'Recruitment to government services must command public confidence'

Recruitment to government services must command public confidence

New Delhi: Recruitment to government services must command confidence as persons who are selected are intended to fulfil public functions associated with the functioning of the government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said that where the entire selection process is found to be flawed, its cancellation may undoubtedly cause hardship to a few who may not specifically be found to be involved in wrong-doing.

"But that is not sufficient to nullify the ultimate decision to cancel an examination where the nature of the wrong-doing cuts through the entire process so as to seriously impinge upon the legitimacy of the examinations which have been held for recruitment," the bench said.

It added that "recruitment to public services must command public confidence. Persons who are recruited are intended to fulfil public functions associated with the functioning of the Government."

The observations came while upholding a notification dated March 15, 2016 of Delhi government which cancelled the Tier-I and Tier-II examinations held for recruitment to the post of Head Clerk conducted by Delhi Subordinate Service Selection Board (DSSSB).

The judgement came on a batch of twelve appeals arising from a decision of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court which held as correct the orders of the Central Administrative Tribunal setting aside the cancellation of the recruitment process.

The Delhi High Court in the present case upheld the view of the Central Administrative Tribunal that the cancellation of the entire process was invalid.

The Tribunal annulled the decision of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to cancel the recruitment process conducted for appointments to the post of Head Clerk.

However, the apex court said

"the Deputy Chief Minister was justified in going beyond it and ultimately recommending that the entire process should be cancelled on the basis of the findings which were arrived at in the report of the first Committee. Those findings do not stand obliterated nor has the Tribunal found any fault with those findings. In this view of the matter, both the judgments of the Tribunal and the High Court are unsustainable," the bench said.

Noting serious flaws in the selection process, the apex court said DSSSB and Delhi government must now take adequate measures to ensure against the recurrence of such instances which erode the credibility of and public confidence in the recruitment process.

"We direct that a comprehensive exercise to re-visit the modalities and safeguards be carried out within a period of two months to ensure that the probity of the recruitment process in future is maintained," the bench said.

The top court said that selection involves intense competition and there is no dearth of individuals who try and bend the rules to gain an unfair leap in the race.

"Irregularities in the process give rise to misgivings over whether the process has denied equal access to all persons. The sanctity of the selection process comes under

a cloud.

"The detection of individual wrongdoing by candidates may result in action being taken to exclude those whose credentials or performance is tainted. But when the entire process is tainted, the authority in charge of conducting it may decide to cancel the selection as a whole. Judicial review is then invoked to challenge the decision to cancel the entire process," the bench said.s

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