HC annuls selection of 64 Drug Inspectors

‘SSB at liberty to conduct fresh interview of candidates in accordance with law’
HC annuls selection of 64 Drug Inspectors
File photo of J&K High CourtMubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar, Oct 29: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has quashed the 2009 select list of 64 Drug Inspectors issued by J&K Service Selection Board (SSB).

Disposing of a batch of appeals against single bench order, the division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul quashed the select list the SSB had published on 8 September 2009.

“The respondent-Board is at liberty to constitute a Selection Committee to conduct a fresh interview of all the candidates who have appeared before it in accordance with law for selection against the posts advertised,” the appellate court said.

The Court, however, made it clear that no post or vacancy which had not been advertised would be filled up in the fresh selection process. “The said exercise if undertaken shall be completed within a period of six months as directed and till such time, the selected candidates appointed may be permitted to continue to avoid any administrative problem (sic),” it said.

The SSB vide advertisement notice dated May 5, 2008 had invited applications for the posts of Drug Inspectors. In its select list published on 8 September 2009, the Board had recommended 64 candidates for appointment as Drug Inspectors.

Some aggrieved candidates had challenged the select list before the single bench of the Court which decided their petitions in 2015. This single bench judgment was challenged by the selected candidates in various appeals which were decided by the division bench today.

The single bench had passed some directions including the one that that the candidates selected and appointed had been serving the Department as Drug Inspectors for last seven years and the authorities therefore “may retain them and shall accord consideration to appointment of petitioners against available clear vacancies of Drug Inspectors in Department”.

“In case, the consideration to appointment of petitioners as directed is not possible, because of non-availability of the posts, the select list published by respondent Board on 8th September 2009, and appointment made pursuant thereto shall stand quashed and set aside,” the single bench had said.

The Board, the single bench had said, shall constitute a Selection Committee to conduct fresh interviews of all the candidates who earlier appeared before it.

In its judgment, the DB observed that that the writ petitioners had been able to establish a case for indulgence and grant of the relief(s) as prayed for by them including quashing the select list. “So the directions passed by learned Writ Court in terms of impugned judgment ought to have been without any ifs and buts”.

“Despite the fact that the (single bench) has opined that the select list was not properly drawn as there was nothing on record to indicate that the members of the selection committee had made the assessment of the candidates individually, the final award roll reflecting the performance of the candidates in viva voce and points secured on the basis of the merit in eligibility qualification as well as extra weightage granted for additional qualification is also not in accordance with the norms. Therefore, the selection process does not conform to the prescribed procedure.”

“Having noted that some of the candidates have been arbitrarily awarded extra weightage without there being on record any material to show that they possessed post graduate degree for grant of such extra marks, the single bench could not have saved the selection of the candidates merely for the reason that they have now been serving in the department for last seven years and that they are qualified to hold the post”.

The DB said the single bench at the same time was not even justified in directing the officials to retain them in service and to accord consideration to the appointment of the writ petitioners for appointment against the available clear vacancies of the Drug Inspectors.

Pointing out that the selection process pursuant to the advertisement notice dated 5th May 2008 was completed with the publication of the select list and the joining of the selected candidates, the court said: “no further appointments could be given on the basis of the said selection against the clear vacancies that may have occurred subsequently.”

“Though the petitioners have participated in the selection process and, as such, were not entitled to challenge it, nonetheless as one of the grounds for challenge of the selection is arbitrariness in the award of marks in viva voce during the selection process, the petitioners could not have been debarred from filing the writ petition”.

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