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If rounding off is given to the appellant as sought for by him there has to be similar rounding off for a person who has missed 33% in one of the papers just by a whisker. To him and to such a person who could not get 50% in aggregate in the written test, if this rule of rounding off is offered then they would also get qualified. In that event, there would be no meaning of having a rule wherein it is provided that a person must at least have the minimum marks as provided for thereunder. Somewhere a line has to be drawn and that line has to be strictly observed which is like a Lakshman Rekha and no variation of the same is possible unless it is so provided under the Rules itself. Both the Selection Committee as also the appointing authority are bound to act within the parameters of the Rules which are statutory in nature and any violation or any relaxation thereof whether by way of giving grace marks or rounding off would be acting beyond the parameters prescribed which would be illegal.

                                                                REPORTABLE

                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                      CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  6205 OF 2011

                  [Arising out of SLP(C) No. 9147 of 2008]

Bhanu Pratap                                          ....Appellant

                                     VERSUS

State of Haryana & Ors.                               ....  Respondent(s)

                                   JUDGMENT

Dr. MUKUNDAKAM SHARMA, J.

1. Leave granted. 

2. In this appeal we are called upon to decide an issue pertaining to 

   an   appointment   to   the   Post   of   Subordinate   Judge   under   the 

   Haryana   Civil   Services  [Judicial   Branch]   Examination  which   was 

   advertised   in   2003   and   for   which   the   selection   process   was 

   completed   in   2004.   Thereafter   two   candidates   who   alone   were 

   selected   have   been   appointed   and   joined   their   services   on 

   18.03.2005 and 07.07.2005, respectively. 

                                   Page 1 of 11

3. Even   subsequent   thereto   advertisements   have   been   issued   for 

   filling up similar vacancies in 2008 and 2010 which process was 

   also   long   completed   and   persons   selected   have   also   been 

   appointed   pursuant   to   the   said   selection   process.   We   are   also 

   informed that in 2011, further 111 posts have been advertised for 

   which selection process has been initiated.

4. The   appellant   herein   submitted   his   application   as   against   the 

   aforesaid   advertisement   issued   by   the   respondents   in   2003   for 

   filling   up   73   posts   of   Subordinate   Judges   under   Haryana   Civil 

   Services   [Judicial   Branch]   Examination.   The   appellant   appeared 

   in the written tests and was declared successful and thereafter he 

   was called for interview. Incidentally out of 3,471 candidates who 

   appeared   for   the   written   examination,   only   3   persons   obtained 

   more   than   50%   marks   in   the   written   examination   and   were 

   eligible under the extant Rules for being called for interview/viva-

   voce. All the 3 candidates called for interview duly appeared before 

   the   interview   board   constituted   by   the   Haryana   Public   Service 

   Commission [for short "the Commission"] in which one of the then 

   Judges   of   the   Punjab   and   Haryana   High   Court   was  called  as   an 

   Expert   Advisor   who   was   present   during   the   process   of   the 

   interview.

5. It transpires from the records that in the interview conducted by 

   the Commission total marks allocated for the interview/viva-voce 

   test were 120 and one Shri Vivek Nasir obtained 72 marks out of 

   120, whereas, Shri Anubhav Sharma was awarded 60 marks out 

   of   120.   However,   the   present   appellant   could   get   only   20   marks 

   out of the total marks of 120 for the interview. Since he failed to 

   qualify   in terms  of  Rule  8  of  the  Haryana  Civil   Services  (Judicial 

   Branch) Rules [for short "the Rules"] he was not appointed to the 

   said post.

6. Feeling   aggrieved   the   appellant   filed   a   Writ   Petition   before   the 

   Punjab   and   Haryana   High   Court   at   Chandigarh   which   was 

   registered   as   CWP   No.   12205   of   2005   in   which   he   sought   for   a 

   writ   of   mandamus   directing   his   appointment   to   the   post   of 

   Judicial Officer. In the Writ Petition his contention was that since 

   he received total aggregate marks of 508 out of 1020 total marks, 

   i.e., 49.8% and since the marks obtained by him was short of 50% 

   by   just   two   marks   the   same   should   be   rounded   off   to   the 

   qualifying   marks   of   50%   in   aggregate   in   terms   of   Rule   8   of   the 

   Rules. It was contended that shortage of the percentage of half or 

   less was to be rounded off and when the petitioner had obtained 

   49.8% in the whole aggregate after viva voce test, he should have 

   been treated to have obtained 50% and should have been deemed 

   to have qualified. 

                                    Page 3 of 11

7. The   aforesaid   contention   of   the   appellant,   however,   was   rejected 

   by the Single Judge of the High Court and the Writ Petition filed 

   by   the   appellant   was   dismissed,   which  order   was  further   upheld 

   by the Division Bench on appeal. Being aggrieved by the dismissal 

   of his Writ Petition and Letters Patent Appeal, the appellant filed 

   the present  appeal in  this Court, on which we  heard  the  learned 

   counsel appearing for the parties who had also taken us through 

   the entire records.

8. Appointment   to   the   post   of   Subordinate   Judge   (HCS   Judicial 

   Branch)   is   guided   by   Haryana   Civil   Services   [Judicial   Branch] 

   Rules,   which   are   statutory   in   nature.   Rule   7(1),   7   (2)   and   8(1) 

   specifically deal with the minimum marks that a candidate has to 

   obtain to qualify in the written test and also for selection. The said 

   provisions are extracted hereinbelow for ready reference: -

         "7(1)     No   candidate   shall   be   credited   with   any   marks  

         in any paper unless he obtains  at  least thirty  three per  

         cent marks in it.

         (2)       No   candidate   shall   be   called   for   the   viva-voce  

         test   unless   he   obtains   at   least   fifty   per   cent   qualifying  

         marks   in   the   aggregate   of   all   the   written   papers   and  

         thirty three per cent marks in the language paper, Hindi  

         in (Devnagri Script).

                       ........................................................

                       ........................................................

         8(1)      No   candidates   shall   be   considered   to   have  

         qualified   in   the   examination   unless   he   obtains   at   least  

         50% marks  in the  aggregate  papers including viva-voce  

        test."

9. In  the advertisement  issued by the respondents for filling up the 

  said post along with instructions and information for candidates it 

  was   specifically   mentioned   that   the   syllabus   of   the   examination 

  would be as contained in Schedule under Rule 9 of para `C' of the 

  Rules   relating   to   the   appointment   of   Subordinate   Judges   in 

  Haryana.   The   said   syllabus   was   set   out   in   detail   showing   the 

  compulsory   papers,   description   of   subjects,   maximum   marks   for 

  each   subject.   It   was   also   communicated   that   for   viva-voce   test 

  there will be 120 marks. The rules with regard to the conduct of 

  the written  examination  were also set out therein. In  clause (g)(i) 

  thereof it was indicated that no candidate   shall be considered to 

  have qualified in the examination unless he obtains at least 50% 

  marks   in   the   aggregate   of   all   papers   including   viva-voce   test.   It 

  was   also   stated   thereafter   in  the   advertisement   that   the   merit   of 

  the   qualified   candidates   shall   be   determined   by   the   Haryana 

  Public   Service   Commission   strictly   according   to   the   aggregate 

  marks obtained in the written papers and viva-voce. For the viva-

  voce test it was provided in the advertisement that it will be a test 

  relating to the matters  of general  interest  and  is  intended to test 

  the candidate's alertness, intelligence and general outlook. It was 

                                   Page 5 of 11

   reiterated   thereunder   also   that   the   merit   of   the   qualified 

   candidates   would   be   determined   by   the   Haryana   Public   Service 

   Commission strictly according to the aggregate marks obtained in 

   the written papers and viva-voce.

10.As stated hereinbefore, a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana 

   High   Court   was   associated   as   an   Expert   Advisor   at   the   time   of 

   viva-voce test which consisted of 120 marks. The total 120 marks 

   of   viva-voce   test   were   divided   under   four   heads   evaluating   the 

   personal quality of the candidates as follows: -

         "a) Awareness, outlook, Subject knowledge                        30 marks

             and general interest

         b) Articulation and expression                                   30 marks

         c)    Intelligence and alertness                                 30 marks

         d) Poise, bearing and other qualities                            30 marks"

The   Judge   of   the   High   Court   was   to   classify   a  candidate   as  Expert 

Advisor under the following categories: -

         "Class                                                 Marks Range

         Excellent                   (E)                        26-30

         V. Good                     (G+)                       21-25

         Good                        (G)                        16-20

         Above average               (A+)                       11-15

         Average                     (A)                        06-10

         Poor                        (P)                        01-05"

11.It   is   brought   out   on   records   that   the   Judge   present   in   the 

   interview graded  Anubhav sharma as  `G', i.e.,  `Good' placing him 

   within   the   mark   range   of   16-20,   whereas   Bhanu   Partap   was 

   graded as "P", i.e., `Poor' placing him within the mark range of 01-

   05   and   Vivek   Nasir   was   graded   as   "A+",   i.e.,   `Above   Average' 

   placing him within the mark range of 11-15. The aforesaid grading 

   criteria   to   be   awarded   by   the   Judge   for   evaluating   the   personal 

   quality   of   the   candidates   were   circulated   to   the   members   of   the 

   Selection   Committee   for   viva-voce   examination   as   a   guideline 

   before the viva-voce examination. Therefore, the minimum marks 

   which   could   be   given   to   the   appellant   in   each   of   the   heads,   was 

   only one and in this case, the Chairman, and the members of the 

   Commission   had   given   him   the   maximum   marks,   i.e.,   5   marks, 

   under   each   of   above-mentioned   four   heads   and   consequently   he 

   got 20 marks out of 120 ascribed to the viva-voce examination. 

12.Counsel   appearing   for   the   appellant   submitted   before   us   that 

   since   the   appellant   had   received   49.8%   in   aggregate   in   all   the 

   tests   including   viva-voce,   the   same   could   and   should   have   been 

   rounded   off   to   50%   in   aggregate   which   would   have   entitled   the 

   appellant   to   be   selected   for   appointment   to   the   aforesaid   post. 

   Counsel   also   submitted   that   during   the   earlier   selection 

   immediately   preceding   the   selection   in   question   there   was   the 

   requirement   of   grading   under   three   factors/categories   only   and 

   the same came to be varied/increased in the selection in question 

                                     Page 7 of 11

   from   three   to   six.   He   contended   that   this   increasing   of   grading 

   factors/categories from three to six envisages much wider criteria 

   in   the   selection   process   in   question   which   amounted   to 

   arbitrariness.

13.The   aforesaid   submissions   of   the   counsel   appearing   for   the 

   appellant   were   however   refuted   by   counsel   appearing   for   the 

   respondents by submitting that the respondents have strictly and 

   minutely   followed   and   complied   with   the   Rules   which   are 

   statutory   in   nature   and,   therefore,   the   present   appeal   has   no 

   merit   at   all.   He   also   submitted   that   there   cannot   be   addition   of 

   any marks unless the same is specifically permitted and provided 

   either   under   the   Rules   or   in   the   advertisement   and,   therefore, 

   there was no illegality or arbitrariness in the selection in question. 

14.In   the   light   of   the   records   placed   before   us   we   have   considered 

   the aforesaid submissions of the counsel appearing for the parties. 

   The   relevant   Rules   have   already   been   extracted   above.   A   bare 

   reading of the aforesaid rules  would make it crystal clear that in 

   order   to   qualify   in   the   written   examination   a   candidate   has   to 

   obtain at least 33% marks in each of the papers and at least 50% 

   qualifying   marks   in   the   aggregate   in   all   the   written   papers.   The 

   further   mandate   of   the   rules   is   that   a   candidate   would   not   be 

   considered   as   qualified   in   the   examination   unless   he   obtains   at 

   least  50%   marks  in  the  aggregate  including  viva-voce  test.   When 

   emphasis is given in the Rules itself to the minimum marks to be 

   obtained   making   it   clear   that   at   least   the   said   minimum   marks 

   have to be obtained by the concerned candidate there cannot be a 

   question   of   relaxation   or   rounding   off   as  sought   to   be   submitted 

   by the counsel appearing for the appellant. 

15.There   is   no   power   provided   in   the   statute   nor   any   such 

   stipulation   was   made   in   the   advertisement   and   also   in   the 

   statutory   Rules   permitting   any   such   rounding   off   or  giving   grace 

   marks so as to bring up a candidate to the minimum requirement. 

   In our considered opinion, no such rounding off or relaxation was 

   permissible. The Rules are statutory in nature and no dilution or 

   amendment   to   such   Rules   is   permissible   or   possible   by   adding 

   some words to the said statutory rules for providing or giving the 

   benefit of rounding off or relaxation.

16. We   may   also   draw   support   in   this   connection   from   a   decision   of 

   this   Court   in  District   Collector   &   Chairman,   Vizianagaram 

   Social   Welfare   Residential   School   Society,   Vizianagaram   and 

   Another.  v.  M.  Tripura Sundari Devi  reported  in  (1990)  3 SCC 

   655. In the said judgment this Court has laid down that when an 

   advertisement   mentions   a   particular   qualification   and   an 

   appointment   is   made   in   disregard   of   the   same   then   it   is   not   a 

                                    Page 9 of 11

  matter   only   between   the   appointing   authority   and   the   appointee 

  concerned.   The   aggrieved   are   all   those   who   had   similar   or   even 

  better   qualifications   than   the   appointee   or   appointees   but   who 

  had   not   applied   for   the   post   because   they   did   not   possess   the 

  qualifications mentioned in the advertisement.

17. In the case of  Umrao Singh Vs.  Punjabi University, Patiala and 

  Ors.   reported   in    (2005)   13   SCC   365   this   Court   while   dealing 

  with   the   power   of   Selection   Committee   for   relaxation   of   norms 

  held thus: -

        "Another   aspect   which   this   Court   has   highlighted   is   scope   for   relaxation   of   norms. 

        Although Court must look with respect upon the performance of duties by experts in the 

        respective fields, it cannot abdicate its functions of ushering in a society based on rule 

        of law. Once it is most satisfactorily established that the Selection Committee did not 

        have the power to relax essential qualification, the entire process of selection so far as 

        the   selected   candidate   is   concerned   gets   vitiated.   In  P.K.   Ramchandra   Iyer  

        and Ors.  v.  Union of India and Ors.    (1984)ILLJ314SC this Court  

        held that once it is established that there is no power to relax  

        essential   qualification,   the   entire   process   of   selection   of   the  

        candidate   was   in   contravention   of   the   established   norms  

        prescribed   by   advertisement.   The   power   to   relax   must   be  

        clearly spelt out and cannot otherwise be exercised."

18. Let us also examine the issue from another angle. If rounding off 

  is   given   to   the   appellant   as   sought   for   by   him   there   has   to   be 

  similar   rounding   off   for   a  person   who   has   missed   33%   in   one   of 

  the  papers  just  by   a  whisker.   To  him and   to  such  a  person  who 

  could  not  get  50%  in  aggregate in  the  written  test,  if  this  rule  of 

  rounding off is offered then they would also get qualified. In that 

  event,   there   would   be   no   meaning   of   having   a   rule   wherein   it   is 

  provided that a person must at least have the minimum marks as 

  provided   for   thereunder.   Somewhere   a   line   has   to   be   drawn   and 

  that   line   has   to   be   strictly   observed   which   is   like   a  Lakshman  

  Rekha  and   no   variation   of   the   same   is   possible   unless   it   is   so 

  provided under the Rules itself. Both the Selection Committee as 

  also   the   appointing   authority   are   bound   to   act   within   the 

  parameters   of   the   Rules   which   are   statutory   in   nature   and   any 

  violation or any relaxation thereof whether by way of giving grace 

  marks   or   rounding   off   would   be   acting   beyond   the   parameters 

  prescribed which would be illegal.

19.In that view of the matter, we find no merit in this appeal, which 

  is dismissed but leaving the parties to bear their own costs.

                                               .................................................

                                                                                              J

                                                  (Dr. MUKUNDAKAM SHARMA)

                                              ................................................J

                                                     (ANIL R. DAVE)

NEW DELHI,

AUGUST 2, 2011.

                                   Page 11 of 11

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