Srinagar: The Supreme Court has set aside J&K and Ladakh High Court’s judgment whereby selection list of 64 Drug Inspectors issued by J&K Service Selection Board (JKSSB) in 2009 was quashed.
“In light of the pertinent selection procedure that was followed, we are unable to hold that the same was mechanical or casual or suffered from irregularities which were so grave or arbitrary in nature so as to justify quashing the entire selection process,” a division bench of the apex court comprising Justice K M Joseph and Justice B V Nagarathna said.
The top court in its decision underscores that while the entire selection list had been quashed by the High Court primarily on the ground of non-availability of individual award rolls or mark-sheets awarding marks individually, the same was "unsustainable".
“...we are unable to trace the requirement of individual rolls being signed and verified by the members of the Selection Board, to any statute or rule. Therefore, we cannot sustain the finding of the High Court that the entire selection process was vitiated by such irregularity,” the apex court said.
The High Court, the top court added, was not justified in quashing and setting aside the entire selection process, more so when sixty-four candidates had been serving on the said post for over a decade.
The JK SSB in terms of an advertisement notice dated May 5, 2008 had invited applications for the posts of Drug Inspectors.
In its select list published on September 8 2009, the Board had recommended 64 candidates for appointment as Drug Inspectors.
Some candidates aggrieved of the selection had challenged the selections and appointments before the single bench of the High Court at Srinagar which quashed the same in terms of a judgment dated 18 December 2015. The said judgment was affirmed by the Division Bench of the High Court by the judgment dated 29 October, 2021.
“The candidates who were declared successful in the selection process conducted on 8th September, 2009, for appointment of drug inspectors in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and the appointments published on 12th November, 2009, were permitted to continue in service by virtue of stay of the impugned judgment. The stay order is made absolute,” the top court said.
“Courts while exercising the power of judicial review cannot step into the shoes of the Selection Committee or assume an appellate role to examine whether the marks awarded by the Selection Committee in the viva-voce are excessive and not corresponding to their performance in such test,” the Court said citing the apex courts verdicts,” SC said.
The assessment and evaluation of the Performance of candidates appearing before the Selection Committee or Interview Board, the apex court said, should be best left to the members of the committee.
Allowing the appeals, the top court set aside the judgment of the Single Judge of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar, dated 18th December 2015 and the Judgment passed by the Division Bench, dated 29th October, 2021.
“Consequently, the judgment of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Jammu dated 6th July, 2017 following the order of the learned Single Judge of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar, dated 18th December, 2015, is also set aside,” the top court said.
“The candidates who were declared successful in the selection process conducted on 8th September, 2009, for appointment of drug inspectors in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and the appointments published on 12th November, 2009, were permitted to continue in service by virtue of stay of the impugned judgment. The stay order is made absolute”.