Mansimran Kaur

New Delhi, May 10, 2022: While considering a case wherein the Haryana Staff Selection Commission refused the appointment of certain candidates on the ground that they submitted the provisional/confidential result of B.Ed examination, the Supreme Court has expounded on the maxim ‘actus curiae neminem gravabit‘ by saying that it remains fundamental in dispensation of justice that the act of the Court should not be to the prejudice of anyone.

A Division Bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari was dealing with the contempt petitions and interlocutory applications filed for the purpose of seeking clarification/ modification in pursuance to the judgment wherein directions were issued to appoint 74 respondents-candidates against the 90 vacancies and opined that the appointment shall be made in accordance with the law and on the basis of inter se merit. 

Factual matrix of the case was that the Commission had issued an advertisement inviting applications for appointment of the post of Post-Graduate Teachers for which the qualification requisite was that of B.Ed.The cause of dispute arose from the fact that some of the candidates whose final result was not declared were provided with provisional/ confidential result of B.Ed examination. So, the candidates applied. However, the same was rejected by the Commission on the ground that the result declared was not final and was declared prior to the cut-off date. 

The same was assailed by some candidates by way of writ petitions.which were allowed by the single-judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court and the same observation was reiterated by the Division Bench. Later, the Top Court issued certain directions concerning appointment of the candidates, however the same were not followed by the Commission and aggrieved by the same the candidates/ writ petitioners approached the Top Court by invoking contempt jurisdiction. The Bench decided to deal with the miscellaneous applications and the other connected matters that passed the order dated September 1, 2021. Thus, the contempt petitions and the applications were listed before the Court for seeking intervention/ direction/ clarification. 

The Court took into consideration the interim order dated November 27, 2018 wherein it was provided that the offer of appointment shall be made against the said 90 vacancies within 4 weeks to 74 respondents and 16 interveners. It was further opined that  it would be appropriate to provide that the aforesaid 90 candidates shall be placed below the candidates who had already joined and seniority amongst these 90 candidates would be on the basis of inter se merit.  The Court thus, observed that the dispute in the instant case arose when Commission refused to entertain the provisional/ confidential results of the candidates even when they were duly verified by the universities.

It was further opined that if the Commission found that the directions in the order dated September 1, 2021 were requiring clarification/modification, they ought to have moved this Court well within the time of four weeks, however it moved into action only after contempt petitions were filed in this Court and notices were issued. The Court stated that the same cannot be allowed to operate prejudicial to the interests of the persons standing higher in merit, when the process of appointment against the vacancies is executed in accordance with the interim order passed by this Court. The Bench said, “In other words, any eventuality leading to the advantage of less meritorious candidates at the cost of meritorious one has to be eschewed.”

The Court further observed that the benefit of the interim order shall only be provided to the candidates who approached either the High Court or this Court before passing of the said order. Adding further directions, the Bench held that the inter se merit would depend upon the candidates facing the interview and to be appointed only if coming within the zone of selection as per the marks obtained by the last candidate in the category in which each of them had applied. Moreover, none of the candidates who had been appointed pursuant to the orders passed by this Court could claim continuance at the cost of more meritorious eligible candidates of the same selection process. Thus, the contempt petitions were disposed of along with all the applications including interlocutory applications. 

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