The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed appeals challenging a 2008 advertisement and the subsequent process of recruitment to the Punjab Superior Judicial Service, holding that a seat that fell vacant on the elevation of a judge after the publication of advertisement cannot be included in the recruitment.
A Bench of Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said an advertisement cannot be held to be defective merely because every vacancy which existed at the time of its publication was not taken into account.
It dismissed the appeals filed by five general category candidates (advocates) who had appeared for the examination but could not make it to the merit list, saying it was not possible to put the clock back after a decade.
Applications were invited for selection of 21 positions in the Punjab Superior Judicial Service including 10 from general category, six from Scheduled Caste category, two from Backward Class category, one from ex-serviceman (General) category, one from B.C. (ex-serviceman) category and one from the physically challenged category of loco-motor or orthopedic disability.
The number of posts was subject to variation and if no candidate was found suitable or medically fit under the category of physically challenged, the post was to be reverted to the General category.
Since one of the Scheduled Caste candidates made it to the merit list without the benefit of reservation, he was given the job under general category and only nine of the general category candidates were recruited against the 10 posts.
The petitioners had contended that after one judicial officer was elevated to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in March 2008, one more seat in the general category had become available after issuance of the advertisement and since the number of posts was subject to variation, this vacancy should be made available to the general category.
However, the top court rejected the contention, saying, “… in our view, this would not mandate the inclusion of a post which fell vacant subsequently, nor can there be even otherwise a compulsion on the High Court to necessarily expand the scope of the number of persons to be recruited. In fact, the persons, who may have become eligible post the advertisement, would suffer a prejudice were subsequent vacant posts to be included against an earlier advertisement.”
It said, “…there has been a passage of a decade since the initial recruitment and though the appellants cannot be blamed for judicial delays, it is really not possible to put the clock back for all the aforesaid reasons.”