The High Court dismissed a plea challenging fresh notification by the J&K Bank for selection of 350 probationary officers and 1500 banking associates. The bank had earlier cancelled the selection process for these posts.
Underscoring that it is beaten law of the land that a job aspirant does not have any right to seek appointment even if his name figures in the select list, a bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey said: "In the present case the selection process had not even culminated; therefore, the challenge laid to the impugned action of the respondents is impermissible".
The petitioners who had participated in the earlier selection process in terms of J&K Banks notification dated 06.10.2018 were seeking court intervention for upholding of the process.
They were also aggrieved of the notice dated 15 April, 2020, cancelling the earlier selection process as also of the notice dated 01.06.2020 whereby the posts of probationary officers and banking associates were advertised afresh.
The selection process for the post of POs had been cancelled after conducting prelims and mains examination and the qualified candidates were required to be interviewed only before final selection. In case of BAs the requisite examination had been conducted and the selection list was required to be issued only.
The issue before the court to consider was whether the petitioners had any right of selection and appointment against the posts advertised and subsequently withdrawn; whether the J&K Bank was having the authority to cancel the selection process at a stage when the same had almost come to an end for one post while as in another it was over and only list was to be drawn.
"It needs no reiteration that since the selection process had not been completed; the petitioners have no right to dispute the decision of the respondents to go for a denovo exercise," the court said.
Pointing out that the petitioners had taken a positive stand in their writ petitions that no vested right of selection or appointment was created in favour of them merely because they participated in the selection process, the court said they however questioned the cancellation as "unreasonable" on the ground that the infirmities or irregularities in the selection process could have been set right by some other administrative means.
This stand of the petitioners, the court said, itself takes care of the first question that they were not clothed with any right much less an indefeasible right to seek selection and appointment against a post which initially had been advertised by the Bank and subsequently withdrawn or cancelled. "Therefore, it is held that the petitioners are not having any indefeasible right to seek continuation of the selection process which stood cancelled," the court said.
"As far as the authority of the respondents to cancel the selection process is concerned, this aspect also stands literally admitted by the petitioners that the respondents had the authority to cancel it. The court held that the stand of the respondents that the recruitment process in question had gone wrong from its very inception was substantiated by the records. "The Bank had gone wrong when it construed the district-wise requirement as district-wise recruitment. It further went on to frame a merit list district-wise, meaning thereby that the conception of one unit policy which is followed in the respondent Bank has been flouted with impunity in the said recruitment process".
This irregularity, the court said, might have had the scope of correction but the Bank had gone further wrong in not offering reservation in the whole process which certainly was incurable. "Therefore, the Bank was left with no option but to initiate a process ab-initio".
While the court observed that the district-wise merit list could have been redrawn by issuing a corrigendum, it said insofar as the reservation aspect is concerned, it could not have been set right midway as the allocation of the seats was done. " And if at all the Bank could have tried to offer reservation to the posts that would have resulted in chaos as many of the candidates who could have otherwise figured in the selection list would have seen Exit", court observed. Such action, the court said, was also very likely to be litigated and the Bank in such situation would not have been able to justify its action.
Observing that the Bank had the authority to cancel the whole selection process rather than for going to rectify the wrong by keeping the process intact, the court directed it to proceed ahead with the fresh selection process initiated in terms of the advertisement notice issued in this regard.