Srinagar: The Supreme Court has upheld the judgment of the High Court of J&K and Ladakh which had dismissed a batch of pleas seeking benefit of two judgments on the basis of which 26 candidates were appointed as Naib Tehisldars (NTs) in 2016.
Dismissing the Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) filed by Zahoor Ahmad Bhat and others against the verdict of the High Court, a division bench of the apex court comprising Justice M R Shah and Justice Hima Kohli said: “No case is made out to interfere with the impugned judgment and orders passed by the High Court, more particularly considering the fact that the recruitment is of the year 2002, 2005, and 2008 and still in 2022, the litigation has been continued.”
The bench said that there must be finality to the litigation.
“Even otherwise, the earlier judgment of 2014 upon which the reliance has been placed cannot be said to be judgment in rem, as sought to be contended on behalf of the petitioners. The Special Leave Petitions stand dismissed,” the court held.
Before the High Court, Bhat and others in their petition were seeking directions for quashing appointment of NTs who were appointed on the basis of the judgment titled Hamidullah Dar vs State passed by the court in 2014.
They were seeking benefit of the judgment for their appointment as Naib Tehsildars.
Dismissing appeals and some writ petitions filed at the Srinagar wing of the court along with pleas filed at Jammu wing, a division bench of the court had said: “The writ petitioners have invoked the writ jurisdiction of this court only after the selection process was finalised. The fact of the matter remains that they sat on the fence and woke up from deep slumber only after the writ court delivered its judgment in SWP No 487/2009 on December 31, 2014.”
The High Court said the petitioners had acquiesced in rejection of their candidature and reconciled to their fate until one fine morning they came to know about the judgment in Hamidullah Dar’s case.
“Judgments in Hamidullah Dar’s case and Inamul Haq Hajjam’s case are judgments in personam as the directions in these judgments for appointment were confined to the petitioners only,” the court had said.
As the two judgments, the court said were in personam, it was not open to those candidates who were not parties to the two cases to claim parity with the candidates who had approached the court at the appropriate stage.
With regard to the contention that if the SSB would have implemented the directions passed in Hamidullah Dar’s case and redrawn the merit list of the candidates, the petitioners would have secured higher merit than the appointees’ merit, the High Court had said: “The contention is misconceived as the direction for fresh evaluation of merit is with respect to the petitioners in Hamidullah Dar’s case and the selected candidates only and not regarding all the candidates who had participated in the selection process.”
Besides this, in the judgment the court had said that an option was given to the official respondents (authorities) to appoint the petitioners against available vacancies of Naib-Tehsildars if it was impossible to undertake an exercise of redrawing the merit.