19 Feb 2010

Cannot appoint more than vacancies: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India, in a recent decision, has restated the law of the land that it is not permissible for the Government to hand out more appointments than the vacancies that are advertised. The Court noted that the law had been settled by a number of decisions of the Supreme Court itself that it was against the law and also the rights of others to appoint more people than the vacancies advertised. The decision notes as under;

9. It is a settled legal proposition that vacancies cannot be filled up over and above the number of vacancies advertised as “the recruitment of the candidates in excess of the notified vacancies is a denial and deprivation of the constitutional right under Article 14 read with Article 16(1) of the Constitution”, of those persons who acquired eligibility for the post in question in accordance with the statutory rules subsequent to the date of notification of vacancies. Filling up the vacancies over the notified vacancies is neither permissible nor desirable, for the reason, that it amounts to “improper exercise of power and only in a rare and exceptional circumstance and in emergent situation, such a rule can be deviated and such a deviation is permissible only after adopting policy decision based on some rational”, otherwise the exercise would be arbitrary. Filling up of vacancies over the notified vacancies amounts to filling up of future vacancies and thus, not permissible in law. (Vide Union of India & Ors. v. Ishwar Singh Khatri & Ors. (1992) Supp 3 SCC 84; Gujarat State Deputy Executive Engineers’ Association v. State of Gujarat & Ors. (1994) Supp 2 SCC 591; State of Bihar & Ors. v. The Secretariat Assistant S.E. Union 1986 & Ors AIR 1994 SC 736; Prem Singh & Ors. v. Haryana State Electricity Board & Ors. (1996) 4 SCC 319; and Ashok Kumar & Ors. v. Chairman, Banking Service Recruitment Board & Ors. AIR 1996 SC 976).
10. In Surinder Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors. AIR 1998 SC 18, this Court held as under: “A waiting list prepared in an examination conducted by the Commission does not furnish a source of recruitment. It is operative only for the contingency that if any of the selected candidates does not join then the person from the waiting list may be pushed up and be appointed in the vacancy so caused or if there is some extreme exigency the Government may as a matter of policy decision pick up persons in order of merit from the waiting list. But the view taken by the High Court that since the vacancies have not been worked out properly, therefore, the candidates from the waiting list were liable to be appointed does not appear to be sound. This practice, may result in depriving those candidates who become eligible for competing for the vacancies available in future. If the waiting list in one examination was to operate as an infinite stock for appointment, there is a danger that the State Government may resort to the device of not holding an examination for years together and pick up candidates from the waiting list as and when required. The constitutional discipline requires that this Court should not permit such improper exercise of power which may result in creating a vested interest and perpetrate waiting list for the candidates of one examination at the cost of entire set of fresh candidates either from the open or even from service…..Exercise of such power has to be tested on the touchstone of reasonableness….It is not a matter of course that the authority can fill up more posts than advertised.”
11. Similar view has been re-iterated in Madan Lal v. State of J & K & Ors. AIR 1995 SC 1088; Kamlesh Kumar Sharma v. Yogesh Kumar Gupta & Ors. AIR 1998 SC 1021; Sri Kant Tripathi v. State of U.P. & Ors. (2001) 10 SCC 237; State of J & K v. Sanjeev Kumar & Ors. (2005) 4 SCC 148; State of U.P. v. Raj Kumar Sharma & Ors. (2006) 3 SCC 330; and Ram Avtar Patwari & Ors. v. State of Haryana & Ors. AIR 2007 SC 3242).
14. In view of above, the law can be summarised to the effect that any appointment made beyond the number of vacancies advertised is without jurisdiction, being violative of Articles 14 and 16(1) of the Constitution of India, thus, a nullity, inexecutable and unenforceable in law. In case the vacancies notified stand filled up, process of selection comes to an end. Waiting list etc. cannot be used as a reservoir, to fill up the vacancy which comes into existence after the issuance of notification/advertisement. The unexhausted select list/waiting list becomes meaningless and cannot be pressed in service any more.

Have a look at the decision (starts at page 13). 

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