NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday took adverse note of repeated controversies miring selection of judicial officers by Punjab and Haryana HC and said this will severely impact the credibility of the examination process controlled and managed by the HC.
A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli told senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, appearing for the HC, that “every examination conducted by the HC in the last two three years for the selection of judicial officer is questioned through petitions right up to the Supreme Court. Has any selection process gone through smoothly? Every time there is some complaint or the other.”
The latest controversy was brought to the court’s notice by advocate H S Ghuman, who had appeared in the Punjab and Haryana Superior Judicial Services Main Written Examination 2019. His main grievance was that at the commencement of Paper-IV (Criminal Law), the question paper handed over to the candidates was incomplete.
The questions contained in that paper were only for 160 marks instead of 200 marks. When this discrepancy was brought to the notice of the Invigilators, a supplementary question paper containing four more questions was given by the Invigilators. By then half time had already elapsed. This created a panic amongst candidates. No extra time was given for answering the additional questions, he said. Moreover, candidates were informed about marks obtained in each paper, he added.
Though the HC has declared the written examination results and carried out interviews of the successful candidates, the SC had ordered the HC not to declare the results. On Friday, the CJI-led bench said, “With great persuasion, the state governments were asked to hand over the judicial officer selection process to the HCs. If a selection process is managed and controlled by the HC, such things should not happen. It reflects on the credibility of the institution,” the bench said.
Taking note of Ghuman’s argument about introducing four questions mid-way through the test, the bench said, “It is a clear case of discrimination. How can you change the rules in the middle of the game? It is unthinkable that the question paper was incomplete and another set of four questions are given to the candidates mid-stream. Whatever be the illegalities and irregularities in the examination, the best option is to give equal opportunity to all candidates by conducting a fresh selection process. The HC must be extraordinarily careful to keep the examination process fair.”
Gupta informed the court that he would take instructions from the HC and respond back. SC fixed November 18 for further hearing.
The HC had dismissed Ghuman’s petition on a technical ground that aggrieved candidates had not immediately raised the issue of providing four additional questions mid-stream of criminal law paper. “He cannot be permitted to raise the grievance after the declaration of the result of the examination when he has failed to qualify,” the HC had said.




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