question papers and evaluation vis-a-vis the performance of the candidate in a particular examination. The learned counsel for the petitioner-appellants simply argued that this averment in the affidavit should not be believed. We see no reason why we should not accept this statement in the counter affidavit. Keeping in view the purpose of the examination, we think that this method of determining the standard of the percentage of marks is completely unobjectionable. The question of arbitrariness arises only when discrimination is made amongst similarly situated candidates. No discrimination was made at all among candidates who have appeared at the same examination. No comparison can be made between candidates who have appeared at two different examinations. It is in this respect that the practice adopted by the Selection Board differs from the practice adopted by the Universities in holding their examination. The difference is justified by the different objects of these two systems of examinations. The examination held by the Director General of Ordnance Factories Selection Board has a very limited purpose in view. For instance, the Board could have interviewed candidates and appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii certain number of candidates who were at the top. All that the Board had to see was how many candidates at the top should be appointed as Chargemen Grade II. It was immaterial what percentage of marks constituted the top in a particular examination. In one examination it may be 61 per cent, while in a different examination it may be 56 per cent. No comparison can be made between the marks which constituted the top in two different examinations. The reason is that the standard of question papers, the standard of answers, the standard of evaluation and the answers would be different from examination to examination because the only purpose of the examination was to find out who were the candidates who go to the top and should be appointed to posts on the result of that particular examination. Since no discrimination was made among the candidates who appeared at a particular examination, no fault can be found with the system.
(7) We are unable to understand the contention of the appellants that the percentage of marks in July, 1964 being the lowest at 56 per cent should be adopted as the standard for appointing the examinees to the posts of Chargemen Grade Ii for the purpose of all the examinations. This contention is based on a misapprehension. What the appellants have in mind is the University system of examinations. That system need not be followed by the Selection Board for the limited purpose in view. The appellants also complain that the Board had not published what standard they would adopt at a particular examination. But the reason for this is obvious. The Board could not determine in advance what the standard would be for the simple reason that they did not know the standard of question papers, the standard of answers, the standard of evaluation and the performance of the candidates in the particular examination. If they were to announce that only those obtaining, say 60 per cent, would be appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii, they would be defeating the purpose of the examination thereby. For, if no candidate secured 60 per cent marks the Board would not be able to appoint any one at all as Chargemen Grade II. If, on the other hand, too many candidates secured marks 60 per cent and above, the Board would be compelled to appoint all of them even if the Board would be of the view that so many appointments should not be made. It is obvious, thereforee, that the Board could not handicap themselves by pre-fixing the standard in advance. The Board had the discretion of looking at the totality of circumstances and then decide what percentage of marks should be regarded as sufficient for qualifying a person to be appointed as Chargemen Grade II. The matter was entirely in the discretion of the Board. They could adopt any method in judging the suitability of a candidate for such appointment. Holding an examination is only one of the permissible methods. It was not necessary that this method alone should be adopted. Whatever method is adopted the sole object is to decide who are the best candidates and how many out of these best candidates should be appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii and it is that decision of the Board which would fix the standard in a particular examination. We find nothing arbitrary in this system and are of the view that the system was eminently suited for the purpose in view.
(8) As for mala fides there is not the faintest suggestion that the Board was interested in any particular candidate and that they lowered the standard in any examination to favor any particular persons. Vice versa it is not hinted that the Board wanted to harm any particular person and with that view enhanced the standard in any particular examination. No question of mala fides, thereforee, arises at all. This ground of attack of the appellants, thereforee, fails.
(9) The next contention is that the failures were allowed to take up subsequent examinations with a view to qualify for appointment as Chargemen. This has not been shown contrary to the scheme. It is true that the latter, dated 6-11-1962 is to the contrary, but such a letter by the Director General of Ordnance Factories cannot modify the discretion given to the concerned authorities by the Government of India who framed the scheme. It is the scheme framed by the Government of India which prevails over this letter. The contention also, thereforee, fails.
(10) Lastly, it was argued that the relief given by the learned single Judge to the appellants allowing them to take a subsequent examination and to be appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii on the result of such examination does not go far enough. The appellants say that they should either be appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii without any examination at all and given the seniority from the year in which they were denied the opportunity of appearing at such an examination or if they are to appear at an examination, then they should be given not only the seniority retrospectively but also the arrears of pay from the date from which their seniority begins. We do not think that either of the two alternatives proposed by the appellants is reasonable. There is no reason why the appellants should be appointed as Chargemen Grade Ii without an examination merely because an opportunity for appearing at an examination was not given to them in the past. The wrong done to them was merely that they were not told that they were eligible to appear for an examination. This wrong was righted by allowing them this opportunity now. If they pass the examination they would be deemed to have passed it in the year in which they should have been allowed to appear for such an examination. Their seniority would then begin from that year. But beyond this no relief can be given to them. The appellants have not done the work of Chargemen Grade Ii and they cannot be given the pay of that post without doing that work. That would be opposed to common sense and justice. We, thereforee, uphold the relief granted by the learned single Judge as just in the circumstances and reject the contention of the appellants that any further relief should be granted to them in that respect.
(11) Since all the contentions of the appellants have failed, the appeal is dismissed with costs.