SC on estoppel and challenge to selection process by a participant

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 8th April 2020, in the matter of Ramjit Singh Kardam & Ors. v. Sanjeev Kumar & Ors. pronounced that when candidate is not aware of the criteria of selection under which he was subjected in the process and the said criteria for the first time is published along with final result, he cannot be estopped from challenging the criteria of selection and the entire process of selection. 

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

Jurisdiction under Article 226 is not an investigative jurisdiction but it is adjudicatory jurisdiction. (Para 23)

A candidate, who participates in a selection without a demur taking a calculated chance to get selected cannot turn around and challenge the criteria of selection and the constitution of the selection committee (Para 37)

When candidate is not aware of the criteria of selection under which he was subjected in the process and the said criteria for the first time is published along with final result, he cannot be estopped from challenging the criteria of selection and the entire process of selection. (Para 39)

The selection and appointment on post borne on the State establishment provides an opportunity to citizens of public employment. The personnel who man the civil posts in State apart from carrying out objectives and policies of State also serve as source of sustenance for their families. The selection and appointment on post in the State have to conform to the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens under Articles 14 and 16. The objective of a State in selecting persons into public service has always been to select the best and most suitable person. (Para 42)

The competitive examination, are means by which equality of opportunity was to be united with efficiency. By the above method favouritism was to be excluded and the goal of securing the best man for the job was to be achieved. (Para 55)

The “malice in fact” and “malice in law” are two well- known concepts in law. (Para 61)

The malice in law has been dealt as “something done without lawful excuse”. The malice in law is also mala fide exercise of power, exercise of statutory power for purposes foreign to those for which it is in law intended. (Para 62)

When the continuance of a person on a post is by virtue of an interim order, the continuance is always subject to outcome of the litigation. (Para 74)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_08-Apr-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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