M.S. Sullar, Member (J).
1. The challenge in this Original Application (OA), filed by applicant, Gurdeep Kaur W/o Suresh Kumar, is to the impugned recruitment of two posts of Tutor Technician, in the Department of Radio-diagonsis in PGI, Chandigarh.
2. The matrix of the facts and material, culminating in the commencement and relevant for deciding the instant OA, and exposited from the record, is that, the PGI had issued advertisement dated 26.09.2010 (Annexure A-1) to fill up various posts including two posts of Tutor Technicians in the Department of Radio-diagonsis, one from General Category and one from OBC Category. The last date of submissions of the application form was 20.10.2010, which was subsequently extended to 31.10.2010 by way of corrigendum dated 19.10.2010 (Annexure A-1 colly). The applicant, claiming herself to be qualified, applied for the post of Tutor Technician in General category, vide application form (Annexure A-3). The applicant was interviewed along with other candidates, but she was not selected, whereas Ajay Kumar (respondent no.2) in the general category, and Sushil Kumar Kashyap (respondent no.3) in OBC category, were recommended for the post of Tutor Technician by the Selection Committee.
3. According to the applicant, she sought information under the RTI Act with regard to recruitment procedure adopted for selection and it revealed that no criteria was fixed for the recruitment made for the posts of Tutor Technician, as per letters dated 04.10.2012 (Annexure A-7) and 05.10.2012 (Annexure A-8). It was alleged that she was not provided with all the relevant information as asked for, despite appeal dated 06.10.2012 (Annexure A-9).
4. Aggrieved thereby, the applicant has preferred the instant OA, challenging the selection of the Respondents no.2 & 3 on the post of Tutor Technician, mainly on the ground that no recruitment criteria, whatsoever, was formulated for selection for the indicated post, as required, to fill up the public post. The selection therefore, was stated to be smeared with arbitrariness and illegalities. It was alleged that the applicant is having more qualification and experience to her credit, than the selected candidate in the general category. The procedure adopted for selection of the candidate was claimed to be arbitrary, unfair and against Article 16 of the Constitution of India.
5. Levelling a variety of allegations and narrating the sequence of events in detail, in all, the applicant claimed that she was having better educational qualification and experience than the selected candidate in general category, and the selection made for the indicated post without following the proper criteria, is arbitrary and illegal. On the strength of aforesaid grounds, the applicant seeks to quash the selection of the Respondents no.2 & 3 for the post of Tutor Technician in the manner indicated hereinabove.
6. The respondents have refuted the claim of the applicant. The Respondent no.1 filed separate written statement, wherein, it was pleaded that although applicant was called for interview, but she was not found suitable to be selected for the post of Tutor Technician by the Selection Committee. It was submitted that the Selection Committee has selected the candidates on the basis of merit and marks obtained by the candidates in the interview. The Committee was helped by an internal expert to determine the merit and suitability for the job.
7. Sequelly, the applicant has no conflict with the Respondent No. 3, who was appointed under OBC reserved category. The Respondent no.2 has filed his separate written statement, inter-alia, pleading certain preliminary objections of maintainability of the OA, cause of action, and locus standi of the applicant. According to the respondents, the applicant has willingly, duly, participated in the selection process, and when she remained unsuccessful, then she is estopped from challenging the same selection, in view of the law laid down by Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Sadananda Hallow and others versus Mumtaz Ali Sheikh and others, 2008 (3) SCC 619 and Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Simaranjit Singh Tiwana versus State of Punjab, 2013 (1) SLR 577. It was alleged that 15 applicants applied for the post under General Category. The educational qualifications of both, the applicant and the respondent no. 2 (General category), on the date of the advertisement till the holding of the interview was same i.e. M.Sc. Medical Technology. Thereafter, even after up till the date of holding of the interview, the answering respondent was holding the post of Supervisor Radiographer, whereas applicant was only Technical Assistant. The post of Supervisor Radiographer is higher than that of the Technical Assistant, as a Technical Assistant works under the Supervisor Radiographer. In all, it was claimed that the Respondents no.2 & 3 were duly appointed by the Selection Committee, whereas, applicant remained unsuccessful for the post of Tutor Technician.
8. Likewise, in additional affidavit, the Administrative Officer, PGI, has explained and reiterated that the selection of the candidates was done, by due interview, by the Selection Committee, which was helped by an internal subject expert to determine the merit and suitability of the candidates for the job. Virtually acknowledging the factual matrix, and reiterating the validity of selection process, the respondents have stoutly denied all other allegations and grounds contained in the O.A., and prayed for its dismissal.
9. Having heard learned counsel for the parties, having gone through the record, with their valuable help and after considering the entire matter, we are of the firm view that there is no merit and the instant O.A., deserves to be dismissed for the reasons mentioned herein-below.
10. Ex-facie, the argument of learned counsel that since the respondents have not formulated any recruitment criteria for the post of Tutor Technician, so the impugned selection of Respondents No. 2 and 3 is arbitrary and illegal, is neither tenable, nor the observations of the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Sangeeta Supehia Vs. Union of India & Others in CWP No. 9136 of 2014 (O&M) decided on 26.08.2015, are at all applicable to the facts of the present case, wherein the selected candidate did not possess the requisite basic educational qualification, but still the selecting authority did not rejected her candidature for want of essential qualification, either at the time of scrutinizing the applications or even at the time of interview. The Selection Committee had totally by-passed the essential qualification prescribed in the rules of recruitment, read with the advertisement, while selecting the candidates. On the peculiar facts and in the special circumstances of that case, the appointment of selected candidate was quashed by this Tribunal, which was upheld by the Hon’ble High Court.
11. Possibly, no one can dispute with regard to the aforesaid observations, but to our mind, the same would not come to the rescue of the applicant in the present controversy. In the instant case, it is not a matter of dispute that the selected candidates possess all the requisite qualifications, for the post of Tutor Technician.
12. As indicated hereinabove, the respondents claimed, that the Selection Committee has formulated its own criteria of interview, which was helped by an internal expert, to determine the merit and suitability of the candidates for the job. Learned counsel has miserably failed to prove as to how and in what manner the Statutory Rules or conditions prescribed in the advertisement were violated, by appointing Respondents No. 2 and 3 to the post of Tutor Technician, by the Selection Committee. Moreover, the averment of the applicant that she was having more qualifications was totally denied by Respondent No. 2, wherein he has pleaded in his written statement that the educational qualifications of both the applicant and the answering respondent on the date of advertisement was the same i.e. M.Sc. Medical Technology. Not only that, it has also been pleaded that the Respondent No. 2 was holding the post of Supervisor Radiographer and the applicant was Technical Assistant. The post of Supervisor Radiographer is higher than that of the Technical Assistant, as a Technical assistant works under the Supervisor Radiographer. Thus, assuming for the sake of arguments (though not admitted), if the applicant possesses more educational qualification at the relevant time; even that, ipso facto, is not a ground, much less cogent, to set aside the selection made by the Committee.
13. The matter did not rest there. It is now well settled principle of law that the scope of judicial review in the matter of appointment and selection is very limited. The decision of the Selection Committee can only be interfered with, on the limited grounds, such as illegality or patent material irregularity in the constitution of the Selection Committee, vitiating the selection, or the proved malafide affecting the selection process, which is totally lacking in the present case. The Court cannot sit in appeal over the decision of the Selection Committee. In the instant case, the applicant has neither pleaded nor proved as to how, when and in what manner she is aggrieved by the selection made by the Selection Committee and how it had vitiated the entire selection process. Otherwise also, the selection process cannot be set aside on wishful thinking of the applicant and on such speculative grounds, particularly, when no prejudice has been shown to have been caused to her, in this relevant connection.
14. This is not the end of the matter. It is not a matter of dispute that the applicant has duly participated along with the other candidates in the interview and recruitment process. In that eventuality, she is estopped from challenging the result thereof, and cannot possibly be heard to say, at this stage, that the selection of the Respondents No. 2 and 3 is illegal. Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Dalpat Abasaheb Solunke, etc. etc. Vs. Dr. B.S. Mahajan etc., AIR 1990 SC 434, has held that it is not the function of the court to hear appeals over the decisions of the selection committees and to scrutinize the relative merit of the candidates. Whether a candidate is fit for a particular post or not, has to be decided by the duly constituted selection committee, which has the expertise on the subject. The court has no such expertise. Similarly, it was held by the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Devender Sheokand Vs. The Haryana Vidhan Sabha and others, 2013 (3) SLR 337, that in the absence of statutory rules, the Selection Committee is competent to frame its own just and reasonable criteria before proceeding to select a candidate.
15. Sequelly, it was held by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the case of Moti Kumari Vs. Secretary General, Supreme Court of India in W.P. (C) No. 314/2016, decided on February15, 2016, that the result of interview test on merit cannot be successfully challenged by a candidate, who takes a chance to get selected at the said interview, and who ultimately finds himself to be unsuccessful (as in the present case). The Court cannot sit as a Court of appeal, and try to re-assess the relative merit of the concerned candidate who had been assessed as unsuccessful. It
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is for the interview committee to judge the relative merit of the candidates. In the instant case, the Selection Committee, assisted by an internal expert, determined the merit and suitability of the candidates. Thus, assessment of merit made by such an expert committee, indeed, cannot be brought to challenge only on the speculative ground that no selection criteria was adopted and that the assessment was not proper or justified, as that would be the function of an appellate body, and we are certainly not acting as a court of appeal over the assessment made by such an expert committee, particularly when it is not the case of the applicant that any statutory rule or condition published in the advertisement was violated, in any manner, or the selected candidates Respondents No. 2 and 3 did not possess any requisite qualification. 16. Therefore, thus seen from any angle, we are of the view that the Selection Committee has rightly selected the candidates, on the basis of their merit, and we find no ground to interfere with the impugned result, in the obtaining circumstances of the case. 17. In the light of the aforesaid reasons, as there is no merit, so the instant O.A. is hereby dismissed as such. However, the parties are left to bear their own costs.