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R. Karuppan Vs. Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.A. No. 441 of 1981 and W.P. No. 8902 of 1981
Judge
Reported inAIR1982Mad316
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 14 and 226
AppellantR. Karuppan
RespondentMinistry of External Affairs, New Delhi and ors.
Appellant AdvocateParty in person
Respondent AdvocateK.N. Ralasubramaniam, ;S. Jagadisan, ;P. Chidambaram and ;Ahalya, Advs. and ;S. Ramasubramaniam, Adv. ;for King and Partridge
Cases ReferredMukul v. Dean Goa
Excerpt:
.....of interview and that the candidate were also required to enter the marks obtained by them in the degree examination, the b.g.l. examination and the b.l. examination. therefore, there is no basis for the submission that the candidates were not put on notice that the marks obtained in those examinations would also be taken not consideration. we are of the view that in taking in to the consideration the marks obtained in the degree course and the b.g.l.examination also while considering the merits of the candidates the committee can not be said to have gone wrong, as we find in very many cases, considering the cumulative record as we find in of proformance of the candidate in a few university examinations is a better way of deciding the merit rather than in one single test.;if the rules..........could not take into account the marks obtained by the candidates in the b.g.l. examination and the degree examination. we have already noticed that the selection committee took the total academic marks as 300 and interview and extra-curricular marks as 45, making a grand total of345. at one stage the appellant submitted that the candidates were not informed that marks would be awarded on the basis of their performance in the degree examination and that the candidates were not asked to submit the degree certificate. as pointed by padmanabhan j., though the prospectus did not show on what basis the marks would be allotted, the form of application required that every candidate has to produce the degree certificate at the time of interview and that the candidates were also required to give.....
Judgment:
1. W. A. 441 of 1981: The appellant is an advocate of this court and one of the applicants for admission to the first year M.L. Degree Course in International and Constitution6l Law, but Was not selected He filled W. P. No 6427 of 1981 praying for the issue of a certiorarified mandamus to quash the selection of students for the first year M.L. course for the academic year 1981-82, in. the branch of Constitutional Law and International Law. That writ petition was dismissed by Padmanabban J. holding that there has been no violation of any principle which would justify nullifying of the selection. It is against this order that the present writ appeal has been filed.

2. Before we deal with the various contention raised by the appellant, we may set out certain facts leading to the filing of the writ petition. The selections of candidates for various post-graduate courses in the University departments are usually done by a selection committee of the particular department which normally consists of the Head of the Department, the Professor and the Reader or such members as the University may nominate. The forms of applications are prescribed by the University. Certain general instructions are issued to the selection committee by the University but the particular selection committee itself decides the procedure for selection. The selection committee for the selection of candidates for admission to the first year M.L. degree course in International Law and Constitutional Law for the academic year 1981-82, consisted of Professor Rama Rao who was the Professor and Head of the Department of the Legal Studies and Sri K. P. Krishna Shetty, the Reader in the Department of Legal Studies of the University of Madras. In pursuance of the calling for applications by the University for admission to the first year M.L. Degree Course, there was a total of 103 applications of which one was from a candidate belonging to the Scheduled Tribe. These applications were forwarded to the Selection Committee with a request to scrutinise and recommend maintain in the "reservation of seats for S.C./S.T.- 18%, B.C.- 50% and O.C.- 32%". All the applicants were called for an interview. However, only 65 candidates appeared. for the interview and the only candidates belonging to the Scheduled Tribe also did not appear for the interview. It is stated in the counter-affidavit filed by the Registrar of the University that the Selection Committee prepared a merit 1W on the basis of marks allotted.under the, following- heads: -

Degree course ... 100 marks

B.G.L. examination ... 100 "

B.L. examination ... 100 "

Interview ... 40 "

Extra Curricular activities ... ... 5 "

The Selection Committee originally selected 25 candidates on the basis of assessment referred to above, of whom 12 belonged to the Backward Classes and 3 belonged to Scheduled Castes. By letter dated 30-5-1981, the Registrar brought to the notice of the Selection Committee that the selection of candidates fell short of the quota under Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and that the selection list should be revised in accordance with the Government's order relating to, rule of reservations. The selection committee sent a revised list consisting of 27 candidates of whom 13 belonged to Backward Classes and 4 belonged to Scheduled Castes. On the basis of the selection, admission cards were sent individually to the Selected candidates. The appellant has filed the writ petition questioning the validity of the selection on various, grounds.

3. The first contention of the appellant is that the University had directed the selection committee to reserve 18% of the seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and 50% for the backward classes and select other community candidates for the remaining 32% of the seats. This is in clear violation of Arts. 14, 15 and 29(2) of the Constitution of India. The whole argument was based on the letter of the University, dated 3rd September 1980 sent to all Heads of Departments. That letter reads as follows:-

"As per the Government Order in the matter of admission, I am to request you to kindly maintain strictly the rule of reservation of seats for B.C./S.C. and S.T., as follows for admission to M Phil Degree Course,

B. C. 50%

S.C./S.T. 18%

Other communities 32%"

4. As may be seen from the subject, this letter was sent, with reference to the selection of candidates for the M. Phil Degree Course and that too for t e academic year 1980-81. The appellant contended that, the letters 'O.C.' had been understood and interpreted by, the University as referring to 'other communities' i.e., communities other' than, B.C., S.C. and S.T. so that it referred only to forward communities. Therefore, when the Selection Committee was required to maintain the reservation of seats 'for S.C./S.T. 18%, B.C. 50% and O.C. 32%' the direction should be held to be illegal and to have invalidated the whole selection. If 'O.C., referred to other communities, certainly the appellant would be well founded in his contention as there could be no reservation for forward communities and for the 32% of seats all' candidates would be eligible to compete irrespective of the caste to which they belonged.

5. In the counter-affidavit filed by the University, it has been definitely stated that they had not issued any such instructions so far as the selection of candidates for M.L. degree course for, 1981-82 is concerned and the letters 'O.C.' in their letter dated 7-4-1981 referred to open competition and not to other communities. We think that the University is right in this submission. It is true that in the communicator for the year 1980-81, and that too relating to M. Phil. degree course, it is mentioned as 32% - other communities. But when it came to 1981-82, academic year, probably the University has realised its mistake, if any, and in the communication dated 7-4-1981, the University meant by 'O.C.' as open competitionhe last sentence in this letter reads as follows:-

"All selections should be made only on merit and if SC/BC candidates get into the merit quota for seats in the open quota such numbers may have to be excluded for the reservation quota."

In fact, in the communication issued in respect of other post-graduate courses also, the University has issued the following instructions among others: -

1. Selection of candidates for admission to P. G. courses M.A./M.Sc. should generally be on the basis of merit.

2. The Government's requirement with regard to reservation of seats (i.e. 50% of the seats available for Backward Class candidates and 18% for Scheduled Castes and Tribes candidates) for such branch be adhered to.

3. Candidates may first be selected on the basis of merit for 32% of the seats for the branch. Candidates belonging to Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes selected under the open quota as per merit are not to be taken into account against reserved seats."

It is therefore absolutely clear that there is no basis for the contention of the appellant that the Selection Committee treated the 32% of the seats as reserved only for forward community people.

6. It was then contended by the appellant that allocation of 45 marks for viva voce and extra curricular activities was excessive and arbitrary as enabling an abuse of power and in this connection he relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib, . This part of the argument is based on another contention that, since the basic qualification for admission to the first year M. L. degree course is a B. L. degree, the marks obtained in the B. L. degree alone should be taken into account and with reference to that mark, 45 marks for interview and extra- curricular activities is excessive. His contention was that the Selection Committee could not take into account the marks obtained by the candidates in the B.G.L. examination and the degree examination. We have already noticed that the Selection Committee took the total academic marks as 300 and interview and extra-curricular marks as 45, making a grand total of

345. At one stage the appellant submitted that the candidates were not informed that marks would be awarded on the basis of their performance in the degree examination and that the candidates were not asked to submit the degree certificate. As pointed by Padmanabhan J., though the prospectus did not show on what basis the marks would be allotted, the form of application required that every candidate has to produce the degree certificate at the time of interview and that the candidates were also required to give the marks obtained by them in the degree examination, the B.G.L. examination and B.L. examination. Therefore, there is no basis for the submission that the candidates were not put on notice that the marks obtained in those examinations would also be taken into consideration. We are of the view that in taking into consideration the marks obtained in the degree course and the B.G.L. examination also while considering the merits of the candidates the Committee cannot be said to have gone wrong, as we find in very many cases, considering the cumulative record of performance of the candidate in a few University examinations is a better way of deciding the merit rather than in one single test. Merit also cannot always be equated with marks obtained in a particular examination. In any case, we do not consider that it is an irrelevant or extraneous consideration while assessing Fe merit of a candidate for admission to the M.L. degree course; especially when for a candidate of law we cannot say that aptitude in any particular field alone is necessary or sufficient. The aptitude of the candidate should cover the whole field of knowledge. The Selection Committee has, therefore, naturally taken into account the various factors which have a bearing on the merit of the candidate for being admitted for such a specialised course like law. Therefore, the allotment of 45 marks for interview and extra curricular activities out of the ~total of 345 cannot be considered to be so arbitrary or excessive.

7. We are also of the view that the Supreme Court had not laid down a hard and fast rule in the decision in Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib, AIR 198Y SC 487, that anything above 15% of the total marks would be regarded as arbitrary, i.e in that case, the Board of Governors had laid down certain procedure for admission of students to the Regional Engineering College, Srinagar, which is one of the 15 Engineering Colleges in the country, sponsored by the Government of India. Under the Rules of Admission candidates belonging to Jammu and Kashmir have to be selected on the basis of comparative merit to be determined by holding a written entrance test and a viva voce examination and the marks allocated in the written test in the subjects of English, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics were 100, while for viva voce examination the marks allocated were 50. The principal contention as noticed by the Supreme Court in that case was that the committee acted arbitrarily in the matter of granting of admissions, first by ignoring the marks obtained by the candidates at the qualifying examination; secondly by relying on viva voce examination as a test for determine the comparative merit of the candidates; thirdly by allocating as many as 50 marks for the viva voce examination as against 100 marks allocated for the written test and lastly, by holding superficial interviews lasting only two or three minutes on an average and asking questions which had no relevance to the assessment of the suitability of the candidates with reference to the four factors required to be considered at the viva voce examination.

8. The Supreme Court rejected the first contention and said that it is difficult to appreciate how a -procedure for admission which does not take into account the marks obtained at the qualifying examination but prefers to test the comparative merit of the candidates by insisting on an entrance examination can be said to be arbitrary, It is in the light of its rejection of the first contention, that we have to understand the ratio of the judgment of the Supreme Court on the second and third contentions, The Supreme Court having arrived at the conclusion that determining the comparative merit on the basis of performance in the entrance examination alone, without taking into account the marks obtained in the qualifying examination, is valid, considering the question whether the allocation of 50 marks for viva voce examination as against 100 marks allotted for written test is arbitrary and held that 'there can be no doubt, that, having regard to the drawbacks and deficiencies in the oral interview test and the condition prevailing in the country, particularly when there is deterioration in moral values and corruption and nepotism are very much on the increase, allocation of a high percentage Of marks, for the oral interview as compared to the marks allocated for the written test, cannot be accepted by the court as free from the vice of arbitrariness. Reasonableness of the interview marks have to be tested with reference to the total marks allocated for written examinations. This is clear from the following passage in the above judgment (at p. 502): -

"It is significant to note that even for selection of candidates for the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Foreign Service and the Indian Police Service, where the personality of the candidate and his personal characteristics and traits are extremely relevant for the purpose of selection, the marks allocated for oral interview are 250 as against 1800 marks for the written examination constituting only 12.2% of the total marks taken into consideration for the purpose of making the selection."

Then, the Supreme Court has observed (at pp. 502-3): -

"We are of the view that, under the existing circumstances, allocation of more than 15 % of the total marks for the oral interview would be arbitrary' and unreasonable and Would be liable to be struck down as constitutionally invalid."

9. However, we may also notice that in the later judgment reported in Lila Dhar v. State of Rajasthan, a limit of 15% of the total marks for oral interview referred to in the earlier judgment of the Supreme Court had not been considered to be applicable to all cases irrespective of other circumstances, In Lila Dhar v. State of Rajasthan, , the Supreme Court observed-

"On the other hand, in the case of services to which recruitment has necessarily to be made from persons of mature personality, interview test may be the only way, subject to basic and essential academic and professional requirements being satisfied. To subject such persons to a written examination may yield unfruitful and negative results apart from its being an act of cruelty to those persons, There are, Of course, many services to which recruitment is made from younger candidates whose personalities are on the threshold of development and who show signs Of great promise and the discerning may in an interview test. Catch a glimpse of the future personality. In the case of such services, where sound selection must combine academic ability with personality promise, some weight has to be given, though not much too great weight to the interview test. There cannot be any rule of thumb regarding the precise weight to be given. It must vary from service to service according to the requirements of the service, the minimum qualifications prescribed, the age group from which the selection is to be made, the body to which the task of holding the interview test is proposed to be entrusted and a host of other factors. It is a matter for determination by experts. It is a matter for research. It is not for courts to pronounce upon it unless exaggerated weight has been given with proven or obvious Oblique motives." In that view, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of 25% Of the total marks for viva voce, Thus from the observations Of the Supreme Court in May Hasia v. Khalid MuJib, AIR 19BY SC 487 it is neither possible to hold that selection will have to be made Only on the basis of the performance in the qualifying examination Or that the 15% of the marks for oral interview had to be only with reference to any particular examination. If the rules of selection contemplate the taking into account the marks obtained in the qualifying examination or any other examination or examinations, the reasonableness of the interview, mark will have to be considered with reference to the total marks to be taken into account for the academic performance. We are, therefore, unable to accept the contention of the appellant either that the Selection Committee was wrong in taking into account the marks obtained by the candidate in the degree course or and the B. G. L. course or that the percentage of the interview marks should be calculated with reference to the marks obtained in the B. L, degree examination alone. It is for the Committee to formulate its own principles selection and unless those rules could be said to be arbitrary, we could not interfere or prescribe our own test for such selection,

10. The- next submission of the appellant was that one lump of 40 marks has been allocated by the Selection Committee and there is no knowing as to what factors will have to be taken into account in awarding these 40 marks and that they have not sub-divided the marks under various heads so as to prevent any arbitrary awarding of marks. He further contended that only a few questions an Constitutional Law and International Law were put to him and he had answered correctly all those questions and that the Committee by it self also had not allocated the interview marks under various heads and questioned the candidates on all those aspects, In the circumstances, according to the appellant the awarding of lump marks for interview is not valid. In this connection he relied on the decision in Periakaruppan v. State of Tamil Nadu, . This decision does not in any way help the appellant. That was a case where the rules required the Selection Committee to allot the marks under different heads, but the Selection Committee did not follow and awarded lump marks and that was held to be not valid by the Supreme Court. On the other hand, the Supreme Court in, Lila Dhar v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 10811 SC 1777 held that awarding such lump marks was" not invalid and observed (at P. 1781).

"The. Rules themselves do not provide for the allocation of marks under different heads, -at the interview test. The criteria for, the interview test has been laid down by the Rules. It is for the interviewing body to take a general decision whether to allocate marks' under different heads or to award marks in a single lot. The award of marks under different heads may lead to a distorted picture of the candidate on occasions. On the other hand, the totality of the impression created by the candidate on the interviewing body may give a more accurate picture of the candidate's personality. It is for the interviewing body to choose the appropriate method of marking at the selection of each service. There cannot be any magic formulae in these matters and courts cannot sit in judgment over the methods of marking employed by interviewing bodies unless, as we said, it is proved or obvious that the method of marking was chosen with oblique motive."

11. In the above decision, the decision in Periakaruppan v. State of Tamil Nadu, was also considered and distinguished with the following observation (at p. 1781)-

"It is true that in Periakaruppan's case the court held that the non-allocation of marks under various heads in the interview test was illegal but that was because the instructions to the selection committee provided that marks were to be awarded at the interview on the basis of five distinct tests. It was thought that the failure to allocate marks under' each head or distinct test was an illegality. But, in the case before us, the rule merely and generally indicates the criteria to be considered in the interview test without dividing the interview test into distinct if we may so call them sub-tests,"

We are, therefore, of the view that there is no substance in the contention of the appellant that the marks obtained in the degree course and B. G. L. examination could not be taken into account or that the interview marks were excessive or arbitrary.

12. It was then contended by the appellant that the whole selection was vitiated by mala fides of the Selection Committee. But We find that there is no specific allegation of mala fides against the, Selection Committee as such in paragraph 10 of the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition; it was stated that the appellant had "strong reasons to believe that the Vice-Chancellor had influenced the Committee to delete my name, In short he had interfered with the selection. The facts which motivated the Vice Chancellor to do so are painful and embarrassing; Therefore I do not want to narrate the same. Inasmuch as he did not take necessary steps to correct the list and include my name will be sufficient enough to show that the Vice-Chancellor was not interested in my being admitted to the M. L. Course." Neither the Vice-Chancellor nor the members of the Selection Committee were made parties. The 4th respondent in the writ petition is shown as the Selection Committee represented by Professor Rama Rao, University of Madras Of course, Professor Rama Rao was one of the members of the Selection Committee. The allegation in paragraph 10 was denied by the Registrar of the University in his counter-affidavit, it is stated in the counter-affidavit-

"It is stoutly denied that the Vice-Chancellor brought to bear any influence upon the selection committee or directed the committed to delete the petitioner's name. It is denied that the Vice-Chancellor interfered with the selection. This respondent submits that the Vice-Chancellor did not, at any stage, interfere with the selection process. It is denied that the Vice-Chancellor had any motive to direct the deletion of the petitioner's name, No question of deleting the petitioner's name would arise because the petitioner was not selected by the Selection Committee." It may be seen from the paragraph in the petition of the appellant extracted above that no details have been given Vice Chancellor had influenced or had interfered with the selection. In f act, the learned counsel for the University pointed out that before the learned single Judge, the appellant fairly conceded that no allegation of mala fides had been made against the Selection, Committee and therefore this point could not be raised by the appellant in this case. We also find an observation in the order of Padmanabhan, J. to the following effect -

"When. confronted by a question from court the petitioner very. Fairly as to how he considered that the stated that no allegation of mala Ades has been against the personnel of the Selection Committee. In these circumstances, it is only to be -assumed that the Members of the Selection Committee acted in accordance with the relevant G. O an the question and did select the candidates an the basis of merit according to their best of judgment."

13. In view of this, we are -not called upon to go into the question as to whether there was mala fides on the para, of the Selection Committee in the matter of selection of the other candidates or the non-selection of the appellant.

14. It was then stated by the appellant that the lists of selected candidates were not published as above of those candidates in the waiting lists were mat published and that the non-publication of the lists is illegal and posed to principles of natural justice and public policy, In this connection, he also relied on the decision of the High Court of GAO, Damon and Diu in Mukul v. Dean Goa, Medical College, Pana, 14 AIR 1981 Goa 39. In that case the petitioner asked for a copy the Government order dated 164-1978, which retrospectively changed the selection rules, but it not furnished to the candidate who questioned the authority ed the Government to make such retrospective order which had the effect are debarring him from selection. In that case, the court observed that the 'Principles of matured justice require that before law or order can become operative, it must be promulgated and published.' Absolutely this has no relevance to the point raised by the appellant. The rules do not reqt4re the publication of the mums of the candidates who where selected and A is not the case of the appellant that when 'he asked for a copy of the same he was not given. We axe not prepared to accept that in every case the man publication of the selection list could be considered to be opposed to principals of natural, though we mould expect such a list being made know at least by published it in the notice board. But on the ground that it was not published in the notice board, we are unable to interfere with the selection itself.

15. It was then contended by the appellant that some of the selected candidates had passed the M. T degree examination not in the first attempt and but treating them on a par with those who passed in the first attempt will be a denial of equal opportunity. It is admitted in the counter affidavit that at least one candidate did not pass his B. L. degree examination in the first attempt. But it has been pointed out by the contesting respondents that no distinction had been made among candidates based on the number of times they attempted the B. L. examination or based on the semester or non-semester system. Since there are no rules making any such distinction as first attempt and second attempt among the candidates, we cannot interfere with the selection.

16. The last contention of the appellant is that the selection of the fifth respondent was opposed to public policy. The fifth respondent the selected had now surrendered the seat and had not joined and therefore the question does not arise for consideration. However, we want to point out that of all the candidates who were selected, she seems to be the best. She has got the first rank in the B. L. and obtained a uniformly high rank in all her University examinations. She has also come out successfully in the Indian Foreign Service examination which is considered to be a highly competitive examination. The contention that since she is a member of the Indian Foreign Service and now currently holding the office of the Regional Pass Post Officer, she could not be selected, is untenable. The Rules do not disqualify a person in the employment, applying and being selected. Further, we have also noticed that the Joint Secretary and Chief passpost Officer, New Delhi bad by letter dated 27-41981, informed her that there was no objection to the fifth respondent pursuing Master of Law course in International Law and Constitutional Law, offered by the Madras University and in the circumstances, it is not open to the appellant to contend that she was not qualified. No further question has been raised in this appeal. Thus, none of the contentions of the appellant is tenable we accordingly confirm the order in the writ petition and dismiss the writ appeal.

17. W. P. No. 8902 of 1981- In addition to some of the Points we have considered in the writ appeal, in this writ petition the petitioner claims that be, is a handicapped -person and that he should have been selected. The learned counsel for the contesting respondents pointed out that there is no reservation handicapped persons in the rules of selection and that, therefore, no special privilege was given to the petitioner. The petitioner, therefore, cannot claim any special privilege in the matter oil selection m the ground that he is a handicapped person. This writ petition also therefore is liable to be dismissed and it is accordingly dismissed,

18. Before parting with the case we want to observe that the M. L. degree course being a post-graduate course, we expect only the best talent to be permitted to pursue that course. In that view we consider that the University shall do well to prescribe certain minimum standards in the academic qualifications also for the purpose of eligibility to apply itself. With these observations, both the writ appeal and the writ petition are dismissed, but there will be no order as to costs.

19. Order accordingly.


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