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No provision of any statute or any rules framed thereunder has been shown to us, which permits rounding-off of eligibility criteria prescribed for the qualifying examination for admission to the PG course in M.SC (Nursing). When eligibility criteria is prescribed in a qualifying examination, it must be strictly adhered to. Any dilution or tampering with it will work injustice on other candidates. The Division Bench of the High Court erred in holding that learned Single Judge was right in rounding-off of 54.71% to 55% so as to make respondent 1 eligible for admission to PG course. Such rounding-off is impermissible. 11. We make it clear that this order merely settles the question of law and shall not have any adverse impact, in any manner, on the service of respondent 1. 12. The appeal is disposed of in the aforesaid terms.

REPORTABLE

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5992 OF 2012
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 8442 of 2011)
THE REGISTRAR, RAJIV GANDHI UNIVERSITY
OF HEALTH SCIENCES, BANGALORE … APPELLANT

VS.

G. HEMLATHA AND OTHERS … RESPONDENTS
JUDGMENT
(SMT.) RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. This appeal, by special leave, is directed against the judgment dated
28.10.2010 of the Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court. By the
impugned judgment, the Division Bench declined to entertain the appeal
filed by the appellant challenging the judgment of learned Single Judge of
the High Court permitting rounding-off of the percentage of marks obtained
by respondent 1 so as to make her eligible to get admission to post-
graduate course [“PG course”, for convenience] in M.Sc (Nursing).

3. On 11.03.2011 this Court issued notice only to settle the question of
law raised in the appeal because respondent 1 has completed the course.
This court refused to stay the impugned order and directed that respondent
1’s admission be regularized and her results be declared.

4. The question of law involved in this case is whether by applying the
principle of rounding-off the eligibility criteria prescribed for the
qualifying examination for admission to the PG course in M.Sc (Nursing) can
be relaxed.

5. For deciding the question of law, it is necessary to know the facts
of the case. Respondent 1 completed Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing
with 54.71% aggregate marks from N.T.R. University of Health Sciences in
the year 1997. Thereafter, she registered herself as a Public Health Nurse
and Midwife. She also registered herself as a nurse under the provisions
of the Andhra Pradesh Nurses and Midwives (Extension of Amendment) Act,
1964. She was appointed as a working staff nurse at the Primary
Health Centre, Nagasamudram (Andhra Pradesh) on 08.07.1999. She served for
eight years and three months in the said institution. She made a
representation to the Regional Director of Medical Health Services seeking
permission to pursue the PG course in M.Sc (Nursing). The eligibility
criteria prescribed by the Indian Nursing Council for securing admission to
the said PG course was 55% aggregate marks. The petitioner, however,
secured 54.71% aggregate marks. She approached the Secretary, Indian
Nursing Council, the third respondent herein, requesting that a certificate
of eligibility be issued to her. The third respondent communicated to her
that 0.50% would normally be rounded-off to next digit. She was asked to
approach the concerned authority of the institute in that regard.
Accordingly, she approached the petitioner. The petitioner gave her the
eligibility certificate. She, then, approached the Principal, Navodaya
College of Nursing, Raichur, Karnataka, the second respondent herein. With
the said certificate she obtained admission in the management quota.

6. When she was preparing to take the annual examination, she was
informed by the second respondent that she was not eligible to take
examination as she has secured less than 55% in the qualifying examination.
She approached the petitioner for reconsideration of her case. She was
informed that on reconsideration it was found that she was not eligible to
take examination. She, therefore, preferred writ petition in the High
Court challenging the said communication. She obtained an interim order
permitting her to take first year examination. She took the examination
but, results were withheld. She was also permitted to take the second year
examination by an interim order. Thus, she has completed the PG course by
taking both the examinations. As stated by us earlier, while issuing
notice, this court directed that her results be declared and her admission
be regularized.

7. By order dated 01.09.2010 learned Single Judge of the High Court, by
applying the rule of rounding-off of numbers, held that 54.71% marks
obtained by respondent 1 should be rounded-off to 55%. Thus, respondent 1
became eligible by virtue of the High Court’s order. Learned Single Judge
set aside the endorsement issued by the petitioner stating that respondent
1 was not eligible for admission to the PG course in M.Sc. (Nursing). The
said order was carried in appeal to the Division Bench of the Karnataka
High Court by the appellant. The Division Bench of the Karnataka High
Court declined to entertain the appeal. The Division Bench observed that
it was not inclined to interfere with the discretion exercised by learned
Single Judge in rounding-off of 54.71% to 55%. In the circumstances, the
Division Bench held that respondent 1 did possess required qualification to
get admission to PG course.

8. In Orissa Public Service Commission and Another v. Rupashree
Chowdhary and Another (2011) 8 SCC 108 this Court in somewhat similar fact
situation considered whether the eligibility criteria could be relaxed by
the method of rounding-off. The Orissa Public Service Commission published
an advertisement inviting applications from suitable candidates for the
Orissa Judicial Service Examination, 2009 for direct recruitment to fill-up
77 posts of Civil Judges (JD). Pursuant to the advertisement, the first
respondent therein applied for the said post. She took the preliminary
written examination. She was successful in the said examination. She,
then, took the main written examination. The list of successful
candidates, who were eligible for interview, was published in which the
first respondent’s name was not there. She received the mark sheet. She
realized that she had secured 337 marks out of 750 i.e. 44.93% of marks in
the aggregate and more than 33% of marks in each subject. As per Rule 24
of the Orissa Superior Judicial Service and Orissa Judicial Service Rules,
2007 (for short “the Orissa Rules”), the candidates who have secured not
less than 45% of the marks in the aggregate and not less than a minimum of
33% of marks in each paper in the written examination should be called for
viva voce test. Since the first respondent therein had secured 44.93%
marks in aggregate she was not called for interview/viva voce. The first
respondent approached the Orissa High Court. The High Court allowed the
writ petition. The appeal from the said order was carried to this court.
After considering the Orissa Rules, this court held that Rule 24 thereof
made it clear that in order to qualify in the written examination a
candidate has to obtain a minimum of 33% marks in each of the papers and
not less than 45% marks in the aggregate in all the written papers in the
main examination. This court observed that when emphasis is given in the
rule itself to the minimum marks to be obtained, there can be no relaxation
or rounding-off. It was observed that no power was provided in the
statute/rules permitting any such rounding-off or giving grace marks. It
was clarified that the Orissa 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 giving the benefit of rounding-off or
relaxation.

9. In our opinion, the ratio of this judgment is clearly applicable to
the facts of this case. Judgment of the Full Bench of Allahabad High Court
in Vani Pati Tripathi vs. Director General, Medical Education and
Training and Others (AIR 2003 All 164) and judgment of the Full Bench of
Punjab and Haryana High Court in Kuldip Singh, Legal Assistant, Punjab
Financial Corporation vs. The State of Punjab and Others (1997) 117 PLR
1, were cited before us because they take the same view. However, in view
of the authoritative pronouncement of this Court in Orissa Public Service
Commission (supra), it is not necessary for us to discuss the said
decisions.

10. No provision of any statute or any rules framed thereunder has been
shown to us, which permits rounding-off of eligibility criteria prescribed
for the qualifying examination for admission to the PG course in M.SC
(Nursing). When eligibility criteria is prescribed in a qualifying
examination, it must be strictly adhered to. Any dilution or tampering
with it will work injustice on other candidates. The Division Bench of
the High Court erred in holding that learned Single Judge was right in
rounding-off of 54.71% to 55% so as to make respondent 1 eligible for
admission to PG course. Such rounding-off is impermissible.

11. We make it clear that this order merely settles the question of law
and shall not have any adverse impact, in any manner, on the service of
respondent 1.

12. The appeal is disposed of in the aforesaid terms.
…………………………………..J.
(A.K. PATNAIK)

 
…………………………………..J.
(RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI)
NEW DELHI.
AUGUST 23, 2012

 
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8

 

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