Munsiff Magistrate Selection: Vacancies for 2020 must be Allocated to Candidates duly selected in the Recruitment Process for 2020 only: SC The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee has set aside the judgment passed by Kerala High Court in the case of High Court of Kerala vs. Reshma A. & Others Etc. which directed for filling up of additional vacancies...
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Munsiff Magistrate Selection: Vacancies for 2020 must be Allocated to Candidates duly selected in the Recruitment Process for 2020 only: SC
The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee has set aside the judgment passed by Kerala High Court in the case of High Court of Kerala vs. Reshma A. & Others Etc. which directed for filling up of additional vacancies of Munsiff-Magistrates posts from the current rank list, over and above the notified vacancies.
The High Court of Kerala had filed a special leave petition challenging the judgment passed by a division bench of the High Court which upheld a single bench judgment directing the filling up of additional vacancies from the merit list published on 20th February, 2021.
The writ petitions were filed by two candidates who had participated in the selection process which commenced with a notification issued by the High Court on 1 February 2019 inviting applications for appointment to the posts of Munsiff-Magistrate in the Kerala Judicial Service, against regular vacancies and against a carry-forward called 'No Candidates Available'.
Their contention was that the appointments of Munsiff-Magistrates must not be limited to thirty-two vacancies and must take into account all other vacancies that have arisen or which may arise till 6 May 2021, that is, within one year from the date on which merit list dated 7th may, 2020 was notified.
Justice P.V. Asha of the Kerala HC had allowed the writ petitions filed by candidates, directed to forward an additional list of candidates from the merit list dated 20th February, 2020 to the Governor for approval and appointment as Munsiff-Magistrates.
Later on, the division bench upheld the single bench judgment on August 26, dismissing the writ appeals filed by the High Court of Kerala and consequently the High Court has knocked the doors of Supreme Court in appeal.
Primarily the Apex Court dealt with two issues, first Whether Rule 7 of the Kerala Judicial Service Rules, 1991 is contrary to the directions of the Supreme Court in Malik Mazhar Sultan vs. Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission and second whether the respondents and similarly placed candidates who find place in the merit list approved by the Governor can be appointed to vacancies arising within one year from the date of approval of the merit list, in excess of those defined in the notification.
Followed by this, the High Court had agreed with the writ petitioner's argument that since the tenure of the approved list is for a tenure of one year from the date of the approval of the Governor or the publication of a fresh list, either of them takes place earlier, the vacancies which have arisen between 7th May 2020 (the date of the approval of the Governor) till 6th May 2021 (the expiry of one year from the date of approval) must also be supplemented to form a part of the selection for 2019.
However, the Apex Court disagreed and observed:
"Probable number of vacancies, as we have seen, is based on computing the existing vacancies and the vacancies anticipated to occur during the year. It also accounts for the possibility of inclusion of some of the candidates that are in the wait-list. However, the expression 'probable' cannot be interpreted as a vague assessment of vacancies that isn't founded in reason and can be altered without a statutorily prescribed cause.
To allow the concept of probable number of vacancies in Rule 7(1) to trench upon future vacancies which will arise in a succeeding year would lead to a serious constitutional infraction.
Candidates who become eligible for applying for recruitment during a succeeding year of recruitment would have a real constitutional grievance that vacancies which have arisen during a subsequent year during which they have become eligible have been allocated to an earlier recruitment year."
According to the Apex Court, if the directions of the High Court are followed, it would seriously affect the fairness of the process which has been followed by glossing over the fact that vacancies which have arisen during 2020 will be allocated for candidates in the select list for the year 2019. Such a course of action would constitute a serious infraction of Articles 14 and 16 and must be avoided.
The court reiterated that the submission of the appellant which it was inclined to accept was not that Rule 7(2) is invalid but then again, a harmonious interpretation of Rules 7(1) and (2) must be accepted that is consistent with the Article 142 directions in Malik Mazhar Sultan Case to bring the rules in accord with the governing principles of constitutional jurisprudence in matters of public employment.