Court finds decision to change criteria contrary to govt’s office memorandum of 2007
The Bombay High Court at Goa has struck down the appointment of 32 candidates to the posts of Additional Data Entry Operators in the power department ruling in favour of two petitioners who had approached the court that the Department had belatedly changed the criteria for qualification after the process was well underway.
The High Court bench of Justices MS Sonak and MS Jawalkar found that the decision to change the criteria and give more weightage to the oral interview and extra curricular activities at the expense of the written test was contrary to the government’s own office memorandum dating back to 2007 which had set out uniform terms to be followed in cases of government recruitment to non gazetted posts.
“The selection and appointments of [32 candidates] to the posts of ADEOs in both the writ petitions are quashed and set aside. The [Goa government is] directed to prepare a select list of candidates… based on merit to be determined in the order of marks secured in the written test results and the marks allotted for the oral interview awarded by the DSC in this selection,” the High Court ruled.
The [Goa government is] further directed to issue appointment orders to the 32 most meritorious candidates based upon the select list to be made as aforesaid, subject no doubt to such candidates complying with usual requirements like medical examination, verification of character and antecedents, etc as may be already prescribed,” the High Court also said.
Back in 2015, the power department via an advertisement invited applications from eligible candidates to fill up 56 posts of ADEOs. Out of these, 32 posts were earmarked for the general category and 24 posts for various reserved categories. The candidates were to undergo a written test, an oral examination besides meeting other selection criteria in order to be appointed.
However, on 11.01.2016, i.e., a day after the publication of the results of the written test, a note was moved to the Government proposing a new criterion for the further selection process, which criterion, is said to have totally deviated from the existing criterion set out elaborately in the OM dated 05.03.2007.
The government note proposed wholesale changes in the process including ruling that the marks obtained in the elaborate written test were to be mostly ignored or rather, taken into account for only shortlisting such a general category candidate and instead weightage was to be given to the oral interview with a marks also set aside for qualification, extra curricular activities, etc.
“The changed criterion was adopted after the commencement of the selection process or rather, at the stage when the selection process had fairly advanced. According to us, this is clearly a case where the rules of the game were changed after the game had not only commenced but had fairly advanced.
“We are satisfied that the changed criterion constitutes not some minor but substantial deviation from the existing criterion prescribed. This is not a case of some minor deviations from the guidelines but this is a case where practically most of the stipulations in this OM have been violated with impunity,” the High Court said.
“There is no explanation whatsoever for bypassing the stipulations in the OM dated 05.03.2007 and changing the criterion for selection amid the selection process. This is also not a case where the changed criterion can be regarded as fair or transparent. Rather, even, the changed criterion is quite arbitrary resulting in the sabotage of purity of the selection post the declaration of the results of the written test on 10.01.2016,” the High Court also said.