Read Order:  Nirbhay Singh Sohi and another v. State of Punjab through Secretary and Others 

LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 11, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that once a post duly advertised has not been consumed then the candidate next in order of merit, as determined in a regular process of selection, has to be invited for filling up such vacancy.

The bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh passed these observations while hearing an appeal filed by job aspirants who applied against 176 posts of Assistant Engineers / On Training (Electrical) which were advertised on 8.5.2015 by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited.

The appellants, who belong to the general category, participated in the said selection process and were placed in the merit list.

As four posts were unoccupied, they filed a writ petition before a Single Judge Bench seeking appointment against the aforesaid posts as per the order of merit but it was dismissed following which they moved an appeal before the division bench which too stands dismissed now.

The counsel for the appellants submitted in their appeal before the division bench that the appellants were placed at Serial No.83 and 88 respectively in the merit list. That at the time of passing of the single bench order, four vacancies were available.

According to the appellants, the last selected candidate was at Sr. No.71 of the merit list. At this stage there is no need to give offer of appointment to the candidates who are at Sr. No.72 to 82 and at Sr. No.84 to 87 of the merit list, the reason being they never approached the Court seeking their appointment against the vacant posts. Now they have got no right to claim appointment against the aforesaid vacant posts, the petitioners said.

Deciding the matter, the division bench held that admittedly, the aforesaid four posts were available as some of the selected candidates did not join. But it is well settled that once a post duly advertised has not been consumed, then a candidate next in order of merit as determined in a regular process of selection, has to be invited for filling up such vacancy.

“It being so, the appointing authority cannot pick and choose out of candidates placed at Sr. No.72 to 88 to fill the aforesaid vacant posts, by offering two of the said posts to the appellants by ignoring the candidates who are ahead of them in the merit list. So, the learned Single Judge rightly concluded that appellants (petitioner therein) cannot be given undue advantage by jumping the merit queue,” observed the division bench.

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